Starting Point in Rajasthan

Old Feb 1st, 2006, 04:58 AM
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Starting Point in Rajasthan

For a first timer to India, where would you suggest would be a good first couple of destinations after arriving in Dehli. From what I hear, there can be a bit of initial culture shock!!

Our plane arrives in Dehli at around 22:30. Originally we had planned to stay the night in Dehli and take the fairly common route of Agra the next day by train and then a day or two later travel to Varanasi.

However, the more I research, the more it seems that Agra is more conjested, polluted and dirty than most of India and Varanasi even more so.

Now I am thinking visiting places like Jaipur and Jodhpur first may be better and then travelling to Agra and Varanasi near the end of our 3 weeks.

We are flying out of Dehli and my general rule is to be in the place that I am flying out of a couple of days in advance, so planning on leaving Dehli itself for the end.

For reference sake, we are western Europeans and the most out of our element places we have travelled to so far have been independant/semi-independant trips to Egypt and S.E. Asia which included Northern Thailand and Siem Reap. Wondering how prepared that would make us to take on India!
adwinn is offline  
Old Feb 1st, 2006, 06:49 AM
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We traveled to India for the first time last February. Our previous travel experience was similar to yours. We flew into Delhi and proceeded by car directly to Agra. Although there was a bit of initial culture shock, it was nothing that we couldn't handle. India is everything you have seen in other third world countries only there is more of it.

That being said, it makes sense to do Agra and Jaipur consecutively (Jaipur to Agra or Agra to Jaipur) as you will want to visit Fatephur Sikri on the way. It is about 45 minutes outside of Agra.

Note that many people fly to Varanasi from Delhi so that could be done later in your itinerary if you want.
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Old Feb 1st, 2006, 08:46 AM
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I think that going to Agra first is a nice entry to India, mainly because we had arranged to be picked up everywhere and so had no decisions or chance of getting lost until we had acclimated a bit.

There isn't any good shopping in Agra, so you will probably only experience the monuments and your hotel there.

(We came into Delhi at the same time as you, slept in a hotel near the train station, took the early train to Agra, and were again met at the station in Agra. The hotel, train tickets and all pickups were pre-arranged.)

From Agra, you could go to either Varanasi or Jaipur and then fly back to the other prior to ending in Delhi.

Jaipur is a relatively clean city that you will take a car to most of the monuments and will likely have a guide, so again it will not be too overwhelming.

I would put Varanasi at the end, mainly because it is a town you really need to get out and discover on foot, rowboat and cycle rickshaw. Unless you stay out in the Cantonment, you cannot escape by taking AC taxis. It is dirty and crowded and you will be dodging cows and seeing funeral pyres. I think after 2 weeks in India, you will be ready to see it through "India goggles" and appreciate its beauty and history much more than at the beginning.
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Old Feb 17th, 2006, 02:49 PM
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I just did a similar trip in December and spent the night we arrived and then the next in Delhi to acclimate before going on the 2nd morning to a flight to Varanasi. I spent another day at the end of the trip in Delhi. It was a good choice to spend a bit over a day in Delhi first --it's the most sophisticated of the places you mentioned going to. I disagree with what the others are saying about being ready for Varanasi by the end of the trip. I would say that had I not done it in the beginning of my trip I might have hated it. Varanasi is the most intense and sense assaulting place I have ever travelled to. It was wonderful, exciting, overwhleming and awful all at the same time. But I am glad I went. I would actually recommend you fly there as there are easy direct flights from Delhi on Jet Air. There are sometimes flights from Agra. The trains in India are a very interesting life experince but very uncomfortable. And I would say do it after a day or two in India. By the end of my 12 days in India I wanted to be someplace more relaxing.
I would also say you cannot compare India to any of the other places you mentioned. I also recently travelled to Siem Reap and found it a cake walk compared to India. So much more sophisticated and comfortable in Siem Reap. India is far dirtier, poorer, challenging to navigate, more risky food, and at the same time being incredibly colorful, unique, mind-blowing and an extremely enriching experience. No matter how prepared I thought I was for this trip, I could never have imagined what it was like. So I would say that nowhere you mentioned travelling to will truly have prepared you. On the upside, its all doable, just harder. While I am at it I would very hihgly recommend you find a way to spend time in a smaller town or rural area. All of the places you have listed are actually very big cities. I expected Jaipur to be much smaller and more relaxing than it was. My favorite city was Udaipur - a much smaller, calmer, cleaner, more manageable city that was still thoroughly Indian. Staying at a fort or palace hotel at least a half hour outside one of the cities will provide you with a very diffferent experience of India - experiences that I cherish. Also far more relaxing and give you a much better sense of what India people are like as it will be easier to wander in smaller towns/villages on your own and talk to welcoming locals.

Good luck.
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Old Feb 17th, 2006, 04:30 PM
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I would do Agra first both in terms of logistics and comfort. From delhi to Agra a new super fast train has just been introduced which gets you there in less than 2 hours. So overnight in Delhi somewhere in the Connaught place area which is near the train station. Next morning take the super fast train to Agra. Spent 1 night in Agra and on Day 3 or Day 4 (depending on whether you do 1 night or 2 nights in Delhi intially - as other posters have said doing a couple of days in Delhi may be an idea to acclimatize and get used to India but I leave that to you) have your car driver (who will already have caught up with you in Agra for your Agra sightseeing) take you on to Jaipur. Agra is also a more relaxed stop than say Jaipur both because there is no shopping worth spending time on and also because it has limited sights compared to other places where you will want to wander and absorb the ambience of the city. So, doing Agra first and using the slightly relaxed pace to get used to india makes sense from all perspectives I'd say.
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