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Route Planning and Selection

Good preparation is vital. Nothing in India is straightforward, and you can expect to see the best-laid plans come unstuck on occasion. The pace of life is also much slower than in the West. Those who just drift in with no clear idea of where they’re going easily become discouraged by one or two failed hurdles (usually theft, illness or train-reservation queues).
Those who arrive quite certain of where they’re going either become distracted or meet a brick wall of bureaucratic resistance, with the result that they see only half the places on their itinerary. Travel in India is always an adventure but rarely so complicated that it cannot be done. However, for many things there are formalities to go through, paperwork to be processed, queues to be negotiated, and all manner of bizarre delays to be experienced—human, animal and mechanical.

But those travelers who have a plan and persist with it, who remain patient and, above all, retain their sense of humour intact throughout, never regret coming. There are 13 recommended routes in this book, covering over 70 places of major tourist interest. Each route is self-contained, has a separate travel itinerary, and can take anything between one and three weeks to cover at leisure. For travellers with
more time to spare, there are additional options suggested on each travel itinerary which connect it with other nearby routes. In each town or city, at least one sightseeing tour is given, which suggests how to cover the main points of interest in the shortest time. And whether you are backpacking, or intending to travel in luxury, you’ll find hotels and restaurants to suit your pocket, plus up-to-date information
on shopping, recreation, entertainment, transport and tours.

The routes all begin from one of the four gateway cities—Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta and Madras. Choosing the right capital to land in can be just as important as selecting the best route. For example, arriving in sticky Madras if you don’t like heat is just as unwise as turning up in Bombay when you don’t enjoy big city hubbub. Similarly, if you’re sensitive to poverty and crowds, you might find Calcutta a shock and should arrive in more sedate Delhi to acclimatise to the country. Each city has its pros and
cons. Read the relevant sections, and make your choice.

The routes have been chosen to provide as much of a balance as possible. They all have a particular emphasis: beaches in Goa, temples in Tamil Nadu, desert fortresses in Rajasthan; and where possible at least one hill station or oasis is included, to supply some variation and a cool, relaxing break.

To select your route or routes, just decide what your priority is (beaches, wildlife, temples, palaces) and what you’re likely to enjoy doing there most (sightseeing, shopping, recreation, sports, just relaxing). Don’t feel you have to visit the timehonoured tourist spots. India is not just the Taj Mahal, and the ‘Golden Triangle’ of Agra, Jaipur and Delhi. These places are magnificent, yes, but so too are the Eastern
Triangle of Bhubaneshwar, Puri and Konarak, and the Western Triangle of Diu, Somnath and Sasan-Gir. And they are much less touristy. Nor should Tamil Nadu and the ‘deep south’ be ignored either.

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