IF YOU GO TO INDIA BOOK YOUR TRAVEL THROUGH TIMES INDIA TRAVELS!!
We are 3 couples who travel together frequently. We have just recently returned from nearly 21 days in India, all planned without a single hick-up by Vijay and his team with Times India Travels. I am not one to book organized tours as I like to customize my itinerary to fit my likes and desires. I had contacted from Los Angeles by email, several travel agencies within India with a purposed itinerary. I told him where I wanted to go, what I wanted to see and the types of hotels we wanted to stay in. Vijay was quick to reply and worked with me in tailoring the experience so it was just right. We immediately hit it off over our email communications. We flew three times within India and Vijay and his team made all of those plane reservations at much less cost than we could have booked them! One time we even changed one flight to go to a different destination and he acquired a refund from the airline we had canceled! I am no novice at planning trips like this and I have planned them with many guides in many countries. Vijay and his team far exceeded expectations!
Our three parties all arrived in New Delhi a few hours apart in the middle of the night, Vijay and his team personally met each of us individually and whisked us away to the Holiday Inn Aeroport Hotel, just a few minutes away, which was spectacular! After our amazing buffet breakfast full of traditional and Indian delights, and to our delight delicious cappuccino, Vijay and Navratan met us and collected the remainder of our cash for the trip. Have no worries about this. Within moments we were headed to our 12 passenger tour van with our incredible driver, Jaypal, for the rest of our time in Rahjistan. Let me just say here, the traffic is just insane and you would not want to go with anyone less than an expert driver! He was calm and made us feel like he had total control of what seemed like a catastrophic accident waiting to happen at any moment on the road with motorbikes, cars, cows, dogs, people, bicycles, and Lord knows what else!
We had a very pleasant surprise! Vijay himself had some extra time and actually came with us on most of our trip! I cannot express how grateful we were that he did! I will say, our driver and guides alone would have been enough and we would have been very happy, but Vijay is icing on the cake shall we say? We experienced many things we would not have had he not been with us, making sure that we had every little thing we could have wanted and had someone to translate and bargain for us in any event, was so nice. We enjoyed not only just getting to know Vijay and become his friends for life, but we were fascinated as we asked and he shared the customs of his culture with us. This is an aspect that the guides may have been able to impart a little to us, none would have been able to help us understand as only Vijay could after becoming friends with him during the travels.
We stayed mostly in Trident Hotels, which we would highly recommend! We stayed in several heritage hotels, we found we preferred the Tridents. Our guides in each city were very good! We especially enjoyed our guide in Jaipur, Himanshu. We felt the spirit of being a Hindu within him and him taking us to Gulta Kund, the monkey Temple, was a spiritual experience. The breakfast buffets were amazing but Vijay or the guides arranged amazing lunch places for us to eat and when safe, guided us to delicious street food! When we wanted to do something special or go someplace certain to shop or eat, the guides and Vijay were certain to make it happen if at all within their means! While on one of our long road trips between cities, Vijay stopped at a roadside “bar” and picked us up a case of the local beer! As you cannot get alcohol readily there, he made sure we stopped at places where we could buy alcohol to have for “party” supplies. ( Sorry, inside joke ). There was always water, and on our request, Diet Coke in a cold ice chest in the van. One night in Jaipur Vijay and his employee, Nadi treated us to going out to eat. And in Varanasi, while stepping into a place where the locals weave silk into saris and bedspreads, Vijay came in and treated us women to a Sari! ( I have mine displayed on my table and think of that experience and Vijay when I look at it! Makes me happy! )
And not to mention, one extra perk, there was a Wifi hotspot in the van that worked well most of the time!
Our itinerary was:
1 day New Delhi
2 days Agra
3 days Jaipur
1 night Pushkar, on the way we stopped at Fatehpur Sikri, which we liked very much!
3 days Udaipur
Fly to Varanasi
Three days Varanasi
Fly to Cochin
overnight at the Meridian in Cochin before boarding
3 days backwater houseboat in Kerala.
Flight back to New Delhi – to home.
We enjoyed this itinerary very much. Would not have missed Varanasi for the world! Vijay was not scheduled to come with us to Varanasi. We asked him to come and to change his plans to do so. We told him we would cover his plane and room costs. He changed his plans and came and would not accept any extra money for doing so, I know it was very hard for him to find accommodations there as it was festival time and at great inconvenience, to him, he had to stay 45 min walk from our hotel!
We loved our time on the houseboat, which Vijay at planned through Lakes and Lagoons,
We loved India and her people! Our experience was enriched because we chose to go with Vijay and Times India Travels. We created memories that will live on forever! Thank you, Vijay!!