Hi everyone,

been trying to piece out a 2 weeks itinerary for August and would like some advice from India travel experts here who can help..

The must-go places which I have identified are Agra (for Taj Mahal), Jaipur, Jodhpur, Shimla, Manali(as I would like to do a day trip to Rothang Pass). Other possible places include Udaipur, Dharamsala, Amritsar.
Ideally I would like to do a loop from (Delhi - Agra - Jaipur - Jodhpur - Amritsar - Dharamsala - Mcleod Ganj - Manali - Shimla - Delhi)
as I would like to avoid re-tracing routes back to Delhi. However, problem with this is there is no direct train from Jodhpur to Amritsar, that means I would have to go back to Jaipur or Delhi and catch the other express train to Amritsar. If I do leave out Amritsar and do Shimla and Manali direct from Delhi by train and hired cars, does that mean when going back to Delhi, I have to re-trace the same path again?

The following is the first portion of the iti I have come up with,
Day 1 - Arrive in Delhi in morning. Check in and visit Humayuan's tomb, City Palace, Jama Majid

Day 2 - Day trip to Agra. Back to Delhi at nite. Would like to stay in Agra for the nite (so I can stay later for the sunset photography) but there does not seem to be much to do at Agra at nite.

Day 3 - Morning train(shatabdi express) to Jaipur (leave at 0605, arrive at 1045). Explore Jaigarh Fort.

Day 4 - Amber Fort, Hawa Mahal.

Day 5 - Overnite train to Jodhpur. (leave at 2357, arrive at 0500 on Day 6).

Day 6. Mehrangarh Fort. Overnite train back to Delhi (leave at 0730, arrive at 0625 next day)

Day 7 - Arrive in Delhi at 0625.

From Day 7 onwards I kinda have a few possibilites.

Option 1
Day 7 - Travel to Amritsar by express train (Depart 0720, arrive 1325).
Day 8 - Amritsar
Day 9 - Travel to Dharamsala (
Day 10 - Dharamsala
Day 11- Travel to Shimla
Day 12 - Shimla
Day 13 -Shimla toy train to Kalka. Kalka to Delhi
Day 14 - Delhi
Day 15 - Depart Delhi

Option 2
Day 7 - Travel to Kalka (depart 0740, arrive 1145). Take toy train to Shimla (depart 1210, arrive 1710)
Day 8 - Shimla
Day 9 - Shimla
Day 10 - Travel to Manali (10 hrs rented car)
Day 11- Manali
Day 12 - Manali
Day 13 - Day trip to Rothang Pass
Day 14 - Manali to Delhi (14 hrs by deluxe bus)
Day 15 - Depart Delhi
I am wondering if there is taking a bus direct from Manali to Delhi would be too much of a ride. Tot of taking the train back but that would be taking the same toy train back to Kalka before taking train from Kalka to Delhi, effectively re-tracing the same path. Thinking of cutting a day short and breaking the Manali - Delhi route with a stopover. Do not want to have a stopover in Shimla, would Chandigarh be a good option? Saying that it would be another 10 hrs from Manali to Chandigarh I read, not much different from Manali to Delhi direct. Somehow the timing don't quite add up to me as Chandigarh is halfway between Manali to Delhi but it takes 14 hrs from Manali to Delhi and 10 hrs from Manali to Chandigarh.

Option 3 (this includes a trip to Leh)

Day 1 - Arrive Delhi. Travel to Jaipur
Day 2 - Jaipur. Overnite train to Jodhpur
Day 3 - Jodhpur
Day 4 - Jodhpur. Overnite train to Delhi
Day 5 - Delhi
Day 6 - Delhi to Leh flight (arrive Leh at 0740). Acclimatise for the rest of day
Day 7 - Acclimatise + light activity
Day 8 - Day trip to Alchi
Day 9 - Day trip around Leh
Day 10 - Leh to Keylong
Day 11- Keylong to Manali
Day 12 - Manali
Day 13 - Manali to Delhi
Day 14 - Day trip to Taj Mahal
Day 15 - Depart Delhi

Well...there are other possible permutations...but looking at the above it seems like there is going to be quite a lot of time on the roads. I would really appreciate any forms of feedback on how to tweak my itinerary.