Please Help a Solo Traveler

#1 May 29th, 2011, 19:19
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  • Jbob is offline
#1
Hello!

I am planning my first India trip and I am not sure how to move forward. I will be traveling alone. I am a teacher so July is the only time I can go. My goal is to see the country, but focus on yoga and meditation.

Below is the very rough itinerary I put together for my month in India. Along with thoughts on my itinerary, my other main question is whether I should skip the Rajasthan stops (Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur) that have beautiful cities and old spiritual sites and just go straight to the beautiful cities that will allow me more yoga/meditation hands-on practice (Varanasi, Rishikesh, Dharamsala). I am also toying with going further up to Ladakh, which I've heard is temperate and stunning in July.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated! Thank you in advance for your time.

Itinerary:

7/5 Tuesday: Arrive in New Delhi in the AM. Spend day in Delhi.
7/6 Wednesday: Leave New Delhi in the morning and arrive in Himachal Pradesh for Vipassana 10 Day Meditation
7/17 Sunday: Depart Vipassana after 7:30 AM and go to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. Leave at night for Jaipur- 6 hours
7/18 Monday: Jaipur
7/19 Tuesday: Travel to Jodhpur
7/20 Wednesday: Jodhpur
7/21 Thursday: Travel to Udaipur
7/22 Friday: Udaipur
7/23 Saturday: Travel to Viranassi
7/24 Sunday: Viranassi
7/25 Monday: Viranassi
7/26 Tuesday: Travel to Rishikesh
7/27 Wednesday: Rishikesh
7/28 Thursday: Rishikesh
7/29 Friday: Travel to Haridwar/Dharamsala
7/30 Saturday: Dharamsala
7/31 Sunday: Dharamsala (over night bus or train if possible to Delhi)
8/1 Monday: Travel to New Dehli
8/2 Tuesday: Depart New Delhi in the AM
#2 May 29th, 2011, 21:10
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  • pinkyparker is offline
#2

Some suggestions.......

You might want to take the possibility of jetlag into account. You will be experiencing about a 10 hour time change, not to mention the stresses of being in-transit for about 20 hours. If your flight arrives around midnight, it will be a few hours before you get settled in a hotel so you might think about two/three full nights in Delhi upon arrival.

Also, take a good look at a map and try to group your visits geographically. Your Vipassana program is in Himachel Pradesh as is Dharamshala, and Rishikesh is not that far away and neither is Ladakh. Then you can return to Delhi for the trip to Agra and continue to Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur (all in Rajasthan) and fly from Udaipur to Varanasi.

Another routing could be: Vipassana program in Himachel Pradesh, Dharamshala, Rishikesh, (maybe Ladakh), Varanasi. Then fly to Udaipur and make your way up to Jodhpur, Jaipur, Agra and Delhi.

If you decide not to do Agra and Rajasthan there is enough to keep you busy in North India for a month. And if you do go to Ladakh, leave a little wiggle room as flights are often delayed.

I am not that good at developing itineraries, but know that plane and train travel eat up time, so you would want to do as much as you can in one area before continuing to another.

All the best to you with your itinerary planning!


Journey far.....
Walk in Peace.
#3 May 29th, 2011, 21:24
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#3
Due to your Spiritual interests it would probably make sense for you to skip R'stan & go to Ladhak.Are you doing Vipassana in Mcleod/D'sala? You could take a inland flight to there if you are jet lagged.KK
#4 May 29th, 2011, 22:16
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#4
Thank you both for your quick reply!

I just checked again and my Vipassana is 1-2 hours south of New Delhi in Sohna, Haryana. I knew there was a reason I wasn't going North first.

I think you each made a great point about: A) grouping locations geographically and B) by interest. That being said, is Rajasthan an area that I can quickly access and enjoy (taking into account that it is July) or should I perhaps go Haryana (Vipassana), Agra, Viranasi, Rishikesh, Haridwar/Dharamsala, Ladhak, Delhi and spend more time focusing on the spiritual elements of India that I set out for? If you think the latter, are there any must sees to add to the trip, perhaps Amritsar or another more temperate location, and how many days do you recommend in each location? Any in particular that require a longer or shorter stay.

I promised myself that I would do depth over breadth, but I can see that I am already tempted to try to see as much as possible. I just don't want to see nothing because of my desire to see everything.

Thanks again!
#5 May 30th, 2011, 00:19
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#5

More suggestions......

Again, let me mention that I’m not that great at developing itineraries but I think you are on the right track spending your time in North India with visiting Haryana (for Vipassana), Varanasi, Rishikesh, Haridwar/Dharamsala, Ladakh, Delhi. This is how you might divide your time (please double-check dates):

Days 1-2 Delhi - make sure you sleep on the plane as you have a quick turn-around for your Vipassana program
Days 3-12 Vipassana Program
Days 13-15 -- Varanasi and Sarnath
Day 16-18 --Rishikesh -- stay in Rishikesh, not in Haridwar, though visit Haridwar for the evening aarti.
Day 19-21 - Dharamshala
Day 22-26- Leh and visiting monasteries. You will need to acclimatize as Leh is at 10,500 feet. Again, let me mention that fog/storms sometimes disrupt flights to/from Leh so don’t plan the first and last days too tightly.
Day 27 - Travel to Delhi
Day 28 - Depart Delhi (flights usually leave around midnight so you will have most of the day free.

This leaves Agra, Rajasthan and maybe Gujerat for your next month-long trip. India seems to call just about everyone back.

You might want to have a Delhi company plan your routing, flights, train tickets and maybe hotels and car transfers. I’ve used Swagatam (www.swagatam.com; sales@swagatamtour.com) in Delhi for the past 6 years to make my local arrangements and they have never let me down.
#6 May 30th, 2011, 00:28
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#6
Also remember it's Monsoon time lot's of rain in R'stan, non in Ladakh.KK
#7 May 30th, 2011, 09:22
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#7
Things are becoming a lot clearer.

Thank you again for your time! It was a big help.
#8 Jun 21st, 2011, 22:22
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#8
Hello again!

So I booked my trains and am getting everything together. I am going Delhi,Agra, Varanassi, Rishikesh, Dharamsala, Delhi. I just have a few questions remaining.

1) Though I have my trains already, any other suggestions/thoughts for my itinerary?

2) I am arriving at 3 AM into New Delhi airport. Is there a 24 hour ATM or currency exchange open at that time of night? I will need rupees for the car taking me to my hotel.

3) I left myself an extra 3 days in Dharamsala in case I want to stay longer. Being that it's July, and to my understanding-low tourist season, do I have to figure out those days now or can I figure out whether I want to stay in Dharamsala or go to Ladakh (or maybe Amritsar or Shimla or other) later on? I will find lodging in Dharamsala for 3 days, but would love to play the rest by ear.

Let me know! Thanks again!
#9 Jun 22nd, 2011, 00:28
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#9
There's currency changers in the airport, but I'm not sure if they are open at 3am,but your hotel reception will probably change money to pay the taxi (check with them by email), but ideally you need to get a prepaid taxi so that you don't get ripped off on arrival or given the runaround at 3am in morn.
D'sala is low season in July because it becomes a very depressive place due to monsoon. Can I suggest you split-up this journey from Rishi to D'sala & spend the extra 3 days in Rewalsar Lake, another more laid back Tibetan settlement. https://picasaweb.google.com/kulluki...nhj9aztKvw1gE#
#10 Jun 22nd, 2011, 05:37
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#10
Thanks!

Right now I have 3 days in Rishikesh and then I have a direct train to Chakki Bank. I booked my last train from Chakki Bank to Delhi 7 days later to give me flexibility. I figured that I could take the Chakki Bank train regardless of where in the north I end up. So from what you have posted just now and before, options after my few days in Dharamsala include Ladakh or Rewalsar Lake. The images look beautiful. Let me know if any other suggestions come to mind. Let me know if you suggest even less time in Dharamsala.

Thanks again!
#11 Jun 22nd, 2011, 10:10
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  • Ultimate is offline
#11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jbob View Post ..... I booked my last train from Chakki Bank to Delhi 7 days later to give me flexibility. I figured that I could take the Chakki Bank train regardless of where in the north I end up. So from what you have posted just now and before, options after my few days in Dharamsala include Ladakh or Rewalsar Lake.......
Forget Ladakh... you practically don't have time to travel and acclimatize. The cheapest way from Dharamshala to Leh & return is by road, which will eat up around 3 days (one way), rest you can imagine...

The alternative is to fly between Delhi - Leh... but its a peak season & flight tickets are costly. And most importantly... a week is short for Himachal itself...
Mountains are not sports stadia where I satisfy my ambitions for achievement, they are cathedrals where I practice my religion....on each journey I am reborn!
#12 Jun 22nd, 2011, 10:21
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#12
Hey...congratulations on your first trip to my India....
1. Currency exchange counter is open 24 hours and you definitely have ATMs at the international airport.
2. You won't be disappointed by Dharamsala as it's a beautiful place to be, you would meet so many friendly people around from India as well lot of other countries. You can most definitely plan to go for trekking in Dharamsala to Truind which is about 9 Kms of trekking. It's beautiful.
3. If you plan to go from Delhi to Ladakh by air, then it makes sense else travelling by road to Ladakh from Dharamsala would eat up all your time and you would have no time to venture out and see the beautiful Ladakh.
4. I stay in Delhi itself so let me know if you would want to know anything else.
Happy travelling
#13 Jun 22nd, 2011, 10:39
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#13
You will for sure be able to change money at the airport when you arrive. Don't change too much, as you'll get a somewhat better rate from ATMs in the city (there's sure to be one near your hotel) but you will need cash to pay for that pre-paid taxi (from the booth run by the Delhi Police). Don't believe anyone else who tells you "same-same."

I agree with Ultimate that you should leave Ladakh off your schedule for this trip; the extreme altitude is against you and you don't have enough free days to get used to it.
The map is not the territory. --Alfred Korzybski
#14 Jun 22nd, 2011, 18:37
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#14
Thanks for everyone's reply!

I feel much better about the ATM situation and my time in Himachal Pradesh is become clearer. Its seems like even though it is monsoon season, it was a good thing that I left 6 days for Dharamsala. I can spend time there, go for a trek (Truind), or head to Amritsar or Rewalsar for the last 3 days of my time around there. Hopefully, there will be people up there to guide me.

Thank you all again and please keep the suggestions coming if something comes to mind, even if it's bold (like skip Dharamsala and head down south or spend 3 days in Dharamsala and then make your way elsewhere.)
#15 Jun 22nd, 2011, 19:47
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#15
If you are taking train to Chakki bank then it would make sense to head to Amritsar just for a day then onto D'sala 5days (Despite what others say it's depressing there during monsoon & I love the place any other time) then 3 days Rewalsar then back to Delhi via Chandigarh.KK

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