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New rough Tamil Nadu/Kerala itinerary (long!)

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Aug 26th, 2013, 11:10 AM
  #1
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New rough Tamil Nadu/Kerala itinerary (long!)

I've done a bit more work since my last post and all the helpful comments. Following is a new rough itinerary developed with an Indian based company.

A bit of background - we are very excited about the prospect of 8 to 10 weeks in India starting mid January, 2014. Typically in an 8-10 week itinerary we break it out as follows:

· first 3 weeks - lots of travel with multi night stops - we're starting in South India
· middle 2 to 3 weeks - villa/apartment rental where we relax and entertain ourselves, usually by figuring out the local markets and cooking (which we love) - Likely Goa
· final 3 weeks - more travel with multi night stops - in this case the North/maybe Nepal

Our interests in priority are:

· historical importance
· art and architecture
· animals
· scenery

By no means is "scenery" unimportant to us -- but it is meant to give you some perspective about our interests.

My comments on the itinerary below so far are:

- it's 29 days - I would like to trim 3 or 4 days although I could live with 29 if it is the best
- assumes private car/driver (I'm assuming an Innova?)
- Hotels TBD - getting the itinerary nailed down first
- there are too many two nighters, but I am coming to realize how hard it is to change that because of the driving distances involved - any recommendations for compressing some stops to elongate others?
- I didn't include all the sightseeing trips.....made it too long to reasonably ask anybody to read but there are lots of sightseeing opportunities
- I have spent a lot of time considering Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary .... looking at pics/videos/reviews. The reviews are inconsistent - I realize we won't see tigers but would like some average or above average animal viewing. Maybe better to do wildlife when we get to the North? That would free up 2 nights
- similarly I am starting to wonder about a 2 night houseboat trip from Kumarakom to Alleppey.....I loved the idea of 2 nights but based on what I've read perhaps that is too long - indeed maybe just a day trip?
- the TO added the Hassan two nights - haven't investigated that yet.

Day 1 - 5 (4 nights)
Arrive Chennai-Mahabalipuram ( 55 Kms/ 1 & ½ Hrs)
Overnight at hotel

Day 5 (1 night)
Mahabalipuram-Pondicherry ( 130 Kms/ 3 Hrs)
Overnight at hotel

Day 6 -7 (2 nights)
Pondicherry-Chidambaram-Tanjore (190 Kms/ 5 Hrs)
AM-Drive to Tanjore, en-route Visit Chidambaram
PM-Visit Tanjore
Overnight at hotel

Day 8-9 (2 nights)
Tanjore-Thirumayam Fort-Chettinad ( 100 Kms/ 3 Hrs)
AM-Drive to Chettinad en-route visit Thirumayam Fort
Overnight at hotel

Day 10 (2 nights)
Chettinad-Athangudi- Madurai ( 95 Kms/ 2 & ½ Hrs)
AM- Drive to Madurai, en-route visit Athangudi Tile Factory
Overnight at hotel

Day 12 - 14 (2 nights)
Madurai-Periyar ( 160 Kms/ 4 Hrs)
Overnight at hotel

Day 14 (1 night)
Periyar-Kumarakom (140 Kms/ 4 Hrs)
AM-Drive to Kumarakom, PM-Free for independent activities
Overnight at hotel

Day 15 -17 (2 nights)
Kumarakom-Alleppey- Houseboat
AM-Drive to Alleppey, on arrival board Houseboat
Overnight in Houseboat

Day 17 -19 (2 nights)
Houseboat-Alleppey-Cochin ( 62 Kms/ 1 & ½ Hrs)
De-board at Alleppey, drive to Cochin
Overnight at hotel

Day 19 (1 night)
Cochin-Coimbatore (190 Kms/ 4 & ½ Hrs)
AM- drive to Coimbatore, rest of the day free
Overnight at hotel

Day 20 -22 (2 nights)
Coimbatore- Coonoor ( 60 Kms/ around 01 & ½ Hr)
Hill Train No- 564 ( Train at 1315 Hrs /1745 Hrs)
De-board at Ooty
Overnight at hotel

Day 22 -24 (2 nights)
Ooty-Wayanad ( 120 Kms/ 3 Hrs)
PM- free
Overnight at hotel

Day 24 - 27 (3 nights)
Wayanad-Mysore ( 135 Kms/ 3 & ½ Hrs)
Overnight at hotel

Day 27 - 29 (2 nights)
Mysore-Hassan (140 Kms/ 3 & ½ Hrs)
Overnight at hotel

Day 29
Hassan-Shravanbelagola-Bangalore ( 195 Kms/ 4& 1/2 Hrs)
Bangalore-Goa (Flight)

If you're still reading - thanks for any comments!
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Aug 26th, 2013, 10:24 PM
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Good luck
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Aug 26th, 2013, 10:27 PM
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3 year ago I was on a tour to Pakistan and India, and trust me when I say this, Pakistan's northern side is AMAZING. You should give it a try.
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Aug 26th, 2013, 11:30 PM
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Interesting itinerary.I feel 4 nights in Mahabalipuram is a bit too much.Its a small town can be covered in 2N/3D.Spend some more time in Cochin.Interesting things to do in town too. Brunton Boatyard is a worthwhile experience.
http://www.cghearth.com/brunton-boatyard.
Alternatively,Marari beach is a lovely place,betw Alleppey and Kochi.
http://www.cghearth.com/marari-beach
You could experience true Kerala hospitality,from ambiance,food and ayurvedic massages.
For better wildlife viewing,I'd opt for Bandipur over Periyar.Its my personal opinion.Periyar always had a boat full of noisy tourists.Wildlife viewing all about waiting for animals to come to the waters edge,as you cruise along.That a long shot.As compared to Bandipur,where you go looking for wildlife in designated tracks.I've had better luck here.
Bandipur Safari Lodge
http://www.junglelodges.com/bandipur-safari-lodge

These are some suggestions.Your plan looks good.Happy travelling.
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Aug 26th, 2013, 11:42 PM
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From Hassan consider doing Belur temple (40 kms).Truly magnificent Hoysala architecture. Shravanbelagola incidentally, is on the way to Hassan from Mysore.
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Aug 27th, 2013, 03:48 AM
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Thanks - inquest, the reason for 4 nights in Mahabalipuram is my husband has a bad back and sometimes long plane rides can be difficult so I build in a few days in case he needs it.

Will look at Bandipur - your description of Periyar is my concern. And yes, the sightseeing recommendation from Hassan is the Belur temple which looks amazing!
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Aug 27th, 2013, 04:20 AM
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Any way you can skio Coimbatore? There might be a nearby homestay of interest if you absolutely must stay overnight.Otherwise, proceed to Coonoor and stay there.
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Aug 27th, 2013, 04:27 AM
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NO NO to Brunton Boatyard, with all due respect to Inquest. In Cochin , you want to be IN the central area of old Fort Cochin, near the main square and church, where you can easily walk to the fishing nets area and around town. There are many wonderful hotels and homestays in this area and BB, while a lovely place, is not the kind of place you can just get out and walk around and see a lot.

Yes, the temples at Belur and Hassan are worth seeing for sure, Have you looked into staying in nearby coffee country instead of in one of the towns. I think there's a Taj Gateway in hte region, if you prefer hotels to homestays.

YES just a day trip on the backwaters of Kerala. Check out the small country boats, which will make it much easier to enter the smaller, narrower, more scenic waterways, lined with villages.
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Aug 27th, 2013, 04:30 AM
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Calinurse. Thanks! I think Coimbatore is there to get the train but I'll double check. Haven't looked at accommodation yet nut will look into the coffee country area you suggest.
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Aug 27th, 2013, 09:09 PM
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I would do those four nights at Pondy rather than Mahabalipuram, which is a very small place. Pondy will be a gentle intro to the chaos of India....

In Kochi I recommend the Malabar House.

I enjoyed having two nights on a houseboat, but that was back in 2001 when there were very few other boats. It sounds decidedly overpopulated now.

Skip Coimbatore, it's just a transport hub.

I did Belur and Halebid as a long day trip from Mysore.
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Aug 28th, 2013, 05:04 AM
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thursdaysd - thanks for your help again. The 4 nights in Mahab are really 3 as now it looks as though we land after midnight in Chennai so will just stay at an airport hotel. But will compare it to 3 nights in Pondy.

Not sure why Coimbatore is there instead of Connor as the overnight - the reason is to get to Train 564 which is quite a beautiful trip I understand. Will check that out.

Any comments about Periyar?
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Aug 28th, 2013, 05:31 AM
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Sorry, didn't go to Periyar. I did go to Coorg, which I enjoyed, but no wildlife (unless you count the leeches in the coffee plantation!)
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Aug 28th, 2013, 01:14 PM
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My latest - thursdaysd - still pondering Mahab versus Pondi

I've spent the day reconfiguring our South India itinerary and feel I'm closer with this one - comments are appreciated. I've tried to reduce the number of 2 nights stays - that does mean adding a couple of one nighters but I'm OK with that for the bigger picture (assume all obvious tourist sights are being visited at the appropriate location).

January 13 - 1 night Arrive MAA midnight/stay in airport hotel

January 14 - 3 nights Mahab

January 17 - 1 night Pondi

January 18 - 2 nights Tanjore

January 20 - 3 nights Chettinad

January 23 - 1 night Madurai

January 24 - 1 night Thekkady?

January 25 - 2 nights Alleppey - houseboat

January 27 - 3 nights Cochin

January 30 - 1 night Coimbatore/Connor - take train to Ooty

January 31 - 2 nights Ooty

February 2 - 1 night Wyanad

February 3 - 3 nights Mysore

February 6 - 2 nights Hassan

February 8 - 2 nights Bangalore

February 10 to GOA

That's 28 nights in total - I would prefer about 25 which would involve cutting the two nights in Hassan and one night in Bangalore - or perhaps there are other suggestions.

Thanks!
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Aug 28th, 2013, 01:59 PM
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I would cut Hassan and Bangalore and day trip from Mysore for the temples. What are you planning to see in Hassan?
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Aug 28th, 2013, 02:02 PM
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thursdaysd - Belur and Halebid
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Aug 28th, 2013, 02:31 PM
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As I said above, you can visit both as a (long) day trip from Mysore, no need to move again.
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Aug 28th, 2013, 02:31 PM
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thx
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Aug 29th, 2013, 01:07 AM
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You do NOT need three nights in Cochin. YOu do NOT need two nights in Hassan (although i disagree that it should be a day trip to Belur and Halebid--tooo much car travel for one day).
I'm all for not rushing,but these are two places that do NOT require that much time.

Three nights Mahab? Too much! most people say one there is plenty! Add a night to Pondy maybe, and/or to madurai.

two nights wayanad and two nights Mysore.

i would take only 2 nights in Cochin and spend three days at a homestay out on the backwaters somewhere. (I stayed at Philipkuttys, but it 's $$. There are other wonderful places instead on the lake there that won't cost as much.)
YOu really really really should find a great Keralal homestay and spend a couple days there instead of these extra days you have in the above. For example, check Emerald isle Kerala (google search) . I'd spend my time doing that and do only country boats I(not overnight houseboat) on the backwaters.



See
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Aug 29th, 2013, 04:10 AM
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Thanks CaliNurse - we prefer a mix of 2 and 3 nights stays so even if we don't need it, we might want it. And the 3 nights in Mahab are due to my husband's back after travel (see above post)

I'll check out the homestays - thanks!
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Aug 29th, 2013, 05:15 AM
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Sorry CaliNurse, but while I agree about Hassan, I disagree about Kochi (not Cochin these days), which I very much enjoyed. Admittedly I was there over Christmas, but for a slow traveler there is no reason to rush it.

Be careful with the homestays. I did one on the coast, and while it was very peaceful, with an excellent hostess, I really missed AC.
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