With only had seven weeks leave from work, we decided to restrict ourselves to a small area, rather than try to travel large distances. This was our third visit to India, and we had previously trekked in Nepal. This visit took place from April to June 1992, in the pre-monsoonal period; it isn't an ideal time of year on the hot plains, but it is an excellent time to see the rhododendrons and orchids in the mountains.
Before leaving Australia we wrote to the Indian Tourist Information Office, outlining where we hoped to travel, and asking for conditions applying to entry to Sikkim. The travel guides we read were in disagreement about this, but generally suggested that we should apply to New Delhi three months in advance for the restricted area permit, and to the Sikkim Tourist office (in New Delhi) two months in advance for a trekking permit. The Indian Tourist Information Office re-assured us that we could obtain the restricted area permit in Calcutta; we decided to take our chances with the trekking permit. The Tourist Office is a great place to get pamplets, maps and information, and should be your first port of call when planning a trip to India.
The story is written up in four parts:
Before this trip we would have said that there was nowhere in India that was not worth visiting. I'm forced to admit that Calcutta was not enjoyable, and I would not urge people to visit it, especially in the pre-monsoonal months. We also admitted to boredom in Orissa, something that has not happened on such a large scale before. Partly that was due to the need to stay fairly close to Calcutta, having to make it back in time for our scheduled departure; under different circumstances we would simply have left Orissa earlier, as soon as we had exhausted the attractions that appealed to us.
I would still encourage anyone with the slightest interest in India to go there - *almost* everywhere is worth visiting!!