Where on earth to start?? - 3 months in India and no itinerary!

#1 Jan 30th, 2013, 18:26
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  • Chickengreen is offline
#1
Reading all these fantastic threads has got me a little worried!!.....

We are setting off on the 25th Feb (yes in just over three weeks) flying to Mumbai from London to start a three month tour of India as the first leg of our year long trip around the world.

We ideally want to be as flexible as possible trying to shake off our super planning heads we have in our jobs in London and embrace the travelling way of life!
This will be our first trip to India and have as I said set aside 3 months but we have no set departure date and no onward flight booked so could be a touch longer or shorter as needed.

We have so far only booked the following.....2 nights in Mumbai then the overnight train down to Goa. We are then booked into Ciaran's on Palolem Beach for 7 nights to just chill out, settle in and get our heads around the fact we're are going to be nomadic for the next 12 months!!

After that we have nothing booked at all! The thought is that we will then continue our trip south but where to stop we have no idea and for how long. Reading some of the posts here I've not even heard of 90% of the places so no idea what is there or what they are like!

Eventually we'd like to leave India from Dehi to fly to Beijing.

So, this is a challenge to all your fabulous people and all your great experience....what would a 3 month itinerary look like from first week of March 2013 onwards starting from Goa.

As I said we are in our early 30's - we love doing adventure type things...are pretty active...LOVE food and would love to try and absorb as much of the Indian culture as possible.
We'd like to try all sorts of different things...stay in different places - up for anything really. Up for staying longer in some places maybe e.g. staying at an Ashram say.
Ideally we don't want a brake-neck tour of India feeling like we're just getting off one train/plane...see some sights and then get back on again to tick off the next thing on the list. We have no expectation sof what we should/want to see so have no list to tick off!

(Btw my husband has 'forbidden me'(!) from doing any research saying we'll do it on the ground but it would be great to have some suggestions so we can at least have a starting point for our travels and research!)

Thanks in advance for your help.
#2 Jan 30th, 2013, 18:57
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  • aarosh is offline
#2
From Goa you have the option of going to Coastal Karnataka. You can also go to Hampi. From Hampi move on to Bangalore, Mysore. From Mysore go to Cochin, Munnar, Alleppey, Trivandrum, Kanyakumari. From Kanyakumari go to Madurai, Trichy, Thanjavur / Kumbakonam, Chidambaram, Pondicherry, Mahabalipuram, Chennai. From Chennai then decide if you want ot go to Andhra Pradesh or Odisha. From there on move to Uttar Pradesh.
#3 Jan 30th, 2013, 20:21
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  • NomadicBoo is offline
#3
I basically did that exact trip with my girlfriend in 2008 - also our first time backpacking in India.

We flew in to Delhi and straight to Goa and from there we did a whole month in Goa and then Hampi, Bangalore, Munnar, Fort Kochi, Allepey, Varkala, Trivanduram, Pondicherry Chennai and Mammalpuram (plus a few others I forget).

Other must see places I guess would include Kannur, Mysore, Oooty and maybe Kanyakumari.

We've since been back 3 more times and are heading out again for 6 months in a few weeks. Since that initial trip we've seen all of Rajasthan, the Himalayas and been back to Kerala.

I think your plan is a good one, for your first trip to start in the South makes sense and ease yourself in. Internal flights are very cheap so once you're done down south and accustomed to the India way you can fly to Delhi/Kolkata and see Rajasthan, Himalaya, Varanasi, Khujarao etc.

Just a few tweaks. Seeing as you're in Mumbai you should take some time to visit the caves (Ajanta/Ellora).

I would also advise, to save you doubling back on yourself, not to go straight to Palolem if you can. I would start in North Goa (Arambol maybe) and head down the coast towards Palolem (going through Arambol, Mandrem, Anjuna etc).

The big thing you will find is that every day you will meet someone who will help you to pick a route that suits you.

Good luck.

NB
#4 Jan 31st, 2013, 00:15
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  • kanishka_27 is offline
#4
If I was in your place, then I would have asked myself one question and that is "Am I going to come back to India again?" If the answer is "Yes", then the itinerary should be zone/region specific so that you can cover most of the places in that region and not come back to the same place all over again in your subsequent visits, when you can actually concentrate on the left-back zones.
However if the answer is a "No", then I would suggest to hand pick some places from all the regions so that you can get a fair idea as to what India is all about, and trust me that that the diversity that you will get to see (from one region to another)here within the country is nothing less than what you will get to see moving from one country to another. The language, the people, their habits, the architecture, the geography, their history, I mean anything and everything is so very unique to a particular region.

So if the answer is a "No", the must see places according to me from all the regions can be as follows:
West (where you are landing) - Mumbai (by default), Goa, Ajanta Ellora
South - Places in Kerala (Munnar, Alleppy Periyar,, Kovalam, etc) , Kanyakumari, Chennai
East - Puri, Konark, Bhubaneshwar, Kolkata, Darjeeling
Central - Khajuraho, Varanasi, Orcha, Gwalior
North - Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, maybe a couple of hillstations in Himachal

There are so many other places in every region that will still be left out, but then the above will give you a summary of what each region has to offer.

Note - The bigger states in itself (likes of Rajasthan, etc) takes more than a month to cover if you try to see all the places there.
Last edited by kanishka_27; Jan 31st, 2013 at 00:18.. Reason: wanted to mention the note
#5 Jan 31st, 2013, 00:28
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  • NomadicBoo is offline
#5
Quote:
Originally Posted by kanishka_27 View Post If I was in your place, then I would have asked myself one question and that is "Am I going to come back to India again?"
The problem is - nobody ever knows. I know of people who thought they'd love it and come back but the reality of India was far different to what they imagined and they never returned.

On the other hand, I was convinced it was a one time thing and I'm now 5 times and counting!

Great advice in terms of destinations but as this is their first 'backpacking' trip they really need to 'go with the flow' and embrace the lifestyle of having nowhere to go, nowhere to be and no-one to please but themselves. One of the biggest reasons to do it!

NB
#6 Jan 31st, 2013, 00:34
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  • kanishka_27 is offline
#6
NomadicBoo - You are so right.

It also depends on one's interest as well. Someone who is interested more in adventures will obviously choose a different set of places than someone who is into history and architecture.
Moreover the purpose of a visit also is a determinig factor. Someone who wants to backpack and travel will have a different route than someone who wants a relaxed trip.
#7 Feb 1st, 2013, 11:53
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  • ashwinnaagar is offline
#7
Coastal maharashtra is beautiful too, nice virtually virgin beaches in many stretches, good sea forts and spicy food. and not far away from Goa. Then you can go to Hampi,Pattadakal,Badami in Karnataka.
#8 Feb 5th, 2013, 02:00
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  • Brightlight is offline
#8
You are brave! India is so amazing, and there is so much to see! But I highly recommend a standby...If you need any help we used Hans Holidays travel, They were amazing!!!!! We flew into Delhi, went to Agra, Orcha, kajuraho and then to Varanasi where we started a 10 day Buddhist Pilgrimage, unforgettable, especially since I don't consider myself a practicing buddhist. Kumar Kaulesh is who helped us at Hans Holidays: kaulesh@hansholidays.com
#9 Feb 5th, 2013, 04:02
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  • tripsammy is offline
#9
I would fly into Delhi, get the train up to Ramnagar and spend a week at Corbett to experience the wildlife of India, possibly a trip up to Binsar, then go across to Mumbai and travel down to Goa, Karnataka and Keraka ( backwaters, alleppy,up to Periyar possibly) What a brilliant opportunity, so jealous!
#10 Feb 9th, 2013, 10:43
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  • karikor is offline
#10
Hi chicken green,

If you do find time in your 3 months , you could travel further east from Darjeeling and visit places like shillong,sohra( cherrapunjee ), mawlynnong, mawphlang etc. Shillong was the capital of undivided Assam during British India since 1864 till it got its own state in 1972. All these places can be approached from guwahati , capital of Assam. Shillong, the capital of meghalaya is 100km from guwahati. Guwahati will be 8 hours by train from new jalpaiguri, the train station that you get down for Darjeeling. Darjeeling is 90 km from new jalpaiguri. Im sure you will enjoy to see the diversity that you will find here, something in which India is famous for. A week to 10 days is all you need to cover all these places. infact if you are the adventurous kind, then you will find a lot of scope for trekking, like David Scot trail trek, double Decker living roots bridge trek etc , water falls and water sports, and spelunking or caving (the 10 longest and the 10 deepest caves in India are found here). And yes you can experience the worlds heaviest rainfall in cherrapunjee.
#11 Feb 9th, 2013, 12:19
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  • candycanegirl is offline
#11
Practically, I would recommend that from Goa you tour the South first (Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu) as you will already be there and there's quite a lot to see.

My biggest advice though is don't overplan! It's great to book the first week or so to allow yourselves to settle in... but you won't really know how you feel about India or the food or the heat or the trains/buses until you are in the thick of it. Maybe you'll decide you want to stay on the beach for 2 more weeks. Maybe you will love the crazy energy of Mumbai and want more like that. Maybe it will be too damn hot and you will decide to head to a hill station where it's cooler. Very probably you will meet other travelers and locals who will give you good advice and ideas on the way.

There's so many options that you will just stress yourself out by planning it all - go with the "nomadic" idea and just let it flow Have a wonderful time, and stay in touch with Indiamike when you arrive. You will be able to get more specific advice on the road.
There must be more to life than having everything. - Maurice Sendak
#12 Feb 9th, 2013, 13:35
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  • karikor is offline
#12
Well for Meghalaya, I would advice you to plan at least 10-14 days ahead and do the hotel bookings before coming so that you can choose the accommodations to your liking and also places to visit.
If you are interested, I can help you prepare an itinerary along with suggestions on places to stay, places to visit, places to eat and things to do.

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