Personally, the Tiger spot at Ranthambore was my highlight, it's a 'bucket list' item and put the cherry on top of my Indian cake :o) We had fantastic park guides that day who could read the wildlife perfectly and literally stopped the canter at the exact point where the female tiger later appeared from the undergrowth - fantastic!
I'm a Civl Engineer, so for me the actual historic buildings and structures left me in awe at times. Yes the story of the Taj Mahal is nice, but the structure in itself is impressive beyond words, however Sharzahan certainly messed up with his daywork contract there, probably would have been completed in 8 years with a lump sum, fixed price contract - ha!
Then on the downside the appaling roads and drainage is the absolute contrast to the heritage buildings - ha!
Chetan is without doubt the most inteligent and helpful guide I have ever had the pleasure to meet. Nothing was too much trouble and no question could not be answered comprehensibly.com - ha! ;o)) Some of the group started to have a session over breakfast to try and think up challenging questions for him, but we never stumped him once.
He went far beyond 'the call of duty' at times and when I thought he wasn't even going to get a seat on one sleeper train journey, I had a 'stubborn stand-off' with him, insisting he shared my seat if he didn't find one.
The duracel bunny may run on batteries, Chetan runs on chai, just keep him topped up and he runs for hours.
Thank you Chetan, I am honoured to have met you :o))
As mentioned previously this is not a 'relaxing' holiday, it is very intensive, packing in a lot of things in a short period of time, there's a few early starts and long bumpy coach journeys.
I would highly recommend getting to Dehli a day early as the 6 hour coach journey immediately from the airport is a grueller.
I was careful during my trip, keeping off dairy, ate mainly vegetarian, but did have chicken and lamb a couple of times and was fine throughout. I also avoided anything that could have been washed in or contain water, (salads, ice, cold diluted drinks).
You mainly eat in 'tourist' restuarants and hotels so the food is not all that spicey hot, if you do like it hotter then ask for it to be 'more spicey', you do get a bit more kick then but it is still 'tourist grade' and not all that hot.
Try something different! We all tend to have our favourite curry, but the different flavours in the different regions you visit are fantastic, we asked Chetan for his recommendations in every restuarant and we were never dissapointed.
Bottled water is readily available and very cheap, ( 12 rps on the train, 15 rps in the street, most expensive was 75rps in hotels), but ALWAYS check bottle seals, I was sold a couple that had broken seals and obviously filled with tap water.
You will be hassled throughout by hawkers and beggars. It is painfull to ignore them at times but Chetan did explain that it was the best thing to do as they work in teams and if you give to one, then suddenly a queue will form!!
TBH some of the bits and bobs sold by the hawkers are ok, postcards are dirt cheap and some of the bangles are nice considering they are only 10rps (12p!).
When you get in a tuk tuk you will most likely be asked if you want to go shopping and they will try and take you to 'a very good market'! We were advised by Chetan to avoid this as you are likely to get ripped off. Always, politely and firmly, say "No Thank You", NEVER say "later", or "maybe later" or the driver will wait for you.
If you area light sleeper, take ear plugs! Depending upon what room you get in the hotel, if it's near a road the horns don't stop 24/7!!