Rajasthan & Goa, 2 weeks, February?

#1 Jan 6th, 2016, 02:53
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#1
Hi all,

My wife and I (both around 30 - no kids) are visiting India for the first time soon. In fact, we're arriving in New Delhi on 29 Jan and then flying back home to London 15 days later from Mumbai.

Essentially we'll be trying to fit in a bit of the North & South in that time and I'd love to get some feedback on my provisional itinerary - specifically which parts to prioritse and which to possibly skip.

------- North --------

First parst will be to arrive in Delhi, spend a few days there, then visit Agra & Jaipur. Seems like the classic thing to do

I considered the option of Udaipur, Ranthambore or Jodphur but decided it'd probably best not to stretch ourselves too thin. From Jaipur we'll take a flight down....

------ South --------

This is where it starts getting tricky. I considered Kerala for a while but I think have decided on Goa because I feel it might be more 'happening' (more stuff going on). We're both quite active and neither of us like the typical 'relaxation' holiday. For example, the thought of a houseboat on the backwaters just seemed a touch dull to us. We prefer to keep doing stuff.

One option I'm considering right now is to fly from Jaipur to Pune and then make our way down to Goa overland. This could add a bit of excitement and allow us to see a bit of the Western Ghats. Would you consider this a worthwhile thing to do, or would you suggest we just fly straight into Goa? If we did do it, any suggestions on what to see / where to stop on the way down? If possible I would love to fit in see nice nature somewhere along the way, maybe a national park of sorts?


Once we arrive in Goa we'd spend a couple of days there, before flying to Mumbai, spending a night or two there and then back to the UK.

Any suggestions on any part of this journey would be great

Thanks all!
#2 Jan 6th, 2016, 04:55
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#2
Some general remarks.
You don't mention your modes of transport for the Northern part.
If you intend to do this by train you must realize that one has to reserve seats in advance. Most trains are fully booked weeks before they depart.
For foreigners there is a small quota on some trains, see here for details http://www.indiamike.com/india/india...guide-t192751/

Other possibilities are car or bus, see for a discussion http://www.indiamike.com/india/india...s-bus-t238488/

The only daily train from Pune to Goa is overnight, see erail, so not much to see.
#3 Jan 6th, 2016, 05:33
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hey vonkla! Thanks a lot for your reply and sorry for not being very clear in my original post. We're planning to do a mix of car & train in the northern part. I've got an IRCTC account and have been looking at a few potential trains (e.g. Delhi to Agra) - most still seem to have some spaces. We'd probably also take a car & driver for part of it (e.g. from Agra to Jaipur) so that we can make some stops on the way. I'm quite keen on visiting this bird sanctuary near Agra for example.

On the southern part, yes, from Pune to Goa it would have to be a (leisurely) car trip, possibly visiting some things in between, perhaps with a nights stop somwhere if necessary. I must say I've also considered just renting a car without a driver - I quite enjoy driving, especially on scenic roads - but I understand that might be more difficult to arrange.

In general what I'm really looking for in the southern part of the journey is two separate experiences:

1. A couple of days (3-4) of travelling through beautiful scenery. National parks with wild animals, lush greenery, spending some time outdoors (e.g. rafting / paragliding / trekking / cycling), visiting historical sites, tea plantations, toy trains, you name it.

2. Then after, say, we'd like to book in to a 5* luxury resort for a couple of days (2-3) for pure relaxation. Spas, swimming pools, different on-site restaurants, swim-up cocktail bars, lots of resort activities (whether table tennis, mini-golf, rock climbing classes or whatever). For this we've got a healthy budget of several hundred USD per night.

Hope that makes sense. Any more suggestions? I'm still a bit torn between Kerala & Goa - my sense is that Goa would win on the luxury side and, even though the nature travelling part might be nicer in Kerala, it would still be lovely in Goa also. Does that ring true?
#4 Jan 6th, 2016, 08:22
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#4
Quote:
Originally Posted by MoCC View Post hey vonkla! Thanks a lot for your reply and sorry for not being very clear in my original post. We're planning to do a mix of car & train in the northern part. I've got an IRCTC account and have been looking at a few potential trains (e.g. Delhi to Agra) - most still seem to have some spaces. We'd probably also take a car & driver for part of it (e.g. from Agra to Jaipur) so that we can make some stops on the way. I'm quite keen on visiting this bird sanctuary near Agra for example.

On the southern part, yes, from Pune to Goa it would have to be a (leisurely) car trip, possibly visiting some things in between, perhaps with a nights stop somwhere if necessary. I must say I've also considered just renting a car without a driver - I quite enjoy driving, especially on scenic roads - but I understand that might be more difficult to arrange.

In general what I'm really looking for in the southern part of the journey is two separate experiences:

1. A couple of days (3-4) of travelling through beautiful scenery. National parks with wild animals, lush greenery, spending some time outdoors (e.g. rafting / paragliding / trekking / cycling), visiting historical sites, tea plantations, toy trains, you name it.

2. Then after, say, we'd like to book in to a 5* luxury resort for a couple of days (2-3) for pure relaxation. Spas, swimming pools, different on-site restaurants, swim-up cocktail bars, lots of resort activities (whether table tennis, mini-golf, rock climbing classes or whatever). For this we've got a healthy budget of several hundred USD per night.

Hope that makes sense. Any more suggestions? I'm still a bit torn between Kerala & Goa - my sense is that Goa would win on the luxury side and, even though the nature travelling part might be nicer in Kerala, it would still be lovely in Goa also. Does that ring true?
Munnar hillstation and Periyar National Park in Kerala will be best for your number 1 experience.

For your number 2, you could consider Bogmalo resort a 5* hotel in south Goa that has most of the facilities you are looking for:
http://www.bogmallobeachresort.com/facilities.php

Yes, Kerala gets more rain and is therefore more lush green and will be a richer and more active nature travelling experience compared to Goa.

Maybe spend 5 days in North India and then 5 days each in Goa and Kerala.
Too many beautiful places to visit in India and only two weeks

Good Luck
#5 Jan 6th, 2016, 15:11
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#5
For the second week - how about 3 days in Aurangabad around(Ajanta, ellora, lonar, daulatabad.... lots of options) and then 2-3 days in a 5* resort in goa?
Hampi is also a great option if you are not too finicky about accommodation comfort.
#6 Jan 6th, 2016, 17:12
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#6
Hey torontomm! Thanks for your reply. I think Munnar and Periyar would 100% be on my hitlist if we did make it down to Kerala. Both places look absolutely stunning and exactly the kind of thing we are looking for. Still, for the luxury side though I think Goa might have the upper hand. The Bogmalo Resort does look lovely but it doesn't seem quite as exciting some of the ones I've seen in Goa, like the The Leela Goa or the Taj Exotica. So ultimately I think we'll pick Goa but of course would love to do both we had enough time - maybe next time around

And nayan: I had looked into Aurangabad before but not Hampi - thanks for the tip. Both look like interesting options although possibly a bit out-of-the-way. I suppose really it will also boils down to flight availability. Coming from the North (Jaipur or Delhi), there's only really a handful of airports near Goa that I can fly into, namely:
(reasonably closeish)
- Pune
- Belgaum
- Mangaluru
(or slightly further)
- Bengaluru
- Hyderabad
- Aurangabad

Really those are my options coming in from up North - then it's just about picking one of these and working out an interesting route from there to Delhi. I imagine this to be an overland trip with a couple of stops en route. Possible a car & driver or maybe partly by train if the connections are good (or a mix of both). Any suggestions which of these you'd recommend?

Thanks both of you for your helpful tips! Really useful to get some advice from people who actually know what they're talking about
#7 Jan 6th, 2016, 17:37
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#7
Quote:
Originally Posted by MoCC View Post Really those are my options coming in from up North - then it's just about picking one of these and working out an interesting route from there to Delhi
Just realised that should of course read: working out an interesting route from there to Goa
#8 Jan 6th, 2016, 17:54
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#8
Quote:
Originally Posted by MoCC View Post Really those are my options coming in from up North - then it's just about picking one of these and working out an interesting route from there to Delhi.
I assume you mean Goa in stead of Delhi.

Since travel speed in India is slow, some 40 to 50 km per hour, it is better to pick an airport close to Goa.
The disadvantage of Belgaum is that there are no direct flight from the North. First fly to Mumbai and take the afternoon flight from there.

Belagum itself has not much to offer but there are some wildparks, Bhagwah Mahhaveer and Dandeli, between the city and Goa.

We spend some great time in the Sirsi - Banavasi region a 200 km South of Belgaum. You can read about our stay in http://www.indiamike.com/india/karna...eport-t134462/.

From there it is not far to the coast.
#9 Jan 6th, 2016, 17:56
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#9
When you visit Bharatpur (bird sanctuary) you could also consider seeing Deeg Palace which is near by. Also as you plan to take a car from Agra to Jaipur you could also visit Abhaneri.

Instead of flying to Pune I would suggest flying to Mumbai since there would be more flight options. You could consider hiring a car from Mumbai to Goa however you will have to pay for the return fare also. If you want to stay overnight enroute Guhagar / Ganpatipule / Malvan could be the options for you. If you want to see a national park enroute Dajipur Wildlife Sanctuary could be an option.

There are 2 routes from Mumbai to Goa via the Mumbai - Goa highway which goes via the Western Ghats (2 lane highway) or via the Expressway and then take a diversion from Kolhapur. If you take the second route then only Dajipur Wildlife Sanctuary could be done.
#10 Jan 6th, 2016, 18:16
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#10
Quote:
Originally Posted by MoCC View Post Still, for the luxury side though I think Goa might have the upper hand. The Bogmalo Resort does look lovely but it doesn't seem quite as exciting some of the ones I've seen in Goa, like the The Leela Goa or the Taj Exotica. So ultimately I think we'll pick Goa but of course would love to do both we had enough time - maybe next time around
Kerala has no dearth of luxury 5* options.
Leela and Taj are present in kerala too

The kerala ones usually have a more heritage-y feel.
(Though rather than a Taj or a leela I would go for something like this for example -
in Cochin- http://le-colonial.neemranahotels.com/
or
http://www.cghearth.com/brunton-boat...ving-spaces-bb )
#11 Jan 6th, 2016, 18:43
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#11
Thanks aarosh! I’ve added Deeg Palace and Abhaneri to my spreadsheet – we’ll definitely do at least one of those when we're up North. It seems there’s lots of interesting stuff to do en route from Agra to Jaipur. And the reason I thought about flying to Pune instead of Mumbai is because a) there’s a direct flight Jaipur -> Pune b) I’ll be leaving India from Mumbai so I’ll definitely see the city then. Never like to visit the same airport twice if I can avoid it.

But whether I fly into Mumbai or Pune (or somewhere else!), I’d probably end up hiring a car for the one-way journey towards Goa. The Dajipur Wildlife Sanctuary looks very nice so that could definitely be an option. Thanks for the tip. Do you know if this is much nicer (e.g. more scenic / more wildlife / less busy) than the parks closer to Goa, like those suggested by vonkla (Bhagwah Mahhaveer and Dandeli)?

And vonkla, thanks again for more of your input! Agreed that it’s not ideal to have to change planes at Mumbai to get to Belgaum but could be doable if it avoids hours in the car / train. Then I would end up fairly close to Goa and could spend some time exploring the parks inland from the Goa. Just looking at Google maps there seems to be quite a lot of them in that general area: Mhadei, Bhagwah Mahhaveer, Dandeli, Netravali, Anshi, Bhimgad, Radhanagari, Sharavati etc. Any advice on which specific ones are worth seeking out?

Loved that travel report of yours also. Thanks for the link and writeup. The pictures that most resonated with me were those of the Yana Rocks and Sahasraling. That really looks stunning and might be worth a detour itself. Or I could even fly into Manaluru and head north towards Goa – past Yaka – from there!?

So many options and so little time… Thanks for all your help!
#12 Jan 6th, 2016, 19:51
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#12
And thanks for the links nayan. I can definitely see the appeal of both Le Colonial and the CGH Earth places. Both look lovely but probably not quite what we had in mind. We were thinking more of a kind of hotel / resort with in-house spa, 24h room service and a slightly more modern feel (even if it is in fact in a historic building). I’ve looked around a fair bit and the closest things I could find in Kerala would probably be:

The Vivanta by Taj in Bekal (probably
Niraamaya Retreats in Kovalam
The Zuri Kumarakom

Of those, the Vivanta by Taj probably looked like the most appealing but unfortunately they are fully booked right around the 10 Feb.

It’s strange there doesn’t seem to be more luxury down in the South in general. I saw some absolutely beautiful looking places in Rajastan, like the various Oberoi hotels (Udaivilas in Udaipur, Vanyavillas in Sawai Madhopur, Rajvillas in Jaipur), or the Umaid Bhawan Palace Jodhpur, or the Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur. All those look like truly unbelievably great hotels and that’s the kind of thing I’d sign up for in a heartbeat if I could find it in either Goa or Kerala.

Any suggestions on where to look?

Really appreciate everyone’s help – thanks!
#13 Jan 6th, 2016, 20:01
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#13
If I were in your position, I'd slow down a bit. Del-Agra-Jaipur would take about 7 days at-least including places in-between, 8 optimally (including Bharatpur, Fatehpur Sikri, etc). I'd add Ranthambore to the mix - there're some luxury properties there and the place is very close to Jaipur (3 hours by road in a hired car). Do 3 safaris (one and a half days) and you have a very good chance of spotting a tiger. It wont happen in any other park in the areas you're thinking of. Also the jungle itself is quite pretty (google up some images)

From Jaipur, fly to Goa. Do the luxury bit and spend the remaining time exploring smaller places within Goa. There's a lot to see if you get done with relaxing and upto a week can be whiled away easily - you'd have 5 days though due to flight connections, etc.

Some of the other places you have in mind, like Yana and Sahasralinga are great (I've been to both) and Hampi too but I did a two week dedicated car and driver trip through Karnataka alone to cover those places. As Vonkla said, travel in India is slow and 50 kmph is what you'd average.
#14 Jan 6th, 2016, 20:05
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#15 Jan 7th, 2016, 01:43
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#15
Thanks for the advice vaibhav_arora. It’s always so tempting to squeeze in a lot when you’re planning – everything looks so close together on the map. But equally my wife and I do prefer ‘travelling’ over ‘holidaying’ if that makes sense. We’re not looking for 2 weeks on a beach. We want to see stuff and do stuff!

But interesting you’d recommend Ranthambore. I had looked into it before and it does look great. I noticed all the 6-seater jeep tours were completely sold out already on our likely dates (sometime around 3-4th February) and in the end I thought maybe we’d just head down south instead. Maybe I’ll bring it back into the mix 

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