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Travelling to South India - First time!!!

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1. Posted by hillbec (Budding Member 6 posts) 10y

hillbec has indicated that this thread is about India

Hi

I'm travelling to South India with my boyfriend in September.

We have three weeks and are planning this: arrive Chennai (visit mahabalipuram, stay 2 nights) - flight to Madurai (2 nights) - flight to Kochi (5 nights in Kochi/Kerala) - flight to Goa (2 nights) - train to Hampi (2 nights) - train to Goa ( 3 days) then fly to Mumbai and fly home!

Being new to India - just wondered what experienced travellers to India thought of this? We're flying because its cheapish (£200 for the lot) and because we'd like to see as much as poss in the 3 weeks we've got. Seems flying takes an hour whereas trains take around 7....??

Also - should we stay in Chennai or in Mahabalipuram? how long does it take to get between the two?

We'd like to stay on a houseboat in Kerala - 1 night or two nights? Where else should we go? Is it worth going up to the spice plantations? What about the nearby wildlife reserve?

In terms of Goa - where are the best beaches?

Hampi - should we stay in Hampi or in Hospet?

any help would be very much appreciated!!!

thank you :-)

2. Posted by aprilsgal (Full Member 161 posts) 10y

Hi Hillbec,

I am so gald i am able to reply to ur thread ...cos i know about almost all the places u mentioned!!!

first, do you want to do/see something in chennai - if no, head to mahabalaipuram - which is about 1 and half hours max from chennai airport. There are some nice resorts on the way, some 5 star resorts too like GRT Temple Bay (this is in mahabalipuram) , Fisherman's cove is a little ahead itself.

You might want to go to pondicherry as thats just and hour or so from mahabs - and u can go for a day to this place.

2 days in madurai sounds good - are u going here for the temples? if so, i can suggest other places close by for more!

Tekkady is the tiger reserve which is close to madurai and is in tamilnadu , kerala border - its a nice place, but a bit commericalised and they have trekking and boat rides - so if its off-season, it'll be good ... Parambikulam and Silent Valley are 2 other really nice reserves in kerala-TN border .... and lesser crowd for sure ... you can check if thats on ur route and try and make it there .... Yes please do visit the spice plantations. A friend of mine said its very beautiful.

Do the boat house ride for a day ... start by midday so u can dock away from civilization for the night...if u satrt after 4, u cant go out too far ...or thts what happened wen i went with my friends... Actually, 2 days is also good if u want to just chill and do nothing else :) ... there are some resorts nearby where u can get "kerala" massages etc and relax totally - u may want to try it :)

I think Goa deserves more than 2 nights - not sure about the beaches here ... but u'll find tons of info on goa...

Hampi is beautiful - u'll love it ...stay at hampi itself... the ruins themselves close by 6 o clock, but the feel of the place is beautiful ..

close to Goa is also a reserve called Dandeli - there are log cottages, organised treks, canoeing, rafting in the right season .. a place for 2 days....

hope this helps...by all means use flights - there are some low-cost airflights in india ...though Air deccan tends to have a lot of delays!

feel free to pm me for more info...
take a look at my blog overe here - for info on hampi!
www.campfiresandcrazylands.blogspot.com

3. Posted by Degolasse (Travel Guru 823 posts) 10y

neeraja give some good advice and i would agree with all of it.
Get out of Chennei and go straight to Mamamallapuram. Chennei really isn't a very exciting city at all. Mammallapuram has lots of great places to stay and it's defienlty worth a couple days.

In Kerela, though you might be able to get a houseboat from Cochin, the most options are in Allephy a couple hours South. Hop on a train to get there.

Every likes a different beach in Goa. There are big resort beaches, empty mellow bamboo shack beaches, and everything in between. For me, Palolem was perfect. It was busy with lots of great restarants, but still mellow and low key with a beautiful beach.

Definelty stay in Hampi istead of Hopset. There are tons of hotels in Hampi, and you want to be around to climb the hill for sunset. If you only one full day in Hampi, it's going to be a very full one since there is at least 3 days worth of stuff to see. So you don't want to waste time getting from Hopset to Hampi on your sightseeing day.

4. Posted by hillbec (Budding Member 6 posts) 10y

Hi - thank you so much for your replies!!

slight change of plan - we had a think and decided that we'd like to spend longer in Kerala and in Goa, and therefore are going to miss out Madurai and leave it for another trip.

Anyone know anything about the wildlife reserve in Kerala?

The question now is - is it easier/better to get to hampi from Bangalore or from Goa? How do I find out the train times?

thanks :-)

5. Posted by aprilsgal (Full Member 161 posts) 10y

get urself a lgin and find out from this site - u can even book tickets online!
www.irctc.co.in

hmm... too bad u are going to miss madurai - the temple there is beautiful...

Being a chennai-ite i would disagree that chennai has nothing to offer - good places to eat, some discos and pubs, lots of places to shop , temples to visit -- and we love our beach - but since ur going to mahabs - u'll see a beach there too [:)]

6. Posted by aprilsgal (Full Member 161 posts) 10y

get urself a lgin and find out from this site - u can even book tickets online!
www.irctc.co.in

hmm... too bad u are going to miss madurai - the temple there is beautiful...

Being a chennai-ite i would disagree that chennai has nothing to offer - good places to eat, some discos and pubs, lots of places to shop , temples to visit -- and we love our beach - but since ur going to mahabs - u'll see a beach there too [:)]

7. Posted by Inkstainer (Budding Member 6 posts) 10y

To reassert what Neeraja and Dave have said- do visit the Auroville ashram in Pondicherry. And stay in Hampi, it's beautiful!

In Kerala, do the visits to the spice/tea plantations only if you have a lot of time because the rides uphill can be quite annoying. Other places you could go to are Periyar (the wildlife reserve), Munnar
(not much to see but serene and picturesque) and Kovalam ( you can check into an Ayurvedic resort).
You could incorporate a day's stay in Kanyakumari after Chennai- it's the southern most tip of the subcontinent and has a host of one day touristy places to visit.

All of Goa is nice ( ofcourse I'm biased : ). If you're looking for resort style or 5 star accomodation, head south. Morjim, Palolem and Arambol are the good beaches and since it's sort of off season, you might have them all to yourself on somedays! Candolim is a good place to stay in if you're a foodie. I'm in love with Anjuna beach- do go to the 'Curlies' shack, it's near the Anjuna flea market.

Hope you have a great trip!

8. Posted by Inkstainer (Budding Member 6 posts) 10y

You can get private cabs/buses from Goa to Hampi so you don't need to do a stop at Bangalore. I suggest you club your Goa stay together, go to Hampi and head to Bombay from there.

9. Posted by hillbec (Budding Member 6 posts) 10y

how long/how much does it cost to go by private bus/car to Hampi from goa??

10. Posted by blackmagic (Budding Member 8 posts) 10y

Hello Hillbec
Your travel plan seems to be wonderful and exciting. Kerala has a choice of wildlife reserves. Neraja had mentioned to you most. Most popular and a must during a visit to Kerala would be the tea plantations in Munnar, back waters of Kollam , Alleppey and Kumarakom. I would suggest having Cochin as a base camp during your travel in Kerala. It’s centrally located and have connection flights and all other kind of conveyance which would help you save up time. Cochin its self have some interesting places like Fort-Kochi, beautiful beaches, my favorite is the village of Kuzhupilly which has backwater, shrimp farms and beach at the same place. Kuzhupilly Beach House is an interesting place to live there.
Cheers