30 days, January, North Indian itinerary. Advice requested!

#1 Dec 7th, 2011, 21:52
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  • lilfrankel is offline
#1
Hello all!,

My wife and I are going to India for 30 days in January 2012. Were both veteran international travelers (Latin America mainly, but also Europe and South Korea) but find planning this once-in-a-lifetime trip a bit daunting. Like everyone else, I think, we have the impossible hope of seeing as much as possible of the country while still leaving a little time for sleep this is our honeymoon and unscheduled detours. We're natural budget travelers but willing to splurge and don't mind a long (10hr +) train trip or two as long as they are spread out but don't want to spend the whole trip at the train station. Given that, Id love some outside input on our plan so far:

Delhi ->
Pathankot to catch Kangra Rail for Dharamshala (Dali Lama) ->
Amritsar for both the Golden Temple and Wagah Border Ceremony ->
A flight to Patna or train to Gaya for Bodhgaya ->
Varanasi / Sarnath ->
Khajuraho ->
Orchha ->
Agra: Taj Mahal/Fatehpur Sikri ->
Ranthambore National Park ->
Jaipur (Old City) ->
Bundi (Small town Rajasthan) ->
Udaipur / Mt. Abu ->
Ranakpur (Jain Temple) ->
Back to Delhi

Given all that, does our route make sense? Is it doable in a month without going crazy? Obviously we're jumping over a huge part of the country between Amritsar and Bodhgaya, but everything else seems relatively straightforward to us.
Also, importantly, is there anything along our way that you can suggest?

Thanks so much!,
J
#2 Dec 8th, 2011, 23:33
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  • Dave W is offline
#2
I just repiled to your other thread about train travel and found this.

Wow! That's a pretty ambitious itinerary. I don't know many of the places that you are proposing but here's what I do know.

In January the Delhi / Agra/Varanasi area can suffer from severe fog. It's a bit unpredictable but when it happens it can cause serious travel delays.

Trains need to be booked as early as you can. Costs of cancellation are quite low so you could keep some flexibility by booking alternates and cancelling as you firm up your plans.

Agra - worth going to see the Taj Mahal, Red Fort and Fatehpur Sikri. But it's full of touts and hassle. We did it as a guided day tour from Delhi and were glad that we decided not to stay.

Jaipur - a bit frantic but good fun - probably worth 3 days.

Udaipur - lovely setting , lots to do but with a nice laid back feel to it.

Hope that helps a bit. You'll probably get loads more suggestions.
#3 Dec 9th, 2011, 01:15
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#3
Thanks for following on this question, too.

- This is the first I've heard of fog, but a strange follow-up for you: our travel dates are actually mid-January to mid-February - is the fog an early winter thing or for the whole season?

- Also, when talking about Jaipur and Udaipur, which would you recommend? I'm thinking of dropping one so I can spend more time in and around the other.

Thanks again!
#4 Dec 9th, 2011, 01:35
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#4
it's generally quoted that December/January is bad for fog. We were in Delhi in mid February this tear and it wasn't a problem.

Udaipur v Jaipur . Udaipur is more laid back and restful but has a lot of culture and heritage stuff to look at. Jaipur is pretty frenetic but has some great sites, a much bigger bazaar and elephants (at Amber Fort).

I guess it depends on what interests you.
#5 Dec 9th, 2011, 10:51
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lilfrankel, if you plan on taking any trains in the north, periodically check this website to see if the train is running, delayed, partially / wholly canceled. The Delhi-Alahabad sector is the worst affected (that's the route Varanasi bound trains take). So, take a flight to and fro Patna and you should be OK.

The fog this year has been very erratic (and my own December vacation is under a threat right now). Our railways announced cancellations in november, then restored some, and is likely to cancel again.

That said, a few suggestions:
a) in Udaipur, Mt Abu, Chittor, Ranakpur - hire a car ex Udaipur to make life easier. do not miss Chittor - if you have to see only one fort in India, it has to be Chittor.
b) Agra-Orchha (railhead:jhansi)-Khajuraho - by all means take a train, roads are quite bad in that part of the country.
c) I'll try to dig out what to see in Jaipur and how to space them out. Jaipur and Udaipur are very different cities and cant be compared really.
d) Stay inside the park in Ranthambore if it suits your budget. Tiger spotting is a matter of chance but staying inside will make the trip worth the effort.
#6 Dec 9th, 2011, 11:17
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@J, any specific reason for Kangra Mail? There is a direct bus from Delhi to Dharamshala. Check HPTDC or HRTC.
#7 Dec 10th, 2011, 09:44
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Please don't try to do too much; give yourself the time to acclimatize before you start running around India. Even experienced travellers experience culture shock, get colds, etc. The first few days can be tough.
The map is not the territory. --Alfred Korzybski
#8 Dec 12th, 2011, 01:56
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@vaibhav_arora: Thanks for your thoughtful reply! We appreciate the suggestions and look forward to hearing about how Jaipur and Udaipur compare. Question: when it comes to seeing the sights around Udaipur, is it necessary to plan separate daytrips from Udaipur for both Chittor and Ranakpur, or are there budget hotels at either if we wanted to make a long loop?

@aarosh: The Kangra Mail because I heard it was a beautiful (if hectic) trip along the narrow guage. Do you know otherwise?

@wonderwomanusa: Thanks for the advice!
#9 Dec 12th, 2011, 12:43
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The only problem regarding the narrow gauge is the time taken to reach Dharamshala. You may have to wait at Pathankot station to catch a train to Kangra. Then again from Kangra you will have to reach Dharamshala.

All this could be avoided if you take a direct bus to Dharamshala from Delhi.
#10 Dec 12th, 2011, 16:45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilfrankel View Post @vaibhav_arora: Thanks for your thoughtful reply! We appreciate the suggestions and look forward to hearing about how Jaipur and Udaipur compare. Question: when it comes to seeing the sights around Udaipur, is it necessary to plan separate daytrips from Udaipur for both Chittor and Ranakpur, or are there budget hotels at either if we wanted to make a long loop?
I'm not going to compare - its just not possible. They're very different cities. Some of the stuff that happens inside the old city of Jaipur (in the old markets), I havent found anywhere else. Udaipur has its lakes and is definitely more romantic of the two.
On the hotel question - Ranakpur / Kumbhalgarh area has a few very upmarket options (Mahindra resort, Village Aodhi - K'garh and Maharani Bagh - Ranakpur)- nothing low cost except village rajpura homestay (you can google them - no experienced with those guys). In Chittor, there's an RTDC place. Details should be there on RTDC (Rajasthan Tourism) website. Hiring a car and driver will be a bit expensive but I think well worth the money.
This is in no small measure due to certain restrictions (ranakpur allows non-jains only after noon), time to visit - the smaller temples in chittor (the jain temples) usually close by 5 pm and the fact that each of these attractions deserves a good amount of time in their own right to visit. I'm usually quite saddened by the fact that people dont spend enough time in Chittor or give it a miss altogether - it's arguably the finest fort in India (certainly our largest).

more later.
#11 Dec 13th, 2011, 22:34
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Just a quick one mate, I know am answering off the track. If you can shed few more dollars, you can fly to andaman and nicobar islands and come back to north india for your return flight. Reason is it's going to be cold in north india, you will hardly seen sun ( but definitely better than england). Andaman has nice climate then and you can have bit of your own time on beach, check havelock islands, a friend just returned from his honeymoon, I saw pics and thought I should suggest you this.

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