Where to go?
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| Member

Where to go?

I have actually won a 5 day trip to one of five locations in India; Hyderabad, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai or Bangalore. This is a dream “trip of a lifetime” for me and I want to do my best to make the most of this serendipitous opportunity.

I am female, in my mid-forties and will likely be traveling solo. I am a rather shy, very friendly and passive person, and I understand the culture shock will be a great challenge for me, but one I’m determined to conquer in order to make the most of this trip. I’m not looking for a “vacation” experience... I want to experience the people and heart of India. I’m drawn to Buddhism, authentic artisans (textiles, art, music, dance, etc) and of course food (although I’m not a fan of the spicy stuff!). I’m leaning toward Mumbai primarily because it ticks all the boxes as well as has the addition of the sea. Bangalore is coming in a close second.

So tell me IM-re’s. Where should I go (and why) to make the most of my five precious days in this fascinating and vast country?

38 Replies

| The Silent One
Welcome to IndiaMike Quietbliss - I am sure you will get answers to the above and many reasons why as well. Do let us know the dates of your expected stay period, would help in giving the suggestions.
Sar Pass Trek , Rohtang, Munnar, Badrinath Kedarnath, Vaishnodevi, Goa, VOF, Kedarkantha, Kuari Pass, Brahmatal Trek
| Member
I’m looking at November snotty.
| Maha Guru Member
Weather wise, all of those should be fine in November.

Key question is; are you only visiting this place or using as a base to explore more?

The question is important as, for an example, Mumbai May trump Delhi (to some!) as a city. But Delhi would be better if you want to see textiles in Rajasthan and visit the current home of Buddhism in McLeod Ganj.

My thoughts: basing yourself in the city as the only place you visit will not make the trip the most rewarding experience you could have. Likewise, if you want a true glimpse in to indian life, the rural towns and villages are not to be missed.

"See the World, then see India - because the World is an anti-climax"
| Loud Noisy Bird
I’m leaning toward Mumbai primarily because it ticks all the boxes as well as has the addition of the sea

We have sea here in Chennai too!

Weather-wise, though, Chennai is the city that could well have monsoon in November. Generally, its tourist rating tends to be place to catch a cab from the airport to somewhere else. I have always thought that this is being very unfair to my home town, and many of the visitors I have met here agree, some even saying that they wish they had spent longer here.

However... we are not that hot on tourist sites or sights. You could spend five days here and fill them all up but... Would I recommend it as a single new-to-India five-day tourist destination? I guess.... no.

Unless... Check out "Carnatic music" on youtube. If you hate it, continue to leave Chennai off the list. If you fall in love with it, you can come here and almost fill five days with the music alone!

My input on other destinations is not that useful: I've spent a week each in Delhi and Hyderabad and one night in Bangalore. Buuuuuut... If it was me, I'd make it a toss-up between Mumbai and Delhi. And I suspect That Delhi offers the most things to do and see on your doorstep during your five days.

Originally posted by: NomadicBooMy thoughts: basing yourself in the city as the only place you visit will not make the trip the most rewarding experience you could have.

True. But five days... There's just no time to waste on the getting from A to B stuff. So my question would be: which city offers the most, on a one-thing-one day, or two-things-one-day, from the hotel doorstep?

Quietbliss, congratulations on your win. I expect it includes a really nice hotel. Enjoy! :D
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| Maha Guru Member
Definitely wouldn't choose Mumbai or B'lore. If you want culture shock & plenty of things to do/see for 5 days then Delhi. If you want Sea & Temples & a much more laid back/peaceful experience then fly to Chennai & go to Mahabalipuram &/or Pondicherry. You can also reach quite a few major Temple towns from here or have an overnight visit to Thiruvannamalai & the Ashram of Ramana Maharishi & Arunachala hill, a very powerful place for anyone with Spiritual interests.
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| Maha Guru Member
All Indian cities are very busy, bustling, crowded places, but that is what makes them Indian cities... If you can extend your free prize winner stay for more time at your own expense, it would allow a more varied impression of India. 5 days is no time at all, there is so much to see.
I think Delhi would be my choice, there is so much variety, and it will give you a taster of India in case you want to come again for longer.
You can visit Agra and see the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort as a day trip from Delhi. The largest Mosque in India is in Delhi, and the Qutub Minar is most impressive.


| Member
I'd recommend Hyderabad. It's a great place historically and culturally. Not to mention the absolutely delicious food you can gorge on! Since there's been tremendous Nizami (or Mughal) influence on this remarkable city, you will find a lot of things about it fascinating - be it the language, food, culture, or even friendly people. November is a good time to visit Hyderabad. You can cover historical sites like Golconda Fort, modern attractions such as Ramoji Film City (which is the largest film studio complex in the world!), and take a close look at the massive Gautam Buddha statue in the Hussain Sagar Lake. Hyderabad is also a great place to shop. you can buy gorgeous lacquer-work bangles in the Old City.
| Maha Guru Member
I missed the 5 day part, apologies.

In which case I thirdsy the choice of Delhi. Best option in my opinion and plenty to do/see/eat/experience.

Plus if you really wanted to see more than the city and can stomach 5am wake ups and 5 hour car journeys (some can!) then you can even make a day trip to Rishikesh or Jaipur.

"See the World, then see India - because the World is an anti-climax"
| opinionated liberal food fascist

Agree that 5 days is no time at all and that you should extend your trip by another 5 days, at least, if you can.

If you do decide to visit Delhi, it's worth noting that Majnu Ka Tilla in North Delhi has a sizeable Tibetan community- although it's not exactly a tourist site. Agree with Nomadicboo about visiting Dharamshala and McLeodganj, keeping Delhi as your base.

Plenty of arts and crafts to be found at the state emporiums near Connaught Place and at Dilli Haat, both of which are touristy.

If you're open to exploring religion generally without limiting yourself to just Buddhism, I also recommend a trip to the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

Alternatively, you may visit Kolkata for a few days and make a trip to Sikkim-- another Buddhist hub.

As far as the two big cities go, this is how they can be very very generally classified, IMO:-

Delhi-- Has a lot of history, ranging from the pre-Mughal era to British monuments. It's near desert in Rajasthan and the mountains, to which you can make side trips.

Mumbai--Arguably India's most cosmopolitan city, but its history is not as old or multi-layered. However, it has a lot to offer nonetheless when it comes to seeing India in all its warts and glory, from slums to skyscrapers.

Chennai- as others have said above.

Skip Bangalore.
| Humble Genius
If you cannot extend the trip to much beyond five days, I'd suggest stay clear of any major city except for arrival / departure. You could arrive in Delhi and fly immediately to Bhopal - it checks a lot of your boxes - handicrafts, Buddhism (Sanchi), village, art, culture (see my trip report in signature).

Similarly you could arrive in Mumbai to get to Aurangabad for Ajanta / Ellora / Lonar crater and Paithan.

If you choose Bangalore, leave from the airport to Mysore and continue to Bylakuppe, Coorg and add a two day trip to Sravanabelagola / Halebidu / Belur. Funnily, it can take the same amount of time to get to Mysore as it'd take to get to Bangalore city center.

While the himalayas are fantastic - they're not the picturebook version of India. Delhi/Kolkata gets smog in November, and I'd recommend central India / South over the north for that reason. You could choose Hyderabad or Chennai but they dont have the buddhism angle going for them, otherwise they're better large cities.

Jet lag alone will claim the better part of the first week arriving from the south or west coast, so five days is a bit of a waste, really. I have family come down for that brief a duration (i.e. leave Friday night from either end) - but they are only coming home and dont move a muscle for first two days after landing.
| Maha Guru Member
I suspect that the prize is to stay in a certain hotel chain for the 5 days, so maybe the option to go and stay in other accommodation outside certain cities may not be open.

No doubt Quietbliss will let us know more details...

| Member
I SO wish I had the weeks I would love to have in order to explore the entire country (or even just one state) properly.

I will be based out of one city, since this is how the lodging and air fare is provided. I expect to spend most of my time away from the biggest parts of the city, but also don’t want to spend the majority of the 5 days traveling within the country. If I’m VERY lucky this trip will be the foundation for building a more focused itenerary for a future trip.
| Member
Thank you Nick!
| Member
Thank you!