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Indian Sub-Cont. From Kathmandu to Colombo, and Islamabad to Dakha, one billion smiles, treck in the Himalayas, bathe in the Ganga, dance to Hindi pop ! Namaste !

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Old 08-02-2005, 05:15 PM   #1
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And all advice is welcome. I'll be travelling with a good friend, and we're planning on very simple - trains/buses/walking & hostels/guesthouses/camping. Hopefully this will let us do all we want to do. My goals are to be in Kolkata for the festival in early October and get up into them there big hills a bit. My friend (lets call her Babs for now since she's not at all a Babs) is an artist & designer; so Babs is very interested in the wide variety of textiles and regional specialties in fabrics and techinques. I have family in Kolkata as well, but they don't understand why we'd ever want to walk when we could take a train; or take a train when we could fly... so they've been of limited use in planning this trip.
So, the plan so far:
- Fly into Mumbai (a couple of days to adjust and catch up with a cousin trying to make it in Bollywood! )
- Train to Kolkata: stops for national park visits, and ??
- Durga Puja and visits with family in Kolkata for about a week
- Train to Delhi: stops in Varanasi? and ??
- Two weeks to travel the northwest and fly out of Delhi.

Right now I have a couple of specific questions....

I'm still shopping around for tickets; I'm flying out of LAX, Babs is leaving from NYC. The cheapest I've found is ~1300. Flying into Mumbai and out of Delhi hasn't seemed too large a hit, but I keep hearing about people who went for $1000 or less... do such fares still exist?

Any thoughts on the IndiaRail Pass? It doesn't seem necessarily cheaper than buying individual tickets for us, but are there other perks or benefits that are worth considering? ...shorter lines maybe?

Any other thoughts or experiences would be much appreciated; thanks!

suparna24@hotmail.com
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Old 08-02-2005, 05:36 PM   #2
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Hi there, welcome!

I've been considering a trip to India for a long, long time. Too long. Need to get off my arse and do it one of these days.

I have no idea if the IndiaRail pass would help in any way. India is pretty damn cheap so I doubt you'll be saving all that much money vs. point to point tickets. And I'm not sure if it'll save you time waiting in line or not-- I want to say probably not too much but it must be at least a little more convenient.

About your accommodations-- are you planning to stay in hostels and camp because it seems more fun, or is it strictly a monetary thing? Because you can get a decent hotel room -- sometimes even air conditioned which is a major, MAJOR bonus-- for under $15 per night in many places. And I use the term "hotel" loosely-- we're hardly talkin' the Hilton here. The only reason I suggest this is that many "hostels" in India have poor reputations-- extreme filth, thievery, stench and constant onslaught from beggars. That being said I've heard of one (can't remember the name of it now, sorry) in Delhi that's gotten decent reviews from one or two guidebooks. Camping would also be fun but keep in mind your access to "fresh" (ha) water may be extremely limited, and the potential for theft and constant demands for baksheesh from little kids and beggars are likely going to be much higher.

That said, I'm totally jealous of your trip-- you're going to have an amazing time!!
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Old 08-07-2005, 03:42 AM   #3
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First off: I haven't been to India, but a good friend of mine has several times. From talking to him and reading numerous travel stories about it, I usually recommend staying one "level" higher in accomodations than you normally do. Thus, if you stay in hostels most of the time, go for cheap hotels, if you do cheaper hotels, go for "moderate", and so on. Why? Well, as SV said: It's cheap! And another is, I hear that India can be an emotionally or mentally taxing place to travel -- at least initially. The crowds, beggars, etc., can be tough to handle, so I would say ease your way into your trip.

Stay in a nice hotel in Mumbai, your first couple days. Not only will it make meeting up with Babs easier, you'll give yourself to time to acclimate. Then, as you guys feel more comfortable, then stay in hostels, campsites and so on. The only thing you'll be out is a few extra bucks, and that's better than it screwing your mental attitude for the whole trip!

Like I said, this is the advice of someone who hasn't been there himself, so please don't take it as gospel...

It's great you have family connections, that will help you out immensely!

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Old 08-08-2005, 12:57 PM   #4
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http://www.associatedcontent.com/content.c...nt_type_id=6589

here is a must visit place in india!!!! it is beautiful!!! when i die thats where i want my ashes spread mysore is amazing!
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Old 10-14-2005, 05:52 PM   #5
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djrocstar - i checked out the website, what a lovely cricket story, thanks for pointing it out! i definitely want to check out Mysore when I go to India!

Supi - I plan on routing my trip South to North as well, so you'll have to keep us posted on how your trip worked out!

sp - you and I, both need to get off our asses and make this trip!
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Old 10-14-2005, 06:16 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by Supi@Aug 2 2005, 06:15 PM

Right now I have a couple of specific questions....

I'm still shopping around for tickets; I'm flying out of LAX, Babs is leaving from NYC.* The cheapest I've found is ~1300.* Flying into Mumbai and out of Delhi hasn't seemed too large a hit, but I keep hearing about people who went for $1000 or less... do such fares still exist?

Any thoughts on the IndiaRail Pass?* It doesn't seem necessarily cheaper than buying individual tickets for us, but are there other perks or benefits that are worth considering?* ...shorter lines maybe?

Any other thoughts or experiences would be much appreciated; thanks!

suparna24@hotmail.com
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Supi, Having lived in India for a while I am going to answer your questions:
* less than 1000$ do exist but its going to be mainly offseason, like late Feb and early March and sometimes the first week of Sep.
*I was wondering why you wouldn't just fly. I am not the biggest fan of the Indian Railways and besides airfare is cheap
*Take along toilet paper
*Get ready for lots of humidity and a lot more people.
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