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North India trip report with Castle and King tour company

North India trip report with Castle and King tour company

Nov 25th, 2013, 02:46 PM
  #1  
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North India trip report with Castle and King tour company

wonderful country and wonderful tour company. Highly recommend.

I just got back from a 2 wk trip to northern India with 2 other women friends. We decided to use Castle and king because they do private tours rather than big group tours. This allowed us to have flexibility in how long we wanted to stay in the places that we saw. I must say the I have NEVER stayed in such beautiful hotels for SO little money! Trust me, we travel as cheaply as possible so that we can spend the saved money on presents to ourselves and others. We were placed in the MetDelhi on arrival (gorgeous, with pool and spa) and then, throughout our trip to the North, in amazing , fabulous heritage hotels. These were previously owned by moghul aristocracy but have been converted to hotels now. One place had a marble tub! Our driver, Krishna, was a wonderful driver and person, and all of our guides along the way were knowledgeable and anxious to educate us in the Indian culture. Since I have been accused of being a "shill" in the past , due to exuberant praise, I will stop now and offer anyone who is interested the opportunity to contact me at [email protected]@yahoo.com for more details and suggestions. But, if you are looking to personalize your trip to India, for upscale traveling at low end pricing, I strongly suggest you contact Arvin at Castle and King
annergizer is offline  
Nov 25th, 2013, 03:07 PM
  #2  
 
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Please tell us more about your trip, Anne. Where did you go? What were your favorite places and experiences?
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Nov 25th, 2013, 03:41 PM
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Forget the bad rap. You are obviously not a shill and many here would lie to,hear your report. Did you stay at the Rambagh palace in Jaipur by chance?
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Nov 25th, 2013, 10:22 PM
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We were very pleased with the arrangements Avirnd made for us on both our trips to India. It can be difficult at times for westerners, but he seems to understand the differences and his arrangements reflect this. Glad you had a good trip.
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Nov 27th, 2013, 08:27 AM
  #5  
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OK, here is my trip report to Northern India - a 2 wk excursion.
I chose our travel dates based on the Pushkar camel fair. We decided that we wanted to be there for the first 2 days, as , after that- between the pilgrims and the tourists, it sounded like it would be bedlam. And, according to a traveler we spoke to , it was. He said he had to rent a camel and sit on it, outside of the stadium, in order to see anything. We started in Delhi, at the MetDelhi, which is nicely located. We were just up the street from the Sikh temple and we walked there, late afternoon, to check it out. From there we took a tuk tuk to, what we thought were going to be the nicer stores, but the driver took us to an "emporium" which was filled with expensive seconds. Try to avoid being taken there. The best shopping, although nit the cheapest, was in the hotel itself. I bought a silk table runner that I love and saw no where else on our travels. Their scarves are to die for, and so are the prices. But this is high quality stuff. The next 2 days were spent seeing old and new Delhi. From there we flew to Varanasi and stayed at the Ganges View. This is the only hotel that we selected, upon recommendation from my daughter (and Fodors travel book). It is right on the Ganges and was a private home at one time. We ate dinner there on the roof, and was entertained with music both nights. Food delicious and affordable. We were met, at the hotel, by our guide who hustled us along so that we would not be late for the Pooja festival, held every night, on the banks of the Ganges. Many tourists watched this ceremony from small boats, but we were up on a balcony and had a panoramic view which was better. The next morning we were up before dawn for a boat ride on the Ganges to watch people bathing and incinerating the dead. Next installment coming up
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Nov 27th, 2013, 08:33 AM
  #6  
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Going out at night is dicey because non-indians, especially women, attract attention. we went around the corner to check out a store and came right back. The next day we flew back to Delhi, were picked up by our driver and set off for Agra, about a 5 hr drive. We always carry peanut butter, crackers and snack bars with us, and if you are doing this kind on road travel, I suggests you do the same. We had no time to stop for dinner that night (on the super highway there is only a creepy rest stop) and, even when doing the day touring, we did not want to take an hour off to eat at a restaurant. anyway, we arrived late and checked into the Wyndham Grand with the plan to be up before dawn, again, to see the Taj at sunrise. But we didn't, because, between the long security lines and the pollution, there was no sun rise. I can only imagine what the Taj, when completed in 16 something, looked like looming up in the distance. It is now surrounded by pollution and just hazy. Don't bother to try to see it at sunrise. We spent 2 days in Agra and then hit the road for Jaipur. Lunch, of course, in the car.
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Nov 27th, 2013, 08:44 AM
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We checked into the Samode Haveli hotel and we all thought we had died and went to heaven! What a gorgeous hotel, with luxurious service and great food. I believe this is the hotel that we had a marble tub! There two days of sightseeing and shopping. We avoided the jewelry and , instead, spent a bit too much time at the blue pottery art center, as this is what Jaipur is known for. I bought yellow soap and toothbrush holders (not blue). From there it was on to Pushkar. By now, i had developed a cold that proceeded to decline into what was diagnosed (when I got home) with pneumonia. I believe the overall pollution and the lack of sleep contributed to this and I lived on cough medicine and musinex the rest of the trip. Anyway, Arvind had us stay at the Royal Tents in Pushkar. We were in a tent, but with a toilet and a small shower. All meals included. All meals were vegetarian Indian dishes for the most part. The tents were roomy and comfortable. The next 2 days were spent at the fair. We took a camel ride around the fairgrounds and were there for the opening ceremonies. Alas, the camel races had been cancelled. I was looking forward to that. The second evening we went to a ceremony along the banks of the Brahma lake and met the owner of a school for poor and orphaned girls. She is legit (our guide's wife and sister in law work there) and we will be contributing money to the school to support a student. A good place to put our money , rather than in the hands of street children who may, or may not be really atreet children. This is a deeply religious country and the ceremony, at sunset, was lovely. Unfortunately, the dust was now killing me and put a damper on my time at Pushkar. No amount of scarves could curb inhaling the dust
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Nov 27th, 2013, 08:53 AM
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Off the next day to Jodhpur to stay at the Ajit Bhawan Palace (heritage hotel). Everyone spends one day in Jodhpur as there is only a fort to see and am elephant ride. Great shopping at the fort. We bought some beautiful, silk, hand dyed scarves for next to nothing. This would have been a good time to take an extra day to just relax. The hotel had an amazing pool which we had no time to enjoy. I certainly needed a rest day and the rest of us (2 other women) agreed that another day there would have been great. Build in to your trip a day of rest if you can. Last stop was Udaipur at the Lalit Laxmi Villas Palace. Wow. Just Wow. I know that the "elite" hotel is the one in the middle of the lake, but this was so much better. We were up on a hill, overlooking the lake, watching the sun set, and listening to a bagpipe band and watching a dancing horse. A marionette show in the evening. All free. Food and service beyond impeccable. Drinks were good too. Another place that I would have liked to have another day at just to relax. This was a residence of some moghul and a descendant still lives there. They are planning to expand and add an infinity pool overlooking the lake. A place to return to someday, if my lungs can take it! So if you do this type of trip, check out the hotels and stay an extra day here and there just to relax and enjoy the view, the pools, the spas and to process all that you saw, The end!
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Nov 27th, 2013, 09:23 AM
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Enjoying your report = thanks!
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Nov 27th, 2013, 10:02 AM
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Hi,
India is such a big country,there are some historical place to see,Taj one of them it is the symbol of love.I want to know Kind of problem generally tourist face while traveling in India???
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Nov 27th, 2013, 12:49 PM
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for me it was the air pollution. we all got some level of respiratory infection. All the dire warnings about pick pockets and scammers were not encountered. Of course, we were alert and kept our bags close to our bodies. we even went so far as to buy pocketbooks with steel mesh on the sides and straps (discounted at AAA stores) and did not wear a back pack for the same reason, I brought a money belt with me and never used it. We ate at the hotels and never had a stomach problem. we did not wear any sleeveless tops and wore tights under our dresses because they came above the knees. All of our hotels (except for the tent) had safes.
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Nov 27th, 2013, 05:13 PM
  #12  
 
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In two trips to India at the same time of year, we encountered none of the potential problems you mention...

I also would like to mention that the rest stop between Agra and Delhi has very clean restrooms and honestly is not "creepy" at all. PLUS it is important to give your driver a rest and break...


Bob
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Nov 27th, 2013, 06:26 PM
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Thank you for the report. Sounds likea very fun trip!

I will add that sunrise can be a wonderful experience at the Taj Mahal. I've done it in August, October, November, and December and had wonderful weather, except for the fog one of the December mornings. If the air is clear, the light is fabulous. Well worth at least trying.

I like to have my drivers wide awake on long drives over those crazy Indian roads, so I encourage them to stop often. I certainly wouldn't be as alert if I had to drive 5 hours without any chai or food! Don't remember any creepy rest stops along the roads Delhi-Agra-Jaipur. Were you driving at night? It could be very different then.
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Nov 27th, 2013, 06:55 PM
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Sounds like your drives were too long. Was that your scheduling or Castle and Kings?

Sorry you had such bad pollution. I remember seeing the Taj at dawn ( or close to it) in November and it was magical. But that was 2001, things have probably got worse since then.
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Nov 28th, 2013, 11:06 AM
  #15  
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re: Taj. We were there (inadvertently) during the Diwali festival. This basically means that the whole country shoots off fireworks and bottle rockets 24/7. That probably explains the smog that extended from Delhi to Agra and beyond.
Re: the one rest stop along the way. Yes, we were traveling at night due to the plane schedule from Varanasi to Delhi. We did stop for a bathroom break. There were a lot of loitering men both outside and in the snack bar area. There may have been food there, but we would not have eaten it anyway. We did not eat food at the airports either. Better to be safe. And, yes, we knew the distances and were OK with them as we had only 2 wks to travel. Our driver got bite to eat at the rest stops, but , again, we were unsure of how safe the food was there so just ate our hummus and peanut butter.
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Nov 28th, 2013, 02:48 PM
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Better to slow down so you're not on the roads at night. That can be really dangerous in India, with the assortment of transport, much without lights, sharing the road.
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Nov 30th, 2013, 10:30 AM
  #17  
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we only had that one night trip. All the others were either leaving in the morning or mid afternoon. It all worked out fine. Just about all of our internal flights were booked several months in advance. And, like myanmar, flights were subject to change and at the airlines' whim. So, our original itinerary had to be adjusted. For instance, on our last day, when we flew from Udaipur to Delhi, we were supposed to arrive in Delhi mid afternoon. However, that flight was cancelled and we arrived, instead, about 10 am. Castle and King made arrangements for us to have a day room at the Radisson Hotel (we were DONE with shopping and traffic in Delhi), where we spent the day dozing at the pool after eating an amazing buffet lunch. We fully expected to pay for the room (which was only $60.00 anyway) but C and K picked up the bill! An unexpected, and very nice thing for them to do. Once again, this is a good company. You can arrange any itinerary you want. This is the one we wanted and as I said, we would have added extra time mid trip and at the end for R&R and drinks by the pools, had we had 14 days instead of 12.
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Apr 22nd, 2014, 09:24 PM
  #18  
 
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Which website did you use to contact C & K? There are two when I google it with two different emails.
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Apr 30th, 2014, 07:46 PM
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I have heard that India is not safe for single women. What do you think about it? Have you feel anything like this?
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May 24th, 2014, 05:31 PM
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there were 3 of us and we walked together when we walked around varanasi and new Delhi. I don't think going alone, as a woman, is a good idea. People really stare at you, and not politely either. If you go alone, I would suggest that you arrange to have a guide with you. we were advised not to go out at night. but there was really no need to go wandering out at night anyway.
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