Indian itinerary, take two

Thanks to all who helped me with the previous itinerary: Kriti, Supriya, Palash, Abhishek, Pradeep, Anmol, etc. We're supposed to call things like this crowdsourcing, right? To hell with that--I like to deal in individuals, not crowds.

Whatever the case, the deal has changed since last time; I did mention that all plans were flexible. Supriya notified me of the Jaipur Literature Festival. I'm there. I'm so there. I was going to skip Rajasthan on this trip because I thought that the place merited its own separate vacation, but I'm going there now. How long? I'm not sure. I could use your help there--see phase 4 below.

Here is the newer version of the itinerary. If you prefer maps--I prefer maps--see 2011 India (looks better in Google Earth: 2011_India.kmz).

Phase 1: Kolkata

  • 29 Dec-1 Jan: New Delhi. This will be my second New Years in New Delhi, or third if you count this.
  • 1-4 Jan: Kolkata. Supriya advised me of the open-air book market on College Street. Palash wants to go up to Shantiniketan.

Phase 2: Chandigarh

  • 5-6 Jan: Haridwar. Haridwar is an unnecessary side trip between Delhi and Chandigarh, but I was interested in visiting it after reading Eric Newby's Slowly Down the Ganges. Haridwar was his starting point [1].
  • 7-10 Jan: Chandigarh

Phase 3: Mumbai

  • 11 Jan: Chandigarh to Mumbai (by plane)
  • 11-19 Jan: Mumbai

Phase 4: Jaipur

28 January through 5 February is wide open. Kriti suggested a few places: Sariska Tiger Reserve, Ranthambore National Park, Pushkar. Also, I saw some photos of a ghost town 80 km away: Bhangarh. (Excuse the mentions of "actual" ghosts in the linked article--I'm not looking for ghosts in ghost towns in India anymore than I was looking for ghosts in Panamint City, California.)

I see Anmol has sent me some advice about Jaipur. Perhaps you also have some ideas on what I can do in the area--where area can be defined as whatever distance I can cover and get to Delhi a major airport on 5 or 6 February.

Update 2010-12-10: I have been directed, quite persistently, to go to Jaisalmer. I am an American desert rat myself so: OK. In fact, had I only been laid off a few months later, when the snow would have mostly been gone from the Panamint Range, I'd be bumming around that desiccated stretch from Mojave Desert in California to the Canyonlands of Utah. Yeah, tough choices. 

  • 20-26 Jan: Jaipur
  • 27-30 Jan: Jaisalmer
  • 31 Jan-1 Feb: Jodhpur
  • 2-3 Feb: Kumbhalgarh
  • 4-5 Feb: Udaipur
  • 6 Feb: Delhi Ahmedabad

Phase 5: Bangalore and Pondicherry

I have spent less than 24 hours in Bangalore on my previous trip to India--really, just a stop on the way to Vellore. Supriya suggested that the Blossom Book House is legendary. OK, sounds good. What else? I don't know.

  • 7-10 Feb: Bangalore
  • 11 Feb: Bangalore to Pondicherry (by train)
  • 12 Feb: Pondicherry
  • 13 Feb: Auroville Marathon
  • 14-16 Feb: Pondicherry
    • Gingi Fort
  • 17-18 Feb: Bangalore

Phase 6: Bangalore to Mumbai

I have now completely left out southern India from my itinerary. No offense is intended to my South Indian friends. I'm not skipping it entirely, I just think the region deserves more attention--its own completely separate vacation--and I don't want to blow through it too quickly.

  • 20-21 Feb: Hampi
  • 22-23 Feb: Badami or Bijapur
  • 25-26 Feb: Mumbai

Alternatively, instead of going to Badami or Bijapur, and then going from there to Mumbai via Solapur, I could go west from Hampi to Goa and then north to Mumbai. This is an alternative instead of primary choice because something seems fundamentally sad about hanging out in a beach community by myself. Or I could hack out any intermediate stops and go to Mumbai earlier, or spend more time in Bangalore on the front end of this segment. Whatever's Right.

Phase 7: Mumbai to Delhi

I have three locations listed here between Mumbai and Delhi. The only one I'm settled on is Ahmednagar; I met a photographer on Flickr based in Ahmednagar who posted quite a few images of his hometown, so I'll try to meet him there.

The other two? Aurangabad appears to be a well-traveled stop for tourists: Ajanta Caves, Ellora Caves, Daulatabad, etc., are in the vicinity. My heart is not set on Aurangabad, so I could skip it.

However, Burhanpur is the city that catches my eye. Check out this fort: Asirgarh Fort. That is a capital-F Fort. I have... no idea how I'm going to get there. I can figure out how to get in and out of Burhanpur because it is on the main Mumbai-Delhi line. But I haven't figured out (a) where to find a place in Burhanpur or (b) how to get to Asirgarh, which is 20 km north. Hmm. On one hand: perhaps there is a reason no one goes there. On the other hand: I smell a challenge.

  • 28 Feb: Ahmednagar
  • 2-4 Mar: Aurangabad
  • 6-7 Mar: Burhanpur

Phase 8: Delhi

  • 8-11 Mar: Delhi
    • 9 Mar: Delhi, Cricket World Cup, India vs. Netherlands
  • 12-15 Mar: Farther north India (Amritsar, etc.)
  • 16-19 Mar: Khajuraho
  • 20-22 Mar: Delhi
  • 23 Mar: Delhi to Chicago to St. Louis

OK--if you have any advice, please leave a comment, let me know what you think.

  1. Two hundred yards below the bridge and some twelve hundred miles from the Bay of Bengal the boat grounded in sixteen inches of water... I looked upstream to the bridge but all those who had been waving and weeping had studiously turned their backs. The boatmen uttered despairing cries for assistance but the men at the bridge bent to their tasks with unwonted diligence. As far as they were concerned we had passed out of their lives. We might never have existed.

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