Use Bharatpur as base for seeing Agra?

#1 Jul 16th, 2013, 06:54
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#1
We're planning our itinerary for our first trip to India. For this Golden Triangle part of the trip, my current thought is that we will have a car and driver who will pick us up at the Delhi Airport from Amritsar.

I've read that outside it's wonderful historical attractions, Agra is not a pleasing city to spend time in.

Would it be feasible to stay in Bharatpur and daytrip into Agra to see the Taj, Fort, Itmad ud Daula, and Akbar's tomb? I'm sure it would be a rushed day, but can it be done?

Another advantage of staying in Bharatpur is that the following day we would be close to Fatehpur Sikri and Deeg Water Palace, and the birds at the national park if there's any water there.

From there we would move on to Gwalior, Khajuraho, Orchha, and on to Rajasthan.

Any thoughts?
#2 Jul 16th, 2013, 07:14
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Hi David,

I stayed "in" Agra, but out of town.

http://www.gardenvillahomestay.com/

With the benefit of a car and driver, you have a degree of freedom, and that includes being driven to town at night for dinner. More than that, you have the flexibility to get up early to see the Taj at sunrise, and go back 'home' for breakfast - and still go again in the daytime sun, or even at dusk. (Or a moonlight viewing if you were there at the right time, and that appealed).

For consideration.


Quote:
From there we would move on to Gwalior, Khajuraho, Orchha, and on to Rajasthan.
Hmm, this puzzles me a fraction - David, what is the general itinerary you are following - I know you've asked about specific legs, but I don't recall seeing an end-to-end itinerary.
Last edited by DrRudi; Jul 16th, 2013 at 09:01.. Reason: curiosity
#3 Jul 16th, 2013, 10:18
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Originally Posted by DrRudi View Post Hi David,

I stayed "in" Agra, but out of town.

http://www.gardenvillahomestay.com/

With the benefit of a car and driver, you have a degree of freedom, and that includes being driven to town at night for dinner. More than that, you have the flexibility to get up early to see the Taj at sunrise, and go back 'home' for breakfast - and still go again in the daytime sun, or even at dusk. (Or a moonlight viewing if you were there at the right time, and that appealed).

For consideration.




Hmm, this puzzles me a fraction - David, what is the general itinerary you are following - I know you've asked about specific legs, but I don't recall seeing an end-to-end itinerary.
Thanks for the link, Dr. Rudi, especially since Madhu is a gardener, and so are we. I'll send them an email to see if the price is right.

I'm still working on the itinerary. I'm as far as Agra and I'll be posting the full itinerary for comment once it's complete, hopefully within the next week or so.

Basically, it goes something like this: Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka, quick stop in Kochi, Mysore and area, quick stop in Goa to catch train to Hampi, Hampi/Bijapur/Badami and area, Kathmandu, Amritsar, Agra/Gwalior/Khajuraho/Orchha/Bundi/Udaipur/Jodhpur/maybe Jaisalmer/Jaipur, Ajanta/Ellora, Mandu, Tadoba Tiger Reserve and then on to Bangkok and Angkor Wat for a few days each, home to Los Angeles.

Car and driver for TN, central Karnatka, and circle tour Agra to Jaipur, train from Goa to Hospet, and flying to the others.
#4 Jul 16th, 2013, 10:26
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Originally Posted by davidx2 View Post I'm still working on the itinerary. I'm as far as Agra and I'll be posting the full itinerary for comment once it's complete, hopefully within the next week or so. Basically, it goes something like this ...
Hmm - would you take some advice now? Can you confirm your expected Indian entry and exit ports ?

I'll just explain the little alarm bells going off in my head.


I'm not certain about Agra/G/K/O and then Rajasthan. I'm wondering why you're not going Mysore / Hampi / Mumbai / Ajanta and Ellora. Etc.
#5 Jul 16th, 2013, 10:44
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Originally Posted by DrRudi View Post Hmm - would you take some advice now? Can you confirm your expected Indian entry and exit ports ?
Sure, I'd love some advice. I'm new to this game.

I've made reservations for rooms in Mahab, Pondi, and Kumba because we'll be there during the New Year's holiday week and it looked like things were getting booked up, but other than that nothing is written in stone, and I'm sure we could cancel the reservations that we've made.

We'll be flying into Delhi and then on to Chennai. We haven't purchased the return tickets yet, but we are planning to come home over the Pacific via BKK and Angkor Wat since we are going via the Atlantic.

Just as a note, I tried to email the Garden Villa in Agra from both my email accounts, and the email came back as unable to deliver.
#6 Jul 16th, 2013, 10:48
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More info: We're leaving on Christmas Day (my 67th birthday) and returning whenever our itinerary says we should. The principle reason we're starting in the south and working north is because I've read that fog can be a big problem in the north in January.
#7 Jul 16th, 2013, 10:59
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Originally Posted by davidx2 View Post Just as a note, I tried to email the Garden Villa in Agra from both my email accounts, and the email came back as unable to deliver.
Interesting.

Have you tried both addresses there?: gardenvillahomestay@gmail.com and

info@gardenvillahomestay.com
#8 Jul 16th, 2013, 11:11
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Originally Posted by DrRudi View Post Hmm - would you take some advice now? Can you confirm your expected Indian entry and exit ports ?

I'll just explain the little alarm bells going off in my head.


I'm not certain about Agra/G/K/O and then Rajasthan. I'm wondering why you're not going Mysore / Hampi / Mumbai / Ajanta and Ellora. Etc.
That does make more sense from a strictly geographical perspective, and it's what I had planned to work with.

The problem arises that Hampi (and by extension Bijapur and Badami), even though it's one of the major tourist sites in India, is incredibly difficult to get into and out of without wasting an inordinate amount of time traveling. The BLR/HBX flights are late in the evening, which means an overnight in BLR both going and coming. The HBX/BOM flight gets into BOM @ 15:50 which limits where you connect to without an overnight in BOM.

Flying from HBX to Aurangabad would require an overnight in Mumbai. So would Amritsar. The only place I found we could get to without overnighting somewhere and catching a flight the next morning was Kathmandu, where we can get in at midnight and get up in the morning and start walking rather than having to get up the next morning and catching another flight to wherever.

So the plan for that part of the trip is to fly from Colombo to Kochi, then a flight to Mysore. then catch a flight to Goa (I hadn't planned on going there but a day seeing Old Goa sounds pleasant - anything more than 10 minutes on a beach would bore both of us to death). The reason I decided to go to Goa is there's a train that leaves in the AM that gets into Hospet sometime in the afternoon. This would avoid having to take a night train which neither of us are particularly keen about. The idea of sleeping in an enclosed space with total strangers is not our cup of tea.

As for the Agra/G/K/O/Rajasthan segment, Google says it's a 6 hour drive from Orchha to Bundi, so that would probably mean 8 hours. We could either do that or return to Delhi after Orchha, fly to Jaipur, and get a different car and driver for Rajasthan.
#9 Jul 16th, 2013, 11:13
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#9
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Originally Posted by DrRudi View Post Interesting.

Have you tried both addresses there?: gardenvillahomestay@gmail.com and

info@gardenvillahomestay.com
I tried the info address that was on their website. I'll try the gmail address.

Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You are incredibly helpful, Dr. Rudi!
#10 Jul 16th, 2013, 11:25
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David,
Some portions of your trip do not make topological sense. It seems your entry point looks like MAA, flying from the West Coast ? And, your next hop (after it all ends) is BKK ? As Dr. Rudi say, Entry & Exit ports will guide you with the itinerary.


[Scratch it out ! I recollect you buying a one way ticket already]
Last edited by nycank; Jul 16th, 2013 at 11:27.. Reason: Added vital conclusion
#11 Jul 16th, 2013, 11:31
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Originally Posted by nycank View Post David,
Some portions of your trip do not make topological sense. It seems your entry point looks like MAA, flying from the West Coast ? And, your next hop (after it all ends) is BKK ? As Dr. Rudi say, Entry & Exit ports will guide you with the itinerary.


[Scratch it out ! I recollect you buying a one way ticket already]
We're flying over the Atlantic to Delhi and then Chennai. Flying home over the Pacific via BKK.
#12 Jul 16th, 2013, 11:59
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Hi David,

These are the immediate elements I spotted, so I'll raise them now, and you can consider or dismiss as appropriate. Also, are you planning on time in the big cities (Delhi, and Mumbai?) Highly recommended / encouraged.

Quote:
We'll be flying into Delhi and then on to Chennai.
Can you change this? As you're headed directly south, can you get a flight into Chennai rather than having a transit or overnight in Delhi? (Since, I expect you'll go back later).


Quote:
Agra/Gwalior/Khajuraho/Orchha
I'd amend the order to A/G/O/K then fly to Varanasi (suggested addition to the trip), then fly to Delhi; then instead of:


Quote:
Bundi/Udaipur/Jodhpur/maybe Jaisalmer/Jaipur
Alternatively, from DEL, fly to Udaipur, car to Jodhpur, car to Jaisalmer, overnight train to Jaipur, then fly to DEL. I'd probably replace Bundi with alternative stops between the long drives (between Udaipur and Jodhpur, and to Jaisalmer) - although you could add it after Jaipur if you're keen to keep it in.


Quote:
Ajanta/Ellora, Mandu, Tadoba Tiger Reserve
This I would do after your flight HBX-BOM. Stay in Mumbai for a few days, (or not) and fly to Aurangabad for Ajanta and Ellora. I don't know how you were planning to get to Taboda, but you could take an overnight train from Aurangabad to Nagpur (stay or not) and then train to Chandrapur, and car from there. Or, fly back to Mumbai, and then fly to Nagpur; given you are not pressed for time, and if you are comfortable with overnight train journeys, then the former might be preferred. After Tadoba, back to Nagpur and then fly to Delhi for the Agra leg of the trip. (Note - I don't know Mandu so I haven't scheduled it here)


Amritsar and Kathmandu.

You've already figured these are a fair distance to travel (as indeed is Jaisalmer).

Amritsar - option 1 - simply fly there and back from Delhi.

Amritsar - option 2 - from DEL fly to Dehradun. Stay for a day or two (or not) Take a pre-paid taxi from there to Rishikesh - stay for a few days. Taxi to Haridwar - stay for a few days, or not. Overnight train to Amritsar - fly back to DEL. Your choice about where in the itinerary you put this, but if you add Varanasi as suggested above, then I would schedule it after that.


Kathmandu - I would actually exit India this way. After your Indian travels, fly DEL to KTM, and then to BKK.


EDIT: You have posted whilst I have been crafting this - so take this post in that knowledge (or ignorance as the case may be). V_A has some good ideas in the post below - which simply proves there is more than one way to skin a cat (or craft an itinerary). I hear the disdain for unnecessary overnights - I really do encourage you to spend time in Mumbai and Delhi. In particular, I have you going in and out of Delhi a couple of times - if the schedules don't fall your way (I haven't looked at them at all) the Delhi airport have a very comfortable (if slightly pricey) transit hotel.
#13 Jul 16th, 2013, 12:04
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#13
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Originally Posted by davidx2 View Post As for the Agra/G/K/O/Rajasthan segment, Google says it's a 6 hour drive from Orchha to Bundi, so that would probably mean 8 hours. We could either do that or return to Delhi after Orchha, fly to Jaipur, and get a different car and driver for Rajasthan.
Quote:
Originally Posted by davidx2 View Post We're planning our itinerary for our first trip to India. For this Golden Triangle part of the trip, my current thought is that we will have a car and driver who will pick us up at the Delhi Airport from Amritsar.

I've read that outside it's wonderful historical attractions, Agra is not a pleasing city to spend time in.

Would it be feasible to stay in Bharatpur and daytrip into Agra to see the Taj, Fort, Itmad ud Daula, and Akbar's tomb? I'm sure it would be a rushed day, but can it be done?

Another advantage of staying in Bharatpur is that the following day we would be close to Fatehpur Sikri and Deeg Water Palace, and the birds at the national park if there's any water there.

From there we would move on to Gwalior, Khajuraho, Orchha, and on to Rajasthan.

Any thoughts?
Few thoughts keeping in mind that you'll be in these parts in January.

a) Yes, there will be birds, truckloads of them. The ideal time would be (assuming little fog on that morning), the morning half. Hire a cycle rickshaw to drive you around (they double up as guides). You can get a bicycle on rent too but the guides can sometimes be very good. To visit the sanctuary in the first half, staying in Bharatpur is as such a good idea.

b) Orchha to Bundi. First of all, if there's no strong reason, exclude Bundi and instead reverse your north MP itinerary by visiting the farthest point (khajuraho) first and then backtracking to Orchha, Gwalior and finally Agra. Then take the Khajuraho-Udaipur express to Udaipur arriving in the morning. Hire your next car from there. It would help save costs (no interstate drive, etc.)

On the other hand, if you're sold on Bundi, that road - Kota to Jhansi (via Shivpuri) is a part of the East-West corridor of India and should be lovely. I've seen only a bit of that road (near Kota and Chittor) last December (we were driving south / South east) and crossed it and it was great. However, the part between Bundi and Kota is totally shot to pieces due to road widening work. See this map.

c) Taking a car to Amritsar from Delhi isn't the best idea. A train works much better for that particular stretch. My friends from Punjab who work with me here in Delhi do that themselves. Hire a car locally for the wagah border and other places you'd like to visit.
#14 Jul 16th, 2013, 12:34
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The problem arises that Hampi (and by extension Bijapur and Badami), even though it's one of the major tourist sites in India, is incredibly difficult to get into and out of without wasting an inordinate amount of time traveling. The BLR/HBX flights are late in the evening, which means an overnight in BLR both going and coming. The HBX/BOM flight gets into BOM @ 15:50 which limits where you connect to without an overnight in BOM.
I understand the issue. To get out, one solution is the overnight train journey as an alternative to flight. Train 16591 HAMPI EXPRESS leaves Hospet at 20.45 and gets into Bangalore at 06.10 (credit to Adam for drawing this to my attention).


And I'll just throw in the biggest consideration of all. I know you have already resolved the north / south first question - consider the east / west first question. Could you reasonably (and perhaps even to your advantage) start the southern component in Mumbai, and end in Chennai, and then fly north? Sometimes, trains and planes suddenly work in your favour.
#15 Jul 16th, 2013, 13:03
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#15
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Originally Posted by DrRudi View Post Hi David,

These are the immediate elements I spotted, so I'll raise them now, and you can consider or dismiss as appropriate. Also, are planning on time in the big cities (Delhi, and Mumbai?) Highly recommended / encouraged.
No, I've purposely avoided the big cities. Hyderabad and Delhi do have their share of sites that I would like to see, but frankly navigating around the big cities kind of frightens me having never been to India. I'm not sure why that is, particularly since I've driven in Istanbul and Mexico City. Perhaps if we can make another trip to India, I will be more inclined to venture into the big cities after I see what India is all about on this first trip. Another reason is that it seems easier to see the smaller places in a reasonable amount of time without hassling with city traffic and distance to get from place to place. Just seems more bang for the buck, so to speak.



Quote:
Can you change this? As you're headed directly south, can you get a flight into Chennai rather than having a transit or overnight in Delhi? (Since, I expect you'll go back later).
No, I can't change it. My intention on this trip, deeply ingrained in my head for some reason, was to make it a trip around the world since India is about half way around from LA. After checking fares daily for about 6 months and thinking that a good time to leave would be right around Christmas, I suddenly saw a fare on Austrian Airlines for a one-way ticket to Delhi via Toronto and Vienna for $542 per person leaving on Christmas Day. I had never seen a fare that cheap even on the Chinese airlines via the Pacific. Also, we were wavering about the trip. But seeing that fare made us make a definite decision to take the trip and I bought the tickets somewhat impulsively. Currently the lowest one-way fare to Chennai for that week that's of reasonable length is $939, so even with the $80 DEL->MAA fare on top of the LAX->DEL fare, we're saving $317 per person by using the tickets that I've already purchased. We're retired and live on social security and our savings aren't that great, so while I'd spend my last dime on travel even if it meant eating cat food for the rest of our lives, money is a factor. Our layover in DEL is about 5 hours - arriving at 00:50 and departing for MAA @ 06:10 from the same terminal, I think, on Air India domestic, so it's not too bad.




Quote:
I'd amend the order to A/G/O/K then fly to Varanasi (suggested addition to the trip), then fly to Delhi; then instead of:
I've debated about Varanasi - to go or not to go. In one sense, it seems that Varanasi IS India culturally and religiously in its rawest sense. I'm sure it would be an experience. But I'm undecided as to what the experience might be. As with the big cities, my thought is that it might be too much of an experience. We will be visiting a number of pilgrim cities, and I'm thinking that Maheshwar with its river ghats is an easy day trip from Mandu, so it might offer a Varanasi 101 type of experience in an easier and more user-friendly way. It does seem almost sacrilegious to visit India without seeing the Ganges. So much India to see [sigh].

To be continued

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