Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Asia
Reload this Page >

Please critique my southern India itinerary

Please critique my southern India itinerary

Old Feb 19th, 2012, 03:25 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,746
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Please critique my southern India itinerary

Before submitting my itinerary for our January 2013 trip to several travel agents for quotes I'd like to know your thoughts on the timing.. I feel I have too many one nighters, but do not know where to add nights to slow the trip down a bit. The trip I am contemplating is:
1 night Chenna
2 nights Mahalapurum
1 night Pondicherry
2 nights Madurai
1 night Munnar
3 nights Cochin
1 night Ooty or Connor
2 nights Mysore
1 night Hassan or a third night Mysore and do Hassan and Halibad as a day trip

. If i were to add nights, where would you suggest I do this? Time is not an issue, but we do not like Indian food, so we are not interested in prolonging our stay in India, but we do not want to do a trip at breakneck speed either.

Also, if we wanted to increase our time away by another week or 10 days , where would you suggest we do this-Udaipur and Jodpher, ), or Sri Lanka, or somewhere else?

Any thoughts would be appreciated.
shelleyk is offline  
Old Feb 19th, 2012, 04:05 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,245
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
(Shelly, I have no advice for you as we haven't been to Southern India yet, but I think it might be our next India trip. I have a friend who is there right now, and I'm looking forward to talking with him about his experience and following your planning and eventual trip report!)
Kathie is offline  
Old Feb 19th, 2012, 04:34 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 26,056
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
What transport were you planning on using? Is this your first trip to India? What kind of budget?

1. I would skip Chennai altogether. There's no point in driving into Chennai for just one night when Mamallapuram is so close.

2. If you don't like Indian food you should like Pondi, but read the TA reviews before deciding where to eat.

3. You really should add Trichy and Tanjore between Pondi and Madurai.

4. You could also consider stopping off in the Chettinad region, perhaps at http://thebangala.com/ which will also give you some relief from Indian food.

5. A lot of people go to Kochi to do a backwaters cruise. I really enjoyed it, but that was in 2001, and I gather there are now more than 700 boats. Maybe a day trip would be enough.

6. I don't see much point in only one night in Munnar and Coorg. Maybe pick one or the other? They are places to chill out and enjoy the quiet and the scenery.

7. You can definitely do Hassan and Halebid as a day trip, but it will be a long day. I got back after dark, and that's no time to be on an Indian road!

I did South India in the other direction recently. You may find my TR helpful. Start here: http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...omment-6944144
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Feb 19th, 2012, 04:55 PM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,746
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
This is our second trip to India. Our first was to northern India for 15 days about 4 years ago. We will hire a car and driver through a travel agent for our time in southern India, except we want to do the short toy train ride out of Ooty. We usually travel mid price budget, 3 and 4 star hotels.

I included Chennai as our first night as this is where I plan to fly into, arriving at night, and plan to fly out of Bangalore.

thursdaysd-I read your trip report when you first posted it, but will re read it. Thanks for your suggestions.

Kathie-Please let me know what you find out from your friend.
shelleyk is offline  
Old Feb 19th, 2012, 05:45 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 26,056
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
"This is our second trip to India." - good! You know what you're getting into. Actually, the south is a bit cleaner than the north.

Yes, I figured you were flying into Chennai, but the airport is 16 km southwest of the center, and Mamallapuram is 59 km south of the center. I suppose you could look for an airport hotel, I just don't see any reason to head into Chennai itself, but then I don't care for Chennai.

I was a little concerned about the distance from Madurai to Munnar. The roads in Tamil Nadu weren't as bad as Karnataka, but still. However, google thinks you can do it in a bit over three hours. I'd check that with whichever agent you choose.
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Feb 19th, 2012, 06:26 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 4,482
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Three nights in Kochi is too much.

Belur (which is i assume what you meant) and Halebid are NOT a good idea for a day trip. But Hassan is not a very nice ,interesting, or scenic town. If you want to spend a night in the area, check out the hotels and homestays in Chikmagalur area. I didnt--stayed at hotel near Hasan--and regretted not having gone up a bit to the hills of then earby coffee country. Ther is also a narby farm honestay that i would consider if in the area again. (Not at home now--will check info later and get back on here.)

Havent been yet, but most everyone i know who has says TWO night in M'puram is one too many. However, JANUARY when you travel, is the time of the art/music festival based in the area. They have stuff like dance performances in front of the ruins. Depending on scehdule, might be worth the two nights.


I love Coonor area. Two nights there please!!

We stayed outsideof the town in an exquisite place in a sort of lush valley, which i will try to recall name of and post here later.

YOur driver will drop y uat the Nilgiri Express train (well worth it!!!) and meet you wherever you decide to end the segment. We took the train from Coonoor to Ooty and then stayed overnight(Ooty) and then proceeded north the next day to Mysore.

NO mention of wildlife. If interested, the route from Ooty to Mysore has you passing some wildlife sanctuary areas.
CaliNurse is offline  
Old Feb 19th, 2012, 06:39 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 26,056
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
I agree that Mamallapuram is usually not worth two nights, but if you go direct from Chennai airport it would be worth two to recover from jet lag.
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Feb 20th, 2012, 04:44 AM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,746
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I thought the trip might lay out something like this. Thursdaysd, I did include one night in Tanjore but neglected to put that night in my original post.

Day 1-Arrive at night to Chennai. (Since we will be at the hotel to just sleep and leave in the morning, is there any decent place with a/c that would be less expensive than Regency Towers?)



Day 2- See the historic parts of Chennai and drive via the East Coast road to Mahabalipuram, stopping on the way at Dakshina Chitra.



Day 3-Visit Kalashnata Temple and Ekemimbshwara Temple in Kanchipuram in the morning. Tour Mahabalipuram in the afternoon.

Day 4-Drive to Pondicherry.



Day5-Travel to Tanjore stopping to visit Chidambaram and Darashuran. Visit Bridhadisvara temple in Tanjore. Is it worth spending a second night in Tanjore to see the fort and temples in Trichy. Or could we visit Trichy on the way to Maderai on Day 6? Do you think this would be temple overload?



Day6-Revisit the Big Temple, Llibrary, and art gallery.Drive to Madurai. En route visit ChettinaduPalace.



Day7-Visit Meenakshi Temple, Therlimalai Naiker Palace and see the night ceremony at Meenakshi temple.



Day 8-Drive to Munnar. On the way, visit a spice plantation and perhaps a rubber plantation. While in this area I want to visit a spice plantation, a rubber plantation and a tea plantation,.Where would each would fit into either Day 8 or 9?.



Day 9-Visit a tea plantation, rubber plantation and spice plantation on the way to Cochin. I would like to travel through and visit some backwater villages seeing village life activities and people working in the fields and rice paddies.. I do not know if we need to add an extra day to do this.



Day10-Backwater day cruise and possibly a sunset cruise of Cochin harbor. At some point, while in the area I would want to walk through a backwater village.



Day11-See Fort Cochin and attend the dance performance at night.



Day 12-Drive to Coonor taking the toy train (first class) part of the way . I think I would prefer spending the night in Coonor rather than Ooty, but don't know how this would affect the schedule. I would like to see the scenery there for a short while on the morning of Day13 before the mist rolls in and maybe do a short 1 hour walk. The only things I would like to see in Ooty are Dolphin's Nose and Lamb's Rock view points.



Day 13-Drive to Mysore, Is there something we could stop and do along the way?, . I have decided not to spend the night in the national park as I am not that interested in going on the safaris..



Day 14-Tour Mysore, Somnathpur,etc.



Day 15- tour Halibid and Belur either as a day trip from Mysore or sleep in in coffee country (where Cali mentioned).


Day16-Drive to Bangalore stopping at Brinlava Gardens (or should we do this on Day 14) and Srirangapatum.

Any thoughts on modifications, additions or subtractions? Thanks.

 
shelleyk is offline  
Old Feb 20th, 2012, 08:08 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 26,056
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
Well, there is no way I'd sign up for that. If you were India newbies I'd strongly urge you to slow down, but since it's your second trip I assume you know your own stamina (I didn't see a TR for your first trip). Still, aside from having a car and driver instead of a coach, it looks a lot like "this is Tuesday it must be Belgium".

I would add time everywhere except Chennai and Mamallapuram, and did so when I was in south India. About the only useful thing I can say is that you need to book tickets ahead of time for the train.
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Feb 20th, 2012, 10:52 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 4,121
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Do you have any idea just how much driving this trip entails? Have you researched distances and actual driving times?

For example, you day cruise of the backwaters from Kochi can be 2-3 hours driving each way Kochi to Alleppey, let alone the miniscule crappy bit of the backwaters you'll actually see. Then add a sunset cruise in Kochi?

Driving time Munnar to Kochi can be five or six hours. Added to that 'Visit a tea plantation, rubber plantation and spice plantation... travel through and visit some backwater villages seeing village life activities and people working in the fields and rice paddies...'

Lordy. I'll have to lie down.

Better still, read this:
http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...p-jan-2012.cfm

Frankly, you might be able to get through it all, but you'll see nothing, feel nothing, experience nothing but the inside of your car.

And you'll be eating Indian food almost all the time, whether you like it or not.
dogster is offline  
Old Feb 20th, 2012, 11:21 AM
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,746
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
So is the best solution to add days at each stop or to add days between stops? For us, time is not an issue. But that darn Indian food is. So dogster, everything you say may be true except "You'll be eating Indian food almost all the time". Substitute "granola bars" for "Indian food" and you'd be correct. lol
shelleyk is offline  
Old Feb 20th, 2012, 11:21 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 4,121
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
That all sounds very negative, I know, but the troubles with your itinerary are actually in your assumptions. Maybe you are 20 years old and actually like this style of traveling. I dunno.

Have a look at this and compare:
http://www.legendsandpalaces.com/16-...ndia.html#tour

Then google 'South India tours' and check out some more itineraries - compare.

You don't mention what hotels you are considering. Unless you factor those in, you really can't make an itinerary. Their websites will also give you ideas of what's around.
dogster is offline  
Old Feb 20th, 2012, 11:29 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 4,121
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We were posting at the same time.

You do know that South Indian food is rather different from North Indian? People are very proud of their cuisine down there. Surely you can find a way through this situation. The clue may be in careful choice of accomodation - but I doubt it a lot of the time.

Eating granola bars is just a horrible solution. Really. Kinda silly, too IMHO.
dogster is offline  
Old Feb 20th, 2012, 12:01 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 26,056
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
You know, there is a lot of variety in Indian food. And as dogster says, south Indian is quite different to north - enough that some northerners I encountered claimed they didn't like it.

What is it you don't like about Indian food? And what is it you like about India? You know, I got the feeling from that itinerary that you were just rushing through, crossing sights off a list, so you could leave as quickly as possible.
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Feb 20th, 2012, 12:27 PM
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,746
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
What I most enjoyed about northern India were the sites. I loved the interesting architecture and the history associated with the sites. I also liked the colorful street scenes and markets. What i did not like was the poverty and the food, but I got past both and enjoyed my trip.

Many of the sights I want to see in southern India are because I've read about them or seen photos of them and they look architecturally interesting. On the one hand, I really do not want to spend more time than necessary in India. On the other hand, I do not want to rush through the trip merely checking off sites. I'm trying to find a happy medium.

What my DH and I do not like about most Indian food, and we've tried it several times in both India and in several Indian restaurants in the states, is the spices used. It is the only type of ethnic cuisine we just do not care for. The only dish we actually did enjoy was tandoori chicken, but in our 15 days in northern India we did not find it on any menu.

We do love vegtables though, and I actually was planning to supplement our granola bars with steamed vegtables, requesting they steam them using no spices.
shelleyk is offline  
Old Feb 20th, 2012, 12:41 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 29,049
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I DON'T LIKE IT ONE BIT, as i am unable to go along!!
rhkkmk is offline  
Old Feb 20th, 2012, 02:14 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 26,056
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
There are a lot of different spices in Indian food, it's a pity you can't identify the one(s) you don't like, but you can always ask that your food be made with no spices. I think you will do better in the south, where the idlis and plain dosas and some vadas won't be spicy unless you add condiments (the coconut chutney should be fine, avoid the orange sambar). Subsisting on dhal and rice would have to be better than granola bars, too! South India is more vegetarian than the north, so lots of veggies around, but I've never seen them steamed, you might have to settle for boiled. Unfortunately, when south Indian food is spicy, it's usually hotter than north India, but with different spices.

Yes, there is some great architecture in the south, and some good scenery too. I'd suggest that you limit your time in places like Madurai and Tanjore, but increase it in Pondy, Munnar and Coonoor. Again, I'd suggest stopping off in the Chettinad region. Note that you can get western food in Pondy (French influence) and possibly in Coonoor (British influence).

You asked for an alternative to the Regency Towers in Chennai, but I can't find any such hotel. If I were going back to Chennai I'd stay in the Keys - http://www.keyshotels.com/LocationChennai.aspx - because I really enjoyed the Keys in Trivandrum. (Note, it had great french fries, so there were probably other western dishes on the menu, too.) But I'd suggest that you look into the Radisson at the airport, given you're coming off a long flight - http://www.radissonblu.com/hotel-chennai - certainly seems to serve western dishes.
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Feb 21st, 2012, 05:40 AM
  #18  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,746
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
dogster and thursdaysd, thanks for your input and links. I'll do some further research. The website for the Keys Hotels in Chennai looks interesting.

Cali or anyone else, any other suggestions to make the trip efficient though not rushed. Any mid priced hotel recommendations (around $100-$150 plus or minus a bit) would be appreciated.
shelleyk is offline  
Old Feb 21st, 2012, 07:32 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 4,121
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Look at Lemon Tree in Chennai. I've spent several days there. It's a great mid-range chain.

http://www.lemontreehotels.com/chennai/resorts.aspx
dogster is offline  
Old Feb 21st, 2012, 12:53 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 4,482
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Reccos based on 14 nights in the South, right?

First, good for your decision on timing!!! january is an excellent time to go. I went in December (lovely weather everywhere. The travel planner I I use to help lives in TN (Trichy) and says Jan is a great time to visit. i totally trust her!!

Are your priorities are interesting architecture (vs wildlife, beautiful natural scenery, etc) Knowing this will help.

The relatively new (3 yrs old?) Courtyard Marriott in Chennai is about $150 at the prebooking no-cancellation rate. But as the trip is a year away, better to wait to set it in stone.

Check the Priceline site for hotels (in Chennai or other cities in India) I dont know if the bidding option is available, but there are good set rates.
CaliNurse is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:45 AM.