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Thread: Advice on 15 day North India trip needed!!!

  1. #1

    Default Advice on 15 day North India trip needed!!!

    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. I believe there are a number of CSers who have been there, so your feedback is much appreciated.

    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.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Advice on 15 day North India trip needed!!!

    I think Ladakh region deserves more than a week itself because it is too pretty to miss, very magical. All your options look pretty hectic and involves tiring hours on the roads. If you go to Leh you should cross the Khardung La pass over to the Nubra Valley. Skip the 4WDs and do it on an Enfield Bullet. Plenty of dangerous roads but you can bet it will be the ride of your life.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Advice on 15 day North India trip needed!!!


    I would highly recommend the you take the Leh trip for 2 reasons - Its very hot in Rajasthan at this time of the year and the weather would be lovely in the Ladakh.

    Another few pointers - do not over pack your schedule (the first one looks a lil packed) cause there are some possibilities of train delays and traffic jam delays which you should account for.

    I am an Indian from Delhi, so if you need any help if particular I will be glad to assist. My personal advise would be to avoid trying to do both Rajasthan and Himachal/Leh! do either one... with Rajasthan you can of course put amritsar and other parts of punjab.

  4. #4
    Senior Member zoossh's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005

    Default Re: Advice on 15 day North India trip needed!!!

    you might have heard from me before before. both guys above have very very good points. squeezing both areas are really a little hectic, even if you will skip locations in each region. and weather wise, really it is too hot in summer. i have increasingly realised what is more impt for my trips, and weather is one thing.

    first thing of all, are you worried that it is going to be the only trip you will go india and hence you want to cover all in one go? cos if that is the case, i think you should shift it more towards rajasthan from nov-jan, covering amritsar as well, a better mix and more representative of india. for the himalayan landscape, and for the tibetan culture, you should have a stretch of options next time.

    i suggest you check out festivals in aug and see if you can spend better time in ladakh. save jodphur and jaipur for your next trip to cover the great fours of rajasthan, again good enough and just right for another whole two week. i will one day cover rajasthan in the next few years, after i get some of my priority locations covered.

    for the option of doing himachal and ladakh within two weeks including a flight, dropping off jaipur and jodphur or even agra will makes things just about a little hectic but not very hectic. i have spent 4-5 days at luang prabang and varanasi before, and i can tell you for some locations, inspiration will only hit you by the 3rd day, cos you just feel lousy on the 1st day and uninspired on the 2nd day. the high attitude of the ladakh region and long transport will also limit you.

    after shaving off agra, jaipir and jodphur, i will suggest two options for your consideration.
    1. add on a trip to tso miriri or tso pangong.
    2. if you wanted more portraits and more quality time, just having himachal for whole two weeks is not bad a choice. you can fit in kinnaur or spiti valley for about 5-6 days, and still have time for dharamsala and a few other locations at easier reach. kinnaur valley is my 2nd priority in india, after rajasthan and before nagaland, for its aryan descendents there. but if kinnaur bites your attention after some research, you will again realise aug is ok but not the best time (apr-may, sep-oct) there.

    but if you really need to pack them all, frankly speaking there is very little to advise on, becos there is little leeway. you just have to be a very hardy person to take any of the three options, of which option 3 covers the best of all - jodphur and leh. i'm not so sure of the toy train, though i know darjeeling also has one and probably easier to reach via calcutta (i may be wrong, from vague memory).
    Last edited by zoossh; 18th July 2009 at 02:04 AM.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Advice on 15 day North India trip needed!!!

    yea.. just to clarify zoosh's point about the toy trains- both darjeeling and shimla have one, though the darjeeling one is a more scenic journey but i dont think you can possibly cover that on this trip... The Simla train is generally used more for actual commuting purposes while the darjeeling train is more or less a tourist train... its also supposed to be a railway marvel

    Another thing - while toy trains are great, they are unnecessarily long and extremly slow, you can practically walk/run beside the shimla train through the journey- a bus gets you there in less than half the time. So if the end is more important to you than the journey, i suggest skip the simla train..

    have fun.. im sure you'll have a great trip and get some wonderful snaps

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Sedna.........the sun

    Default Re: Advice on 15 day North India trip needed!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by boroangel View Post

    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.
    if you are planning to stay over at Agra, pick a date close to a full-moon night. The Taj Mahal is open for night photography two nights before and two nights after a full moon.
    do note the train schedule from Agra to Delhi is not accurate, and you may end up taking more time on your way back. its better to allow an extra day to rest after your Agra adventure...


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