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Thinking about India, looking for a unique plan/itinerary--advice needed

Thinking about India, looking for a unique plan/itinerary--advice needed

Old Jul 13th, 2011, 06:55 AM
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Thinking about India, looking for a unique plan/itinerary--advice needed

Hi All--

For a long time we've been thinking about visiting India. Now, we're (maybe) starting to plan for making this a reality in (maybe) Feb. since I understand it is one of the best months to visit and it is also a month we'd like to get away from our long winter here. If we can I'd like to stretch our time to a month even though after about 2 1/2 to 3 weeks we're typically ready to go home from trips, so I do have some qualms about a really long trip especially since our normal mode of travel is slow travel and we typically enjoy settling down for part of each trip in an apartment or house for at least 4 -5 days. I've got some guidebooks and started to do some research, but there are so many choices and so many different areas that I'm kind of at a loss. That's why I am asking for some guidance in at least narrowing things down a bit. My other dilemma is that much as I'd like to be able to say this will be the first of many trips to India, I don't know if this is the reality. India is a long and expensive way from Minnesota where we live.

We don't want the typical "I'm going to India, and this is where everyone goes" kind of trip. We'd be fine with a few of those experiences, but we're looking for something more and different. Also, we are more interested in having fewer but more quality experiences rather than crazily running around trying to do it all--a trip of primarily one night (or even two night) stays and constant moving is not for us. Maybe if I tell you about us and our interests you can help me out with some ideas.

We're in our early 60s and fairly fit, so we'd like a part of our trip to be an active vacation. We've taken week-long cycling trips in France, Germany and Vietnam, and we've done hikes of several days in Peru and Vietnam. We also really enjoyed a 6 day stay in an extremely remote lodge in the Amazon with no electricity and cold water only; the emphasis here was on nature, not luxury or pampering. We've done homestays in really remote areas, and we can pee in the bushes and sleep in tents if need be. We like water-based activities but do not want to take a vacation to lie on the beach.

But, we also enjoy staying in nice, unique, moderately priced places rather than cookie-cutter chain hotels. We'll pay for ambience and location but don't need or want luxury or pampering. I've got a copy of Sawday's book on special places to stay in India. Some look quite interesting (and affordable) and some are more than we choose to pay for lodging.

While we are interested in architecture and art and history and religion and will definitely include some of those things in our itinerary, we also want this trip to be one that truly gives us insights to rural India and the lives and customs of people. Some of our most memorable experiences on trips have been with people not places, and we'd like to find small, local based travel agencies that could set some things up for us that will introduce/expose us to some of these types of opportunities. And, we prefer to suppport local initiatives rather than the large more global tourist industry.

Even though we typically do it all ourselves and rent a car to get around, we've also learned that in developing countries we are better off getting a driver and sometimes a private guide too for certain portions of a trip. And, we've also found in these countries that piecing together a trip partially arranged by us directly and partially by using small, local agencies can give us exactly what we are looking for. Off the beaten path in places that aren't so touristed is fine with us, and we often make choices that reflect this. We don't need to go back home saying we've seen all those things on a typical tour itinerary; in fact, we often choose to avoid those types of trips.

So, I am looking for some direction to at least get started on exploring ideas for this trip. Areas/locales, places to visit, small agencies, experiences we should consider, websites etc. would be more than welcome. Thanks much, and sorry for the super long post.
julies is offline  
Old Jul 13th, 2011, 07:21 AM
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I'm already looking forward to your trip report! My trip to India was orchestrated by Indian friends, so the first week was staying in homes. Second week, fairly typical travel to Delhi, Agra, Udaipur, but even there--the side trips were delightful--even to see ordinary scenes of daily life. It would be hard to visit India and not encounter regular slices of life.
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Old Jul 13th, 2011, 07:47 AM
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Julies, you may have read my trip report http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...p-to-india.cfm

photos: www.marlandc.com/Sikkim/index.htm

We absolutely loved Sikkim! We were not as taken with Darjeeling. Before the trip, I had also done research on Assam, and that's a place still on our list.

We got 10 year visas, and expect to visit India again and again. I'll be interested to see the kinds of responses you get. I find I'm very drawn to southern India and will research that for a possible next trip to India.
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Old Jul 13th, 2011, 08:49 AM
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at first blush, india does not strike me as the place to do those things which you describe, but then i asked myself why not??

india is tough in every way. that is not to say that you cannot cut through all of that. the people certainly are friendly and the small places are among the most colorful i found.

i'm not sure that a rental car is a good option, but you certainly would see things that would not be available otherwise. I felt that having a driver did insulate us somewhat from total interaction.

i look forward to seeing what you end up doing..
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Old Jul 13th, 2011, 09:37 AM
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Old Jul 13th, 2011, 09:49 AM
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http://www.hinduism.co.za/moon3.htm#2011 February

that should keep you happy for a while.
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Old Jul 13th, 2011, 10:17 AM
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I have found www.mikesindia.com very helpful
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Old Jul 13th, 2011, 10:31 AM
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Sure it wasn't www.indiamike.com?
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Old Jul 13th, 2011, 05:02 PM
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Went to India a couple years back. I didn't do the typical trip I don't imagine and while I concentrated on wildlife even the wilderness areas are surrounded by people and "rural life". Here's my trip report and some pics which might give you a good idea....

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Old Jul 13th, 2011, 08:18 PM
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I really appreciate all the help, comments, and links. I am sure I will be back with lots more questions to ask after I have had time to throughly explore and read through all of the information you have all give nme. As I said, I was looking for some places to start with my investigation of possibilities. Thanks so much.
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Old Jul 14th, 2011, 01:56 PM
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Contact VP Singh at Legendandpalaces.com.
He is a wonderful guide and planner. He will do as much or as little as you desire.
He will introduce you to India - not just show you the sights.
Have a great trip.
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Old Jul 15th, 2011, 12:01 AM
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I think a mix of India can be done with the life of North India and South India as the culture is entirely different in the two regions. Both the places have its own specialties and attractions, may it be historically, geographically, wildlife, beaches or whatsoever. Often, it is seen that people who come to India is more focused on Golden Triangle and around and miss out the southern attractions. As I suggested to Bob earlier, it would be good if you can think of taking a flight from Delhi to Kochi once you had your time at North, to experience the southern Palaces, Hill Stations, Wild life sanctuaries, Houseboat, Backwaters and Beaches etc. I feel a good way to cover is to land at Delhi and return from Bangalore.
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