I had always wanted to visit India, but after many years of persuading my wife (Lilian) who had reservations we finally made it and flew out to Delhi on Christmas day 2018
You can get facts and figures from websites like Wikipedia. This is an account of our own personal trip which I hope you will find useful.
I had thought of being of a certain age and not flexible in body, that Yoga might be available during our relaxation part of the holiday. More later.
Do not under any circumstances hire a car. We have all seen on motorways how drivers will lane hop, sometimes doing 3 lanes in a few seconds.
Every driver does this in India. As our guide said, you need three things to drive safely, a loud horn, good brakes and good luck!
Lane markings are just a ‘suggestion’. There are also motorbikes, tuk-tuks, bicycles, pedestrians and cows all vying for limited road space.
Arrive 26 Dec-28 Dec 2018 Delhi, Taj Mahal Hotel
Our first and only ride on a Tuk-tuk. We had decided to walk from our hotel and were approached by a man suggesting we visit a local market. He arranged for a Tuk-tuk and advised the one-way cost would be 30 rupees (85 to the pound).
Our driver waited for us whilst we did some shopping before dropping us off in a tourist area with more shopping and restaurants. When asked how much we owed the driver said ‘pay what you like’ so we gave 100 rupees which he was more than happy with.
We had arranged a tour of Old Delhi and New Delhi and there were some good sights including Humayun’s Tomb. A highlight was travelling on a rickshaw in Old Delhi in traffic that would make Hyde Park Corner in rush hour look empty.
Dinner downtown at Veda restaurant. Excellent Indian food and recommended.
28-29 Dec 2018 Delhi to Agra by train. Approximately 2 hours, ITC Mughal Hotel
The train was the best way to travel as our driver allowed 4 hours to do the same journey and to meet us at the station in Agra. We were on the Shatabdi Express train (first class) which was comparable to British Rail on a good day.
Excellent service with food, drink and Newspapers all included. Not much to do in Agra apart from the magnificent Taj Mahal. Forget the pictures or what you may have read. Everyone in their lifetime should see this wonder of the world (It is number 1 in the 7 wonders of the world).
There is a golf course in Agra, but it is exclusively for the Indian military. This should surely be opened up to the public and tourists?
29-31 Dec 2018 Agra to Jaipur. Approximately 7 hours by car, Samode Haveli Hotel
The capital of Rajasthan and full of forts and palaces which we visited during our stay.
Jaipur has a kite flying competition mid-January and our hotel arranged for rooftop drinks and snacks to witness hundreds of kites practising for this event.
We were looking for our first non-Indian meal and visited Bar Palladio (Italian) for a meal, recommended but must book.
During our stay here we bought a beautiful carpet
31 Dec-02 Jan 2019 Jaipur to Udaipur by flight. Approximately 1 hour, Fateh Prakash Palace Hotel
Udaipur, where one of the series of the ‘Real Marigold Hotel’ was filmed, as well as ‘the swimming pool’ in the James Bond film, Octopussy
A city surrounded by lakes and ranked 3 in the world’s best cities 2018 (Travel & Leisure).
The scene of our New Year spectacular celebration.
A huge stage complete with a hundred and fifty tables, 80 or so food choices cooked fresh for your palate together with a free bar all night, combined with a huge screen counting down the time to midnight was a sure fire way for a great night.
In addition, music was playing via the capable DJ’s. Truly a night to remember.
Restaurant recommendation The Jagat Niwas Palace with spectacular views of the lake and a fire to keep us warm, this restaurant offered fine food. We decided on all vegetarian and were not disappointed.
A boat trip on Lake Pichola was combined with a drink at the Jagmandir Palace Hotel (is recommended).
02-04 Jan 2019 Udaipur to Cochin by flight via Mumbai. Approximately 6 hours., Brunton Boatyard Hotel
Cochin has been occupied by the Chinese, Portuguese and the British and influences are there to see, including the famous Chinese fishing nets.
Here we had time for a little relaxation, although there were some protests locally with regard to women entering a Hindu temple which affected movement locally.
There was an organised visit to an authentic ‘Kathakali Dancing’ evening, not worth the trip!
Restaurant recommendation The Malabar House must book
04-07 Jan 2019 Cochin to Munnar by car. Approximately 5 hours. Windermere Estate Hotel
A complete change of scenery as we headed up to 1600 metres into a cooler climate (still 20-25C) with cool mornings and evenings. Munnar had reported -2C the day we arrived.
A lovely property with no TV’s, no Bar and quite remote. Ahh, I hear you say, this would not suit you, but we were encouraged to bring supplies of wine and beer to an awaiting empty fridge, so all good!
Munnar is famous for its tea production and indeed 80% of its population work in the plantations surrounding it. The countryside is everywhere and you could be forgiven for thinking you were in Scotland.
A tea tasting during a plantation visit was a highlight. Yoga was offered here but only from 7 am, too early for me.
07-09 Jan 2019 Munnar to Kumarakom by car. Approximately 4 hours. Kumarakom Lake Resort Hotel
A beautiful hotel with plenty of facilities. I finally succumbed to curry for breakfast, lunch and dinner, all excellent and tasty.
Probably the highlight of the holiday for me was the 1-night stay on the hotel’s own ‘houseboat’ travelling the backwaters of Kerala.
The boat comes with an air-conditioned en-suite bedroom, air-conditioned dining room, viewing area, chef, captain, and crew.
Lots of Kingfisher (birds not beer) sightings as well as seeing Indian families, fishing cleaning cloths, all by the water.
09-12 Jan 2019 Kumarakom to Marari by car. Approximately 40 minutes. Marari Beach Hotel.
Our final resort and a good way to finish with 3 days on an unspoilt beach and 32C sunshine.
Yoga was again on offer but 7 am was the only time offered. I made the effort one morning and it was worth it.
I cannot sit cross-legged and thought I would arrive a few minutes early to get near the back. No such luck, the class was already started.
The only available place was right in front of the teacher. After struggling to bend my body into positions a contortionist would have been proud of, our Yoga guru quipped ‘ I see some of you have short arms and long legs’.
The class tittered and thinking this remark was aimed in my direction, I countered ‘and some of us have had 2 back and 1 hip operation’ I got a bigger laugh.
However, the teacher had the last laugh as I had aches and pains for a few days after and also bought his book to carry on my new hobby back in the UK.
12-13 Jan 2019
Fly home via Mumbai