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By Guest
Posts: 11

Posted on: November 09, 2008 at 1:34PM

In my three trips to India during the last two years I have found this colorful and diverse country to be stimulating and exciting, no more so than when touring by car. It is relatively easy(and surprising inexpensive)to book a car AND driver(one should never just rent a car)from a reputable firm such as Ways Tours and Travels(Delhi, Dharamsala) such as I did on my second trip. My driver Vishnu and I spent a leisurely five days/four nights touring south of Delhi into Agra and Rajasthan and I can offer the following tips and advice: When in Agra to tour the Taj Mahal be sure to hire a boatman from around the back of the monument-the reflection of the Taj in the little river will provide an absolutely stunning and unique photo opportunity. If you can be there on the evening of the full moon when the light filters a magenta cast, as I was, even better. Places to stay: My tour included an evening at the Neemrana Fort, a 400 year old structure now outfitted as a five-star hotel. Your stay, ensconced in total luxury and highly personalized service, will be unique and long remembered. Try for one of the Maharaja suites and you will have experienced the lifestyle of a Maharaja if only for one day. Driving with Vishnu: Although I asked for the venerable Ambassador, still seen chauferirng government officials around, we were given a brand new Indica, a better choice as you do want your A/C in good repair. If there are several of you try for a Qualis, seating four or five comfortably. If you have an excellent and companionable driver like Vishnu, with good English skills, you will never lack for good company. A word on shopping: I had my list of government emporiums for shopping for semi-precious stones(black and red opals, etc)but it seems the custom for your driver to take you to "his" stores as of course he will be "commissioned" for taking you there. After several such false starts I simply insisted that we go to "my" destination-that his gratuity would be fair(probably about 200 rupees or five dollars per day is a good suggestion). On the issue of cost, in general, the car and driver, accommodations including such as the Neemrana Fort Hotel, surprisingly inexpensive-about $US 450 including some breakfasts. Of course you will want to allow ample time for even the most simple and direct routes. Agra to Delhi, for example, is only 200 km and both of us thought four-five hours would be sufficient. No, on that day, eight hours! But allow yourself to enjoy the leisurely pace while viewing elephants, bullock carts amassed with huge billowing cargoes of cotton(usually a farmer's entire harvest), all manner of conveyances, indeed. India-always enticing! P.S. If flying from the 'States best to travel on a nonstop such as American Airlines 292/293-the sixteen hours aboard will literally fly by and if stuck in coach on this 777 secure an exit row seat such as 31H-I've done so now six times and look forward to the next, still. report a problem

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