Train from Agra or Delhi to Varanasi Oct 15?

#1 Aug 6th, 2008, 16:09
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  • bclvebattles is offline
#1
hi,

i am a college student on a semester at sea abroad program and i only have 5 days in india (and only two to travel) and i want to see both Agra and Varanasi.

i dock in Chennai and i plan to fly into Dehli on the Tuesday October 14th, take a train to Agra (before sunset) and spend the night and the next day there, i then want to take a train to Varanasi on Wednesday 15th and fly back to Chennai Thursday 16th.

my question is particularly in regards to the Agra/Varanasi leg - how to do it and should i leave from Agra or Delhi ... but any help on any of the portions would help tremendously

thanks for your help,
amanda

p.s. i am going on the ship alone, but will meet other students once on board, so i am not sure yet of who/the number i will be traveling with or when to book
#2 Aug 6th, 2008, 17:35
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  • Baba is offline
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Ahem, I don't really need to tell you that this won't work? I mean, let's say you really make it to Delhi on the 14th and let's say you even manage to find a train to Agra on the same night, you will need to sleep a few hours. If you then catch the overnight train to Varanasi, it will most certainly be a few hours late and to my knowledge there are no direct flights from Varanasi to Chennai....
Baba
#3 Aug 6th, 2008, 19:26
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#3
I'm assuming that you know more about internal flights in India than I do (and if you're considering flying Varanasi-Chennai, I imagine you know that such a flight exists); during my times in India I've met many people coming off semester at sea boats and traveling in India for the first time. As you're an American, you'll understand this allusion - "We're not in Kansas anymore" (or, as in your case, SoCal) . . . things take time in India. You may get a train if you book in advance. Just walking on a train is a tough one, especially given your (very) frantic pace.

If you have only two days to travel, pick one place. Even the fastest overnight train from Agra to Varanasi is at least 12 hours (about 1/4 of your time). The easiest hit from Delhi is of course Agra. I'm a Taj fan, a sunrise and sunset there are essential, IMHO. I am an even bigger Varanasi fan, having spent over a year of my life there; BUT giving it one day - and a very partial day at that - is, again, IMHO, a waste of your time; not to mention that Varanasi deserves more.

In short - book your train in advance, and make it from Delhi to Agra; see the Taj, Fatepur Sikri, stay local; train back to Delhi; flight back to Chennai.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate; our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure - Marianne Williamson
#4 Aug 6th, 2008, 20:00
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If you fly into Delhi on the 14th & have to be in Chennai the 16th, you can only do one thing in the 2 days you have. I think Darmabum has told you just what you should/can do.

See the Taj & Fatepur Sikri in Agra. Since it's mid-week it will be open.

If you find you have any extra time, there are tons of things to see in Delhi like historical forts (the Red Fort built by the same guy who built the Taj Mahal) & fun, like shopping. You could spend 1/2 day at the Cottage Handicrafts Emporium on Janpath & bring home some great stuff.

If you are doing this with a friend, you can hire a car & driver from Delhi to Agra & back which will save you some time & give you flexibility. The Delhi- Agra train will be more interesting & takes a couple of hours each way.

Forget about both Agra (Taj) & Varanasi. Cannot be done in 2 days.

Enjoy Semester at Sea--I've always thought it would be a fantastic experience!
#5 Aug 7th, 2008, 03:40
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  • bclvebattles is offline
#5
ok, thanks for all the advice ... i am notorious for trying to do everything with whatever time i have, but this is why i wanted to ask people who have been to india, since this is my first trip and I know it will be nothing like other travels i have taken.

i did find a flight that connects varanasi and chennai and i feel drawn to that city, but the taj mahal is the taj mahal and i feel that its something i shouldn't miss ... do you who have been to both have any advice on which one i should choose?
#6 Aug 7th, 2008, 04:29
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If I had to choose, I would pick the Taj Mahal & nearby Fatepur Sikri for a first time India visit. You can easily see them in the time you have & really enjoy them. They are famous & extraordinary "sights" not to be missed.

Varanasi is a city & deserves a bit more time to get some feeling for it. You could go there for your 2 days but I'm not sure the best way to do that from Chennai.

As I said earlier, you simply cannot do both in 2 days. Rushing in India is an oxymoron!

If you find you want to see more of India, you can plan to do so another time in your life when you've saved some money & have some time!

I assume Semester at Sea organizes your Visas since you can't get into India without one. I'm sure they wouldn't drop you off there without one!
#7 Aug 7th, 2008, 12:30
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  • wonderwomanusa is offline
#7
Quote:
Originally Posted by bclvebattles View Post i did find a flight that connects varanasi and chennai and i feel drawn to that city, but the taj mahal is the taj mahal and i feel that its something i shouldn't miss ... do you who have been to both have any advice on which one i should choose?
I'd choose Varanasi. It's the one place where Indian visitors are being their most Indian selves.
The map is not the territory. --Alfred Korzybski
#8 Aug 8th, 2008, 16:43
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#8
I also agree that sticking to Delhi/Agra is a good idea. The streets/lanes in Varanasi are like a labrynth and the city really deserves more time than a day. You MUST see the Taj at dawn or dusk, but arrive early because the lines get really long really quickly. And don't take anything you don't absolutely need because they won't let you take it in. Cameras are okay. Fatepur Sikri is about an hour's bus ride from Agra, and is really amazing, but I'd opt for the Agra Fort first. In Delhi, the Qutb Minar is something to see.

Lodging: In Agra, I stayed at the Hotel Sheila. In Delhi, I was at Wongden House in the New Tibetan colony. Both places were great!

Transport: Auto rickshaw drivers and taxi drivers in Delhi try to cheat even the residents, so enjoy the haggling!

Guides: There are a lot of people posing as "guides" at the Taj so if you want to use a guide, it's better to arrange for one at your hotel.

Another piece of advice: As an American woman traveling alone, I probably don't have to tell you to be careful, especially in Delhi. Wear modest clothing (nothing tight or revealing) and try to talk to other women if you need to ask questions. Most people are helpful, but there are some who will take advantage of tourists.

Hope this helps!
#9 Aug 8th, 2008, 17:48
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#9
Amanda - While I would agree with wonderwoman that Varanasi is the bigger-bang-for-the-rupee stop, I still believe that Agra/Taj/Fatepur Sikri is your best bet. India can be difficult travel, can wear a person down to the point of not being enough of yourself to fully take-in what you're seeing and where you are. My motivation for this suggested plan is wanting to be fair with India; and at the same time for you to have the best experience possible. Realizing that you are a Semester at Sea person, I'm assuming you're young(ish) with boundless energy, and maybe just want to Goooooooooo! My travel style used to be like that, when I was a pup . . . now, with a little grey in my whiskers, I've slowed down. Still, if could be a pup again, and have two days in India, and - knowing what I do now (after five trips/3 years there) I'd take the Taj. It'll take your breath away; Varanasi can knock the wind out of you. Whatever - Enjoy. Safe Travels.

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