First time to India - advice please

#1 Dec 15th, 2017, 00:07
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  • timtam is offline
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Hi there. I'm planning my first trip to India at the beginning of February for 3 months and would like some advice on itinerary, timings and any general advice you have. In terms of areas, Iíve been advised that Iíll probably like:
Kerala/Goa/Tamil Nadu/Hampi/Rajasthan/Rishikesh/Varinasi/Mcleodganji-Himalayan foothills. Iím into health, wellness, movement, nature connection, spirituality and artisanal products. Iíd therefore like to get involved in Ayurveda, meditation, yoga, dance, maybe some tantra, a cycle tour or trek and perhaps visit a womenís craft coop. This sounds like a lot and I definitely want to go at a nice, slow pace rather than dashing about so if I need to drop areas then I will. I really want to enjoy my first time there and can always go back of course. The other question mark is whether I should do The Golden Triangle? With all of this in mind, where would you recommend as being the best locations to visit and in which order? I think Iíll start in Kerala and work my way up as I understand this works best in terms of the climate? If you have any suggestions on itinerary and places to visit Iíd really appreciate it as it will be my first time and Iím travelling alone. Thanks loads
#2 Dec 15th, 2017, 00:22
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  • desisong_lover is offline
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2 cents..

You should definitely start with Kerala.
Take goa off your list since it's more like western destination in terms of lifestyle and culture so you won't find much fun based on your priorities.
Rajasthan again isn't a place to go for you unless you wish to witness traditional culture and rich history it has to offer.
Rishikesh/Varanashi & Himalaya are good choices.
#3 Dec 15th, 2017, 00:56
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Originally Posted by desisong_lover View Post Rajasthan again isn't a place to go for you unless you wish to witness traditional culture and rich history it has to offer. Rishikesh/Varanashi & Himalaya are good choices.
Artisanal products..... Relating to or characteristic of an artisan. And Jaipur in Rajasthan is perhaps the greatest of location/cities, in the universe that is, where you may see artisans and artsts at work in a huge variety of disciplines... fabric to marble, miniature painting to ceramics. Jaipur may have it's drawbacks, however if you investigate a little deeper then it is well worth the while, plus the built architectural heritage can also be higjly rewarding.

Of course it all depends what your into, which makes itinerary advice a hit and miss thing. I'm averse to cities but I will go to Jaipur and Rajasthan if it comes up. Hampi definitely. The Himalayas anytime, less so Rishikesh these days but deeper into Garhwal or Himachal Pradesh, without doubt.
#4 Dec 15th, 2017, 02:30
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India is an astonishing and amazing place, but can be overwhelming for a first time visitor.
Although folk here do give good advice, it is perhaps best to heed those with more than just a few posts to their credit.
Can you give a little more information about yourself, have you much other travel experience, say in Asia, or anywhere?

These days not every person you meet in India is spiritual, or into good vibes, yoga and nice things.

No need to get worried, but please don't let your open nature blind you to the rogues and scam artists that look out for first time tourists.

I love India and still enjoy my trips there as a pensioner!

Ed.
#5 Dec 15th, 2017, 14:58
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Originally Posted by timtam View Post Kerala/Goa/Tamil Nadu/Hampi/Rajasthan/Rishikesh/Varinasi/Mcleodganji-Himalayan foothills. Iím into health, wellness, movement, nature connection, spirituality and artisanal products. Iíd therefore like to get involved in Ayurveda, meditation, yoga, dance, maybe some tantra, a cycle tour or trek and perhaps visit a womenís craft coop. Iíd really appreciate it as it will be my first time and Iím travelling alone. Thanks loads
I hate to break it to you, but if you're a western woman, and traveling first time in India, you'd do well to research thoroughly where you're going, carry pepper spray (mace?) and take more than adequate precaution when traveling in any of these areas and do well to spend a little more to stay away from the usual tourist ghettos in Goa, Rishikesh etc where a drug subculture and associated problems can rear their head in unexpected way. Book at least some accommodation in advance and give yourself time to settle into the country before commencing fast paced traveling. Regarding Yoga, dance, meditation, Ayurveda etc all of these can be had easily in just about all the spots you're visiting - each with a slightly different 'take' on the same recipe. And in case you dont have a guidebook, then please get one - DK's eyewitness or Lonely planet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paleface View Post Artisanal products..... Relating to or characteristic of an artisan. And Jaipur in Rajasthan is perhaps the greatest of location/cities, in the universe that is, where you may see artisans and artsts at work in a huge variety of disciplines... fabric to marble, miniature painting to ceramics. Jaipur may have it's drawbacks, however if you investigate a little deeper then it is well worth the while, plus the built architectural heritage can also be higjly rewarding.
Thanks Paleface My hometown (OK I'm not there any longer, but still, I'm from there), gets more than its fair share of brickbats but I have to tell anyone who reads this post - Jaipur was established as a trading town. When Sawai Jaisingh II had trouble populating it, he declared the city tax free if one were to do a business there. Imagine, late medieval India - and a king declares, come do business here, no taxes!

Silversmiths made their way from Bengal, woodworkers from MP and South Rajasthan, Zari workers from Uttar Pradesh. We have entire neighborhoods where many such traditional families (based on work) can still be found - thathero ka rasta (coppersmiths), purohitji ka katla (headgear makers), maniharon ka rasta (lacquer bangles), khazanewalon ka rasta (marble statues). Near Jaipur, Sanganer has blue dye (indigo) pits and remains a very traditional, though dusty village. Newta has a concentration of blue pottery makers.

Near Jodhpur, the Ratnada area has several kilometers of road lined up with hardwood furniture makers as does Barmer. True there are unscrupulous people as well, recently, someone in Jaisalmer tried to sell me a very convincing fake bronze jina idol (purportedly from the 14th century) - and I'm from Rajasthan!
#6 Dec 15th, 2017, 16:16
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Concentrate hard on your first 2 weeks itinerary and don't fall into the trap of outlining each and every day you plan on being in India prior to departure.
#7 Dec 15th, 2017, 17:43
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Originally Posted by vaibhav_arora View Post Sawai Jaisingh II had trouble populating it, he declared the city tax free if one were to do a business there. Imagine, late medieval India - and a king declares, come do business here, no taxes!

Silversmiths made their way from Bengal, woodworkers from MP and South Rajasthan, Zari workers from Uttar Pradesh. We have entire neighborhoods where many such traditional families (based on work) can still be found - thathero ka rasta (coppersmiths), purohitji ka katla (headgear makers), maniharon ka rasta (lacquer bangles), khazanewalon ka rasta (marble statues). Near Jaipur, Sanganer has blue dye (indigo) pits and remains a very traditional, though dusty village. Newta has a concentration of blue pottery makers.
Truly Sawai Jai Singh II is remembered because of being one of the most enlightened kings of C18th India... and there's kundan jewellery, the stones and gems market (best in Asia i reckon) dhurries, the blockprint story and textiles traditions of Jaipur... so, so much going on in the winding lanes and bazaars that it is indeed a must stop in India for anyone wanting to see a breadth of artisanship available in one smallish area.
#8 Dec 15th, 2017, 18:46
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I would gently suggest that before diving in at the deep-end with a 3-month trip you could take the cheapest (post-new year) charter you can find and spend a couple of weeks getting a taste of India. Goa is a gentle start for beginners, and probably has the cheapest flights. Take a (pre-booked) train (preferably) or bus trip to see more of 'real India'. Pre-book accommodation for 2 or 3 nights then find your own. Carry very little money (bring bank cards). Beware of con artists, false friends, molesters... (and it's not that long since I was saying with complete confidence that single foreigners were very safe in India!).

ymmv - AndyD 8-)₹
There is no such thing as art, the best is high craft - the rest is just flim-flam ©
#9 Dec 15th, 2017, 18:53
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Originally Posted by Paleface View Post Truly Sawai Jai Singh II is remembered because of being one of the most enlightened kings of C18th India... and there's kundan jewellery, the stones and gems market (best in Asia i reckon) dhurries, the blockprint story and textiles traditions of Jaipur... so, so much going on in the winding lanes and bazaars that it is indeed a must stop in India for anyone wanting to see a breadth of artisanship available in one smallish area.
... and the 'artesanal' tourist shops in Jaipur are the worst rip-off joints I've visited in a long time! - Having said that a Rajasthan trip is indeed a wondrous thing - if you can afford it!
AndyD - 8-)
#10 Dec 15th, 2017, 19:21
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Originally Posted by a_f_d View Post ... and the 'artesanal' tourist shops in Jaipur are the worst rip-off joints I've visited in a long time! - Having said that a Rajasthan trip is indeed a wondrous thing -
Well, of course there are those type of 'emporiums' where folks get suckered, on the other hand there are sellers where a fair deal can be made, of course it depends what folks are looking for and if they know a bit about what it is they are buying.

For example, a miniature painting of quality by a quality artist will have faces that are handsome, basically stay away from churned out paintings by 'apprentices' where features are naive, unless one likes that sort of thing 😁

Dhurries are reasonably easy to discern quality from inferior, natural colours from synthetic dyes (where you will get bright pinks, and colours that look, well, synthethic), same for paintings.

Silver jewellery, generally you can't go too wrong with it if it's sterling 925 and stamped, otherwise beware German silver / Nickel silver, originally named for its silver-white colour, and plated silver.

Not everyone seller tries it on however, buyers need to alert that's all, with a little homework then deals in Jaipur abound.... I'd say.

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