Luminous Landscape Forum

Equipment & Techniques => Landscape Photography Locations => Topic started by: Andy M on January 28, 2008, 07:48:01 PM

Title: India?
Post by: Andy M on January 28, 2008, 07:48:01 PM
A friend and I have (on a whim) booked to travel to India for 3 weeks from mid-February. Both keen photographers the route we've provisionally marked in the sand is:

Delhi --> Agra --> Varanasi --> Khajuraho --> Bundi --> Udaipur --> Jaipur (we may scrap Jaipur)  --> Pushkar --> Delhi

I'd be very interested to hear if anybody has travelled in these areas, and if so, what were your thoughts?
Title: India?
Post by: astanley on January 28, 2008, 11:14:17 PM
Quote
A friend and I have (on a whim) booked to travel to India for 3 weeks from mid-February. Both keen photographers the route we've provisionally marked in the sand is:

Delhi --> Agra --> Varanasi --> Khajuraho --> Bundi --> Udaipur --> Jaipur (we may scrap Jaipur)  --> Pushkar --> Delhi

I'd be very interested to hear if anybody has travelled in these areas, and if so, what were your thoughts?
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Delhi is amazing in and of itself, if only for the street possibilities.  If you can, have your driver (or hire a driver) to take you down to the Old Delhi area.  Walk around with nothing you would care to lose, save for a few rupees in your pocket.  It will blow you away, and there are some great photo shots down there.

Hit up the India Gate late - 9, 10 pm local - and be amazed at the sheer number of families walking around in the near pitch dark.  

Agra, of course, is great for seeing the Taj.  Last time I went they were very interested to see my camera, but I just carried my PS that day.  Not sure about SLR, no tripods allowed is what I remember from 2006.  Walking around Agra itself is quite nice, with a great mix of people and experiences to be had.  I generally carried some money in my pocket just in case someone wanted some money for a picture.  100 rupees was pretty standard.

Varanasi can be an emotional experience or a waste of time, all depending on the day.

I have never seen Jaipur but it is on my to-do list next time I go.  

A silly question, but have you traveled to a place such as India before?  If not, please consider spending an hour with a Travel Medicine specialist.  Every westerner, save for the odd guy who has spent a lot of time in the "third world" (using the term loosely here) gets sick.  I've been sick twice; one close friend has been sick every time, for 15 trips running.  I took US executives over to India as a part of my old job and many would do the "masculine" thing (no need for meds, or to ask for help when they got sick), but, if you get it, it's a real PITA.  I carried a small box of Nature Valley hard granola bars and a emergency pack of baby wipes -- it could change someone's miserable trip to a bearable one.

Enjoy your trip!!  I can't wait to go back this year.

Cheers,

-Andrew
Title: India?
Post by: Peter McLennan on January 29, 2008, 12:45:17 AM
I've been to India several times, the most memorable a solo trip by motorcycle.

India is at once a fabulous and impossible country for photography.  It's fabulous because astounding photo opportunities are available everywhere anytime.  It's impossible because it's huge, diverse and very hard on equipment (both hardware and photographer)

Your itinerary is challenging yet doable if you're organized.  Time is extremely valuable.  If you can squeeze more time, by all means do it.

How will you travel? A rail pass might be a very good idea for such a short visit.  You can arrange to travel at night, saving both time and money.

Delhi is a huge, difficult city.  After you arrive,  in one day see Connought Place, The Red Fort and Jama Masjiid/Old Delhi and get outta town.

Agra is a sumptuous banquet of ancient architecture and Indian life.  Allow at least two or three days there.  It's also the tourist destination for westerners and Indians.  Make reservations ahead of time.  If you can squeeze another day to visit Fatehpur Sikri (nearby, overnight there if possible) do it.  Few go there, a welcome change from Agra. A short journey, yet rewarding.

Dawn on the Ganges at the Varanasi ghats is a transforming experience.  I'd rate it at the very top of the scale for both photography and travel.  Set your alarm for 4:00AM and rent a boat. One of the seven holy cities, Varanasi will keep you busy until your hard drives max out.

Khajuraho is a unique experience and its relative peace and quiet will be a welcome relief after the previous destinations.  24 hours there is adequate if you're in a scheduling bind.  Rent a bicycle.  It's big and far more fun alone than with a "guide".

Bundi and Pushkar I've not visited.

Udaipur is fabulous, but a significant journey.  The Lake Palace Hotel is still a bargain, even at $800 a night.  Jaipur is an equally good choice, but more reachable given your other destinations.

Consider Jaisalmer, an ancient silk road walled city that looks lifted from the middle ages.  It's a long way, but I believe they've built an airport now.  That might be bad news, too.  

If you can arrive in Delhi and Depart from Bombay, you'll make better use of your travel time, but the airlines might make this difficult.  It'd be worth a few hundred dollars extra airfare if this can be arranged.

The advice on meds is good.  Be prepared for tummy upsets and you will get a cold, possibly the worst cold you've ever had.  Take appropriate meds with you.

Read "A Fine Balance" by Rohinton Mistry, either before you go or take it with you.

Good shooting!  I'm filled with envy.  India's my second favourite country.
Title: India?
Post by: wolfnowl on January 29, 2008, 01:41:17 AM
George Jardine (Adobe) did an interview with Eric Meola last June where Eric talked about his experiences in India among other things.  You can find the interview here: http://idisk.mac.com/george_jardine-Public?view=web (http://idisk.mac.com/george_jardine-Public?view=web)

Go to: 20070522 Podcast - Eric Meola and download the .MP4 file

Mike.
Title: India?
Post by: Andy M on January 29, 2008, 03:00:43 AM
Many thanks for the replies. I'm in a hurry to get to work now, but will reply later.

Briefly; yes I'm aware we're going to be getting 'Delhi Belly' - having travelled SE Asia quite extensively I was hoping I may not feel the full brunt, but it appears I should be expecting a few whizz pops and whizz bags

Again, many thanks - if anybody else has any more information/advice I'd love to hear it
Title: India?
Post by: DarkPenguin on January 29, 2008, 09:24:32 AM
I know nothing of it.  But if you get to Hyderabad feel free to tell my old job I miss it.
Title: India?
Post by: astanley on January 29, 2008, 11:48:51 AM
Quote
Many thanks for the replies. I'm in a hurry to get to work now, but will reply later.

Briefly; yes I'm aware we're going to be getting 'Delhi Belly' - having travelled SE Asia quite extensively I was hoping I may not feel the full brunt, but it appears I should be expecting a few whizz pops and whizz bags

Again, many thanks - if anybody else has any more information/advice I'd love to hear it
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A few other quick notes that I thought of this morning...  mostly around Bangalore, where I spent a fair amount of time:

If you like urban photography, Bangalore can be an absolute trip.  Don't go wondering around the Whitefield or similar technology sectors with a camera though; I know our security guys were pretty freakish about people with cameras on the street in front of the building.  Commercial Road is an absolute MUST, as it is a cross between Ginza and Spanish Harlem.  

If you find yourself pining for western style food, I highly suggest any of the Taj or Leela hotels.  You don't have to be staying there to eat there, and the Thai in Bangalore (along with the "burger" at Citrus) or the Chinese at the Taj Mansingh are hard to beat when you've had your max of traditional food.

The Oberoi in Bangalore also has some great food; one restaurant that I cannot remember the name of had this amazing Kerala style cuisine that was unlike any other food I've had in India.  Lots of fish, chicken, and coconut, it was stellar!

If you go to Bangalore, the Corner House on Residency Road, especially on a Friday night, is an amazing sight.  It's also one of the few non-western food locations (e.g. outside of the hotel) where you are perfectly safe eating the food.  (I'm the adventurous type who enjoys eating anything and everything, and I paid dearly for that in Delhi, and have since modified my intake when over in India)  The Magnum Fudge is a must.  Also, the sheer hordes of young adults, Sikhs, Jains, Hindus, you name it, of every type imaginable, congregating outside on scooters is not to be missed.

Like I said before... I cannot wait to go back.  I'm trying to convince my wife to come along, and add a week to the backside of a business trip.  Why?  Because... even though I spent one trip locked down in a hotel when rioting broke out (Rajkumar), India puts a spell over you.  It is a study in impossible dichotomies, things that just don't belong together but do so with such ease... it's a wonderful, amazing place.

Cheers,

-Andrew
Title: India?
Post by: Rob C on January 29, 2008, 01:51:37 PM
Well, I lived in India for seven years, the house was on the Bay of Bengal, about half way between Calcutta and Madras, and school was in Ootacamund in the Nilgiri Hills, further south.

The main memory of that experience is the train journey home needed twice a year when school broke up. In the compartment, you never put the lights out at night. If you did, you had cockroaches by the million.

Do I miss it? No. Would I go back? No. Why? Because I almost died of food poisoning the first time; because it was possible to bribe doctors to provide obligatory vaccination certificates in lieu of taking the risk of the needle and the shot being less than new.

Yes, that was many years ago.

Was India worth looking at - did it have any sort of beauty? Yes, it was everything the travel shows say about it and then some; the beaches on the Bay of Bengal (at least where I lived) would have driven calendar photographers wild; those fantastic swathes of flat, washed sand on which you could lay down your model with not a footprint in miles. The open, rocky countryside where you would wander past palm trees with the traditional black vase tied up below the V-cut in the trunk where the toddy was being collected, drip by intoxicating drip; the old colonial/empire bungalows and villas already abandoned after ´47 and left to the winds and the monsoon and always, the excitement that your next footfall would be on a cobra. Possibly a bit like parts of the States, then, only the snake having a different pedigree.

What would lead anyone to think anything has changed, other than there are fewer tigers left?

If I may mention the train again: train journeys are not for the faint-hearted or the less than fit. I can remember one train being held up for God alone knows what reason or to what purpose in Nagpur, the temperature climbing up over 110 degrees F in the compartment, the doors wide open in prayer for a breeze that never came. Today, with my heart problems, I would have died.

Also, for anyone other than an Indian to drive is madness. How do you think it would pan out if you happened to hit some kid that just ran into the street as you were passing by? Hell, chances are he´s already in the street - where else could he walk? The same goes for that poor old sacred cow you just twanged with your wing mirrors.  

Beautiful land, I only ever met good people, but at what price?

Rob C
Title: India?
Post by: luong on January 29, 2008, 02:06:13 PM
What I found the hard way in Varanasi: if you are at the ghats at dawn, trying to take in the mystical atmosphere, you may be  asked to make a donation. Be sure to do so, otherwise you will be incredibly hassled for "photographing ladies bathing" and asked to leave. Even the police will concur. If you made the donation, it will be understood that you are just taking a picture of the big scene. Rather typical of the way things are done. You have to adjust.

One of the highlights of my stay in India (http://www.terragalleria.com/asia/india) was Jodhpur (http://www.terragalleria.com/asia/india/jodhpur). I was on a tight schedule and after some research thought that this would be the place in Rajasthan I wanted to visit rather than the two cities you listed.  I was not disappointed.
Title: India?
Post by: astanley on January 29, 2008, 05:02:11 PM
Quote
Also, for anyone other than an Indian to drive is madness. How do you think it would pan out if you happened to hit some kid that just ran into the street as you were passing by? Hell, chances are he´s already in the street - where else could he walk? The same goes for that poor old sacred cow you just twanged with your wing mirrors. 

Beautiful land, I only ever met good people, but at what price?

Rob C
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Rob makes a very important point here.  On a motorcycle - I wouldn't worry so much.  Same with a bicycle (although, very few westerners opt for such a mode of transportation).  However - in a car or van in any of the major cities - hitting another car will lead to a fight, and the police will probably side against you; hitting another human or any sacred animal could lead to death (IIRC, a British expat was killed by a mob last year when he hit a bull walking through the streets of Agra).  My company forbade us from driving; most rental cars come with a driver or one can be hired for very, very short money.

I hate sounding like a wet blanket (because I've ignored other people's similar advice about many countries and driving [Japan included; I'm not sure why anyone would tell you not to drive in Japan]), but I'm dead serious with this one...

Cheers,

-Andrew
Title: India?
Post by: stever on January 30, 2008, 12:53:21 AM
where did the discussion of driving in india come from? Don't!

itenerary looks good

Dehli - old town is fantastic, i think bicycle rickshaws have been eliminated - these were great for photography - walking it is probably bette than taking minibus (but i don't know what these buses look like)

Agra - be sure to go to Fatehpur Sidri, extremely important architectural site.  Taj Mahal is magnificant, and tripods not allowed and monopods probably not eigher.

Varanasi - i recommend both evening and dawn cruise on the Ganges - wide to medium on one body and 70-300 or 100-400 on the other - so much happening.  we had a guide who negotiated the boats, don't know what he did but we got exceptional views.  walking around Varanasi was interesting, but nothing to compare to the ghats from the river (if you only do one i'd recommend dawn)

Khajuraho - the technical quality of the carvings are better than Angkor Wat.  Well worth one full day.  The Son et Lumiere is not bad.  Wife won't let me hang my better prints unless i can come up with acceptable explanation for grandchildren - which i can't.

Bundi - ?

Udiapur - the city palace and the car collection of the maharana are interesting - we stayed outside the city at the Devi Garh (owned by Tata's daughter and one of the most fines hotels in the world) - the countryside is spectacular with small villagers, farmers and oxen, persian wheels for irrigation. Jainist Rankapur temple is some distance, but quite amazing.


Jaipur - Amer (Amber) fort is pretty spectacular  and the Jantar Manatar Observatory is really amazing

Pushkar - ?

you need to do some research on tips ahead of time and carry lots of small bills as everybody has their hand out with varying degrees of agressiveness (i almost tossed a couple porters off a train for demanding a significant multiple of customary)

if you follow the rules of sticking to bottled water (that you open yourself) and beer with no fresh vegatables you will avoid problems  - i always carry Cipro just in case, don't recall using it in Indai (if so only once in 2 weeks0
Title: India?
Post by: sanjaynarayan on January 30, 2008, 06:40:29 AM
sound stuff above...
as i live in Delhi..some 'inside' info-
DELHI-People/life/poverty/joy/colour/festivity, loads of that around Juma Masjid/Chandni Chowk/Lal Quila in the old part of delhi,if you want highrises/malls/nightspots then head for suburb Gurgaon
JAIPUR- standard tourist places like Amer/Hawamahal/jantar mantar or for people stuff around Bapu Market
AGRA- apart from the Taj/Agra Fort/Fatehpur Sikri, markets outside the Taj for 'people' shots and accross the jamuna river for evening shots of the Taj
VARANASI- Try to stay in a riverside hotel for early morning street photography and easy passage to the 'ghats'
PUSHKAR- Always ask women or rather their men before taking pictures , tips help
KHAJURAHO- the temples are tall so use tele lenses for details(erotic!) for better perspective
UDAIPUR- 'point your lens anywhere for a picture' town
Light in india is usually contrasty throughout the day, subtle fill flash helps
Buy some paper plates and glasses at Delhi as hot food and tea is generally safe on the move but not the containers!

www.sanjaynarayan.com
Title: India?
Post by: Rob C on January 30, 2008, 09:19:48 AM
I notice that all the advice that comes out here refers to the more northern areas; there is a hell of a lot more to the country than that well-trodden tourist part.

Those same Nilgiri Hills where I spent some questionable school years, hostage to Christian fundamentalist teachers, is a magical area all of its own. I remember spending a short school holiday in a tea plantation courtesy of a fellow boarder´s father - an experience that makes you think a little about the current craze for teabags: only the dust (and there´s lots of it) after the good, packaged tea is taken away probably ends up in those little paper packets...a waste not want not, I suppose, with maximisation of profit from those who know no better.

Those Nilgiris go up to 8000 ft; the train up from the plains starts at Metapalayam (if memory serves and the name has not been changed and I can still remember how to spell it) on a three-track system, the central track being a cog system that helps with the climb and descent. It is narrow and passes through beautiful countryside in its climb. Up through the plantations, to the end of the line in Ooty and there you are: England in India; or rather, rural England as was, in India as was.

No snow; it rains quite a bit as you get the edges of both monsoons, the north- eastern one and the south-western one.

Ooty Club was where they invented snooker, or was it billiards? St Stephen´s church had a wonderful old cemetery where you could pick up on the names of those from far away who spent their lives there, never wishing to leave for the grimmer world back west (even then). Dodabetta, the highest peak, where there used to be an old wooden refuge/hut (the Sheiling?) reachable by passing through a Toda village, peoples unique to that tiny little part of the  world and famous for their buffalo... why the over-travelled north?

Yes, it does ring in the nostalgia for me but memory is now better than reality - possibly an age thing?

Which, in the end, brings us to photography. I think there is something somewhat suspect in the lure for photographers; I see no harm in shooting architectural motifs, but I do regret that western photographers and probably far-eastern ones too, have this thing about street photography, the Ganges and all the rest of the baggage that, in the end, comes down to little more than a case of Wow! Look how much better off we are than they are! Your motives might not be that at all, but I wonder if you would have the same appetite for wandering around Watts, Detroit, Harlem, Liberty City or even deepest Glasgow, Birmingham (either) or Paris, picking up on all the charming local customs and qualities of life...

Cheers, and enjoy the trip.

Rob C

Rob C
Title: India?
Post by: luong on January 30, 2008, 01:41:37 PM
> Dehli - old town is fantastic, i think bicycle rickshaws have been eliminated

You mean those  Cycle-rickshaws (http://www.terragalleria.com/asia/india/delhi/picture.indi38526.html) have been prohibited since January 2007 ?


>
Which, in the end, brings us to photography. I think there is something somewhat suspect in the lure for photographers; I see no harm in shooting architectural motifs, but I do regret that western photographers and probably far-eastern ones too, have this thing about street photography, the Ganges and all the rest of the baggage that, in the end, comes down to little more than a case of Wow! Look how much better off we are than they are! Your motives might not be that at all, but I wonder if you would have the same appetite for wandering around Watts, Detroit, Harlem, Liberty City or even deepest Glasgow, Birmingham (either) or Paris, picking up on all the charming local customs and qualities of life...


I am a travel photographer, not a photojournalist. Yet, what's going on on the Ganges is interesting to me because it's been going on for millennia. When I go to Paris, I photograph the old unpractical houses and streets, small bakeries and  street markets, people on bicycles, not modern appartment buildings, supermarkets, and expressways.
Title: India?
Post by: Rob C on January 30, 2008, 02:20:55 PM
Quote
> Dehli - old town is fantastic, i think bicycle rickshaws have been eliminated

You mean those  Cycle-rickshaws (http://www.terragalleria.com/asia/india/delhi/picture.indi38526.html) have been prohibited since January 2007 ?
>
Which, in the end, brings us to photography. I think there is something somewhat suspect in the lure for photographers; I see no harm in shooting architectural motifs, but I do regret that western photographers and probably far-eastern ones too, have this thing about street photography, the Ganges and all the rest of the baggage that, in the end, comes down to little more than a case of Wow! Look how much better off we are than they are! Your motives might not be that at all, but I wonder if you would have the same appetite for wandering around Watts, Detroit, Harlem, Liberty City or even deepest Glasgow, Birmingham (either) or Paris, picking up on all the charming local customs and qualities of life...
I am a travel photographer, not a photojournalist. Yet, what's going on on the Ganges is interesting to me because it's been going on for millennia. When I go to Paris, I photograph the old unpractical houses and streets, small bakeries and  street markets, people on bicycles, not modern appartment buildings, supermarkets, and expressways.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=171024\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

But not, I presume, the down-and-outs, the cripples (professional), those without a bed to call their own.

Rob C
Title: India?
Post by: Andy M on January 30, 2008, 02:26:21 PM
Again, thanks for the informative replies

I'm meeting with my travelling partner some time this week so will put forward the recommendations here.

Once I know our 'definitive' route I'll post it here
Title: India?
Post by: Andy M on January 30, 2008, 02:33:32 PM
One thing I would add; we're going to be travelling on a shoestring budget and so won't be staying at 5 star hotels etc (I have a couple of weeks in Thailand straight after India for this ). We'll also be attempting to make our long journeys on night trains where possible.

One thing that does concern me is my MacBook laptop. I don't want to carry it around as my backpack is already weighty (1Ds 3, 35L, 17-40L, 24-70L, 70-200L 2.8 IS plus the possibility of a 400D).

As we're going to be staying in 'cheap' accommodation I'm a bit worried about leaving it in my room (not dorms). What're peoples thoughts?
Title: India?
Post by: astanley on January 30, 2008, 02:49:31 PM
Quote
One thing I would add; we're going to be travelling on a shoestring budget and so won't be staying at 5 star hotels etc (I have a couple of weeks in Thailand straight after India for this ). We'll also be attempting to make our long journeys on night trains where possible.

One thing that does concern me is my MacBook laptop. I don't want to carry it around as my backpack is already weighty (1Ds 3, 35L, 17-40L, 24-70L, 70-200L 2.8 IS plus the possibility of a 400D).

As we're going to be staying in 'cheap' accommodation I'm a bit worried about leaving it in my room (not dorms). What're peoples thoughts?
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Theft can be a problem, even in the 5 stars (like the Leela et al).   Sometimes Westerners are targeted (according to my security service subscription, which I can't paste here for copyright reasons) because criminals know that the police will be basically helpless and don't always go out of their way for Westerners.  They also heavily admonish against night trains, in any class... for both safety and security reasons.

All that said, I was pretty safe when I've been, and if you don't want it touched, build your life around it (e.g. sleeping on your bag).  My guess is you've done this before in similar countries, just use the same precautions as you would in any southeast Asian country.

Personally, I left nothing of value in my room, save for the safe, and I was in $500 a night joints.  So, everything went everywhere with me, or stayed at my office if I wasn't going to use it at the hotel.  I'd plan on carrying your gear wherever you go... but that is just me.

Cheers,

-Andrew
Title: India?
Post by: Rob C on January 31, 2008, 11:50:48 AM
Photographic trips should come back down to earth: take a camera and two or three lenses maximum, no tripod and stuff a computer - the world did very well before them and was, in fact, discovered before they were even invented.  That might surprise some of you folks, but it´s true.

If you want to be a photographer do as photographers always did and use your brains; if you want to show off your purchases or the thickness of your wallet, then take all your toys with you and don´t be surprised if some nasty little boy steals one or two of them! What are we trying to do - create our own Getty in a single trip?

Rob C
Title: India?
Post by: luong on January 31, 2008, 01:08:03 PM
Quote
One thing that does concern me is my MacBook laptop. I don't want to carry it around as my backpack is already weighty (1Ds 3, 35L, 17-40L, 24-70L, 70-200L 2.8 IS plus the possibility of a 400D).

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=171038\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Buy two or three hyperdrive space units (recently reviewed on this site) and carry one in your camera bag.
Title: India?
Post by: dilip on January 31, 2008, 02:28:11 PM
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One thing that does concern me is my MacBook laptop. I don't want to carry it around as my backpack is already weighty (1Ds 3, 35L, 17-40L, 24-70L, 70-200L 2.8 IS plus the possibility of a 400D).

As we're going to be staying in 'cheap' accommodation I'm a bit worried about leaving it in my room (not dorms). What're peoples thoughts?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=171038\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

On my last trip to India, I stayed in both the lap of luxury and stuff closer to the fleabag end of things.  Travelling by train at night is a good call, but it's not always the best sleep.  Be sure to shake out any bedding that they give you, I almost impaled myself with a dead wasp.  Getting stung by an already dead wasp would simply have added insult to the injury.

In the lower end places I took the same precautions that I did in the higher end places.  My camera stuff was put into my backpack, which was put into a pacsafe and chained to something relatively unmovable. The laptop was in the bag too, but it was separately chained to something else unmovable using a laptop locking cable.

On the train I ensured I had the lower bunk, made sure my bag was chained up under it, and slept with my camera wedged between me and the wall (and under covers).

Theft is usually an act of convenience, people take the easy stuff and move along. Just like the rest of the world. I know some people who have had ranscaked rooms (touch wood, it's never happened to me) and if something was hard to take because it was chained up, it wasn't taken. The important thing to realise is that it wasn't damaged either, just moved around.

Personally I think the best advice is as follows: pack as light as you can. Take as little as you can get away with. I made do with essentially a wide lens and figured that if I couldn't get close enough, I would either crop or do without.  it certainly made travelling around a lot easier.  I liked having the laptop though. It allowed a certain amount of culling of photos.

--dilip
Title: India?
Post by: Andy M on January 31, 2008, 03:12:28 PM
Quote
...if you want to show off your purchases or the thickness of your wallet, then take all your toys with you...What are we trying to do - create our own Getty in a single trip?

Rob C
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So you think I should take my cars and watch collection too?

I've specifically taken photos of my big house and beautiful wife too, as well as carrying my bank statements with me just so that I can make everybody I meet that little bit more envious.
Title: India?
Post by: Andy M on January 31, 2008, 03:14:22 PM
Quote
Buy two or three hyperdrive space units (recently reviewed on this site) and carry one in your camera bag.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=171276\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

My wishing to take my laptop is so that I don't have a mountain of files to process once I get back. The PP side of photography isn't something I particularly enjoy, so doing it in small chunks is much more preferable to having to process them in their thousands in one go.

Thanks for the advice
Title: India?
Post by: Andy M on January 31, 2008, 03:22:58 PM
Quote
Personally I think the best advice is as follows: pack as light as you can. Take as little as you can get away with. I made do with essentially a wide lens and figured that if I couldn't get close enough, I would either crop or do without.  it certainly made travelling around a lot easier.  I liked having the laptop though. It allowed a certain amount of culling of photos.

--dilip
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Thanks for the advice dilip. I've travelled quite extensively around Asia so I'm not too fazed by the prospect of night trains etc. One thing I'm not looking forward to is the apparent physical contact from touts and people trying to scam.

Reading a few of the posts on [a href=\"http://www.indiamike.com/]http://www.indiamike.com/[/url] it appears people in Delhi/Bombay/ Agra are less reticent about making physical contact to get your attention that those people of SE Asia for example. I'm no prude, and actually enjoy the odd cheeky tout vying for business, but I'm not sure about people being physical.

Any thoughts?
Title: India?
Post by: Philmar on January 31, 2008, 05:42:28 PM
Quote
A friend and I have (on a whim) booked to travel to India for 3 weeks from mid-February. Both keen photographers the route we've provisionally marked in the sand is:

Delhi --> Agra --> Varanasi --> Khajuraho --> Bundi --> Udaipur --> Jaipur (we may scrap Jaipur)  --> Pushkar --> Delhi

I'd be very interested to hear if anybody has travelled in these areas, and if so, what were your thoughts?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=170415\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Spend more time outside of Delhi. It is the least interesting place on your list. One could easily spend a month in Delhi and take some great photos but I wouldn't do it at the expense of the places you hope to cover in 3 weeeks.
I'd save Agra for the next to last few days. The Taj truly is one of the world's wonders and will pale the rest of the trip. Don't do it first. Varanasi is a fantastic photo op.
I did a similar trip  - but had 4 weeks. Just the same I skipped Khajuraho because travel to and from it would have eaten 2 days of the itinerary.
Title: India?
Post by: astanley on February 01, 2008, 11:23:03 AM
Quote
Thanks for the advice dilip. I've travelled quite extensively around Asia so I'm not too fazed by the prospect of night trains etc. One thing I'm not looking forward to is the apparent physical contact from touts and people trying to scam.

Reading a few of the posts on http://www.indiamike.com/ (http://www.indiamike.com/) it appears people in Delhi/Bombay/ Agra are less reticent about making physical contact to get your attention that those people of SE Asia for example. I'm no prude, and actually enjoy the odd cheeky tout vying for business, but I'm not sure about people being physical.

Any thoughts?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=171311\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Ah, memories.

We were on a exec trip in 2006.  We arrived in Delhi late Saturday night, checked in to our hotel and washed our dry throats with some tall Kingfisher's in the hotel bar.  Wakeup was 0530, for a 0700 departure down to Agra.  The rest of the hotel experience is a story in and of itself, which involves a drunk Indian man questioning the three American executives manhood and subsequently offering us our selection of high priced Delhi professional women.  

Anyways, we depart Delhi and plan to eat a late breakfast on the road at a place called the Country Inn.  Now, I have no clue where I was when we stopped there -- considering the night in the hotel bar and the 24 hours of travel -- but just before the Country Inn, there were men standing on the side of the road with trained bears.  One executive exclaimed "Let me out! I want to take pictures!"  The driver ground the car to a halt, and the executive got out.

As the executive was shooting pictures, our handler became agitated - it seemed every animal tout on this stretch of highway smelled blood and was descending on our vehicle.  Within mere moments the panopoly of Indian animal delights was putting on what amounted to a roadside circus performance.  My boss, who was talking with the handler, became quite concerened and asked me to go fetch the executive, who now had a snake handler, some guy with what looked like large rats, bears, monkeys, and some type of large chained up sloth-thing.  As I ran out of the vehicle, I told the executive it was time to go, and our handler was worried about how much it would cost us to buy ourselves out of this situation.

As we try and return to the vehicle (a whopping 6 feet from us), the touts descend in.  One guy, about 5'6" and 180 pounds, starts demanding 10,000 rupees from me for "photo sight fee".   As I get into the car, he inserts himself between the door and the door jamb, yelling in the loudest Hindi I've heard yet, grabbing at my pants.  

On the other side of the car, 6 men have pressed themselves against the glass and are screaming unintelligible things, some English, some Hindi, and I'm pretty sure I heard some Urdu in there as well, but my memory isn't exactly tack sharp on that.  They are slapping the windows and demanding money, while a guy with a monkey is standing in front of the car blocking our path.  It bears mentioning that the monkey is screaming, or at least pantomiming, on the end of its chain.

Our handler starts screaming back at the man in my door jamb, while our driver is laying on the horn and revving the throttle of the Toyota minibus.  The executive hands over 5 1000 rupee notes, and the man kicks the side of our van.  We depart with such fury that the tires squeal on the hot, late morning pavement.  

This entire event was approximately 5 minutes, no more.  

Breakfast was very quiet, with all of us equally speechless at what happened, until my boss said "Well, at least the screaming monkey wasn't throwing feces".

Good times.

Cheers,

-Andrew

post post edits - grammar.
Title: India?
Post by: Andy M on February 01, 2008, 01:13:42 PM
Quote
"Well, at least the screaming monkey wasn't throwing feces".

Good times.

Cheers,

-Andrew

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=171523\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

 

Fantastic!
Title: India?
Post by: Anders_HK on February 16, 2008, 08:24:50 AM
India - My view from very recent travel...

A few days ago I just completed travel Delhi - Varanasi - Agra - Jaipur and am now on visit to Sweden. On return to Asia again mid next week, I will again visit India for my good Indian friend's traditional wedding near Vishakhapatnam. For some clear reasons I dread going back through India...

Having been to now 37 countries and lived in 9 I do have some impression of travel from different countries. This includes travels and living in countries both rich and very poor, and indeed worse off countries than India. On this basis my view is that India is THE prime country where people constantly have tried rip me off and had me pay too much. This happens all the time. It frank feels tiring and insulting and requires constant being on alert to reduce such cheating.

When first arriving to Delhi at late at night I was fortunate that I walked out of the right exit to prepayed taxis. Those are fixed priced taxis. Of course, since I was foreigner the driver when dropping me off gave the face of expecting tip. I gave him 100 rupee which was smallest I had but way too much since the drive cost 300 something. If you get same type of driver in such minivan, do be cautious not to keep your head near roof in van since you will hit it hard when he bounce over speed bump or similar.

Stay away from Suncity Hotel in Delhi. It was over 50 USD and way too much for the standard they provided. It was a cold room and I used bed cover and blankets from two beds to keep me warm. Bathroom was colder. A look at www.tripadvisor.com will show reviews of hotels in Delhi that frank for none under 100 USD seem much good at all. Luxury hotels in Delhi charge around 200 USD to 500 USD. It beats me why they ask so much for such hotels in Delhi, because frank the city seem worse dump than even Cairo was and I paid 80 USD at Ramses Hilton in Cairo!, although that was a few years ago. Fact is that they ask for higher prices at hotels in Delhi than in Hong Kong and Shanghai, which far beats me.

I would advise against taking trains in India. Because my prepaid reservation had failed to reach the hotel in Delhi I was late to train station. Being directed wrongly to a "place around the corner" to exchange my e-ticket to a boarding ticket, by someone at gate to train station claiming he was officer, I found myself at travel agent about 10 minutes away and missed my train to Varanasi. Obvious I was not pleased and rather upset; asking them blunt "what the h*** I was doing there". Seems they work this way to rip off tourists and in getting business. Obvious "their man" at train station had made a silly misstake send me there. In fact I later heard there was warning also in Varanasi newpaper of similar frauds in Varanasi. Not only foreigners are subjects. My good Indian friend tells me that them themselves also frequent get ripped off and cheated as well.

In Varanasi it is worth staying at the guest houses at the gaths, or you will waste time going back and fourth. The guest houses also seem cheaper. I stayed at Ajays Guest House since others were full. Obvious I was made to pay too much there also, around 60 USD, whereas one website showed their rate as 12-30 USD, see here http://www.hostelz.com/hotel/65599-Ajay-Guest-House (http://www.hostelz.com/hotel/65599-Ajay-Guest-House). My Indian friend helped me book it on phone. Be cautious when they ask of what is your budget. Also do not book boats from hotel. I was charged 500 rupee by the hotel for boat two hours, while speaking to boat owners after I found out they normally charge 100 rupee per hour.  It is frank difficult to catch all ways they try cheat, rip off and ask for too high prices, because they do so constant and at all times, and frank it is also difficult to know when indeed they offer a real and genuine deal. Do bear in mind that I am a person who have travel many places, nevertheless I clearly state this of India.

I did get a cool room at Ajays, perhaps because I paid more than others staying there.... It was the Mahujaray room at top in one tower with cupola and balcony around the tower. Definently not luxury, but cool. View from roof top of Ajay's were excellent for photography both in evening and morning. I would also advise trying photograph genuine spirutual people early mornings, while at day it seem there are people dressed up as spirutual and to cheat tourists of money with not only letting them take their photo, but even as "priests" showing the rituals with prayers in Hind at water... also praying for dontaions. Frank I never seen such lowness in all my travels global.

I frequent point out cheat because they also ask too much. Paying 100 rupee for someone in India to get to take their photo is way too much and is western price levels. This is India. It is a developing country, not rich. Why should we pay so much for taking their photo? 100 rupee is around 2.5 USD. If we pay so much they will keep that up as their job rather than proper respected work, which perhaps is what has happened in the tourist places I visited. Instead I tried always carry a stack of 10 rupee bills in my wallet, and to give them one or two, or when they pushed for more maybe one or two more. They are cheating us, just treat them same in return when that happens and be firm, but polite, just repeat your words... It is better we encourage them to do proper jobs in poor countries rather, because that will enable help themselves out from poverty. Donations will only make them more dependent.

Sure enough, when I stayed in Agra also cheated, I had made pre-reservation at hotel. Check in was no problem. But arriving late I sat in resturant with a beer and reception called me saying "Sir, we wish to confirm your rate of 3000 rupees for the room". I had learnt some of Indians at this point of my travels and replied that "I will check my emails in computer in morning of our agreed rate, and we will speak of rate at that time". Obvious they tried make me agree of 3000 on phone but I insisted check it in my computer. Honest though, although I had failed to get rate in emails, I did have a print from their website with their published rates starting at 2000 rupees. When checking out next morning I let them add up my bills and tell me the full amount. I then used my very surprice look straight into their face and said "what is this???". They said "Sir rate is 3000 for the room". I said "what?" "I was told 2000". Then I showed my print out (which actually was hotel contact info and room rates copied from their website), and it was taken to manager. Sure enough, I paid 2000 rupees for that room and they were very polite after "their misstake"...

As I said above, I have been to lots of places; remote and big cities in China, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, even Egypt where I lived more than one year. I also lived in Shanghai one year and have been to remote places in China that before my visit had never seen a foreigner. Sure, people have ripped me off and cheated me on travels before, but never as bad as the Indians. I find this experience of India very horrible.

Now, lets not pull all of them over one edge. I have an Indian that is a very good friend. As another example, a taxi driver in Delhi was very honest and regained my business for a second long drive there because he was so. Another one was asking me for 450 rupee to take me from domestic terminal to Radisson. He said it was 12km Sir. This sounded too expensive to me. Thus I called my Indian friend when we were driving in the car. He lives in Delhi, and told me normal rate for government taxis (such as I was in) is 6-7 rupee per km. I told this to driver, who was chess mate but still tried argue. At Radisson I told him here is 100 rupee which is already too much and not to rip people off in this shitty way. Then I was off for my tea that cost around 300 rupee. That is life. I honest feel wrong to be ripped off by such people, no matter if price is small or big.

Anyone who pays too much in countries such as India should be aware of that they also do harm to other travelers who come later, and who will have to pay western prices for much less qualities than we get in western countries. In my opinion that is clear wrong and not fair.

Ok, Taj Mahal. They do not permit triods and made me place it in locked storage. Even that did not help. They did not accept me carry my camera backpack into Taj. In fact I later heard they do not even permit ladies purses and that you are not permitted to walk close to the buildings to shoot close ups. I usually travel with short time on my hand, so I only had one morning there. Of course I do not trust putting my camera gear in their lockers, even when they give me the key. I started walk towards riksha to bring me to hotel when a gentleman approached me and said he could take me to river for 800 rupee for some very good views for photograph. I said no. Then in riksha I changed my mind and returned because sunrise was happening and I would have lost the light going back. I said to him, I accept pay 400 rupee. He said ok. His name was Don. Ask for him, and away from guards at entrance. But do pay the entrance fee to Taj first, or perhaps else they will put him out of business. He was really great. He knew exactly what me as a photographer was looking for. He took me to great views of Taj from river. The sunrise had some fog and excellent light. He said it is that way each morning. I do not know, but that morning felt like spectacular. He had a small boat with boatman standby for me to cross the river. I was the only person photographing or sightseeing there. On return he asked me to pay the boatman 200 rupee, I did not even bargain. Don delivered excellent and well worth the cost for the photos I took. He suggested where I should stand for best views and clearly knew this for best reflections of Taj Mahal in water etc. A boy showed up with camel, I paid extra, only one USD for three photos (the boy with camel was outside his arrangements). There was also a neighbouring government building which he said cost 500 rupee to get into,because had to pay off the people living there, yet like it would give very good view of Taj and the river. He was right. Up in that tower he asked for that money to give to them. He propably kept some. I did not mind, because what he gave me was truly excellent. I think in total I paid around 30 USD to him and his friends for all. That is way too much in India, but I did so for what he provided; it indeed was truly excellent. Please ask for him if you visit. He will deliver. No, I after back to hotel I never returned to see Taj Mahal on inside. I would not bother with such restrictions so as to make proper photography impossible, and there were lots of tourists entering which I did not want in photos either.

Driver with car Delhi - Agra cost me 4500, driver with car Jaipur - Delhi cost me 4000 rupee. Local tourist bus between Agra - Jaipur cost 180 rupee or something. Contrasts? Different means of travel, different classes of transport in India.... I do much recommend this place to stay in Jaipur http://www.umaidbhawan.com (http://www.umaidbhawan.com), a very nice and not too much $. I found this place rather awesome. There are numerous fortresses to see in Jaipur, but they all seem to open at around 9am. I only entered one, a tad late for sunset, but the building I wanted shoot it from was restricted anyways. I did capture early sunrise at Jal Mahal which was nice. Hawa Mahal was on otherhand  a disappointment since the color of the building at current does not look as nice as some of photos I have seen. It seemed in Rajasthan though that people cheated less, while of course they asked for too high price when I went to shop local artifacts.

As far as to visiting India again after my return to Asia, I do not think so. Why? I do not like being cheated or ripped off. I can find better photographic opportunities in remote areas of China, in Vietnam and so many other places where people treat me much nicer and with respect and kindness beyond what I found in India. I have been to Angkor Wat twice, very lovely, much thanks to the English run Peave of Angkor Villa and Dave there being a photographer himself. Of course, I expect where my friend is from near Vishakapatnam to be different  from Delhi, Varanasi, Agra etc, because propably not yet so much torn by tourist dollars.

Now for my return I need find a hotel in Delhi that do not charge too much and is clean and decent and good place to hang around at during one day (no plan for me to visit places in Delhi for me due the treatment I received in Delhi already). I prefer a hotel for less than 100 USD... any recommendatons??? Heck if I can find luxury one for less than 200 USD I may pick that... in a way to simply just avoid hasstles of people in Delhi. Near airport is my preferrence since I fly in early one morning and out very early next.

Hope Helps + Thanks.  

Regards
Anders
Title: India?
Post by: Andy M on February 16, 2008, 09:40:56 AM
Regrettably my plans for India have had to be put on hold. My mother-in-law passed away this week and my wife and I are now back in her home country of Thailand.

eBookers, and Eithad airline, were exceptionally unhelpful in me attempting to alter my tickets - £1.5k down the drain...
Title: India?
Post by: Anders_HK on February 16, 2008, 10:20:28 AM
Quote
Regrettably my plans for India have had to be put on hold. My mother-in-law passed away this week and my wife and I are now back in her home country of Thailand.

eBookers, and Eithad airline, were exceptionally unhelpful in me attempting to alter my tickets - £1.5k down the drain...
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=175248\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Andy

Very sorry to hear of your misfortune. Indeed my very sincere condolances. I was in Bangkok and Thailand first time one week ago. Since long ago though I much admire Thai people for their kindness, friendliness and much good virtues.

God bless,
Anders
Title: India?
Post by: Rob C on February 16, 2008, 12:20:03 PM
Quote
Regrettably my plans for India have had to be put on hold. My mother-in-law passed away this week and my wife and I are now back in her home country of Thailand.

eBookers, and Eithad airline, were exceptionally unhelpful in me attempting to alter my tickets - £1.5k down the drain...
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=175248\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


That´s very sad news, man; I hope that when you all get past this painful time you will find fresh happiness in due course.

Rob C
Title: India?
Post by: Rob C on February 16, 2008, 12:30:33 PM
Anders HK

If you get back to Vizag (as Vizagapatam  was once know for short) you must go to the top of the Dolphin´s Nose, just across the water to what was Scindia´s shipyard and also opposite the side of that great big school known as St Aloysius.

Should you go just out of town to Waltair, carry on to the shore at Lawson´s Bay - I used to swim there as a child; the backdrop just over the beach road was a large piece of red, deeply cut hill that would, had I but know it then, have made a very nice photographic subject. Probably all buildings now.

Memories - ah, Futt Futt, way before your swinging 60s pill and all that political correctness stuff that was to follow... had you but known such times you would have been able to see with a different, broader vision.

Rob C
Title: India?
Post by: Peter McLennan on February 16, 2008, 11:34:52 PM
Forget the laptop.  You're taking too much technology already.  Take more cards or a portable hard disk storage device.

To shoot India and not do street photography is to miss the point altogether.  Although India has wonderfully challenging architectural subjects, the really challenging and rewarding subject is Indians.

For cheap accommodation, find "Guest Houses".  They're inexpensive accommodation for traveling bureaucrats.

On theft:  I've traveled in over fifty countries and while I do take sensible precautions,  the only place I've had photo gear stolen was in London, England.  
Once, riding a motorcycle in Colombo with my Pentax Spotmatic around my neck, the 85mm Super-Muliticoated Takumar T1.8  came unscrewed and dropped onto the gas tank and off onto the asphalt.  My wife, riding pillion, yelled "Your lens fell off!"  And I said "Forget it.  Even if we found it, it'd be useless."  Imagine our surprise a few moments later and stalled in traffic, two young boys ran up to us, one bearing the lens, the other the lens cap.  The lens, while dented, works fine.  I still have it.
Title: India?
Post by: Philmar on February 16, 2008, 11:47:26 PM
Quote
Forget the laptop.  You're taking too much technology already.  Take more cards or a portable hard disk storage device.[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=175385\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Really? I find the laptop essential to view what I had shot that day in case I needed to return the next for any vital shot that I later find out that I screwed up. The LCD screen is too small to judge focus sharpness, slight movement or even slight flare. I like looking at my RAWs on a laptop screen later that evening. Plus the laptop has other uses too. Internet. You can process a RAW file should you need to print a photo of someone you promised a shot. Some people are too poor to even own a photo of themselves or their family.
Title: India?
Post by: Anders_HK on February 17, 2008, 12:46:03 AM
Quote
Anders HK

If you get back to Vizag (as Vizagapatam  was once know for short) you must go to the top of the Dolphin´s Nose, just across the water to what was Scindia´s shipyard and also opposite the side of that great big school known as St Aloysius.

Should you go just out of town to Waltair, carry on to the shore at Lawson´s Bay - I used to swim there as a child; the backdrop just over the beach road was a large piece of red, deeply cut hill that would, had I but know it then, have made a very nice photographic subject. Probably all buildings now.

Memories - ah, Futt Futt, way before your swinging 60s pill and all that political correctness stuff that was to follow... had you but known such times you would have been able to see with a different, broader vision.

Rob C
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=175295\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Rob

I will arrive Vishakhapatnam at 8am on Friday. My friends cousin will meet me and show me Vizak in morning. Will ask him about your suggestions. My friend has suggested that I first look at town/beach and then take bus to Aruku to look in afternoon and early morning. Then to my friends wedding Saturday mid day. Do you know of Aruku? My friend says it is nice, but I have found very little on internet.

Hopefully down by Vizak should be less touristy and better (more genuine) people photo opportunities...

Thanks!

Regards
Anders
Title: India?
Post by: Andy M on February 17, 2008, 01:15:06 AM
Quote
Andy

Very sorry to hear of your misfortune. Indeed my very sincere condolances. I was in Bangkok and Thailand first time one week ago. Since long ago though I much admire Thai people for their kindness, friendliness and much good virtues.

God bless,
Anders
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=175259\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Quote
That´s very sad news, man; I hope that when you all get past this painful time you will find fresh happiness in due course.

Rob C
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=175292\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Many many thanks guys
Title: India?
Post by: reburns on November 05, 2008, 09:54:15 PM
Hello -  

I'm sorry that Andy took a family loss in place of his India trip.

I've read this thread with great interest because I will be planning a very similar trip - three weeks on India ground over the upcoming winter holidays, along with my seasoned traveller teenage daughter and new girlfriend.  I'm the only one who is interested photography goals for this trip, so will be negotiating those pre-dawn rises and such.  Part motivation for this trip has been seeing photos from young Joey Lawrence.  I'm a one-daypack + camera bag fleabag kind of traveler, and figure no trip is complete without a night slept on the ground as do locals.  My far-out fantasy is to rent three scooters for a week and go from village to village in the foothills, but life loss may be less valued there and a truck may flatten my daughter.  The scooter thing is more of a fanatical joke that a serious pursuit.  I'll look into the places folks have mentioned, but have fingered Dehli>Varanasi> North? > Pushkar > home via Dehli.  I'll put more energy into planning after a short trip starting tomorrow through Chile & Argentina.

- thanks for the thoughtful words found here, RalphE
Title: India?
Post by: usathyan on November 06, 2008, 09:29:38 AM
Quote from: Andy M
A friend and I have (on a whim) booked to travel to India for 3 weeks from mid-February. Both keen photographers the route we've provisionally marked in the sand is:

Delhi --> Agra --> Varanasi --> Khajuraho --> Bundi --> Udaipur --> Jaipur (we may scrap Jaipur)  --> Pushkar --> Delhi

I'd be very interested to hear if anybody has travelled in these areas, and if so, what were your thoughts?

Two thoughts:

1. 3 Weeks is too short to cover all of these places like a photographers. As a tourist - it is ok.

2. Get a fixer or local guide. Especially someone who is a photographer or some interest in photography.
Title: India?
Post by: reburns on November 06, 2008, 06:34:15 PM
Quote from: usathyan
Two thoughts:
1. 3 Weeks is too short to cover all of these places like a photographers. As a tourist - it is ok.
2. Get a fixer or local guide. Especially someone who is a photographer or some interest in photography.

Umesh, I'm going to guess that you are from India and relocated to NJ, glancing at your gallery.  (Very nice).  My time is limited by my daughter's high school vacation, unless I send her back alone!.  I do not have a concrete plan, but am attracted to Varanasi, Pushkar and wouldn't mind staying but a few days in a meditation ashram.  My first reaction is to skip the Taj to avoid crowds.  I encourage your budget-minded input.  For tonight, I gotta work, I missed out on tonight's flight to Santiago for a week climbing & flyfishing because I didn't meet a work goal.  Cheers.
Title: India?
Post by: reburns on January 12, 2009, 04:27:53 PM
Trip report:  3 weeks in India.

Hello, I applied some feedback from this thread, and just returned fro three weeks in India.  I took a new camera body, four lenses, a stobist style umbrella and mini-stand, a 00-series Gitzo and Vosonic backup drive.  I appreciated having and used all of those.  I travelled with one backpack for wool t-shirts and sweaters and the tripods, plus a shoulder camera bag.  Everything could be carried onto airplanes.  I tend to travel "ambitiously", and we did Dehli > Rishikesh > Haridwar > Jaipur > Pushkar > Udaipur > Siana > Ranakpur > Udaipur > Varanasi.  From that my personal favorites were Haridwar, Pushkar, and Varanasi.  For my druthers, I would skip Ranakpur and Jaipur.

I would like to make a personal recommendation.  The young hardworking photographer, www.joeyl.com referred me to a teenager resident in Varanasi to guide me around and set up photoshoots.  Contact this guy Raju Om at: raju7pinki "at" yahoo.co.in   091.9919374353

I did not find the reported hassles traveling in India.  Yes, there were some plane delays and things like that, but I found the people to be gentle and friendly.  

Cheers, Ralph
Title: India?
Post by: fototrotter on February 03, 2009, 06:40:14 PM
Hello, Andy...

Sorry to hear about the family and that your India trip will have a delay.

I made an India trip last October, which was a little more extensive than yours, but it included most of the stops you had planned.
If you at some point do make it to India with these travel plans, feel free to contact me for information and personal experiences on (budget)hotels, trains etc.

IndiaMike is a good source of information, but don't take it all too much for granted what they write,... India does smell, but not unbearably. It's a busy country, especially cities but London city is as well. If you are genuine and relax, people will just be nice, even very nice, and helpful to you, they are curious and many want a talk with that obvious tourist, especially in smaller cities.
Photo opportunities are abound, overload sometimes.

Don't make any donation to a person, but always go for donation boxes, if you feel like giving something to the greater community, they are always there at religious places like ghats, temples etc. My personal experience is that peopel in Sikh temples were friendliest of all.

Touts can be very persistent, definitely in Agra, around the Taj, and in Pushkar, around the ghats, stand firm, wave them away, ignore them, they have no right to charge you money. In other places just be firm and they'll soon give up. I haven't experienced any physical harresment from any tout.

If you're interested in the pictures, there's a small selection on the website.

greetings
Steven