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Rough South India Itinerary - comments appreciated

Rough South India Itinerary - comments appreciated

Old Jul 12th, 2013, 06:37 PM
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Rough South India Itinerary - comments appreciated

I'm planning our 8 to 10 week trip to India starting mid January next year. There are three parts to our trip:

1. The South (details below)
2. Goa for a couple of weeks in rental villa(s)
3. Golden Triangle/Varansi - plus Kathmandu or Darjeeling or TBD

For the most part I do most of the travel planning myself and I have a good sense of areas #2 and #3 (above) but the south is all new to me. A friend directed me to an agent who supposedly is an expert and get great deals, etc, etc. I introduced myself to her via email this week, with some background on how we travel/what we're interested in/etc, and assumed we would further the conversation by phone. Today I received a rough outline (her words) of an itinerary for the South portion (26 days)

Here it is......as mentioned I'm a newbie so would appreciate comments - I've highlighted the key sightseeing suggested in the itinerary. It assumes a car/driver - no hotels at this point.

I know from looking at it that there are too many 2-night stays for us - we prefer to travel more slowly. Also I am a little surprised at just a day houseboat trip in Kerala, as opposed to overnight(s). I am now immersing myself in information regarding this itinerary and would appreciate any comments

2 Nights Chennai
Fort St. George/San Thome Church/Kapaleeswarar Temple
2 nights Mahabalipuram
Shore Temple/Arjuana's Penance and Cave Temple
Kanchipuram excursion - day
2 nights Pondichery
Sightseeing Pondichery
return to Chennai and fly to Madurai
2 nights Madurai
Meenakshi Temple/Thirumalai Nayak Palace
2 nights Periyar
National Park - nature walk/boat tour on lake Periyar
3 nights Kumarakom
Bird Sanctuary visit and house boat trip - separate days
2 nights Cochin
Harbour City Tour/Dutch Palace, Synagogue and fishing net
2 nights Athirapally
Water Fall visit
2 nights Ooty
Narrow Gauge Railway opportunity/Botanical Garden
2 nights Wayanad
Edakkal Caves
2 nights Mysore
Maharaja's Palace/Chmundi Hills
2 nights Bangalore
Lalbagh/Tipu Sultan's Palace/Vidhan Soudha and Bull Temple
Fly to Goa

Elizabeth_S is offline  
Old Jul 12th, 2013, 08:32 PM
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1. You can do Mahabalipuram as a day trip from Chennai, no need to overnight

2. You can do Kanchipuram on the way to Pondy

3. If you fly to Madurai you'll miss Trichy and Thanjavur, and also the Chettinad region

4. I really enjoyed overnighting on the Kerala backwaters, but there were MANY fewer boats when I did it, and it was really hot at night (now you probably get AC, but it won't be as quiet)

5. I stayed in Coonoor rather than Ooty

6. I would skip Bangalore

7. WAY too many two nighters!

You may find my South India TR helpful. Start here for the section covering your itinerary: http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...omment-6952210 - or here with pix: http://mytimetotravel.wordpress.com/...ute-to-mysore/
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Old Jul 13th, 2013, 08:24 AM
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Hello My Friend

I have made some suggestions below regarding your South India Trip.

In Chennai, 1 night is enough. Visit of Fort St.George, Kapaleeshwara Temple, St.Thomas Church, Government Museum.

In Mahabalipuram, you need two nights. You can do day excursion to Kanchipuram also.

From Mahabalipuram, drive to Pondicherry. one night is enough.

From Pondicherry, it is not advisable to return back to chennai. It is the waste of time to reach chennai and get a flight to Madurai.

If you travel by car, you can cover Chidhambaram, Gangaikondacholapuram (11th century temple)UNESCO site, Tanjore Big Temple (World Heritage Monument-UNESCO), Trichy, Chettinadu Village, and then Madurai

After Pondicherry, you can have a stay of one night in Tanjore

One night in Chettinadu where you can feel the village ambience.

Madurai - one night

Periyar -two nights

Alleppey -Houseboat - one night

Cochin - Two nights

Ooty - One night

If you like to stay one night in Bandipur National Park. You can have one night there. Or else, drive from Ooty to Mysore

Mysore - Two nights

Visit of Shravanabelogola ( a monolithic statue of 17m high) on the top of a hill. You have to climb nearly 650 steps.

Hassan - Two nights (Visit of Belur and Halebidu - ancient sites belongs to 12th century)

Hassan to Hospet (long drive) In the midway you can visit Chitradurga Fort and then continue your drive to Hospet.

You need to stay two nights in Hospet to visit Hampi which is located at 13 kms from Hospet

After hospet,proceed to Badami. Enroute visit Aihole, Pattadakal which is the UNESCO World Heritage Site. You need to stay one night Badami.

Then drive from Badami to Goa. Have a relax in the beaches of Goa.

Fly from Goa to Bangalore
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Old Jul 13th, 2013, 08:39 AM
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Thank you both for your extremely helpful comments! I will revisit the itinerary - do you think the 26 nights is enough? I could add if necessary.
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Old Jul 13th, 2013, 08:42 AM
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Someone else (probably a TA) who thinks you should do a whirlwind trip. Ignore her. Also ignore the Hampi suggestion - the site isn't worth the major aggravation of getting there, unless you can afford the luxury train (the Golden Chariot). Badami is fine, but again, too tough to reach. There are many bad roads in India, but the ones in Karnataka are unbelievably bad.

Belur and Halebid are worth visiting, but you can do a (long) day trip from Mysore, no need to spend the night.
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Old Jul 13th, 2013, 08:45 AM
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IndiaTravelFriend - are you recommending we visit Bangalore?
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Old Jul 13th, 2013, 10:27 AM
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I'm afraid the travel agent has only made the itinerary worse with only one and two night stops.
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Old Jul 13th, 2013, 10:30 AM
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Indiatravel friend's itinerary is even worse for leaving no time to relax and wander.

I'd certainly not do Mahabalipuram (also called Mamallapuram)as a day trip from Chennai.

Mamallapuram is the halfway point on the road from Chennai to Pondicherry. It takes 1.5 or 2 hours to get there and another 1.5 ~ 2 hours to get to Pondicherry. If you get an early start, you can just stop along the way or spend a max of one night.

I haven't done a houseboat, but my daughter warned that the boats are very hot, and she ended up sitting on the deck all night due to the heat and the suspicion of rats below. I've had several people tell me that they'd just go for the day or choose one with AC.

I can't help with your other cities, but would also suggest that you stay for longer periods in some of your cities. India opens up to you slowly, and it can be really tiring to just move from one monument or scenic view to another.
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Old Jul 13th, 2013, 10:38 AM
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Kathie - I fear so. It was a nice gesture on my friend's part but has confirmed I'd rather do it myself. Might have them do the air as they apparently get good consolidated air prices....might make Biz class possible.

lcuy - absolutely agree with nights - we rarely do fewer than three - maybe a one nighter if it's to make ground.

Will look into houseboats carefully. Thx for the info.
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Old Jul 13th, 2013, 10:54 AM
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"I'd certainly not do Mahabalipuram (also called Mamallapuram)as a day trip from Chennai. "

I did, but I wasn't going on to Pondy that trip. I doubt you'd want to do both Kanchipuram and Mahabalipuram on the way to Pondy, so one needs to be a day trip, and Mahabalipuram is a bit closer to Chennai.
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Old Jul 13th, 2013, 01:44 PM
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Hi Elizabeth (and all...)
I Find That Forum Exactly At The Same point, Trying To Schedule Our Tour - 28 days , Next September To South India.
So all The Information Here Is very Helpfull.
I Am sure i Could Help A Lot After...
Yet, I'd Like To get More Information
We Are a Family of 5 Person
(Ofer 50, Tsipi 47, Michal 19, Alon 15, Erez 8 )
Car And driver :
1. would It be Wize To Find them when i'll Arive To Chanai ?
2. what Should be The Price ?
3. Knowing The India Traffic... The driver Issue Is Very important To Me, Can i get Recomendation for A reliable Drive?
We allso like To Stay more Time At places, Feel The Place, Knowing The People, Make Friends...we Like The Vilage Aria More Then big Cities, nature More Then Tempels...
Any Recomendations, advices would Be Grate.
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Old Jul 13th, 2013, 04:51 PM
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All two-night stays at best - India is like no where else you will travel. The sheer exhaustion of driving and the emotional highs and lows of what you will see will wear you out more than you expect. Choose fewer destinations and stay there longer.

Good luck! You will love India!
indianapearl is offline  
Old Jul 17th, 2013, 03:15 AM
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Thanks again for the comments - I'm considering the following adjusted itinerary (not final yet or very specific)

Arrive Chennai - transfer immediately to Mahabalipuram - 3 or 4 nights in a beach hotel (my husband has a bad back and I like the idea of having time to relax after the long flights) - tour area
Pondicherry (possibly only 1 night)
Continue by car to Thanjavur/Chettinad - 5 or 6 nights in two locations
Madurai - 2 nights
Periyar - not sure if this is the best wildlife sanctuary for our visit....maybe do it up north instead. (gets iffy reviews - not much to see) - ALT Munnar?
Kerala - houseboat/maybe a few nights on a beach - 7 nights in a couple of locations

I haven't looked closely yet at the rest of the itinerary - Athirapally/Ooty/Wayanad/Mysore - that's today. Could we just go from Mysore to Goa and forget about Bangalore? I know it's a long drive - alternatives?

Have spent most of my planning time finding accommodation in Goa for the middle two week bridge. When I started to look I was concerned I had left it too late as February is very popular and many villas were booked. Then I became concerned about staying in Goa for two weeks - too touristy/we're not beach people/beaches aren't clean/etc. But I found wonderful accommodation that satisfies our desire to work with a local chef -- visiting markets and cooking with them, and it comes with a car and driver and there are many terrific looking day trips so now I'm very excited about the time in Goa.
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Old Jul 17th, 2013, 06:22 AM
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Well, going from Goa to Mysore I took the train, but it took me all day on a very slow train. Checking the timetable (at cleartrip.com ) I see that to go from Mysore to Goa you'd have to take a night train to Londa, and then wait two hours to take another train three hours on to Madgaon. And you'd have to worry about missing the connection.

Apart from the leg up from the coastal plain onto the Deccan Plateau (passing the Dudhsagar Falls) the scenery wasn't that exciting. I'd look into flying from Bangalore, although I wouldn't spend much time in the town itself. You're right, there is quite a bit to see in Goa aside from the beach.
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