We have just returned from 15 days in India, including Rajasthan and Kerala, and wanted to share. We covered Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Ranakpur and Udaipur over 9 days then flew to Kochi and visited Munnar, Kumarakom, Allepey houseboat and Marari beach over 6 days. We had a car and driver for the trip, organised through Icon India (separate review).
We weren't sure whether to include Kerala or save it for another trip as we were worried we were trying to do too much, and many people advised us to spend more time in Rajasthan. We are a couple in our 30s who have travelled fairly extensively, usually independently, and like to be busy on holiday, so in the end we went to both regions, and we are so glad we did. They were so different it was like going to 2 countries!
In Rajasthan we saw so many amazing forts, palaces and temples and loved the hussle and bussle, the different smells, colours and noise a kind of sensory overload which has to be seen to be believed. Having travelled in Asia previously had prepared us as I think if you were to go straight to India, it may be a shock to the system. Yes there is poverty and dirt but same as in so many other countries. Yes there are cows, dogs, camels, elephants, people, cars, rickshaws everywhere, but this just makes the journeys more interesting. The people were very friendly, smiling and waving, wanting to take our photo as much as we wanted to take theirs.
After visiting the classic Golden Triangle, we were glad we opted to visit Jodhpur and Udaipur as these cities were very different. Although the sites in Delhi, Agra and Jaipur were great, the cities were just so busy and people often pestered us to buy things, whereas in Jodhpur we sat on rooftops, and wandered the markets with no hassle at all. A stay in Ranakpur was a welcome rural retreat and allowed us to relax a bit and see more of the rural way of life. Udaipur was great to hang out on a rooftop and look at the lake. Towards the end of the 9 days, we felt we had seen a lot and to be honest I think we were probably a bit "palaced out" by the time we got to Udaipur, so it felt like the perfect time to head South.
So then off to Kerala - totally different, lush green palm trees everywhere. The pace here seemed more relaxed, less chaotic, the standard of living higher. A stay in Munnar with its zillions of tea plantations offered amazing scenery; A night by Vembanad lake, a houseboat stay and a time at the beach offered opportunities to relax and watch the local life pass by.
The standard of all hotels was very good, and food was no problem (even for 2 fussy eaters), we ate mainly in hotels or decent restaurants which all had a good choice, and we didn't get any upset stomachs. Having a driver allowed us to see so much over this short time.
We really cant say which bit we preferred, they were so different. We enjoyed the amazing historical sites and bedlam of Rajasthan, just never knowing what we would see, smell or hear next! And the relaxation and scenery of Kerala allowed us to unwind a bit at the end of a busy trip.