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Mumbai

I spent a few days at meetings up in the Northern suburbs, right by the airport, in Andheri East. The pan-Indian cooking at the hotel (The Leela) was fine but unremarkable.

But the last night I was there we wanted to venture downtown. We tried to get a reservation at Bombay Canteen, which had great reviews, but couldn't get a table. We called over to Masque and were able to get a reservation as they opened at 7:30. We didn't know much about it, but our luck was tremendous, as it was a remarkable meal. I've never been to Noma, but have had some great dining evenings, and this was really one of the best meals of my life.

The chef comes from Jammu and Kashmir, and the tasting menu was sourced from his experiences there, and the garden/farm that the restaurant has in Pune and from which they source some of their produce. There were 13-14 spectacular courses, and among the highlights:

--the chef's take on paani puri, filled with a charred corn/onion/tomato relish

--barramunci ceviche with masala, chili oil, lime juice, and coriander

--a rice pudding with chicken tashli, served with amaranth leaves and a sous vide egg yolk

I found a reasonably close description of our dinner after I got back to my hotel room, head still spinning by what we'd experienced. I also then looked at the restaurant's website and found out what kind of pedigree the executive chef (who was in the kitchen and served a number of the courses to us) has (i.e., Noma, French Laundry, Le Bernardin, Alinea, among others). Through that lens, with that additional information, the night made perfect sense. It was a soulful, thoughtful, and beautifully executed menu, in a perfect setting, with gracious, friendly service. I wish that I could say that I'll be back, but who knows? It might be some time, if ever, that I'll have the chance. But if you get a chance--please try!

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I want to take a tour on Palace on Wheels - it's a 7 nights train tour that starts and ends in New Delhi.  I'm looking at a start date of September 4 (as a single traveler, the published cost is $4,550 but everyone is offering a 10% discount).  I'm hoping some of our members can answer some questions.

1.  Will rain be an issue for sight-seeing purposes?

2.  Flight arrives at 9:30 p.m. on 9/3.  Is it pretty cheap and easy to get in town or should I arrange for transfer ahead of time?

3.  Any suggestion on hotel or what area to stay in?  A day tour of New Delhi on 9/4 is part of the package.

4.  Train returns to New Delhi on 9/11 early in the morning.  Flight doesn't depart until 9/12 at 12:10 a.m.  What should I do with myself?  Should I get a hotel even if I'm not actually spending the night?

5.  I think I can get a visa online.  Any other entry requirements?  Do I need any shots?

Thanks!

ETA additional info.

Quote

 

Palace on Wheels starts its signature journey from the capital of the country, Delhi (Safdarjung Railway Station). This itinerary is covering two Indian states, multiple architectural structures and some of the most beautiful sceneries and natural wealth of India.

This 7 Nights / 8 Days trip is the right vacation to cover every element of Indian tourism. The trip covers Udaipur, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Chittorgarh, Sawai Madhopur and Bharatpur of Rajasthan. Out of Rajasthan, it covers the Mughal paradise, Agra (Taj Mahal). The trip starts and ends in Delhi.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Ericandblueboy said:

I want to take a tour on Palace on Wheels - it's a 7 nights train tour that starts and ends in New Delhi.  I'm looking at a start date of September 4 (as a single traveler, the published cost is $4,550 but everyone is offering a 10% discount).  I'm hoping some of our members can answer some questions.

1.  Will rain be an issue for sight-seeing purposes?

2.  Flight arrives at 9:30 p.m. on 9/3.  Is it pretty cheap and easy to get in town or should I arrange for transfer ahead of time?

3.  Any suggestion on hotel or what area to stay in?  A day tour of New Delhi on 9/4 is part of the package.

4.  Train returns to New Delhi on 9/11 early in the morning.  Flight doesn't depart until 9/12 at 12:10 a.m.  What should I do with myself?  Should I get a hotel even if I'm not actually spending the night?

5.  I think I can get a visa online.  Any other entry requirements?  Do I need any shots?

Thanks!

You don't say what route the train takes, but I assume it's around northern India?  

1. Rain could very well be a problem, given that September is the 3rd most rainy month in New Delhi.  I went to New Delhi in December, which has the lowest amount of rain.  My husband, however, travels to India regularly and has been there during the rainy months and describes it as absolutely miserable.  

2. You don't say where your train tour leaves from, but I would arrange for a hotel and have the hotel send a car to the airport to pick me up.

3. If it were me, I would stay at the Imperial Hotel, but given the short length of your stay, you may want to opt for something less expensive.  Other DR members will probably have better suggestions. 

4. I would.  It makes no sense to go to the Delhi airport early.  Most overseas flights depart late in the night and they don't open up security and allow you through to the part of the airport that has some amenities until late in the evening.  You don't want to be stuck sitting in the pre-security area where there are virtually NO amenities.  

5. https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/India.html

We used a private company to get our visas.  It cost more money, but was a lot faster.  I can't recall the name of the company, but they have an office in Foggy Bottom.

 

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17 hours ago, LauraB said:

You don't say what route the train takes, but I assume it's around northern India?  

1. Rain could very well be a problem, given that September is the 3rd most rainy month in New Delhi.  I went to New Delhi in December, which has the lowest amount of rain.  My husband, however, travels to India regularly and has been there during the rainy months and describes it as absolutely miserable.  

2. You don't say where your train tour leaves from, but I would arrange for a hotel and have the hotel send a car to the airport to pick me up.

3. If it were me, I would stay at the Imperial Hotel, but given the short length of your stay, you may want to opt for something less expensive.  Other DR members will probably have better suggestions. 

4. I would.  It makes no sense to go to the Delhi airport early.  Most overseas flights depart late in the night and they don't open up security and allow you through to the part of the airport that has some amenities until late in the evening.  You don't want to be stuck sitting in the pre-security area where there are virtually NO amenities.  

5. https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/India.html

We used a private company to get our visas.  It cost more money, but was a lot faster.  I can't recall the name of the company, but they have an office in Foggy Bottom.

********************************************************************

Excellent advice all around. Will this be your first visit to India?

2. I highly recommend the hotel car option. It's easy to fall victim to a gypsy cab or an unscrupulous driver.

3. I concur with the Imperial. There is a ton of history associated with this hotel, and the staff will provide a tour is asked. I also recommend the Leela Palace. After spending several days on a train, a nice hotel might be compelling. 

4. You won't be allowed to enter the airport until 6 hours before your flight, and check-in doesn't open until 3 hours. Important: Print out a copy of your flight itinerary, because you'll have to show it to the armed security before you're allowed to enter. I recommend you arrive 3 hours prior to departure. 

5. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/india?s_cid=ncezid-dgmq-travel-single-001 for immunization info. I received a typhoid vaccine, and all of my other shots were current. If you get the typhoid vaccine, got the shot and not the pills. I took the pills, and they wreaked havoc on my stomach. Ugh. You might consider bringing antibiotics in case you develop travelers "stomach". You can purchase these over the counter at the pharmacy in the Delhi airport for a few dollars. I did this and I was glad I did. You don't want to make the 24+ hour trip home with "Delhi belly". 

I used https://www.in.ckgs.us/visa/ for my business visa. The website will drive you a bit mad, but the service is quick. 

 

 

 

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My first trip to India.  Does Imperial or another hotel provide free airport transfer?  On the last day, I get off the train around 7 a.m. and will head to the airport around 9 p.m.  Does it make sense to get a fancy hotel, especially if I might not have access to the room until 2 p.m.?  That last day is my main concern.  I want to do some more sightseeing around Delhi. Before boarding the train, I will take a tour that  "includes visit to the India Gate, Lotus Temple, Qutab Minar, Humayun's Tomb and more."  So on my last day, I really just need a place to stash my backpack (no suitcase), and perhaps take a shower before going to the airport?

ETA:  Never-mind.  Can't take the trip because of a conflict.  I will have to do this at a later time.

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22 hours ago, Ericandblueboy said:

ETA:  Never-mind.  Can't take the trip because of a conflict.  I will have to do this at a later time.

Well when you go check back in.  One the Visa- I would say apply very early and use tracking for everything you send, ours took longer than expected and was a PITA, but it was a few years ago now, and the system could have improved?

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If all you need is a one-time tourist visa, take a look at India's e-Visa program.  You can apply online and our turn around time was less than 48 hours for the visa.  In addition, when we entered India at the Delhi airport, the e-Visa holders had a separate line at Passport Control.  It took us all of 10 minutes to get processed and on our way.

Tourist stuff in Delhi

Humayun's Tomb is definitely worth visiting.  It's the first Mughal garden-style tomb and the precursor for the Taj Mahal, which obviously is the zenith of the style.

Fairly nearby is Safdarjung's Tomb, which is the last monumental garden tomb of the Mughals.  Safdarjung is also not on many of the tourist lists, so when we visited there were maybe a dozen people on the grounds.  

Between Humayun's Tomb, the Taj, and Safdarjung you can get the full scope of Mughal tomb architecture. (if you're into that sort of thing!)        

One place not mentioned so far is the Red Fort in Delhi.  Now looking at your itinerary, I'm guessing you will visit several of the major desert forts in Rajasthan, which will be much more impressive than the Red Fort.  My impression is the Red Fort is more of a major tourist draw for Indians, since that is were the modern day Indian flag was first raised at Independence.  Frankly, I found the Red Fort rather run down. 

Lodi Gardens is also worth a visit if you haven't got your fill of tomb architecture.  North India has a lot of tombs and forts!

Humayun, Lodi and Safdarjung are all located in the same area of Delhi, so you can visit a bunch of stuff without traveling all over the city. 

Food

Cafe Lota - Located at the National Crafts Museum is good.  Fairly casual with outdoor covered seating.

Since you have a late flight, and if you want to go fancy, consider dinner at Indian Accent.  The tasting menu runs about $50.  Don't bother with the wine pairing, it's expensive and the wines are not that great.  It also near Humayun's Tomb, so lunch could also be an option.         

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