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Returned from 1 Month India Trip With Kids - A Few Notes

Returned from 1 Month India Trip With Kids - A Few Notes

Old Mar 9th, 2006, 12:16 PM
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Returned from 1 Month India Trip With Kids - A Few Notes

Just returned from a great 1 month trip to India with my family. (Husband from India - Neither of us had been there in 10 years - Never with Kids)

The Headline: We had a wonderful time mostly because of people and family. India is clearly changing and it was fun to see India in this new more open, modern era. There is a palpable optimism among many. But India continues to be an amazing combination of old and new, a constant series of profound contrasts..... as cliche as that sounds... The traditionally dressed woman in the ancient temple, checking her text messages on her cell phone. The dhoti wearing laborer carrying wires on his head next to the billboard for a new airline....a burka clad teenager chatting with her blue jean wearing friends....over and over this happens. Today we are in day one back in the US and everything is so quiet and orderly, big and somewhat sterile. We are happy to be home but are slighly missing all the vibrant, noisy chaos of India.

Most of our trip focused on friends and family so not a lot of seeing sights or dealing with tourist Industry – thought I would post a few quick notes. I am happy to answer questions – especially about traveling in India with kids.

2 grown ups 2 kids (5 &2) -
Travelled Atlanta to Bangalore Lufthansa – Decent flight – no complaints

Bangalore -
Shopping in Bangalore - Enjoyed SOMA, Fab India, Commercial Street
Bannerghatta – SKIP IT – more like a Zoo – although watching the Indian school children tour around was interesting in itself
Loved going to the Leela Hotel for lunch and shopping – Beautiful – seemed like a great place to stay
Traffic Traffic Traffic!!
Kids were amused by all the different kinds of transportation (rickshaw, bull carts, busses)

Travelling within India
Flew Kingfisher and Jet Airways – great experience on both – good service and food. If only they could improve the airports!


Calcutta -
Stayed at Hyatt Salt Lake. Super rooms (especially the bathrooms). Lovely modern hotel. Nice pool. Restaurant service eager to please but not very skilled. Fabulous spa with great massage. We loved the 5 star experience about ½ way through the trip.

Loved going to Victoria Memorial – nice museum with lots to see

Chennai – Pondicherry
Wonderful drive down (about 3 hours) great to get out of the cities after 2.5 weeks in India.
Stayed at Kailash Beach Resort - http://www.nivalink.com/kailash/index.html
Excellent, lovely grounds, good service, great pool. Simple but nice rooms. Heritage style. About half the price of Neemrana property and we are so happy Neemrana was booked! Only French people at the resort. Can walk to Beach.

We all bought some lovely antiques at Curio Center on Romain Rolland Street in Pondy. We walked in and by total serendipity met the owner who had gone to school with my Husband and Sister in Law. We bought 150-200 year old carved teak door (being shipped), my in-laws some paintings, my SIL an art deco era bar. Worth a stop.

Chidumbarum – About 2 hours from Pondy.
http://www.chidambaram.net/
Amazing temple complex. Arrived around 6pm and enjoyed evening Aarti. It is a “living temple” and full of worshippers, priests vs just tourists. We were treated to an impromptu dance performance in the inner sanctum. Fabulous!

Kids in India:
Everything available (wipes and diapers etc – although slightly less good quality)
Indians love children and everyone was warm and accommodating.
Kids stayed healthy for the most part which was a comfort.
Never used my stroller.
Keeping kids safe in traffic areas a bit tricky – I found it difficult to go out without another adult to help me with kids.

Sorry for the stream of consciousness style – but I knew if I didn’t just get this posted it would never get up. Again happy to answer any questions.
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Old Mar 9th, 2006, 07:50 PM
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enjoying your report....was the shipping expensive to usa from india for your antiques??
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Old Mar 9th, 2006, 10:39 PM
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Great observations.
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Old Mar 10th, 2006, 01:50 AM
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The store handles the shipping/customs which was about $250 to our total bill (and this is a huge door!). I'll post when it arrives in US in about 2 months to tell how it went.
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Old Mar 24th, 2006, 04:10 AM
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Hi SFMASTER - DOnt know if you remember me but we exchanged some posts last year regarding Croatia with a toddler. So funny to come across you again! We are moving to Asia at the end of the year so I was just looking around for tips and ideas about traveling in the various countries with a young one. Your post is great and I will save it for our trip to India some day. Hope you and the family are well. Happy trails!
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Old Mar 25th, 2006, 07:24 PM
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How funny Stilli! It has been a busy travel year for our family. Great really. I won't be able to keep up the pace set this year with travel but still lurk around fodors crafting various future plans. We still reflect on Croatia and Hvar especially - dream about the view and the sunsets....good inspiration for some of the daily life.

India was marvelous. Happy to answer any questions!
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Old Mar 26th, 2006, 06:09 PM
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It's so funny to hear these observations because we just got back from India, (12 days in Feb. w/ my husband and 15 & 11 yr old daughters and 5 more days in Mar by myself) and we all have just the same feeling. Our not-very-big house suddenly seemed so extravagantly enormous and the roads deserted. I didn't think we'd actually miss the chaos but indeed we did. And I agree it's both because the people everywhere were so warm and friendly and because everything - the endless contrasts one just can't help commenting on - is an on-going suprise.

To offer some highlights/recommendations:

We flew American, Hartford to Chicago (where one has to chose between a 50 min. and 6+ hr. layover) to Delhi. Uneventful (especially the 7 hr layover) and on-time.

DELHI Stayed at the Maharani Guesthouse in Sunder Nagar. I'd read mixed reviews but couldn't find anything else low-mid-range available. Rather grubby for the price. Good location, friendly service, but dark and drab.

Shopped at Cottage Industries near Connaught Cir, took rickshaw through Chandri Chowk in Old Delhi (mind blowing for our first day in India), toured massive Jama Masjid mosque where there seemed to be a demonstration getting underway as we were leaving - our self-appointed guide translated only the word "unity" but we suspected it had to do w/ the Danish cartoon mess. Red Fort worth a visit.

Flew JET AIR to Jodhpur. Good service and very serious about security.

JODHPUR: Air clear, dry and hot (high 80s) midday. Stayed in the Ranbanka, next door to Ajit Bhawan. Very good value. Comfortable bright marble rooms, simple and pleasant decor, very good bathrooms, lovely garden/restaurant area, solicitous service. Pretty pool, good food, music & dancing show at night.

Highlight: tour of the Mehrangarh Fort. The audio tour (I usually avoid) was excellent.

Drive in Quallis to UDAIPUR - 5-6 hours, easy, good road, interesting drive.

UDAIPUR beautiful!! Lake full and gorgeous. Lots of shore birds, terns and ducks. Stayed at small (7-room) Amet Haveli - wonderful 350-yr old rooms overlooking lake. Our daughters' room was quite a bit smaller but our suite was really nice. Lovely simple and quiet open air cafe/restaurant next door (run by same people) tree-shaded w/ spectacular view of the palace - understandable why Udaipur is called India's Venice.

We also liked the roof-top restaurant at Udai Kothi (sp?) a boutique hotel just down the road. Food excellent and view brilliant. (Non-guests can also swim in roof-top pool for $6-$7.)

Must mention: for miniature paintings - be sure to check out the small gallery of a local artists cooperative down the street: Kahul Art School 4 Gangaur Marg ([email protected]) They supply a lot of the local shops but sell directly as well. They also give lessons/demonstrations, which our older daughter especially loved.

Flew back to Delhi via Jet and drove down to Agra for 1 night - a gruelling 5-hr rush-hour drive. Stayed at Taj View Hotel - a bit corporate for our tastes. Agra is pretty much awful but Taj Mahal was worth the drive. Excellent guide, whose card I still have: Kamal Kishore Gupta (mob. 9837014852).

We can't wait to go back and god do we miss the food.

Lyd


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