We are going to the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi India, start of October 2010, we plan to travel around for 3 weeks after this.
We have no idea where to start on research, India is huge and has several very different areas, and any advice on how to spend the 3 weeks would be greatly appreciated;
We are fit and in our mid twenties, we would definitely like to avoid the more touristy areas and city centres, I have been to Cairo and other places where you are consistently hassled, I would like to avoid this, but do understand it probably can’t be avoided. We like photography and love beautiful scenery and temples. We would like to visit an area with a warm to mild climate, we are backpackers, so usually don’t visit resorts or expensive areas and try to avoid touristy areas. We wouldn’t mind getting a flight somewhere if it was far from Delhi.
Any advice or ideas are greatly appreciated
Deciding where to go in India on such a short trip is probably the hardest decision you'll make while planning. Every region is very different and with the size of the country it's not really practical to try to see too much. I would recommend sticking to one area.
I would consider one of four options based on my favorite places in the country and how much I think you can cover in three weeks. Of course there are many other places to go and hopefully someone else will suggest other highlights. But if I was to go back to the country for three weeks to revisit my favorites, it would look something like this.
1. Rajashtan: Deserts, temples, camels, and lots of color. It's probably the easiest to plan because you can do a nice loop from Delhi and there is a ton to see. Only problem is that if you want to avoid touristy areas, well, this is pretty much the center of tourism in India. However, Rajasthan still retains a very authentic feel even in the most touristy of areas, so I wouldn't let this stop you. With the exception of Pushkar I never felt that I was in a place that was overrun by tourism.
I would visit - Delhi - Jaisalmer - Jodphur - Udaipur - Pushkar - Jaipur - Agra - Delhi.
2. Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh: Possibly the best option for a mix of experiences. I would cut out half of Rajasthan (unfortunately some of the highlights, but they are too far away) and head East toward Varanasi, which for me is THE highlight of the country. You would also get to stop in Orchha which I think you will enjoy if you are looking for nice towns away from the tourist crowds.
Delhi - Pushkar - Jaipur - Agra - Orchha - Khajuraho - Varanasi. If you think you have time I would add Udaipur, but that might be too much
3. Himalayas: If scenery and something different is what you are looking for than I would head North to the mountains as far as Leh if you can. There's lots of hiking, old Buddhist monasteries, and a much more relaxed pace of life than the rest of India. The only problem is I don't know how accessible Leh is that time of year. The road might be closed so you'll have to check that out. If you can't get that far North, there is plenty other places to add to the itinerary like Rishekesh, or combine the trip with parts of Rajashtan and/or Amritsar.
I would visit something like Delhi - Shimla - Manali - Leh - Manali - McLeod Ganj - Delhi (possibly with Amritsar if you have time).
4. Kerala - Mumbai: If you want palm trees, beaches and a chilled pace, I would head south. 2 weeks is good to see the highlights of Kerela, and with your spare week I would try to get up to Hampi. From Hampi I would head to Mumbai, but you could also head to Goa instead if you want more beaches. Though Goa is pretty touristy, some of the beaches, like Arambol still have a pretty relaxed atmosphere and aren't big resorts yet.
Maybe I would go: Fly to Trivandrum - Varkala - Allephy and the backwaters - Cochin - Mysore - Hampi - ?
Hope this gives you some ideas,
Wow thank you so much!!! We loved your ideas and are interested in Kerala/Goa or Rajasthan/Orchha/ Varanasi, the weather decided for us, Oct can still be monsoon in Kerala so we are planning on using the Varanasi route.
Any further advice you can offer on transport, accom and must see sights would be awesome.
Again thank you so much for you response! ( :
My girlfriend and I had the same problem this time last year. We spent 3 weeks in India in august last year. It was very hard to plan where to go in such a short time but we were very happy with where we went and had a great trip. Like you we didn't fancy much time in the big cities. We did spend some time in Mumbai as we flew in and out of there. It's a crazy bustling city and 2 days is easily enough to see main sites. Did hear from others that the Bently hotel is a great value backpacker option. Kerla province is at it's most beautiful just after the monsoon season, we were there in middle of monsoon season and saw very little rain. Would definetly recommend Fort Cochin in Kerla, it's a beautiful relaxing old Portuguese colonial town. Hampi is another must see place, 26square kilomteres of ruins, it really is amazing, though the town itself is an alcohol and meat free zone. We also spent time in Goa but it is very quiet during monsoon season with all the beachs closed... not sure what it will be like in October
. In terms of getting around we took a couple of overnight trains and some internal flights. Very cheap flights can be found and if you are on a tight schedule
I just want to tell you that , you will be in Delhi during Commonwealth Games. So In my opinion you can start from Delhi. You can visit Rajasthan and some cities of Utter pardesh,
Rajasthan is amazing place to visit, Varanasi and orchha also very good place.
I have done trip of Rajasthan in December 2009, Rajasthan where we traveled with a car+driver. We are totally enthusiastic with this solution.
We are convinced that the best solution is the car+driver.
We hired a car with driver from an agency. The agency owner Arif is very good person. His house is in Jaipur. He gave a nice Logan(Renault) car for our trip. He has 3 car with good English speaking driver. In my trip he gave me lot of good advice about good places and we went a small village on the way of Udaipur---- name was “Totgarh”
It was very cool and nice place to visit. I really very much enjoyed my trip.
So you can do this route in opinion Delhi > Mandawa (heritage havelis), Bikaner > Jodhpur (Blue city) > Jaislmer(desert) > Rankpur (Jain Temple)> Udaipur > Totgarh village > Puskar > Jaipur > Agra > Varanasi and Orchha,
For any other query you may contact me.