India - Travel
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Why read the first 80 pages first? Well, it’s not just because they are at the beginning but because they cover important issues like packing (that’s why I said, to read this before packing), water purification, hazards of road travel and money matters (yes, it does!)
The back of the book is also, in my opinion, a “must read sooner rather than later”, it being Background and Language. The Background chapter covers history, culture, religion and geography. Language covers, well, language! It makes a good impression if you can say “thank you” in Hindi.
This is such a comprehensive book and it covers every place you would want to go and a few that you wouldn’t. Let’s look at one area and marvel at the thoroughness of this volume. Stick a pin in the map, dear reader, and I’ll tell you what the guide says about that location...
Kerala, nice choice! Pages 887 to 959. We start with a map of the subcontinent and Kerala highlighted, a list of contents for this chapter and the special Footprint Features which include items like Don’t Miss, Kerala’s Social Underbelly, Body Language, The Backwaters, and The Modern Mass Pilgrimage. Other regions have appropriate Footprint Features, one of the many elements that put these guides ahead of the others.
The smallest of towns is listed and there is advice on travel, sights, places to stay (prices indicated), eating (don’t eat the buffet), shopping and tours. I don’t think anything has been left to chance. Every detail has been well researched. In Munnar, for instance, you can visit the Tata Tea Museum, or how about the Elephant Yard in Guruvayur?
The maps are first class and there are lots of them, from regional maps to city street maps. The transport information is the best I have come across in this type of guidebook and the detail is amazing, giving bus routes and frequency, motorcycle hire websites and addresses, rickshaw and taxi rates and train information. The Footprint Guides are designed with the independent traveller in mind, and they don’t assume that you are loaded with cash.
Each area has its own Directory, a comprehensive list of handy addresses....like a chemist. All guides tell you where to post a letter (your mum will be lucky if she gets a postcard), but you need to know where to go if you get sick or, more important, if you need to check your email! It’s all in this guide.
This is your “Big Trip” and you want to get as much out of it as possible. You only want to carry one book so let this be the one.
Authors: Annie Dare and David Stott
Published by: Footprint
ISBN 978 1 906098 05 6
Sanjeev had a childhood to which so many of us can relate. Home was a maisonette above a laundrette and under the Heathrow flight path. I can still remember the distinctive aroma of the paraffin stove that was the “heater of choice” for his family and so many others in the 1960s. Not everything was cold, grey and gloomy – the fish and chip shop was just next door!
The long family holidays spent in New Delhi seemed to the young Sanjeev to be a catalogue of discomfort, with intermittent water supply and mosquitoes that had a penchant for English take-away. Telephones were rare and air conditioning wasn’t an option, but how times have changed - twenty years later India is a world leader in biotechnology and pharmaceutical research, it has the world’s largest radio telescope and is at last taking its place in the international arena in so many other areas. India still manages to hold to its traditions, a task that would seem impossible to maintain under the onslaught of technology and modernity.
Sanjeev is famed for his comedic portrayal of Indians in the UK and for hosting Delhi Belly, a food travelogue with restaurateur Reza Mahammad. You would expect him to write a light and witty book, and India is very much that. It’s also filled with honest and sometimes painful observation. There is a story of tragedy here that also speaks of strength, forgiveness and hope for the future.
On a humorous note our hero is invited to the birthday party of His Royal Highness Rajeshwar Saramad-i-Rajha-i-Hindustan Mahararjadhiraja Maharajah Shri GAJ SINGHJI II Sahib Bahadur Singh. Sanjeev wonders “Gosh, what do we sing when we get to ‘Happy Birthday dear....?’ He had no need to worry as it was “Happy Birthday dear Bapji” and the dear man even handed Sanjeev a slice of his cake.
India – One Man’s Personal Journey Round the Subcontinent is a book that will take you through the whole spectrum of emotion but it’s equally a book that will be thoroughly enjoyed by those of us who love India in all its myriad facets.
India – One Man’s Personal Journey Round the Subcontinent
Author: Sanjeev Bhaskar
Published by: HarperCollins
India – The Ultimate Sights, Places, and Experiences is a weighty tome but it’s true to say that the subject is so vast that even this book can’t cover it in depth. What it does do is portray India in a most sympathetic and unpatronising fashion. The writers and photographers have evidently done their homework and intend you to have a broad-based look the people and places that make India so memorable.
I can hardly begin to tell you how bored I am by TV documentaries about Suchandsuch’s View of The Real India. In truth these documentaries just serve to reinforce stereotypes that westerners hold so dear. We are confronted by yet another rat-filled temple (yes, they are there but there is more to worship than that) and people living on the streets (Do Indian producers come to London to film drunks on park benches?). This book looks at typical Indians who have jobs, who work hard (and a few that don’t need to), go to school and have dreams of the future.
India is both ancient and new. Modern India is a little over 60 years old but its soul and character have existed for millennia. Towns in India had well-developed sewage systems in prehistoric times. More correctly, times when the west had done nothing much to make history but times by which India was already civilised and cultured.
India – The Ultimate Sights, Places, and Experiences draws on 700 or so pictures to lead you through this vast country with all of its awe-inspiring scenery (everything from mountains to lush valleys, from desert to jungle). It also introduces you to all its major religions, its amazing architecture, its art and treasures, and its diverse population.
India is, at last, taking its place as a world power. Its future is bright and it has young people who will make a success of this land that has so much to offer. This gem of a book gives a tantalising overview of the country and its culture. It’s not a text book but rather a volume to be enjoyed by the whole family. It’s impressive and a joy, and astounding value for money.
Asian book review: India – The Ultimate Sights, Places, and Experiences
Published by Dorling Kindersley
Authors: Christopher Pillitz, Gary Ombler, Abraham Eraly, Yasmin Khan, George Michell, Mitali Saran
So why would you want to go to Rajasthan? Well, why wouldn’t you? It’s a desert land of forts and palaces. Why do I say it’s colourful? The people have a love of all things vibrant to contrast the immense areas of barren land, and that land is the size of Germany!
Lonely Planet have years of experience (they have been around since 1973) and their guidebooks are some of the best. They have expert researchers who share their advice. They don’t just steer you to the most celebrated of tourist spots (although you won’t want to miss the Taj Mahal), they will point you to Sam’s Cafe for a sit down and a nice cup of chai. You’ll be confident about venturing a little way of the well-trodden trail because the man from Lonely Planet has been there before you.
Read “Getting Started” before you get started. It states the obvious but the obvious is often the first thing that is overlooked. My sister forgot her passport and had to hide under a coach seat to cross the border from France to Belgium. There is a handy tip about taking a torch with a headband, and a universal sink plug. This is essential kit even when planning a trip to Rome!
It’s a good idea to have some notion of what you want to see when you get to Rajasthan. Lonely Planet has suggested three classic routes to consider. The Golden Triangle of just over 700km which will swing you by Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. Maharaja Circuit (that’s the one for me) is a loop of 2000km incorporating The Golden Triangle but then takes in forts and palaces in central Rajasthan. A Month-Long Sojourn is 2500km and allows you to delve into the spiritual heart of Rajasthan, its less well-known palaces and spectacular wild life. Truly a tip of a lifetime.
Lonely Planet has stuffed this volume with everything for the independent traveller. You’ll be able to choose restaurants and hotels to suit your budget. You’ll be able to order a meal, chat to the waiter (OK, a very short conversation), and ask for the bill, in Hindi. You’ll find your way around the extensive public transport system. Buy this guide in good time and start to plan your dream.
Rajasthan – Lonely Planet
Authors: Lindsay Brown and Amelia Thomas
Published by: Lonely Planet