Idealistic Itinerary? Advice appreciated....

#1 Dec 6th, 2010, 03:28
Join Date:
Nov 2010
Birmingham, UK
  • Gurps is offline
Hi everyone,

Firstly I would like to apologise if my query asks for a repeat of previously given info. This site is extensive, and I thought I would ask the question here for a more specific response.

I will be travelling from Amritsar into Delhi on the 7th of Jan, where I will be staying for a few days. From there, I wish to travel in a series of short hops, i.e. Delhi-Agra, Agra-Jaipur, Jaipur-Jaisalmer....anti-clockwise around India, sticking mostly close(ish) to the coast. I will be aiming to visit Kanyakumari, then make my way up the east via Machilipatnam, to Kolkata.
From there I will visit Darjeeling, then back down and travel towards the northwest, between the Ganges and Himalaya. I wish to stop at the more mountainous areas and so will want to travel to Rishikesh/Haridwar (possibly Gangotri?), and Simla, via Kalka.
If I can, I would like to travel Leh to Manali (or Manali to Leh) by road, in the last week or so of my trip, in April.
From this area, I would like to travel down to Amritsar by the most breath taking route available, to board a return flight home towards the end of that month.

I want to make as many of these short hops as possible using the railways. I have used the Indian Railways Network schematic map as an aid in planning this trip, and almost all the stops should be reachable by train.

Phew! Sorry itís so long winded!

Now, I am aware this is hugely ambitious, however I am prepared for the inevitable masses of time spent on transport and simply getting from place to place. That is part of the attraction for me.
This is also very much an idealistic itinerary and so I am prepared to chop and change if needs must, but I am determined to complete as much as physically possible.
You only live once.

My questions:

1. Booking of train tickets.

I have read in a few forums here that pre-booking is always advised, and I have familiarised myself with the cleartrip website, and the methods for booking and boarding trains.
However, due to the sheer number of trips I will be taking, and the sometimes very short time spent in the stops between trips (in some places, I may spend no more than a night or two), I am worried that by pre booking, I wonít be flexible enough. If a train is delayed or cancelled, or I find somewhere I want to spend more time in, the rest of my pre-booked connections could suffer.

Is it possible to travel so far and so often by just trying to book my tickets out of a place as I arrive into it a few days before? If I did this, then waiting around a few days here or there for an available train would not mess up any later plans, I could absorb it.
If I must pre-book a few key routes then I shall, but I would like to be as flexible as possible.
Of course I can and will pre-book the first train into Delhi from Amritsar, as well as the one out to Agra a few days later, perhaps a week.

2. Destinations to visit between Siliguri and Haridwar.

I have lots of places I wish to stop at all along the trip, EXCEPT this leg. I will try to visit the usual suspects like Patna/Varanasi/Lucknow...but due to the temperatures getting higher, and my desire for mountainous views, I would rather stop at some sights as close to the Nepal border/Himalayan foothills as possible.

My knowledge of this area is not great so any suggestions would be appreciated

I have visited India 7 times before (never so widely), but I have never used the train system and so I would appreciate any advice from the experts I have seen floating around these forums.

Thank you for reading. I hope it hasn't worn you out too much to post a response!
#2 Dec 6th, 2010, 03:51
Join Date:
Jul 2005
  • vonkla is offline
To get a good idea of the possibilities of the railway system and the need of pre-booking is a very good help.

By looking at the availability of seats for today and in the upcoming 90 days you can decide for every part of your trip what is the best option.

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