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The Rough Guide to India (Rough Guide Travel Guides) Paperback – 20 Sep 2003
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The guide to India is a useful handbook to an extraordinary country. The introductory colour section includes photography of the country's many highlights in the "42 Things Not To Miss" section, from boating on the backwaters of Kerala to taking in a cricket match at the Oval Maiden in Mumbai. It provides comprehensive accounts of every attraction from the vibrant cities and elaborate temples to Himalayan peaks and palm-fringed beaches. There is also practical advice on activities as diverse as camel trekking in the Rajasthan desert, rafting on the Indus and hiking through the lunar landscapes of Ladakh. The listings sections provide hundreds of insider reviews of the best hotels, hostels, restaurants, bars, shops and museums in every city and village. The authors also give an informed insight into India's history, politics, religion, music and cinema, providing a valuable context to the reader's trip.
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If you just want to fnid out more about India, whether it's geography, it's culture or its history, this book has the lot.
The only drawback is the size - I found it a little heavy to sit unnoticed in the rucksack - but there isn't much of a way round that without compromising the ability for it to stay in one peice throughout weeks on months of use.
What I like about Rough Guides is that as well as giving you potted information about sights and attractions they are very strong on historical and cultural contexts. This edition is a balanced overview of this fascinating country in which travelling can be truly exhilirating and occasionally irritating.
The introduction of the book gives you some 'must sees' and 'when to go' advice. For those interested in Northern India I would recommend travelling in November as flights are relatively cheap this time of year and the weather is hot but not unpleasant
The main part of the book is split up into India's different regions. There is a chapter on Rajasthan, Goa, Mumbai etc.
I mainly stuck to the Rajasthan section. I found the information on this area very useful and I used it as a basis of my trip. At the end of each section there is information regarding train/plane times. I found this essential, and Rough Guides are the best in this respect.
Another reason I liked this guidebook is it's 'reading list' towards the back of the book. In this section, the editor recommends reading material. Using this as a cue I read the various books by Indian authors which really brought India to life.
On several occasions on I leant my bok to fellow travellers as the historical and cultural sections were much more instructive then the LP guide books.
There is also a short section on India's amazing food . I did not try any of the recipes but I think this is a good idea.
I do have some slight criticisms of the book. It should have a larger section on 'Crimes and annoyances'. People do have problems in India, but with common sense you should have a great time. Plan your holiday well in advance. I recommend that you learn a bit of the local language, be very careful about what you eat and drink, do not stand out as a tourist and make yourself aware of scams. But don't get too paranoid-look out for the plentiful genuine and honest local characters as well as scam artists.
Also, this book is too big to carry around with you if you are backpacking. Why not take out the pages you need for your journey rather then taking the whole book? Your load will be lighter and you will look less conspicious.
My other criticism is that Rough Guides can sometimes be a bit political and left field. Please, let the reader make it's own mind up!
All in all, I found this guide to be very useful. You can enjoy reading it before your trip to India, and as invaluable and entertaining read (especially on the long journeys) whilst you are there.
Enjoy your trip!
But this is no longer true. And the competition isn't just Rough Guide either - to my mind the Footprint guide by Bradnock & Bradnock (for once, bona fide experts rather than just kids with more miles than you and me) is far superior to either of these, and the one book worth carrying to India. (E.g. it is terse on restaurants and hotels - basic info and v. short description of what it's like, unlike the LP, which goes on and on about them.)
The LP, to my mind, is a good second choice, as it has quite a bit of practical detail for the major destinations; but it can't hold a candle to the Footprint handbook in terms of depth and breadth of coverage - too many interesting places just aren't covered.
No, you don't have to be a new-age proto-tramp nor one of those frightfully awful tourists who has just "done" the Taj; you can be whoever you want to be and this book will pretty well sort you out!
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