A friend and I will be travelling throughout Northern India on a pretty tight schedule next Februrary. This is what we have planned at the moment, I basically want to know whether it is ambitious or achievable!
In Jan we would have travelled throughout Southern India, and will fly from Mumbai - Delhi.
Feb 8-10: Delhi
Feb 11: Bikaner
Feb 12-14: Jaisalmer (including camel safari into Thar Desert - any tips?)
Feb 15: Jodhpur
Feb 16-17: Udaipur
Feb 18: Pushkar
Feb 19-21: Jaipur
Feb 22: Agra
Feb 23-24: Kanpur (we are going here for work purposes)
Feb 25: Khajuraho (this may be problematic - is it worth it?)
Feb 26-28: Varanasi
Mar 1: Delhi (fly home)
I would love to hear advice on whether we should spend more time in one place, less in others, or even leave any of the above out. We don't like to linger in one place for too long.
What is the best/quickest way to travel between each? From my research, buses seem to be the better option in Rajasthan rather than trains?
Thanks in advance!
You are allowing yourself little time for travelling. Distances can be large, as in Varanasi to Delhi which I would allow at least 2 days for. You can travel overnight on sleeper trains (1st class is recommended though not essential) and do your sight seeing by day. There are a few routes where trains do get full up so you could have to wait many hours or more for the next one.
One whole day will do for Jaipur unless you have anything special you want to see. Watch out for the dodgy jewellers there. Khajuraho I quite liked though it is a bit out of the way. One day in Varanasi is enough, though you should be there at daybreak to see all the locals going down to the Ganges to wash, do laundry, etc. Do take tours when possible. There are numerous travel agents about.
Consider flying from Mumbai to Varanasi (Babatpur aka Varanasi airport) and then working your way back to Delhi. Trips can be taken from Delhi to Agra, Jaipur, etc.
A Lonely Planet guide to India is a good investment if you don't already have one.
I think you're doing too much too fast unless you plan to take an all-out guided tour or at least hire your own driver for the entire trip. It took me 6 weeks to do all this and still felt I was cutting things out.
You really don't give yourself much time to travel between places, and what will be left is just an evening in one town, or a full day at most in some. India's not the kind of place that you want to rush around in one afternoon to see all the sights and then hop back on the train to the next town. You'll be exhausted and you'll probably leave hating the place.
When traveling around Rajasthan, I always suggest to set aside an entire day for travel between each town, even if it's only supposed to be a 4 hour journey. But consider getting packed up, checked out, to the train/bus station, taking time for the train to be 1, 2,...5 hours late, take the journey, find a hotel, check in, and finally be ready to do some sightseeing....you've used pretty much the entire day and the only thing you're going to want to do is find something to eat and go to bed. Yes, you can definitely save some of this time by taking night trains when applicable. But I've often found the first day in a town after a night journey to be a bit of a write-off since you never get a full nights sleep on a train.
So with that, consider your route and think about how much time you'll really have in each place. Bikaner for example, you have a trip from Delhi and a single night in the town. I can't imagine you'll see more than your hotel. Jaisalmer also needs 3 days or so to enjoy it, especially if one of those days will be out in the desert. But you're first day will be spent getting there from Bikaner. Jodhpur is worth a full day. Udaipur is worth at least 2 days, and it is a long ride town from Jodhpur, so you're first day will be all travel. Ditto with Pushkar. I agree with above that Jaipur only needs one day. Khajuraho, while nice, takes a looooong time to get to unless things have improved greatly in the last couple years. I would say don't bother because you really don't have time. And Varanasi, it's my favorite town in India and I think it's worth at least 5 days to check out. But if you have only have a short time, you might enjoy yourself more if you spend more time touring Rajasthan at a relaxed pace.
Thank you both for your suggestions!
I have updated the itinerary slightly. I don't like to hang around in a place too long but am aware of the taxing nature of Indian travel. We do intend to travel via overnight trains as much as possible, but have tried to follow up each journey with a night in the respective town.
How does this look?
Feb 8: Arrive in Delhi from Mumbai (flying)
Feb 9: Delhi (overnight train)
Feb 10: Bikaner - Deshnok
Feb 11: Bikaner (overnight train)
Feb 12: Jaisalmer
Feb 13: Jaisalmer - camel safari
Feb 14: Jaisalmer (overnight train)
Feb 15: Jodhpur (what is the best way to get to Udaipur...?)
Feb 16: Jodhpur
Feb 17: Udaipur
Feb 18: Udaipur
Feb 19: Bundi
Feb 20: Bundi
Feb 21: Jaipur
Feb 22: Jaipur
Feb 23: Agra
Feb 24: Leave 6.45am from Agra - train arrives Kanpur 11am (in Kanpur for work purposes)
Feb 25: Kanpur (evening train)
Feb 26: Varanasi
Feb 27: Varanasi
Feb 28: Varanasi (overnight train)
Mar 1: Leave from Delhi back home
[ Edit: Edited on 09-Oct-2009, at 20:39 by markcoxy ]
Hi Mark, the itinerary is nr perfect now, glad you took out Pushkar, n r U sure about Varanasi, do also consider Rishikesh or/and Haridwar instead
Jodhpur to Udaipur is 5-6 hrs by road, best is by car, otherwise bus service is regular, with deluxe avlb in season
the road is fairly interesting in terms of variety of terrain, first skirting the edges of Thar Desert, then through rocky terrain up the low lying Aravali hills onto Udaipur
hi mate increase u r stay at agra best place for shopping like kashmiri silk, replicas of the tajmahal, one more thing agra ka petta(sweet) but dont forget to bargain in agra ..ha ha ha enjoy ur trip
Jodhpur to Udaipur is best done by bus as direct trains are not available. There are plenty of buses including overnight ones, between the two cities. Private and government owned Rajasthan tourism buses both operate on this route. Check the Rajasthan Transport corporation website(http://www.rsrtc.gov.in/) for more details
Commenting on your revised schedule and suggestions:
Skip Bikaner if possible and spend in any other place.
There are lots of camel safari agencies in Jaisalmer. At first discuss the rates and check what they offer for a camel safari. Similarly lodging in Jaisalmer.Some lodgers say that rooms are free if you take a camel safari!
One day in Jodhpur would be enough.
Buses are better transport option compared to trains in Rajasthan as frequency of trains are few.
In Varanasi a max of two days will do...visit the Ganges early in the morning and in the evening without fail.You can watch the common prayer done to river Ganges in the evening.It is worth seeing.
Khajuraho is not so easy to visit due to no straight surface transportation.Depends on your interest and time availability.
Al the best.
Travel plan is good enough... suggest u to spend some good time certain place.. varsanasi...
Travelling train may be time consuming... No buffer is seen in ur plan.
Keep some buffeer...