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!