Planning to travel to India in December for three weeks, finally after years of wishing. Hope to get a feel for the spiritual/religious atmosphere by seeing Varanasi and Bodhgaya toward the end. Tentative plan is
2 days Cochin, sleeper train to Goa
2 days Goa, then fly to Delhi
7 days in Delhi, Jaipur and Agra, then sleeper train to Varanasi
2 days Varanasi, train to Bodh Gaya
2 days Bodh Gaya, car to Nalanda
2 days Nalanda Nalanda car to Patna
2 days Patna sleeper train to Kolkata
Depart from Kolkata
I would appreciate any advice on this itinerary and tips for trains/flights and getting around.
U want to get a spiritual/religious feel and you are missing the temples of South India... South Indian temples should atleast be considered for their unique architecture at least. They are way different than those in North India...
To name a few... Madurai, Kacheepuram, Kumabkonam (all in tamilnadu) for the temples.
and Hampi(Vijayanagara ruins) in karnataka is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Alleppey(70 kms from Cochin) in Kerala shouldnt be missed.
If you want MORE spritual and religious atmosphere, south India IS the place. No doubt you can visit and feel spritual and religious atmosphere at Varanasi and Bodh Goya but you are travelling so far away leaving places very near to you(Cochin). From Cochin, places like Madurai, Kumbakonam etc surely will give you a religious atmosphere which you will miss if you don't visit.
Anyway all the best.
Thank you both for your suggestions. What's the best way to get from Kochi to Madurai?
Bus is the best option. Check the redbus.in site for the trip availability.
Not to get into the North vs. South debate, but imho, South Indian temple towns are more religious than spiritual, if you know what I mean.
You cannot compare the spiritual experience one has in, say, Haridwar or Varanasi, to that in Madurai / Kancheepuram.
PS: I have been to all of the places mentioned, so, this is not hearsay. And, to reiterate, the South Indian towns hold their own charm. So select the place based upon your choice between Religion / Spirituality.
Kidintown, thanks for your perspective. I'm sure each region has its own unique character. India is so vast that it rightfully should take 4-6 weeks to get a deeper experience but as you know it is hard to take off for so long. So for now we are contented to cover both south and north albeit in a brief tour. If all goes well, we could come back for a more leisurely visit off the beaten track next time.
I dont know what exactly do you mean by religious/ spirtual thing. But you must do this backwater trip from Allepy ( near Kochi) to Quillon ( Near trivandram)
Then you must also visi Kanya Kumari
( The above route is from Kochi to Madurai as well)
I have travelled a lot on this route.
Al the best
[ Edit: Sorry, no personal details please. ]