Namaste in India

By Kevin O’Brien
This item appears on page 28 of the March 2013 issue.

My wife, Jane, and I had a memorable tour of southern India with Namaste Tours (O-130, DLF Shopping Mall, Arjun Marg, Phase 1, Gurgaon Haryana-122002, India; phone +91 [124] 4040636 or 637), Dec. 16, 2011-Jan. 3, 2012.

One of the most efficient, well-organized companies I have ever used, Namaste Tours arranged all the internal flights and trains as well as a car and driver for parts of our trip. A representative met us in each place and helped get our bags on the train or check us onto our flight.

For 16 nights in hotels (all excellent), breakfasts, New Year’s Eve dinner, sightseeing and entrance fees, we paid $2,440 per person. International and internal flights and other meals were at additional cost.

In Mumbai we visited the Cathedral of the Holy Name, the Haji Ali Mosque, a synagogue, a Jain temple and the Prince of Wales Museum. Our guide, Barvine, was very good.

In Aurangabad we visited the mini Taj Mahal. Near the city are the Ellora and Ajanta caves. Jane was hesitant to climb the many steps, but our guide, Hassan, encouraged her. He really wanted her to experience these unique Buddhist, Hindu and Jain caves with their fascinating sculptures and paintings — truly a wonder of the world.

In Mysore, the Royal Orchid Metropole Hotel, a very elegant, colonial-era hotel, was fantastic. We enjoyed the Hoysala temples of Belur and the ruined city of Halebid near Hassan. As Catholics, we loved the St. Thomas Basilica in Chennai.

A Namaste Tours rep called almost daily to make sure we were satisfied with their services. At one site, the local guide had told us to pay $10 at the entrance. We mentioned this to Namaste and, though we had not asked them to, they promptly reimbursed us.

A nice gesture — we were due to fly out of Chennai at 1:45 a.m., and earlier our driver took us around for sightseeing and dinner for as long as he could before dropping us off at the airport at 9 p.m.; we didn’t have to spend too much extra time in the airport.

Savannah, GA