Now that summer has passed and monsoon season has drifted away from India's shores, travelers can take advantage of the more comfortable climates of Southern India to visit such heralded cities as Mumbai, Goa, Chennai and Bangalore. Couple that with airlines lowering fares and travel providers having incorporated India's traditional low cost of accommodations and inland travel into package prices, and India has opened its doors to travelers looking for lengthy country tours or shorter self-guided trips.
Overseas Adventure Travel (tel. 800/493-6824; www.oattravel.com) offers a 17-day "Heart of India" tour covering much of Central India including Delhi, Agra for the Taj Mahal, Jaipur, Varanasi, and Khajuraho. Starting at $2,995, the trip includes airfare from New York's JFK, all accommodations including one-night at a lakeside camp, 38 meals including two meals hosted by an Indian family, cultural discussions, and all land transport and internal travel. The trip leaves often through the fall, including 12 departure dates in December 2005. Overseas Adventure Travel guarantees tour groups between 10 and 16 people. You can add on a five-day extension to South India for $1,095 visiting Cochin and Kerala and flying home from Mumbai (Bombay). In Cochin (Kochi), there is a Jewish community dating back to 69 A.D. You'll also spend the night on a houseboat if you add-on this extension which includes all accommodations, 13 meals, all transfers and inland travel.
For inexpensive air transportation to India, Malaysia Air (tel. 800/552-9264; www.malaysiaairlinesusa.com) has online specials from Los Angeles and Newark to India. An economy round-trip ticket to India from Los Angeles to Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai (Madras), Calcutta or Karachi in Pakistan, starts at $1,099 before air taxes and security fees. Airfare from the New York areas will run you the same $1,099. To lock in these fares, you must purchase your ticket by October 31, 2005 with travel good from December 30, 2005 to March 31, 2006. Taxes and surcharges on this ticket will come to around $260 round-trip. No minimum stay is required for this ticket with a maximum stay of 30 days.
Gate-1 Travel (tel. 800/682-3333; www.gate1travel.com) has a shorter nine-day "Affordable India" tour starting at $1,299 with stops in Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. The trip includes round-trip airfare from New York, seven-nights accommodations, daily breakfast, all transfers, and sightseeing activities with a professional guide. A small discount of about $60 is awarded if you book your tour before December 31, 2005. The tour departs on November 21, 2005 and then again on February 20, March 6 and 20, April 10, and May 22, 2006. A special feature of this tour includes a Taj Mahal sunset visit. In Delhi, you'll stay at the Diplomat Hotel, a four-star hotel with only 25 rooms located in one of Delhi's upscale neighborhoods.
For a land-only tour of India, Easy Tours of India (tel. 877/821 4603; www.easytoursofindia.com) offers a nine-day tour of Southern India. The deluxe version of the tour starts at $770 while the First Class tour starts at $1,490. The difference is often the level of luxury of the hotel. The nine-day southern tour starts in Mumbai before heading further south to Chennai, Bangalore, Cochin and Goa. If you like the beach and bars, Goa is famous for having more bars per capita than residents, a great rave and music scene including full moon parties, and deserted beaches where hippie travelers bathe nude on the shores of the Arabian Sea. All Easy Tours of India packages include guided tours of the areas. Accommodations for the deluxe level are in four-star hotels. Some First Class tours have pre-determined departure timed but other tours are scheduled around your desired trip dates. Other Easy Tours of India include a trip focusing on "Cuisines of India" and trips designed for first time travelers to India hitting the major sites in Central India such as the Taj Mahal and the Ganges River in the city of Varanasi.
If you want to plan your own tour of India, an Easy Tours of India representative can help you plan a trip specializing in spiritual sites, historical sites or wildlife. They can also arrange a tour of India's business sites with introductions to Indian industrialists and technology executives. Bangalore has become India's version of Silicon Valley. Trips visiting some of the high-tech centers can also be arranged.
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