Where to go for 3-4 weeks in India in January?

I was thinking of flying in to Delhi and then looping through Agra, Varanasi and Darjeeling by train, and finally exiting to Kathmandu. I’m not interested in doing hardcore trekking, but I’d like to catch some of the famous sights, ride some trains, sample the country and gaze at distant peaks. Should I also take in Jaipur on my loop?

Any advice or stories to share would be much appreciated.

Hi Closet Queen,

The route you described: “Delhi and then looping through Agra, Varanasi and Darjeeling by train, and finally exiting to Kathmandu” would be difficult to cover in 3 weeks without being on the move fairly constantly.

You could easily include Jaipur in the Delhi/Agra circuit. Depending on how you want to travel, this could be covered in 2~3 days. The most expensive option, but very cheap by Taiwan standards, would be to hire a driver and ambassador car. If you are looking to save money, you could rely on the trains and buses.

A lot of people hate Delhi at first sight, but if you can get past the first impression and not spend much time in the absolute dumpy tourist trap areas (read: Paharganj) then Delhi can be a very interesting city full of forts, temples and places with thousands of years of history. Part of the city was designed by Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens during the Raj, and the whole scale of that part of the city is very grand and designed to impress upon individuals that they are just a speck in the midst of the giant power of the British Empire. Apart from the Taj Mahal and a nearby fort, Agra has very little by way of attractions/diversions. Jaipur has the Palace of Winds, the astrological observatory, several forts and it is a great place to buy fabrics and jewelry, but haggle and beware of fakes.

To get to Varanasi, if money isn’t an object, try flying. Otherwise, you’ll be on a very, very long train ride. If you do go by train, get a sleeper, first or second class.

You could actually get to Kathmandu faster from Varanasi and there are buses that take you to the border, where you get off, get into Nepal and then take a new bus to Ktmdu. Don’t buy the direct from Varanasi as these are over-priced and the last time I was there (2002) were just a figment of the bus-wallahs imaginations (i.e. did not exist except to sell).

If you do go to Darjeeling, you’ll have to get to Siliguri or New Jailpaguri in West Bengal to transit up to Darjeeling. If time isn’t an issue, the tiny train going up is worth the trip. You’ll have to backtrack south though as the only tourist entrance to Nepal on the East side is through Karkabitta which is roughly parallel with Silliguri on the Indian side.

In East Nepal as you make your way to Kathmandu there are several places you can stop, but most of them are trail heads (and you don’t want to trek) or tea plantations (and you’ll have been to Darj). Around Kathmandu there are some places you should definately see: Swayambodanath, Bodanath, Patan and Bhaktapur. You could do all of it in 3 days as some are within Kathmandu and others are quick rides away. Check out the three Durbar Squares when you are in Patan, Kathmandu and Bhaktapur. There is an observation place in Kathmandu and one in the nearby area (another city, forgot the name…) where you can see many of the highest Himalayan mountains. Also, the other main city, Pokhara has great peaks you can see right from the lakeside area. If you want to blow about 100USD or more, take one of those flights that shows you everything.

If you want any other suggestions, clarifications or whatever, PM me or post here.

Have a great trip!!!

Better look at a map before you start linking Varanasi and Darjeeling.
Think Khajaraho…

(For those who PMed me regarding India, I only stayed in 51 Indian cities and 7 in Nepal, not 57 (mind is going). The reason I always say, “over 14,000 kilometers by Enfield” is that some of the way the speedo was broken, so I only know what was registered.)

wolf, I agree that Varanasi to Darjeeling would be punishing and probably result in about 4~? transfers/modes of transport.

Then again, Khajuraho was 11 hours from Varanasi and involved a jeep and two seperate buses when I did it. Once, I had to sit on the engine for part of the route! Ouch!

Did you notice that in the kama sutra temple city, there was way more of a sexual vibe to the touts “hello friend you like girl, boy, many, yes friend” than anywhere else?

Thanks for the advice. I think I’ll forget about Varanasi and Kathmandu and explore around Delhi and Rajasthan.

If you want to do the ‘other India’ thing I’ll put you in touch with Freaky Fraser, he’ll still be in Goa at that time.

Jaisalmer is wonderful. I loved staying in the old fort and eating the desert food. Best food ever. Just check on what the place would be like in January…maybe too touristy. We were there in summer…43 degrees in the shade!
If you’re into it you can do a camel tour, but be warned…can be very touristy.
Pushkar was beautiful, beautiful and I so so want to go back there.
Delhi was wonderful…I loved it, must be one of my favorite cities in the world. And don’t worry about the traveling at all…the bus trip from Jaisalmer to Pushkar was one of the nicest experiences of my life. You stop EVERYWHERE and EVERYBODY gets on and on top of the bus. Wonderful experience.
Skip Agra, it is truly a dump. That’s the only place I regret going, and it cost NT$700 to see the Taj.

PM me if you want to see some of my photos. I can send you the link to my album if you promise not to share with anybody else. :slight_smile:

Is the Taj still free on Fridays?

The day I went the entire city was under a curfew on account of riots, and half a dozen of us ventured out from the station - and had the Taj all to ourselves!. It was a Friday so it was free too. The bummer was that we were booked onto an evening train and it was a full moon that night.

I went to India to find myself, and succeeded!! I found myself, but I’m not half as interesting as I had been led to believe and we haven’t stayed in touch. CQ, if you see me there then let me know and tell me to send me an email or something. I miss me.

Jaisalmer is amazing, and roofy, there are flights to khajaraho.

I think I heard the radio say that the Taj is now open at night. Might be interesting to see by the light of a full moon.


I am sorry if I am late but I happen to check this thread today.
Taj is available for viewing at night on a full moon day , its happened after 20 years so it might be a good visit.

CQ,being an Indian I would recommend booking your trip with a travel agent for minimum troubles. However travel agents are only cheap for a 4-5 days trip and start becoming expensive when you add on more days .

How ever still you may look at these sites for some inputs:


coxandkings.com/cms/products … haratDekho

cox and kings is a popular travel agency in India right now and offers good cheap rates.

Rest, I don

I have some bad experience about the travel agent in India.We hired a car through a travel agent to take around Delhi,it was very hot,more than 43degree celcius,so I asked the driver to open air conditioner but he asked us to pay extra US$5 to use ac.We bought train tickets from Delhi to Gorakhpur through another travel agent,in the train we were informed that our tickets are on the waiting list, so we were forced to pay US$15 to the person who check the ticket.These kind of stuff frustrated me a lot.Anyway India is a very interesting and beautiful place to visit

i agree its very much possible.
Actually , if you hire a cab in india they will ask you if you want a A/C one or a NON A/C one, there are seperate charges for each of them ,so one needs to be specific about ones requirement.

Cox & kings is a reputed player so booking a tour with them should be good though i have never personally used them.you will find a lot of small day to day travel bookings type travel agents so you need to be aware of them.

some places they do try and take out the extra money from visitors be it Foreigners or Not Local(state) Indians also but things are improving but still very far from what i would call good.

I’m weighing in late on this one (sorry 'bout that), but I would suggest just the opposite. Go and experience Varanasi and Kathmandu. Spend time just soaking in the atmosphere. These are two places that I have gone back to, and will go back to again.

Rooftop had some good points about Delhi, but I guess it has always been a transit point for me and a place to get some administrative stuff done. I am going to go against the grain here, but I did not get that into Rajasthan the month I spent traveling there. Heresy perhaps, but I am not aching to return to this part of India anytime soon (though I am glad I saw parts of it).

Anyway, just some contrarian advice. Please let us know how your trip went after you get back.

Third trip to Delhi armed with a copy of William Dalrymple’s City of Djinns was enough to convince me.

For anyone who likes to read about India, check this book out as well as another he wrote called The Age of Kali.