Me and my friend are planning a trip to the north of India. I have already spent a lot of time gazing to the map and now I found this forum and so I would like to ask you for some oponions. We will start (unfortunately) in Mumbai and we will try to get out of there as soon as possible. To Mumbai we will arrive on 24th Feburary and leave the Mumbai on 22nd March 2008.
Our first goal of the trip was the northeast + something(maybe Rajasthan). Mainly because we both are tea lovers and so we wanted to visit Assam and Darjeeling. Also we chose this area, because there is probably the least of tourism and that's what we want. We just don't need to see places as Taj Mahal. Also we would like to do some trekking. However there is a problem with the states around Assam. To almost all of them you need a permission and a group of at least four (same problem in Sikkim). Sometimes you may be required to go only with tour operator. This has two problems: we are only two and we don't like to pay for tour operator. So after some brainstorming we leant to not going to this area. Do you think it is still worth it to go there just because of Assam, Darjeeling and a part of Sikkim?
So the plan B are the northern states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. We would like to see the temples, definitely do some trekking, visit NPs, maybe see some meditations etc.
Before going either to the northeast or to Himalayas we would like to see something else. Definitely Delhi. Not really because of monuments, but mainly to see Indian city, the people etc. So we would spend few days here.
I'm really not sure whether it's possible to do in so short time, but we also think about stopping in Rajasthan before. Probably for some camel safari. However we don't want to be in hurry so I don't know if it is a good idea. What do you think?
So that's what we are thinking about right now. I would really appreciate any help from people who have done similar travelling over there. Also how I said, we do not like very tourist places so if you can give me some advices about places, temples, camel safari that are for some reason not too popular for tourists I will be glad. Thanks for any help.
[ Edit: Edited on Nov 18, 2007, at 6:37 AM by Angelos ]
I had 4 weeks in India. I done something like this Delhi >Bikaner> Jaisalmer > Jodphur > Udaipur > Pushkar > Ranthambore National Park > Agra > Varanasi > Darjeeling > Gangtok > Lachung. The last part of my trip in Darjeeling and Sikkim was the highlight of the trip for me. It is a beautiful part of the world. I went in January to Darjeeling and Sikkim and there were very few tourists around at thes time. I think once you get to Sikkim you do not need to trek in a group. My friend done a 4/5 day trek in Sikkim on his own. If you do head to Sikkim and want to someone to organsie tours i would recommend the staff at the Modern Guest House in Gangtok. Even if you do not stay there they will organise what you want. I hope the staff are still the same, because they were fantastic last year.
if ur starting from Mumbai i would advise u not to miss Rajasthan(which has famous cities like Jaipur, Udaipur, Ajmer, Pushkar, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Jaisalmer which have lovely palaces and forts) . Feb-march is the ideal time to visit Rajasthan as it would be quite cool in the desert and not many tourists will be around.
Moving from Rajasthan u can visit Agra(Taj Mahal), Varanasi, Delhi and spend a few days at each of these places.
From Delhi u can head straight to the Himalayas and visit the beautiful state of Himachal pradesh which has beuatiful hill stations like shimla, Manali, solang valley, some of these will be snow covered in Frb-March. Follow the Delhi-shimla-Manali-solang valley--dharamshala route. We can relax here and specially around Manali u will find a lot of old temples and hot water springs which attracts a lot of foreigners.
U cant go beyond Manali as it would be snow covered. Anyone visiting from July---mid October can even cross the mighty himalayas and visit the wonderful land of Leh-Laddakh, which is an experience in itself
Have a nice trip, do let me know if u need more info
First of all, I'm not sure why you think it's unfortunate to land in Mumbai and why you are so keen to get out of there fast. Mumbai is a fantastic city. Of all the top few biggest cities in India (like Delhi, Calcutta, Chennai etc..), Mumbai topped my list by a landslide. I would say that if you want to see a major city just to see an Indian city, then don't waste your time going all the way to Delhi because Mumbai will have everything you need and more.
Second suggestion is to be prepared to fly a bit within India. 4 weeks is not alot of time to see India, and the places you want to see are on the other side of a large country from where you fly in. Doing it all by train will really limit the amount of places that you can go.
Third, when I was there, Sikkim did not require 4 people in a group. You do have to get a special permit which takes about an hour in Darjeeling. I think you can also get it added into your Indian Visa when you apply for that. Sikkim is fantastic and I highly recommend it, especially if you want to see the himalayas away from crowds of tourists. Most tourists head to Himachal Pradesh or Nepal and leave Sikkim alone. I was there during a fairly peak season and there were nights when we were the only Westerners staying in town.
Here's a route that I would suggest:
Mumbai - Udaipur - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi - Bodhgaya - Darjeeling - Sikkim - Calcutta - fly back to Mumbai.
This route will give you a small taste of Rajasthan (Udaipur and Jaipur) including the Taj (though you said you didn't need to see it, but it's on the way), visits Varanasi, probably the most interesting city on the planet, swings by Bodhigaya, the birthplace of Buddha and an interesting spot slightly off the tourist trail. Then you can easily head to Darjeeling and to Sikkim before heading down to Calcutta to fly back.
Pushkar can also be added between Udaipur and Jaipur if you think you have time, though honestly, if you want to be away from tourists, this isn't the region to be thinking. I don't know about camel treks. If you really want to do one the place to go is Jaisalmer, but that's a little more out of the way and will require dropping a few other places, maybe adding another flight to save time.
Alternatively, if you decide that heading all the way to Sikkim is too far, then visit a few towns in Rajasthan (maybe Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmser and Bikaner), before heading to Amritsar, then a few places in Himachal (maybe McLeod Ganj, Manali, and Shimla). Maybe because of the time of year you may find fewer tourists, but generally this area of India is overrun by westerners.
Thanks a lot guys.
Ad. Mumbai...I don't know why I thought it is not worth staying. Probably when I read that the city is India's bussines center and about bollywood I imagined a more of a western city. But you might be right. I will read it up a bit.
Also the idea about the plane is great. I didn't think about it, because I thought it would be very expensive. But it is not so bad.
Does anybody know how much would we have to pay for a private driver/guide in the northeast? If you can provide me some links I will be glad.
I second Degolasse: Mumbai is definitively worth it! Personally, I liked it better than Delhi.
To give you a benchmark, I hired a private driver to visit the Rajasthan and I paid 50US$ per day. But then, prices might be different in the Northeast...
Mumbai ...ugh...at least for the first time, i liked Delhi much better, but up past Delhi past Corbett is lovely