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first time traveller to India wants recommendations

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1. Posted by elliots (Budding Member, 47 posts) 14 Feb '14 17:08

My wife & I are going to India for 3-4 months between June & December 2014. We have backpacked extensively in SE Asia and realize that India will be more challenging. We love scenery, wild-life, food, music, hanging with the locals and adventure though we are too old now for extreme exercise. Can you -
1. tell us the must-dos & must sees
2. best festivals & events during the period
3. best ways of getting around - between & within cities
4. best way of getting to India from Sydney (Oz) - trade-off between comfort & price
5. suggested itinerary

Look forward to reading your responses
Steve

2. Posted by Borisborough (Full Member, 200 posts) 15 Feb '14 21:12

Hi Steve - we went through India in about six weeks three or four years ago (December 2010 - January 2011). Arriving overland from Kathmandu, we started in Varanasi and went to Agra, Amritsar, the Wagah border crossing and into Lahore and then back to Amritsar and Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Mumbai, Palolem (Goa) and then across to Chennai to fly out to Kuala Lumpur and then back to New Zealand. Most of the travelling we booked on sleeper trains overnight using Cleartrip; since the trains are cheap, if you want to change your itinerary, you don't lose too much money. We also did a few overnight buses in Rajahstan.

The Taj Mahal is a must (it was 750 rupees for us - only 30 rupees if you're Indian), Varanasi is a spiritual place but some of the touts can be hard work, the Golden Palace in Amritsar was fabulous, the Wagah border ceremony is hilarious, the fort at Jodhpur is great and Udaipur is in a lovely setting. Mumbai was an experience. We added Palolem for some beach and R&R at the end and that was great. I can't say much about Chennai - a bit disappointing. Regret not doing Jaisalmer and Delhi but time was a little limited.

I think getting to KL or Singapore using Jetstar might be cheapest and then a budget airline from there (KL to Delhi is just over 5 hours). Getting around the cities - we walked alot but tuk-tuks are so cheap that it's an easy way for two people to get around.

Enjoy your trip!

3. Posted by elliots (Budding Member, 47 posts) 16 Feb '14 00:32

Thanks heaps for responding. Your trip sounds fantastic. We'll travel a lot slower I think. Were the overnight trains good for sleeping?
With your advice I'll start my list with Amritsar, Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Mumbai, Goa, Jaisalmer and Delhi and hope for some more feedback for other adventurers.
Any extra advice anyone - both things to see/do and festivals/events?

Hopeful Steve

4. Posted by CheersT (Travel Guru, 1569 posts) 16 Feb '14 00:36

Which guide book are you using?

Cheers,
Terry

5. Posted by Degolasse (Travel Guru, 810 posts) 16 Feb '14 18:02

I don't think you'll find traveling in India too much more challenging than in SEA. Yes, India can be hard on the head, and the poverty, dirt, scams, hassles, delhi belly etc... can be tiring. However, I find the logistics of transport, hotels, food and everything like that to be one of the easiest places in the world.

1. Highlights - my highlights were, in no particular order: Varanasi, Ladakh, Jaisalmer, Bundi, Cochin, Mumbai, and Hampi. Of course the Taj Mahal is a must-see and Udaipur, Jodhpur, the beaches of Kerela and Goa, Sikkim, Kolkatta, McLeod Ganj, and Orccha all stick in my head as places I really enjoyed.

2. Festivals - You'll probably catch some festivities around Diwali, and I think you'll be there during the Pushkar Camel Fest.

3. Buses are fine for shorter distance (say, 6 hours or less), but after that, I would recommend the train which is much more comfortable. I was pretty happy with sleeper class trains for day and night trips. Book your trains a few days in advance as much as you can. They fill up fast, especially since nowadays people book online. I found it easiest to ask at your hotel about trains, and they can usually book it for you for a nominal fee. Or you can head to the station and do it yourself. Hotels will also advise you on the best buses to take. Within cities, autorickshaws are the way to go. Ask you hotel for an approximate price for where you want to go, and then prepare to bargain hard with the driver.

4. Can't help you with this one.

5. So much to see, and in 3-4 months you will have to pick and choose. I don' t think the best approach is to pick out a bunch of "must-sees" all over the country and try to hit them all. You'll end up covering too much distance, with too much bus and train time in between. I would say pick 3 or 4 regions and plan to spend about a month in each, hitting a few of the highlights within the region. That way you might have a couple longer train rides, or short flights, getting from region to the next, but mostly you'll just have a some shorter day buses, and won't get exhausted by Indian travel.
For example: Spend 4-6 weeks in Rajasthan. You will have time to visit the highlights of Pushkar, Jaisalmer, Udaipur, Bundi, Jodhpur, and add Jaipur and Agra in there as well. Then spend 3-4 weeks across the North/Center. You can visit Orccha, Khajuraho, Varanasi, Bodhigaya, and maybe make it all the way to Kolkatta. From there, spend the last 5-6 weeks in the South - primarily Kerela, and Goa and Mumbai if you have time.
I would also recommend picking 4 towns that you would be interested in spending a bit of time in, and and after every 3 weeks of quick travel, settle in for a week or more in one place to rest and really get to experience it. On my first 6 months trip, I was in a new town every 2-3 days, but spent 7-10 days in Leh, McLeod Ganj, Varanasi, Varkala, Hampi, and Palolem,

6. Posted by Rupali_Singh (Inactive, 4 posts) 20 Feb '14 02:11

Hi Elliots,

If you want to visit Inda in the month of June & Decemern 2014 with your wife. I think best sight seeing are Cochin, Trivendrum, Kerala, Chennai, Bangalore, Madurai, Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur etc.

You can fully enjoy this season!

7. Posted by William75 (Budding Member, 4 posts) 20 Feb '14 05:55

India is a country of my dreams! I wish to travel there as well

8. Posted by elliots (Budding Member, 47 posts) 20 Feb '14 21:01

Hi Rupali.
Why do you recommend Cochin, Trivendrum, Kerala, Chennai, Bangalore, Madurai, Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur especially in June & December?
Thanks,
Elliots

9. Posted by vaibhavm23 (Budding Member, 93 posts) 20 Feb '14 22:11

Hi Steve,

Since you're traveling from Sydney, I would recommend to take a direct flight to New Delhi (Air India - I think the luggage limit is upto 25kg) or you can take singapore airlines to Mumbai (Its quite comfy).

@ New Delhi: The options you can explore is New Delhi (lal Quila Fort, Qutub Minar etc), Haridwar & Rishikesh (Temples and Floating lights ), Agra (Bliss to see Tajmahal during full moon night), Vrindavan (Lord Krishna Temples), Varanasi (Sunrise and Sunset at the Ganges Ghats, Authentic Indian Sweets, Dev Deepawali during Diwali), Jaipur - Jodhpur - Jaisalmer (Forts, Deserts and National Parks), Diu (Arab Sea), Rann (White Desert), Mumbai (Gateway of India, Ajanta Ellora, Museum, Beaches, Mumbai Local), Lonavala (Hill station preferably during rainy seasons), Goa (Beaches, Church, night markets), Vythiri (Hill station and ), Kerala for backwaters

Assuming that you land in India in the month of June @ Mumbai,You will have two options, either you start from Mumbai to Goa, and towards South of India. Or You can plan Mumbai - Goa - Mumbai - Diu, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Varanasi, Vrindavan, Agra, Rishikesh, Haridwar, New Delhi - Sydney

A few National Parks which are famous among the tourists are:

Jim Corbett National Park - Uttarakhand,
Ranthambore National Park: Rajasthan
Bandhavgarh National Park, Kanha National Park, Pench National Park : MP
Gir Forest National Park : Gujarat

I Hope you will find this useful to plan ur trip, lemme know if you need any further help.

Quoting elliots

My wife & I are going to India for 3-4 months between June & December 2014. We have backpacked extensively in SE Asia and realize that India will be more challenging. We love scenery, wild-life, food, music, hanging with the locals and adventure though we are too old now for extreme exercise. Can you -
1. tell us the must-dos & must sees
2. best festivals & events during the period
3. best ways of getting around - between & within cities
4. best way of getting to India from Sydney (Oz) - trade-off between comfort & price
5. suggested itinerary

Look forward to reading your responses
Steve

[ Edit: Edited on 20-Feb-2014, at 22:12 by vaibhavm23 ]

10. Posted by elliots (Budding Member, 47 posts) 20 Feb '14 23:28

Hi vaibhavm23.
Thanks for all that info