|Subject: Re: India and Bhutan|
I was in India several years ago, did the Golden Triangle and then took the train to Lucknow, over to Allahabad for the Kumbbh Mala, and then onto Varanasi. I worked out an itinerary and contacted a Delhi travel agent to make arrangements for hotels and the like. We - my husband and I - stayed 3* which found us in interesting places, mostly used by Indians.
In Delhi, I found the Bahai Temple one of the outstanding sights - calm and peaceful in the midst of the chaos of people and traffic. A gneltman on the flight over suggested it to us - otherwise we would have never gotten there - and it was one of the highlights for us. We went into the temple for services - lovely! Your tour people should take you to most of the biggies in sight seeing and you most likely won't have a lot of extra time. India can be wearing for you are surrounded by people and noise and dust.
At Varanasi, be sure and take the early AM boat ride on the Ganges if that's available to you. You have the opportunity to observe people at morning prayers, washinhing themselves and their clothing, and preparing bodies for cremenations. It's a quiet and peaceful time. We went only with guide and the boy operating our boat. There are a number of boats with tourists out then but it's still still lovely with the sun rising. We went to Sarnath for a day - where Buddha frist began to preach. There are several stupas and a museum there and again, it was quiet and peaceful - something to treasure after battling through Indian crowds on the local streets.
With India, try not to be judgemental but just go with the flow. If you can do that, you will love it. Things just aren't done as we Westerners do them. Particularly if you get away from the main parts of town. Do recommend Lonely Planet's India for a thorough discussion of the country and sights to see.
About Sikkim and Bhutan, I can let you know after September: I will be in Bangladesh, Sikkem and Bhutan for threes in September. This time, I'm going with a tour group: Explore Worldside, a British group. Itinerary looks good..
Namaste! Jo, in Sunnyvale