We should pay a trip to India since in our travel to Thailand
in 2010 we were forced to remove the tour through Golden Triangle
(Delhi, Jaipur and Agra) because of a cut on our available time.
Somehow, this travel to India didn’t come
directly, but from looking for the best way of enjoying Maldives
Islands. We soon learnt flights to Male, the capital city of the lowest
country in the world, are expensive, but we could save some money if we
fly to different country with more aerial traffic and come back from
the islands, and is then when the India came up.
With the money saved in the flights we could pay
the tour through the Golden Triangle, so we could say it was for free.
And this would be the base for what finally has been this travel.
Our wish was going to Kuredu Island, the one
chosen for Maldives when we checked those pictures of the paradise
could be ours for an expensive All-inclusive rate, but affordable.
Somehow, the itinerary through India every time needed of more days,
which were taken from Kuredu’s. The good news was every day taken from
Maldives to spend in India means a good fall in the budget.
Then we went for the when: it should be in 2014.
That year it was a coincidence which made this travel unique: we
already decided be in Kuredu the last days before the Peak season,
which stars on November 1st and rates rise; but in 2014, the previous
week to the one scheduled to be in Maldives, the one to be in India,
hits the Diwali, the major festival of the country.
With this, we had an itinerary through India
seemed definitive when we purchased the flights, booked the hotels and
got the domestic flight from Varanasi to Delhi with Spice Jet: first
day visiting Old Delhi, next day train to Jaipur where we spend three
nights, two days for Agra, although only one night as the second one we
spend it in a train to Varanasi; two entire days in Varanasi and an
early flight to Delhi the next one to spend two more days exploring New
Delhi, but only one night, as the flight to Maldives leaves at evening.
This was a plan with no rushes, with spare time in
every of the four cities so we could arrange it for adding a visit to
Gwailor and Orccha. That needed day was removed from the three days in
Jaipur and the rest of the route kept the same as we could take a night
train to Varanasi from Jhansi.
We were missing some of nature in our itinerary
and I was still looking for options, like a one day visit to
Ranthambore National Park from Jaipur. And then is when I made the
discovery would prove the flexibility of the bookings we had for India.
I found out Sundarbans are easily reachable from Kolkata (formerly
Calcutta). It is the largest mangrove in the world and it is one of our
49 wonders. I hadn’t thought about it in a first moment because it was
labeled in our list as belonging to Bangladesh, but it really is in
The only thing I needed to fit a two days-one
night tour to Sundarbans was reaching Varanasi one day earlier and
taking one day off from those two entire days in New Delhi before going
to Maldives. The day for getting Varanasi earlier was clear, as we just
added it: we’ll go to Varanasi directly from Agra, removing Gwailor and
Orccha from the plan. Then, after spending one night in Varanasi, the
next day we would fly to Kolkata at evening and, after changing our
Spice Jet flight from Varanasi – Delhi to Kolkata – Delhi, made the
miracle of getting two entire days in Kolkata from a closed itinerary.
Still a last change came when checking options for
train from Agra to Varanasi as none of them was good for us: we didn’t
want to share our space with two strangers and the only options in
Indian trains to avoid that is being lucky in First Class, as there are
two 2-Berth cabins in every train. But that class is used just on a few
of trains and was not available for any of our valid routes. So our
final choice changed the itinerary a little bit but is coming with some
advantages: as there are no direct flights between Agra and Varanasi
we’ve got a Delhi – Varanasi flight because there are a bunch of trains
covering the distance between Agra and Delhi in 2 or 3 hours. This
allow us to spend the night in Delhi and repeat hotel, where we can
leave some baggage to be taken the last day before going to Maldives.
Then, the flight to Varanasi would be early on Diwali day arriving soon
So finally we’ll spend 10 days and 9 nights in
India and 5 days and nights in Maldives. The definitive route plan
(number of day and where we sleep) is the following, starting by
October 17th of 2014:
3 y 4: Jaipur
12, 13, 14 y 15: Kuredu
The budget for this travel is around 4000€ for the two of us,
which means how cheap a travel through India is when knowing 1500€ are
only for Kuredu Hotel and 2000€ are spent in the total of all our
flights. This is the reason we want to help to the ones who are
thinking in a typical tour through India:
10 days tour to Northern India: Delhi, Jaipur, Fatehpur
Sikri, Agra, Gwailor, Orccha and Varanasi by 800€ per person.
- When we purchased the flights, a return flight
to Delhi was available by 490€
- The hotels would be the same, only one more
night in Agra and one less in Varanasi (the one spent in the night
train). This gives a total amount of 350€ for allocation.
- One single domestic flight from Varanasi to
Delhi for which we already paid 110€ for two persons.
- A night traqin trip from Jhansi to Varanasi,
which is available by 15€ p.p. in AC2 Tier class.
- Two trips by car: one from Jaipur to Agra (with
stops in Abhaneri and Fatehpur Sikri) and another from Agra to Jhansi
(with stops in Gwailor and Orccha). We can set a value around 4000 INR
each: 100€ in total.
The total budget for this travel is 1600€
per couple. From this point, you can customize this itinerary at will,
for example, by adding a night in Kahurajo after visiting Orccha or
adding one more day in Jaipur to visit Ranthambore National Park.
The flights have had so influence on the travel plan that it
is because of them it is called “India” instead of “Maldives”.
In our first searches we could see flights to
Maldives were so expensive – around 900€ - as to make us look for
flights to other countries nearby with cheaper flights. The most
relevant of these countries is India, where we could fly to by around
500€. It is then when we planned this travel to spend one week in a
tour through Northern India and the next week relaxing in Maldives
The difference in the flight tickets would pay the
week in India.
The difference on the flight rates changed from 1000-900€ for a round
trip to Maldives and around 700€ going to Delhi and returning from
Maldives from our first searches, to 800€ for the first option and
around 600€ for the second from deeper searches.
Somehow, the best option appeared from our beloved
Turkish Airlines, which early enough allow us to purchase a flight to
Delhi and a return flight from Male by 585€. We have already got the
miles card of this company for the both of us.
With this, the next flight to get was the one
between the two countries, from Delhi to Maldives, with no flexibility.
There are just a few options and none a direct one.
The cheaper option is coming from combining two
Jet Airways flights to reach Colombo and, from there, taking a
SriLankan Airlines flight to Male. This can be even lower than 200€.
The most practical, though, is a flight with a single link: SriLankan
has flights with stop in Colombo and Air India with stop in Bangalore.
Somehow, the cheapest flights for this last option force to spend the
night in Bangalore and, even with that, are still more expensive than
the SriLankan ones, which have a single rate of 225€ for all their
flights of this route.
The only thing to decide then was the length of
the link in Colombo: the shortest is two hours, but arrives to Maldives
at 1:10 AM. As we don’t need any visa to visit Sri Lanka we thought
about spending one day its capital city, but we were told by people who
was there that city has not a lot to offer and, when the Indian
itinerary grew so much, it was not an option anymore, so we’ve taken
the shortest link on despite of the arrival time.
Our itinerary through India needed two domestic flights.
First we purchased two tickets for a Varanasi to Delhi flight with
Spice Jet by 6830 INR, to which we added 4200 INR by the allowance of
10 Kg more for each of our two bags as the maximum was set to 15 Kg.
This made a total of 11030 INR.
When the Kolkata option appeared we needed to
change this flight. This is usually not an option for low cost
companies but we found out we could easily do it with Spice Jet by 3000
INR (1500 rupees by ticket, around 18€). The new flight must leave
Kolkata as late as possible to have time enough for exploring
Sundarbans that day and we managed it by 12774 INR (this is the rate of
the two tickets of the flight without including the 3000INR for
We found only one airline with direct flights
between Varanasi and Kolkata, one we didn’t hear about until that
moment: JetKonnect. The time for this flight was right for our plans so
we purchased two tickets by 80€ each. Later we would discover these
flights are operated by Jet Airways and, on May, they were a bit
cheaper: around 70€.
when we refused going to Varanasi by train from Agra, we searched for
existing options by plane and found out there is no direct flight
two cities. When checking the cost in time and money is high for the
flights we chose a Delhi – Varanasi flight instead, thinking about
Agra to Delhi by a quick train. We used Spice Jet again for this and
flight by 3271 INR per person.
We still will have two more flights on this
travel, the ones we’ve been forced to pay when booking the Resort in
Maldives as they are the only way of reaching it: by seaplane. We don’t
know times, but we’ve been charged 330$ per person for them, which are
already included on the hotel rate.
Finally, then, the flights are like this:
One way to Delhi and return from Maldives with
Airlines by 1170€ (585€ p.p.):
10/17/2014 BCN 12:25 IST
10/17/2014 IST 19:55
11/02/2014 IST 08:00 BCN
way flight from Delhi to Maldivas with Sri Lankan Airlines by 459€
DEL 18:40 CMB
CMB 00:15 MLE
And then we have three domestic flights in India:
one from Varanasi to Kolkata with JetKonnect by 160€ (80€ p.p.):
VNS 17:50 CCU
Another from Kolkata to Delhi with Spice Jet
CCU 20:25 DEL
And another one from Delhi to Varanasi, with Spice
Jet too, by 83 € (41.5€ p.p.):
10/23/2014 DEL 09:05
The source of this whole travel is a hotel: Kuredu
There we can enjoy the paradise in an All-Inclusive basis from 285$ per
day. We’ve chosen the Beach Bungalow, which is 310$ per day.
At the beginning our thought was spend a week there, but
India has been taking days until leaving finally in four nights, which
are enough for restless people like us. We must add 330$ per person to
the hotel rate for the needed seaplane return trip from Male.
We want also to add the 155$ of the Robinson
Crusoe Experience from the activities list. It is spending half day in
a small desert island just for the two of us.
All sum a total of 2055$, which are translated to
For the rest of hotels I’ve searched in booking.es to make my choices from
the vast offer of the Indian cities we’re going to visit.
In Jaipur we’ve chosen a hotel looking spectacular with
unbelievable rates. The reviews are fantastic for Hotel
Umaid Mahal. It’s 3500 INR per night.
In Agra we’ve focused in location: as close as
possible to Taj Mahal in order of being able of do our early visit. The
one we’ve chosen based on that is Hotel Taj Resorts, for which we’ll
pay 5000 INR by the unique night we’re going to spend there.
For Varanasi we should search out of the typical sites and
look at the hotels at Ganges shore in their own websites. We've
contacted by email directly to Hotel
Alka to book one night in the best of their rooms by
As the time we're going to be in Kolkata is quite
short as we'll be mainly in Sundarbans, our best option if we want to
see the city center is being allocated right there. We've booked one
night at Hotel New Kenilworth by 6500 INR.
We've been looking for two different hotels in Delhi as our
needs the two separated days we're going to be in this city are
different too. For our first day in India we've searched amongst the
hotels in Old Delhi area as this is the one we're going to visit mainly
this day. It's good if it is close to the train station as we'll need
to be there early the next morning. The chosen has been Hotel Arina Inn, which will cost
For our last night in India we've looked for a hotel in New
Delhi, with good communication with Indira Gandhi International Airport
and the rest of spots to be visited in the capital city. Hotel Silver Ferns, offers this,
with a metro station in the line where the most of the visits are.
We'll pay 4749 INR for it.
When appeared the chance of spending one night in Delhi in
our way from Agra to Varanasi we had no second thoughts: we took Hotel Silver Ferns
again because we needed this good communication with the airport but,
overall, because we can leave some baggage behind to be taken back just
before leaving to Maldives.
With all the hotels in India taken, there is only one more to
book: the one where we rest the night we arrive to Maldives capital
city, Male. We need good communication with the airport and to be close
to the few spots to visit in that city, which is easy as we're talking
about a really small city. We'll pay 93$ for being a few hours in Hotel Nasandhura Palace.
The cost for hotels then is like this:
- For India: 7000 + 5000 + 4750 + 3500 + 6500 + 3900 + 4750 = 35400 INR
- For Maldives: 2055 + 93 = 2148$
This makes an approximate total cost in euros of 425 + 1545 =
which looks a disproportionate amount but it is taken mainly by the
1500€ of Kuredu. Without it, the average cost in hotels is around 50€
I’m not going to drive on this travel. Somehow, we are going
to use a hired car with driver to cover the trip between Jaipur and
Agra with two stops in our way: Abhaneri and Fatehpur Sikri.
We’ll get this service once there and based on
what I’ve read online the rate will be between 4000 and 5000 INR.
For moving around in the cities we’ll use other
very cheap transports taken when needed. These are local vehicles as
auto rickshaws, cycle rickshaws and other local transports.
The main expense here is the train. Using Cleartrip
website we can see the timetable and rates for the trains for every
route. As the bookings are only available since 60 days in advance we
cannot get ticket confirmation or seats availability until mid-August.
The routes we've booked and prepaid are:
- Ajmer Shatabdi New Delhi
10:35 Clase 1A 2058 INR
Express Agra Cantt 16:08 H
Nizamuddin 19:55 Clase 1A 2300 INR
- Taj Express
Agra Cantt 18:55 H
Nizamuddin 22:05 AC Chair 730
We've got two different reservations for the same route
Agra - Delhi as the one on class 1A and more convenient timing is on
waitlist, so we've got place on a later train on chair to be sure we
end that day in Delhi. This last one and the one to Jaipur are
Another expense is coming from the Sundarbans tour
from Kolkata. We’ve chosen Sundarban Chalo, which offer a much
recommended tours at incredible prices: 3000 INR per person for the
one-day tour and 4000 INR for the two days-one night one. The price
includes everything: hotel, meals, water, transport…
We, though, go for a private two days-one night
tour because we need to be earlier than their group returning time in
Kolkata airport for our flight back to Delhi. It is 6000 INR per
The last expense to mention here is the one for Indian visa.
We're going to be one of the last persons to get the visa in the "old
way": 175€ by two visas by sending all the requested documents using
their shipping company. The passports were received, with the visa
filling an entire page in them, in less than a week.
Detailed plan, then, is like this:
||Flight to Varanasi
||Flight to Kolcata
||Flight to Delhi
||Flight to Male
||Flight to home