There are many ways to see India. On your own, backpacking through the different regions taking busses and trains. With a tour company that provides transportation, professional guides and top- notch accommodations. Or long term, taking up residence in an ashram, renting a short-term vacation villa, or staying with an Indian family as an invited guest. Taking advantage of any of these travel opportunities, India provides travelers with mysticism, magic, a drastic change from Western culture and delights of the palate, the body, and the mind. For end of summer or fall travel, India is an exciting option for people looking for something exotic and pungent.
Air-India (tel. 800/223-7776; www.airindia.com) has new routes opening to the United States this fall and is introducing a new carrier for discounted domestic travel. (The increase in high-tech business from U.S. firms outsourcing their services to Indian engineers can't be hurting business.) For now, however, international and intra-country fares are still very affordable. Roundtrip fares to India start at $1,235 from New York City and most gateways located on America's Eastern seaboard. In October 2005, British Airways (tel. 800/AIRWAYS; www.britishairways.com) plans to increase flights to India from London. Specifically, from London'd Heathrow to Delhi and Mumbai. Current costs from New York to New Delhi cost approximately $1,500.
Within India, flights are very affordable. Air India's domestic fares are available for a twenty-five percent discount on flights between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. and a thirty-two point five percent discount on late evening/early morning flights from 8 p.m. till 8 a.m. Night flights from Mumbai (Bombay) to Delhi go for $150 for one-way coach and only $265 for first-class if you want to splurge. From Bombay to Calcutta, one-way will run you $120 on a night fare economy class fare. Because of tourist ravel, one-way flights in India are common.
Once in India, vegetarian travelers should take note of a tour provided by Green Earth Travel (tel. 888/246-8343; www.greenearthtravel.com/indiasp1.htm) that specializes in "Vegetarian Indian Cuisine" that includes just about everything except airfare. For $975, the fifteen-day tour includes fourteen nights hotel accommodations at renovated old palaces, royal mansions called Havilis, moderate hotels and some inland retreats; almost all meals including fourteen breakfasts and lunch and 11 dinners, all of traditional Indian fashion depending on what region your staying in; airport transfers, and an air-conditioned tour vehicle as well as professional tour guide. Space is available for this tour which leaves once a month through the fall including September, October, November, January and February. Flights are available through Green Earth Travel for $1,391 from New York and $1,218 from Chicago. The trip does a circle in India and covers such locations as Delhi, Jaipur, Udaipur and Jodhpur.
Vacations To Go (tel. 800/680-2858; www.tourvacationstogo.com) has a five-day land-only tour of Varanasi, home of the main Ganges bathing and worship center, Delhi and Khajuraho, starting at $1,329 with accommodations at top-rate hotels and with deluxe touring facilities and guides. Khajuraho is home to some of Indians more fascinating temples, while Varanasi is home to Ganesh, the Hindi diety that resembles an elephant. The ascetics and other Hindus make the pilgrimage to Varanasi where they bath in the Ganges hoping for redemption. The trip departs November 9 and December 14, 2005. Call Vacations To Go for air inclusive prices. The Web site provides links to other tour operators and culls some of the better priced trips all over the world. This five-day tour of Eastern India is through Maupintour (tel. 800/255-4266; www.maupintour.com), whose Web site lists all Maupintour's offerings.
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