10-15 days in India - Comfortable holiday/countryside
I much prefer countryside and relaxation to big cities, I am not really looking to rough it. But to be clear, I am not really looking for abundant luxury. I would like accommodations that were very clean, had a pool, A/C, maybe some massage offerings, good food and service, with decent access to things to do during the day. Budget could probably be $50-100 a night.
I like the idea of going down the southwestern coast from Goa and possibly ending in Sri Lanka? Or just getting to the southern tip of India I suppose. It doesn't really matter. I just want to end near a major city that I can fly out of to get back to the USofA.
Any ideas on a route? Or perhaps a couple places I could go along the coast, perhaps entering in Goa and flying out of another city further south or in Sri Lanka?
Thanks for any help!
I had a great time in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Kerala, in particular, is quite relaxed and beautiful with lots of interesting culture and food. If I were you I might fly into Chennai and hit a couple of the major temple towns in Tamil Nadu before crossing into Kerala and hanging out. Mamalapuram is a fascinating and relaxed beach town within a hour or two of Chennai. You can easily alter this itinerary in any way or you could avoid the East entirely and stick to the West coast.
Kochi in Kerala is one of the most fascinating places I've ever been. The colonial history is well preserved in the old town and it's well worth a visit. Also, Kerala has its own relaxed beach town: Varkala.
I can't speak to Goa or Mumbai at all.
As far as airport hubs go, I would check Chennai and Bangalore. Kochi does have an airport though...but I'm sure you'll have to connect in Delhi or something.
Like Circuit said, India is huge, and the culture is varied. Culture and history is coming out of India's ears, you'd have to try very hard and stay very still to avoid it (like maybe staying at that sex guru's mansion in Pune or never budging from a fancy hotel on a single beach in Goa).
India is nothing like anywhere else in Asia. If you're willing to spend the money, you can probably travel it without being exposed to the aspects of the country that aren't particularly relaxing, but you'd also be running counter to your stated desire to avoid sterile resorts and to experience the rich culture and heritage.
With only two weeks, I'd keep your goals modest. As an alternative to what Circuit mentioned, you could also fly into Delhi, head down to Varanasi, and fly back out when you're done, stopping by Agra/Taj along the way if you're willing to risk blowing your relaxation. But you'll certainly get a taste of Indian culture. There's also a lot of day trips near there easily accessible by hiring a tuk-tuk for the day, which seems well within your budget. If you just want to relax and don't want to lose a lot of time to transport, stick to routes serviced by planes or A/C 1st class train coaches. Or hire private cars/taxis.
India was an amazing trip for me, alternately supremely frustrating and endlessly fascinating, but relaxing isn't something I'd use to describe ANY of my time beyond that which I spent living in a fairly upscale beach hut on Om Beach in Gokarna. For what you're describing, I'd consider visiting a place called Cola (like the soft drink, not to be confused with Ankola, or Colva, or other similar beaches tuk-tuk drivers will try and convince you are correct) Beach in Goa if you're interested in the west coast. It's absolutely gorgeous, semi-secluded (no roving armies of drunken backpackers), and the resort there has pretty decent food, not a given as you might imagine.
From there, it'd be easy enough to head south and hire a houseboat for the backwaters, or to bop east to Hampi to explore the ruins there.
You could fly into Kochi and travel down the coast to Trivandrum and fly out of there (this would mean missing out on Goa). You could go up to Munnar (hill station with lots of tea).... do the backwaters, stop in Varkala -there are some hotels here that have pools, etc. There are many places to see in Kerala!
If you want to rush it a bit more then you can do Goa first before heading to Kerala. Since you have healthy budget you can also hire drivers for parts to save time.
Personally I think the south is much more relaxing\easy than the north (Delhi, Varanasi, Rajasthan, etc) but the north has a spirit about it that is hard to describe. If you do a north tour, I'd recommend Varanasi, Agra (taj mahal) and then some of Rajasthan-whatever you have time for. You could fly in and out of Delhi in this case.
That being said, Varanasi is my favorite place in India.
Goa is lovely, I've been a few times, but each time it becomes more and more touristy. It will be quieter at that time of year. We were once there at that time of year and stayed in a hotel normally used by package tourists for practically no money, I think about $10/night, it made a nice change from backpacker hostels.
People say it's not "real" India, (including my Indian born grandmother), but I love it, it's different to the rest of India, far less confronting and an easy transition to visiting India, great food too. There are plenty of sites of cultural interest around there.
Like the first commentator, I love Kochi , there is so much to see , it's bursting with history and has good accommodation and facilities. I've never done a long rice barge trip, but I'd love to, it's really beautiful Mammalapuram was great when I was there, but since then it copped some damage from the tsunami, I think, but I haven't checked. It's a nice place but you probably wouldn't stay long there, not much to do. Enjoy your trip! Alyson
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