Kolkata + Darjeeling + Kerala - too much for 1 trip?

#1 Jan 19th, 2016, 22:23
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#1
Hi all,

An opportunity has just arisen for me to travel to India for a business meeting in Kolkata. I plan to travel with my wife and make the most of the trip by spending 2 weeks in India. The meeting will be at the back end of February (probably flying on 21 Feb), so I have begun frantically researching how to make of the most of this wonderful opportunity to explore India.

We have travelled fairly extensively, including in Asia, but we have never been to India.

Other than our meeting in Kolkata, we have 14 or so days to explore India. We are particularly interested in the more peaceful areas, and are particularly drawn to both the North East (Darjeeling and surrounds) and the South (Kerala and surrounds).

Does it make sense to combine these into one trip, spending, for example, 7 days in each area, flying between Kolkata and Kochi (and flying home to the UK from Kochi)?

If so, what kind of itinerary would you recommend?

We are keen to make the most of our time, but, for us, that generally means a slightly more relaxed pace, rather than constantly being on the move.

All advice is very welcome (including itineraries entirely different to the above broad brush proposal!)
#2 Jan 19th, 2016, 23:01
It's all Greek to me, but Benglish will do
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#2
Hello and welcome to IndiaMike.

Whilst your choice of destinations is impeccable, it seems a bit of a shame to concentrate on two regions which are as far apart geographically as Darjeeling and Kerala.

May I suggest you drop Kerala and save it for another visit to India in the future.

Instead you might consider Sikkim, adjacent to Darjeeling.

If this seems too little for a fortnight, you could venture to explore some of Assam of even further afield in the North East.
#3 Jan 20th, 2016, 00:00
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#3
Quote:
Originally Posted by theyyamdancer View Post Hello and welcome to IndiaMike.

Whilst your choice of destinations is impeccable, it seems a bit of a shame to concentrate on two regions which are as far apart geographically as Darjeeling and Kerala.

May I suggest you drop Kerala and save it for another visit to India in the future.

Instead you might consider Sikkim, adjacent to Darjeeling.

If this seems too little for a fortnight, you could venture to explore some of Assam of even further afield in the North East.
Thanks so much for your response!

We really are keen to see Kerala, as we are beach bums are heart and looking forward to some sunshine during the British winter.

However, we are also really attracted to the landscapes of Darjeeling and Sikkim.

Gosh, it's a tough choice! More research required (I'll definitely look in to Assam)!

In the meantime, all itinerary suggestions welcome!
#4 Jan 20th, 2016, 00:02
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#4
If you are Beach bums ( as I am), check out the Andamans
#5 Jan 20th, 2016, 00:31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vaetor View Post Thanks so much for your response!

We really are keen to see Kerala, as we are beach bums are heart and looking forward to some sunshine during the British winter.

However, we are also really attracted to the landscapes of Darjeeling and Sikkim.
You must realize that Darjeeling and Sikkim are rather cold at time of the year, see here..

My suggestion is to fly to Madurai, in Tamil Nadu.
From there it is easy to proceed to the wildlife sanctuary Periyar, Munnar and next to the coast of Kerala.
#6 Jan 20th, 2016, 00:40
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#6
Or go to Puri, Orissa. Quite close to Kolkata and enough of a beach for a change after Darjeeling/Sikkim.
If you go to the Andamans for such a short stopover you will end up seeing as little as 99% of the visitors, i.e. the area around Port Blait and Havelock. A waste if you know more of the islands.
Kolkata can be a charming place (for visitors) and definitely less of a touristic hotspot.
Choice of beaches in Kerala as you may expect a beach to be is also limited and IMHO not worth the long detour.
#7 Jan 21st, 2016, 16:28
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#7
Quote:
Originally Posted by vonkla View Post You must realize that Darjeeling and Sikkim are rather cold at time of the year, see here..

My suggestion is to fly to Madurai, in Tamil Nadu.
From there it is easy to proceed to the wildlife sanctuary Periyar, Munnar and next to the coast of Kerala.
Hi Vonkla,

Thanks for your response. I knew it would be cooler in Darjeeling, but hadn't fully appreciated how much!

It sounds like some time in Kolkata, followed by Madurai and surrounds may be an interesting trip.

Is there anything in particular in/around Kolkata that you would particularly recommend, before we move on?
#8 Jan 21st, 2016, 18:42
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#8
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Originally Posted by Hochwieskopf View Post Or go to Puri, Orissa. Quite close to Kolkata and enough of a beach for a change after Darjeeling/Sikkim.
People do go for a swim in Puri, but I find the beach not nearly clean enough. One end is the toilet for the fishing village, and then there's a 'canal', basically sewage led into the sea.... It is nice to walk along the beach, but I wouldn't go into the water. Puri beach is a very far cry from, say, Goa or Kerala beaches.
#9 Jan 21st, 2016, 19:01
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#9
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Originally Posted by Vaetor View Post It sounds like some time in Kolkata, followed by Madurai and surrounds may be an interesting trip.

Is there anything in particular in/around Kolkata that you would particularly recommend, before we move on?
Despite the title we spend the last week of this trip Mainly in the South in Kolkata.
#10 Jan 26th, 2016, 17:58
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#10
We are thinking about ending our trip with a visit to Wyanad (will be sharing our full itinerary for feedback soon )

Does it make more sense to fly home from Kochi or Bengaluru (or even Mumbai)? There's not too much price difference, so just interest in which will be the quickest/easiest to reach from Wyanad.

Thanks!
#11 Jan 26th, 2016, 20:28
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It's not that India is big. It's not that India can be chaotic. It's not that flight travel can be a challenge (traffic getting to airport/hotel, security checks, etc). It's that all these things happen at once on a scale and to a degree of complexity that travel in Europe does not prepare one for in the slightest. In two weeks, plan that each change of locale will take half a day to accomplish (bare minimum) and half a day to "settle in". Do that five times and almost half your holiday has evaporated! I suggest 2 weeks = 3 locations gives you a chance to be in India. If there's lots left to see, that's what next time is for. Some people go to India, go, well, that's it. I'm never coming back. If that's your response then the first 48 hours in Kolkata will do that, no ned for a complex itinerary. You don't seem to be that type! The rest of us start planning our next Indian trip the minute we're in the front door at home.

On the issue of being a "beach bum". Is it the fact that I live near Byron Bay, New South Wales, and that I've been spoiled? I found the beaches of Kerala pretty ho-hum from the "beach life" point of view. Periyar?Wow.
#12 Jan 27th, 2016, 16:39
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#12
Thanks Steve, sounds like very sensible advice. I have tried my best to produce a reasonable itinerary, but it probably still needs cutting back so that we have more time to enjoy each location (there are just so many interesting places!).

What do you all make of the below?

21/22/23 Feb - Days 1-3 Kolkata & surrounds
24/25 Feb - Day 4 & 5 Madurai (on to Munnar in the evening)
26 Feb - Day 6 Munnar
27 Feb - Day 7 Periyar
28/29 Feb - Day 8 & 9 Kumarakom & Houseboat
1/2 Mar - Day 10/11/12 Mararikulam
5 Mar - Day 13/14 Wayanad
6 Mar - Day 15 travel from Wyanad to airport to fly home (from Kochi? Bengaluru? Mumbai?)

A few queries:
  1. Is this doable / sensible?
  2. Is there anything you would recommend replacing / anything unmissable we are missing?!
  3. Days 10/11/12 we wanted to just chill out on a beach / in a beautiful location is Mararikulam a good choice? If not, where would you recommend?
  4. We could extend our trip. Would a few more days make a big difference? If so, where would you spend them?
  5. Which airport does it make most sense to fly home from? i.e. which is easiest to reach from Wayanad?

Please all weigh in with your views!!

Thanks for all your assistance!
#13 Jan 27th, 2016, 18:02
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#13
I should add 1 day to travel between Munnar and Periyar.

Including a few extra days go from Wayanad to Mysuru where you can spend some days.
It makes Bengaluru an excellent place to fly from.
#14 Jan 27th, 2016, 18:31
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#14
Have been to Periyar twice. The first time 3 days, saw gaur, boars, nilgai, deer, elephants, 3 sorts of monkeys, otters, 15 species of bird. Second time spent a night in a hide, saw MORE. Watched herd of 35 elephants swim right across the lake. Stayed at Lake Palace, very expensive, but in terms of experience extremely cheap. Utterly beautiful. If you had extra time, there are worse places to spend it.

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