If you are about to go off to India then buy this book. Buy this book and read the first 80 or so pages before you pack, and then dip into relevant chapters by destination. You will be glad you did.
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 of India 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
Travel book review by Chrissie Walker © 2018