- Amritsar. Golden Temple is amazing, make sure you go at night as well as the day tour, fabulous sight and atmosphere. 11 out of 10 to our guide for making the border visit happen as they were having "troubles" there and at first it didn't look like we would make it, an experience not to miss.
Delhi. Great time wandering around the city with our guide, Indu, visit to Lutyens/Baker buildings a bit disappointing as we didn't get "close up and personal" with them. Qutub Minar another highlight.
Taj Mahal. Worth the early start to avoid crowds. Spectacular, even with scaffolding up one of the towers, local guide was a font of information and really good. Shame about "aggro" with photographers taking your pictures. Personally, if you could only go to one, Taj or Golden temple, I'd take Golden Temple every time. Agra Fort turned out to be much more interesting and a bigger "wow factor" than I expected.
Jaipur. some great "stuff" here but the highlight for me was the Jantar Mantar Observatory, amazing place, if you have any interest in astronomy, it's a must.
Mumbai. It's a bit of a flying visit here. If you didn't ask to get off and see places close up, I think the local guide would just drive around describing and pointing at things. Poor food service at Sahil Hotel. Would have preferred more time in city than going to P of W museum. Enjoyed Gandi's Museum though.
Goa. What a great little Hotel (Panjim Inn.) small always better than the big ones. Enjoyed this city, great food, great people, good restaurants and cheaper than anywhere else on the tour.
Mysore. The Grand palace is well worth a visit amazing architecture, colours and decoration, can't believe it was only built in 1912 (good ol' Glasgow steel). Not impressed with the hotel (The Quorum). Wife was looking forward to the swimming pool on the roof but turned out to be disappointment, no seats or sun lounges, building work going on down far end and by the time she got her drink it was flat. Loud disco one night and our room was right above it, finished at eleven then had traditional banging of doors and shouting and running in corridors till twelve fifteen. Stick to smaller hotels. Had great time wandering streets in the evening with Indu.
Bandipur. Windflower resort was excellent, great people, great food (small, more personal). Game drives were fun, saw quite a variety of wildlife including spectacular leopard sightings which made up for lack of a tiger sighting. Ox cart ride to local village was an "experience" (thanks Indu, lol). Trip to local barbers with Indu for all-over shave (I am Bald) was an individual memory I shall always cherish.
Ooty. Big hotel again, but did have spectacular view being on top hill, shame they didn't get the hot water sorted until the morning we were leaving. Great time with Indu again, just wandering the streets. Journey on little train was great, but for me the road journey back down the mountain was the highlight.
Kochi. Hotel (Trident Cochin) feels like it's out in the middle of nowhere. The option for the Kathakali Dance is worth it (imo) seeing the make up applied and having the movements explained added to the whole experience. Long drive to get to Kerala's backwaters for the houseboat trip, but worth it. Amazing and interesting area, lots of birds to see as well as "life" going on. Crew were great and the Cook produced some the best food of the trip (pineapple curry, yum!).
As for the train journeys, for anybody worried about them after seeing all the travel programs, don't worry, you are in comparative luxury and always AC. But that doesn't stop you wandering through the rest of the train and meeting "the locals". Spent many happy hours by the open carriage doors watching the scenery go by and chatting to Indians up from the non-air conditioned carriages for a breath of fresh-air. Some might feel that the train journeys were too long, but I thoroughly enjoyed them. Indu always kept me informed as to when we had time to get off the train at stations to get freshly cooked "platform food" and have a wander around.
This just a small review of things that just popped into my head as I wrote this and if I sat down and thought about it I could go on for ages. But the one thing that stands out on this holiday is our Guide, Indu. What a brilliant Guy, couldn't do enough for us and once he got to know us and what we like to do was always finding little extra things to add to our experience. I would like to say that he became a friend. The extra trip to the bird park will remain a highlight of the trip. His constant feeding of street food to me will take weeks to get off my waistline.
Published on: 29 November 2016