Ron has already covered everything and i am quite impressed!
Weather: Delhi and Rajasthan are the best in Dec-Jan. You should have some warm clothes around, but Delhi winters are amazing. we have about 6-8 months of crazy heat, so winters are a blessing. people are better in Dec-jan and it most definitely makes sense to travel to rajasthan and delhi.Further into Himalayas you might freeze so be super careful about the weather! South India is good all around year and Dec-Jan again is a great time to travel.
Travelling Alone: India is a diverse country with diverse religious beliefs and customs. India is an eclectic mix of people. It is always beneficial, especially for a woman to dress conservatively. Delhi men are notorious for staring at women, while Mumbai is extremly safe and relaxed for women. Goa again is fun. down south people are usually nice to foreigners and they would be nicer if you respect the local customs (dress conservatively!).
Varnasi: Is crazy! be very careful.it is the hub and bastion of Hindu brahmins (the highest in the caste system). lord Krishna is the main diety. Try not getting int local politics such as the status of widows in Varnasi. they will clam up and might not assist you. To truly enjoy varnasi, avoid all seedy locations, go for well know places to stay, be polite and go to the regular temples and religious places. dressing will be important here. Avoid men who claim to show you the "path of god".
Hope you enjoy your stay in this beautiful eclectic and country a contradictions.
Hey Silver Surfer,
Thanks for the complement, but I am sure you are wrong about Delhi because I live in Delhi
I believe we might enter a Delhi vs. Mumbai debate but Delhi is overhyped as being unsafe. The fact is, we have beautiful women here Also Delhi and the NCR region ranks as the best place to live in - in India by Business Today and Outlook. Now on your profile you say you live in Gurgaon so I bet you know what I mean...
[ Edit: Edited on 11-Oct-2010, at 15:33 by CaptainRon ]
All the info i'm reading is putting other ideas in my head. How much time would I need to allow to get up to darjeeling? Or where might the nearest place be to get some trekking in near himilayas? Maybe this is a bit too ambitiuos but now am wondering whether to do a trek in the mountains or to see the palaces/forts of rajasthan! I'm guessing I can't do both!
Darjeeling is way on the east. Himalayan wilderness is best explored in Himachal Pradesh which is north of Delhi. However the timeframe you are looking at will be a hindrance because Himalayas will be in snow. I would suggest make an on-the-spot plan if you learn that there is no snow yet. Trekking is best done without snow when you actually come across vegetation, wildlife, waterfalls, streams etc.
Anyhow, I guess you should leave something for you to come back
I would personally suggest trying to get up in the Himalayas. Absolutely breathtaking non stop views of the tallest mountains in the world. It is impossible to come back home unchanged after seeing these. If you can get some hiking and trekking in, DO IT!!! Sometimes you can have locals show you around and guide you through the sometimes treacherous passes. One guy does this in Darjeeling for travelers -snip-
I only wish I was there!!!
[ Edit: Sorry, no promos please. ]
I was just in India travelling solo for 5weeks. And I think India was really safe country to travel alone. I'm female, and had no problems!!! You just remember to dress properly (ofcourse in Goa antd Kerala you can wear littlle skirts and bikinis).
My advice is that, don't try to see too much in 3 weeks, because distances in India are long and travelling is exhausting and slow (But so great!!!).
Book your trains and flights as early as possible, because fees is more and more expensive when the travelling day comes closer. And the sleeper-class (in trains) in good enough, and sleeper-class tickets are the tickets which are out of stock first!!!
I came home2 weeks ago, and already missing India so much!!! But going back next spring, defenitely!!!!