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India Information, Please...  
User currently offlineAzoresLover From United States of America, joined Jun 2004, 757 posts, RR: 7
Posted (9 years 6 months 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 906 times:
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I'm about to travel to India for a 6-week stay. I've checked many web sites, of course, and I have a lot of information from them. But I would like to hear some personal things from those of you who live there.

Specifically, I'll be staying in Gurgaon. All the maps and information I can find seem to indicate that there is only one hotel in the middle of town. I've been unable to find the name of it, or anything about it. Is there in fact only one hotel in town, or are there others?

I really want to ride some trains while there, and I definitely plan to go to Agra...can't possibly miss the Taj Mahal!!! I see that it is a 2 1/2 hour express train ride from New Delhi, and I also see that there are trains all day long between Gurgaon and Delhi. Any other good day trips by train that I could take?

Basically, I'm a real independent traveler, and I enjoy going to new places by myself and doing things. What sorts of activities should I not miss while in that area? Things that I'm not finding out about on the Web, for example. And what is daily life like there, what sorts of food, restaurants, both Indian and American, that you could recommend around Gurgaon?

If you could share anything that would be good to know about that area before I go, I would very much appreciate it!

BTW, my preferred routing is PIT to YYZ, for the Air Canada non-stop to Delhi? Anyone been on this flight? What is it like? My longest flights to date have been 12 1/2 hours, several of them, but I understand this one is closer to 14 hours plus.

Thanks, everyone!

[Edited 2005-04-02 15:08:35]


Those who want to do something will find a way; those who don't will find an excuse.
22 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineJasepl From India, joined Jul 2004, 3582 posts, RR: 39
Reply 1, posted (9 years 6 months 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 887 times:

It sounds like you're going to India with an open mind; which is excellent. Keep an open mind and you will love it, I can guarantee that.

Even though it's where I'm from and where I live, India's always amazed me. I find it incredible how the most diverse, varied, chaotic, frustrating, wonderuful, colourful country in the world manages to keep going on. Most amazing of all is how the country as a whole digests everything!

I think India can be the most rewarding travel experience in the world; bar none.

That said, I'm not sure how much help I can be with your questions because I don't know North India at all. I've only been to Delhi once, for a couple of days and I've never been to Agra. The North is a completely different world from the West, where I live. Maybe some of our Northern members will be better able to help with your queries.

If you're planning a visit to Western India, Bombay in particular, do let me know. It's the region I know best.

Here's some images of Bombay I posted recently. Have a great trip!


User currently offlineLfutia From Netherlands, joined Dec 2002, 3339 posts, RR: 27
Reply 2, posted (9 years 6 months 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 879 times:

I've been to Gurgaon! Its a great city. Its not that far from the Airport... There's a good mall there too.. dont eat the vegetables or fruit... atleast thats what my mom always said when we go there....

if you want to go to the Himalayas... take the train up to Dehra Dun and take a jeep into Mussorie... or you can go into Dehra Dun and then come back  Smile



Leo/ORD -- Groetjes uit de VS! -- Heeft u laatst nog met KLM gevlogen?
User currently offlineBarfBag From India, joined Mar 2001, 2237 posts, RR: 6
Reply 3, posted (9 years 6 months 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 873 times:

Gurgaon is still growing. I was there as recently as a couple of months ago. I don't know about the hotel bit, but there's a lot of shopping you can do there, since the place is full of malls. Gurgaon is the typical new India - full of commercial establishments and a range of shopping and cuisine. You'll mostly see mall rat youngsters and families.

However, there is a lot of construction going on in Gurgaon, of buildings as well as the expressway connecting it to the airport and New Delhi. I'm not aware there's a train between Delhi and Gurgaon, though the metro railway is being extended till Gurgaon as well as the eastern suburb of NOIDA. You're better off renting a tourist taxi, which is quite cheap. As far as possible do not drive.

Since you seem to like train trips, you could consider a ride to Jaipur or Chandigarh. I'm not sure about the former, but the latter is serviced by the Shatabdi (Century) Express, the fastest series of trains in India. However, New Delhi railway station is in the throes of reconstruction and modernization, as in the case of a whole lot of other infrastructure in India.

As a preview of the places, here are some galleries I know of these places:
New Delhi: gallery1 gallery2 gallery3
Gurgaon: gallery1
NOIDA: gallery1 gallery2
And in case you do take up Jasepl's offer, here's some pics of Mumbai:
gallery1 gallery2 gallery3 gallery4



India, cricket junior and senior world champions
User currently offlineAzoresLover From United States of America, joined Jun 2004, 757 posts, RR: 7
Reply 4, posted (9 years 6 months 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 867 times:
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Great info and pictures!! Thanks a lot!!

Sounds like that trip to the Himalayas would be fantastic. I hadn't thought of that, for some reason!

Jason, your comments about the country in general really make me excited to get there. I want to try to get around as much as possible while I'm there. And being a train nut, too, I hope to ride as many trains as possible, including that Shatabdi Express, no matter where it's going, I just want to ride that fast train!

Good information that I can use so far, guys, thanks a bunch!



Those who want to do something will find a way; those who don't will find an excuse.
User currently offlineAJBUS300 From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 316 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (9 years 6 months 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 867 times:

Did you watch the Amazing Race episode when they were in India? That should give you an idea of what to expect.....may I say, not very appealing......

[Edited 2005-04-02 21:33:18]


Live each day as if it was your last day on God's beautiful green earth
User currently offlineBarfBag From India, joined Mar 2001, 2237 posts, RR: 6
Reply 6, posted (9 years 6 months 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 862 times:

As far as trains go, there are several options. There are the fastest trains - Shatabdi and Rajdhani (Capital) Expresses. You can take the Rajdhani from New Delhi to Mumbai (overnight), or try heading to Chandigarh on the Shatabdi (daytime, chairs only, no berths). You could then head to Shimla and try the Kalka-Shimla hill train. For the best intra city metro, try the Delhi Metro. Since trains are your thing, are you familiar with IRFCA ? There's a lot of pictures and information there.

Dehra Dun and Mussoorie are great ideas. They are a 6 hr drive from New Delhi. I was there in Dec 2003, and it started snowing heavily the day I got there, which made it all the more fun.

Given a choice between cities, I would pick Mumbai over Delhi. The latter has better infrastructure, but the former has a life and soul that cannot be described. However, Delhi is closer to the traditional tourist circuit.



India, cricket junior and senior world champions
User currently offlineTRVYYZ From Canada, joined Oct 2004, 1372 posts, RR: 10
Reply 7, posted (9 years 6 months 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 836 times:

Quoting AzoresLover (Reply 4):
including that Shatabdi Express, no matter where it's going, I just want to ride that fast train!

Don't be carried away by the term "fastest". It's max. speed is around 160Kmph and Rajdhani around 120Kmph.

But these two are better than the other express trains.


Have a nice trip.

SF


User currently offlineJasepl From India, joined Jul 2004, 3582 posts, RR: 39
Reply 8, posted (9 years 6 months 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 833 times:

Quoting AzoresLover (Reply 4):
Jason, your comments about the country in general really make me excited to get there.

Thanks! I tried to be as objective as possible and am quite certain you will enjoy your trip.

I know people who came with a closed mind, wanting a McDonald's at every corner and everything to be exactly the same as it is back home. One trip was more than enough for them.

Others, came with an open mind, took it all in and were hooked. They keep coming back every chance they get.

Yet others, loved it so much, they stayed. Like my own family!


User currently offlineJasepl From India, joined Jul 2004, 3582 posts, RR: 39
Reply 9, posted (9 years 6 months 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 831 times:

Azores, I've never been to Gurgaon, so I really haven't a clue what it's like. But from what people have described, it seems like a nice enough place.

However, I'd recommend you not spend too much time there. Basing yourself there is fine, but head out once you've found your bearings.

Also, Jaipur isn't too far from the Delhi region, so that's something to consider. I've never been there either, but it's a major draw, so there must be something to it.

Just one word of caution though: If you're going in the next few months, be prepared for the heat. The North will have gone past the boil!


User currently offlineAzoresLover From United States of America, joined Jun 2004, 757 posts, RR: 7
Reply 10, posted (9 years 6 months 3 days ago) and read 824 times:
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Jason,

I don't have a choice as to where I'll be staying...I'm going on business, so I'll be working 5 days a week, with the weekends off. That sort of limits what I'll be able to do. I'll just be able to take 1-day, and maybe a couple 2-day trips from Gurgaon. I'd love to see the Bombay area, but I doubt that will be possible, unless I can somehow swing maybe 3 days off in a row or something.

And I love to explore the local aspects of whereever I am. I don't go running to the closest McDonald's. I always have an open mind, and I love to experience the local flavor when I travel. I'm not one of those who wants to find a piece of America when I travel, like many Americans.

Santhosh,

Thanks for the info on the train speeds...it's nice to know exactly what to expect, as I had no idea of the actual speeds. I was pretty sure they weren't as fast as many other well-known trains, like the French TGV.



Those who want to do something will find a way; those who don't will find an excuse.
User currently onlineNimish From India, joined Feb 2005, 3237 posts, RR: 9
Reply 11, posted (9 years 6 months 3 days ago) and read 818 times:

Quoting AzoresLover (Thread starter):
Specifically, I'll be staying in Gurgaon. All the maps and information I can find seem to indicate that there is only one hotel in the middle of town. I've been unable to find the name of it, or anything about it. Is there in fact only one hotel in town, or are there others?

I've had to stay in Gurgaon myself in 2001, and at that time there was only one good business hotel in Gurgaon (called the Bristol hotel). It was a dump, and I soon moved to the (much better) Maurya Sheraton in New Delhi. I heard there were many other good hotels that have opened in Gurgaon since then, and I know the Hilton has opened a very "controversial" hotel in Gurgaon http://www.hilton.com/en/hi/hotels/index.jhtml?ctyhocn=DELTRHI
It's controvertial from the perspective of it's architecture or something, I've heard others comment about it, but never been myself. I would definitely recommend you try something other than The Bristol.

Where will you be working when in Gurgaon? If it's anything like most of India, I'm sure you'll have a pretty hectic work life - 9 or 10 am to 7, 8 or 9 pm at night, and often that does not leave much energy after that. But there's plenty of pubs/ bars/ night clubs that have opened and are doing very well in that part of Delhi. There's also a fair bit to see and do in Delhi itself - you could spend many days exploring Old Delhi (try the second hand book bazaar on Sundays in Daryagunj as an example), the markets (most Delhi markets won't have too many people bothering you to buy stuff, unless you go to the touristy places like Palika/ Janpath/ Yashwant place etc.), the food (not too much variety, though I've heard it's improved tremendously in the recent past).

Quoting AzoresLover (Thread starter):
BTW, my preferred routing is PIT to YYZ, for the Air Canada non-stop to Delhi? Anyone been on this flight? What is it like?

Once again 2nd hand information, but I've heard that people love that flight to fly DEL-YYZ-DEL, since it's relatively painless. However in your case, given that you need to make one stopover, you could also consider other carriers (like US->LH) that would connect you PIT-DEL with one stop in Europe. It would also help make it into two 8 hour flights instead of a 1 hour followed by a 15 hour flight!



Latest Trip Report - GoAir BLR-BOM-BLR
User currently offlineLfutia From Netherlands, joined Dec 2002, 3339 posts, RR: 27
Reply 12, posted (9 years 6 months 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 814 times:

Jason,

Take the Dehra Dun Shatabdi! ... its about 5. something hours...very good... i bet by the time he gets home from India... he'll be able to ask. "aap ke kaisa hain?" "aap ka naam kya hai?" "Mera naam Jason hai"

LOL! Also... make sure you watch a good game of cricket between India and Pakistan!



Leo/ORD -- Groetjes uit de VS! -- Heeft u laatst nog met KLM gevlogen?
User currently offlineWestWing From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 2134 posts, RR: 7
Reply 13, posted (9 years 6 months 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 814 times:

AzoresLover

Just one quick point to consider, most "Shatabdi" trains depart at 06:00 AM, and from Gurgaon, you have to get to the New Delhi Railway station catch a Shatabdi. Specifically for Agra, you may consider asking the business associates you are visiting about the relative merits, cost & time convenience of hiring a "private taxi" to take you to Agra and back instead of taking the train.

hope this helps



The best time to plant a tree is 40 years ago. The second best time is today.
User currently offlineJasepl From India, joined Jul 2004, 3582 posts, RR: 39
Reply 14, posted (9 years 6 months 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 808 times:

Quoting AzoresLover (Reply 10):
I'm going on business, so I'll be working 5 days a week, with the weekends off. That sort of limits what I'll be able to do. I'll just be able to take 1-day, and maybe a couple 2-day trips from Gurgaon

Sorry... I didn't know that. Makes more sense now! Agra and Jaipur should easily be doable as week-end or daytrips.

Quoting AzoresLover (Reply 10):
And I love to explore the local aspects of whereever I am. I don't go running to the closest McDonald's. I always have an open mind, and I love to experience the local flavor when I travel. I'm not one of those who wants to find a piece of America when I travel, like many Americans.

I didn't think you were and didn't mean to imply as much. Just wanted to point out the different types of people I've met personally and the varied experiences they've had. Like I said, I
Quoting Jasepl (Reply 8):
am quite certain you will enjoy your trip.


Have fun!

[Edited 2005-04-03 02:13:39]

User currently offlineAzoresLover From United States of America, joined Jun 2004, 757 posts, RR: 7
Reply 15, posted (9 years 6 months 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 801 times:
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Quoting Jasepl (Reply 14):
didn't think you were and didn't mean to imply as much. Just wanted to point out the different types of people I've met personally and the varied experiences they've had.

Jason, I didn't think you were implying anything, and I didn't take it that way. I just agree with you about the way some people travel. They just can't seem to accept the way things are, they have to "Americanize" everything.

An example. I lived in the Azores for 4 years. After two and a half years there, I finally flew back to the States for 3 weeks. There was an American couple on the plane who got to talking to me. I asked them where they'd been, they said they'd been to Saint Michaels. I asked them where that was, as I had no idea. They looked at me like, "How long have you lived here??!!" and told me it was that other island. Then it hit me...they had been to Sao Miguel. As long as I'd lived in the Azores, I'd never heard it called Saint Michael, and I didn't recognize that name. That made me think, dumb Americans can't even call a place by its local name, they have to Americanize it.

Anyway, Jason, thanks for all your comments, much appreciated.

And thanks to everyone here for all your information, ideas, and suggestions!



Those who want to do something will find a way; those who don't will find an excuse.
User currently offlineSpringbok747 From Australia, joined Nov 2004, 4387 posts, RR: 10
Reply 16, posted (9 years 6 months 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 789 times:

AzoresLover,

Wow..you are going to India! Don't eat too much curry..lol! Have a great and safe trip  Smile



אני תומך בישראל
User currently offlineJasepl From India, joined Jul 2004, 3582 posts, RR: 39
Reply 17, posted (9 years 6 months 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 783 times:

LOL Azores!

I think we were both reading a little too much into that!

Don't get me started on the things I've heard from and been asked by Americans!
Somehow, It's almost always the Americans who come up with priceless gems such as "Do you live in a tent?" or "Do you have cars?" or "How did you get here from India"!

Have a great trip (I know you will)! And if you make it to the West, lemme know.

And oh yeah, don't miss out on the food! It's the best part of India!  drool 


User currently offlineMrniji From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 18, posted (9 years 6 months 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 776 times:

Quoting AzoresLover (Thread starter):
Specifically, I'll be staying in Gurgaon.

Give me a private email (through contact, or IM). I am staying in Gurgaon and am more than happy to assist you in any means


User currently offlineUTA_flyinghigh From Tunisia, joined Oct 2001, 6495 posts, RR: 50
Reply 19, posted (9 years 6 months 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 747 times:

How time changes, when I was living in India, Gurgaon and Faridabad were only indistrial estates lost in the middle of the countryside lol...

UTA



Fly to live, live to fly - Air France/KLM Flying Blue Platinum, BMI Diamond Club Gold, Emirates Skywards
User currently offlineAzoresLover From United States of America, joined Jun 2004, 757 posts, RR: 7
Reply 20, posted (9 years 6 months 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 745 times:
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UTA -

So that area of India is growing and changing, eh?

I'm sure Ireland has changed a bit, too, since I was there and kissed the Blarney Stone as a college student!

I really loved Ireland, BTW!



Those who want to do something will find a way; those who don't will find an excuse.
User currently offlineB747-437B From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (9 years 6 months 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 732 times:

Quoting Jasepl (Reply 17):
It's almost always the Americans who come up with priceless gems such as "Do you live in a tent?" or "Do you have cars?" or "How did you get here from India"!

Or my favorite "Do you speak English?" after we have already conversed on the phone or exchanged emails for weeks or months before. I always reply "Sorry, I don't. Try that guy over there though, he looks like he might". They then kinda stand around looking rather confused and wondering what to do next.


User currently offlineJaysit From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 22, posted (9 years 6 months 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 729 times:

Did you watch the Amazing Race episode when they were in India? That should give you an idea of what to expect.....may I say, not very appealing......

Did you ever see the show "COPs?"

Well, thats what life is like in the USA. Not very appealing.

The so-called "reality" shows are garbage. Basing your understanding of a country - or anything for that matter - on what a bunch of airhead Hollywood types dish out to a stupid global populace is inviting ridicule.


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