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India - The Iconic And The Wild part 1 (aka An Invitation to India) 21st Feb 2020
Post: #1
Day 1-2
This was a busy 19 day tour which consisted of 2 holidays (An Invitation to India and India's Tiger Trail) back to back. I obtained my 30 day evisa/Electronic Travel Authority myself. It was granted the day after I applied but had 2 seemingly conflicting dates. It expired the day after I would arrive in India but also stated in red that the validity period was  30 days of arrival. I satisfied myself that this meant I had to arrive before it expired but could then stay for 30 days. However at BA check-in at Heathrow this was queried by the BA man who made a telephone call and and said BA would allow me to fly but I may not be allowed into the country by Delhi immigration.He even suggested I applied for another visa before the flight! 
There was no JY rep at T5 and I did not see any JY  guests until the lounge.
On arrival there was no problem at all at immigration and on entering the arrivals hall I saw the local JY/Hi Tours airport rep who informed me that TM Kim Clark and 2 others had just left for the short journey to the hotel. They would be doing the Kerala tour after the other two.
Once the 5 of us on the BA flight had assembled we were taken to the hotel in a minibus to be greeted by Kim and a garland on arrival.
Later there would be another contingent arriving who were only doing An Invitation to India and another group who had come from a Nepal tour. I was surprised to see 3 ladies I knew who had been on a Galapagos trip last year.
We had a welcome dinner in the hotel . The hotel  was in its own grounds with an outdoor swimming pool. There were no attractions (apart from a shopping mall) nearby but we did not have much free time anyway.

Day 3
Leaving the hotel at 0800 we had a Delhi tour in the coach. We visited the Qutb  Minar complex and drove past  the India Gate memorial and the Parliament buildings (no stopping). We then walked down narrow alleys avoiding motor bike,scooters and cows to try some local food (paranthas which had different fillings). There was hesitancy at first due to health fears about street food but we all tried some. I had a portion containing chillis. Next it was a visit to a carpet showroom for a free lunch. The salesman demonstrated how Kashmir and silk carpets were made and showed us a variety of different rugs and carpets,some taking over a year to make. Some purchases were made.
Some returned to the hotel whilst others went on the optional Religious Tour.The best part was the visit to the Sikh temple where we visited the kitchen. Enormous cooking vessels contain curry were being prepared and lots of chippattis were being made by volunteers. The were crowds of people devouring the food in the main hall. The visit to a Roman Catholic Church  was not necessary as we are familiar with this. After visiting a Buddha temple we walked down a crowded alley way for a Mosque.  This was not worth the effort and was claustrophobic. Back at the hotel at 1900 - a long day.

Day 4
We left the hotel at 0745 for the approx 5 hour journey to Agra. President Trump was visiting  the Taj Mahal today. We saw children lining the route and many posters displaying his photo and one describing him as His Excellency. We visited Agra Fort from where there were good views of the Taj Mahal. We arrived at our hotel at about 1515. We were to have dinner outside because another group had booked a small restaurant in the hotel. However they were delayed by the presidential visit and so we could use it. I had to buy a 'permit' to take video with my camcorder at the Fort and at some other locations. However  cameras/phone do not need a permit.

Day 5
Today was the visit to the Taj Mahal leaving the hotel at 0600 . No video is allowed in the grounds. The coach has to park a few hundred metres away and then walk to the Taj. Battery buses are available.  We eventually entered about 0700 hours. We had a tour of the grounds with our local guide Nags and then free time . We had to wear plastic overshoes to enter the mausoleum where we shuffled past the memorials in the crowds. The Taj Mahal was very impressive at sunrise .Many photos were taken . A man approached me and showed me the best places to take photos and took some of me with my camera. Obviously he wanted money at the end. I was satisfied with the photos. I did not have time to visit the museum but was able to go there when we returned a week later on the second part of the tour. We returned to the hotel for a late breakfast and then left for Jaipur on a 6 hour journey.
In the evening most of us went on the optional cookery demonstration in someone's home. This was also a bed and breakfast.We had dinner included.

Day 6
We visited the Amber Fort today.The final part of the journey was in jeeps. Then it was on to a block printing demonstration and sari and turban dressing demonstration. Ladies were presented with saris and men with readymade turbans. After lunch we visited Jantar Mantar astronomical observatory to see ancient structures (sundials and objects associated with signs of the zodiac. We had a walk in crowded streets  visiting the spice market followed by a tuktuk ride.
In the evening we went to the City Palace for a half hour video projection showing the history of the past rulers followed by included dinner.

Day 7 
We had a walking tour of Jaipur visiting the market and the Lord Krishna Temple to watch the local people   chanting. They were several macaques around the market. We returned to the hotel and then departed late morning for a 6 hour journey back to Delhi. A reduced price, 1200 instead of 2000 rupees, had been negotiated for the farewell meal for this part of the tour.
Another JY group on the Spirit of India tour were at the hotel.

Day 8
Today those who had done the Nepal tour and those who had done the Invitation to India tour only returned home leaving 7 of us awaiting the arrival of those on the Tiger Trail tour. I knew 3 of the ladies on this tour also. In the afternoon we visited  a stepwell and had a short tour passing India Gate and the Parliament buildings again.

For the rest of the tour I refer you to the excellent report by TimH. I endorse the comments that more time is required in Mumbai at the end. With the hotel adjacent to the beach we could have had a relaxing end to the holiday or a tour of Mumbai.

The hotels were excellent .Most were in their own grounds. There was not much free time and so the fact that there was nowhere to go near the hotels did not matter. The tour was an eye opener with the beggars, disabled and the quantity of rubbish on the streets. Some people were ill by they had all been on the Nepal tour. I realised that the main rule of the road is that. drivers don't obey them . Just crossing the road is a majr issue with the traffic. We were told to cross like a cow and not like a dog. A cow crosses the road  and the traffic avoids it but a dog darts across  and the drivers don't know where it is going.

On the tiger trail we saw 5 tigers (including ine charging) on 4 of the safaris. On the 5th I did not see any. An excellent Tour Manager Kim Clark and local guides Nags and Sher.







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GmHgAAgG9h3kP8Cbu0bHH/qfIIAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC[/img]
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Post: #2
Hi Peter,

Thank you for sharing your Just You experience with the community, sounds like you had a full on but enjoyable holiday!

Kindest regards,

Julia
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Post: #3
On my last two JY holidays, I've not seen a rep at the airport in the UK. I pointed this out on my last questionnaire.

I've never needed the help of a rep at an airport in the UK, but it is stated in the brochure that one will always be available.
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Post: #4
Hi Peter

It was nice to meet up with you again. Fortunately I haven't had any phone calls from dodgy Forestry Officers.
That's a great review,thanks for doing it, brought back happy memories from my Invitation to India tour last October.
On the day we, the Tiger Trail travellers, arrived in Delhi we also went to Gandhi's House. I enjoyed that visit more than the stepwell.

Best wishes
Di
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Post: #5
Brings back good memories! We were so lucky to get our visit before all the restrictions came into force.
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Post: #6
Great review Peter!
I would have definitely  liked to have another day in Mumbai ( a lot to see and do in Mumbai- it's a city that never sleeps) .
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