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(Lonely Planet) ISBN 978-1741043082

Lonely Planet's India is a comprehensive guide to the country with a population of more than a billion people. The 1,236-page guidebook helps readers prepare for and adapt to the diverse ethnic, philosophical and spiritual culture shock of India.

Besides sightseeing, the India experience includes festivals, shopping and volunteering. The guidebook helps visitors find ecotourism activities in India like trekking in the Himalayan foothills, jeep and elephant safaris and birdwatching for rare drongos and golden orioles in the Andaman Islands.

Adventure trips

The Activities chapter features mountain bike cycling tours around Palolem in Goa, diving around Havelock Island in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, kayaking or rafting on at least 12 different rivers and mountaineering in the Kullu Valley near Manali.

The India guidebook also describes cultural tours, including visits to Adivasis tribal areas, the Bishnoi villages near Jodhpur in Rajasthan, Buddhist meditation retreats and spiritual courses in ashrams, where gurus teach yoga.

Information about Sikkim

Sikkim Sips discusses the availability of alcohol in Sikkim. The sidebar recommends trying tongba, a fermented millet seed and water infusion that you drink through a bamboo straw. It notes that bars are closed on full moon and new-moon days when selling alcohol is forbidden.

The Some Like It Hot sidebar describes the relative hotness of chili peppers from pimento (500 Scoville units) to Tezpur's bih-jolokia or poison chile (1,041,427 Scoville units).

Best beaches in Goa

The Beach Files sidebar gives an overview of beaches in Goa. The 21 main Goa beaches include northernmost Arambol, with a rocky headland and long sand beach, Mandrem, an undiscovered gem with palm trees behind the clean sand beach, Calangute and Baga, overloaded and crowded with beach shacks, Varca and Cavelossim, with five-star luxury hotels fronting undeveloped tropical beaches and Palolem, which used to be the quietest and most idyllic, but is now overrun with backpackers.

Not to be missed is the Pushkar Camel Fair, in the desert of eastern Rajasthan. A sidebar describes the musicians, snake charmers, camel races and religious event at the lake during the Kartik Purnima (full moon).

Hindi language guide

The Lonely Planet India book includes an excellent language guide to Hindi and Tamil and a list of India's official languages. A glossary defines words and terms such as acha (okay or I understand), dhaba (a basic restaurant or snack bar) and Nandi (a bull, the vehicle of Shiva, the Destroyer or Creator god).

Plan your trip to India by reading Getting There & Away in the Transport chapter. This section includes a chart of road distances between major cities such as Dehli and Agra. India express train fares are listed in rupees for each class including chair car and sleeper. Sidebars list the top five scenic Indian train journeys, such as the Darjeeling Toy Train, and private train journeys like the Palace on Wheels in Rajasthan and the Deccan Odyssey in Maharashtra.

Indian cooking classes

The Food and Drink chapter describes Indian regional food specialties like tangri (chicken drumsticks) in Punjab and bebinca (an eggy dessert made with ghee and coconut milk) in Goa. It describes non-alcoholic drinks like jal jeera (made from lime juice, cumin, mint and rock salt) and alcoholic drinks including arak (liquor distilled from coconut palm sap).

Sidebars describe how to eat with your left hand, Indian-style, and how to chew paan (betel nut mixed with lime paste and spices). A list of Indian cooking courses directs readers to regional sections of the book.

What to see and do

Lonely Planet's India is packed with information. Just like India, the details can be overwhelming. The guidebook is well organized, with a Getting Started chapter to help readers plan their itineraries, when and where to go, with sources of additional information from books, travel literature, Internet resources and movies.

Each region contains three sidebars. The Highlights sidebar, for example, in Orissa, recommends looking for tigers in Similipal National Park and crocodiles and herons on a boat ride through Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary. The Fast Facts sidebar, for example, in Uttar Pradesh, lists the population (166.1 million), the area (231,254 sq. km.), the capital (Lucknow) and when to go (October to March). Festivals sidebars feature events in India like Diwali, the festival of light, Sonepur Mela in Bihar and the festival of Carnatic Music & Dance in Tamil Nadu.

How to bargain

A Directory, at the end of the Lonely Planet guide, informs readers about Indian Embassies and High Commissions, baksheesh and bargaining, how to handle beggars, and prohibited exports including ivory and shahtoosh shawls made from the down of rare Tibetan antelopes.

The Glossary defines Indian words like gurdwara (a Sikh temple), safa (turban) and peon (the lowest grade of clerical worker).

Maps of Indian towns

Color photographs are clustered together, three or four to a page. They depict Indian attractions (such as Vypeen Island fish nets) and lifestyle (e.g., turning prayer wheels at the Tsuglagkhang Complex, McLeod Ganj, the official residence of the Dalai Lama).

A full-color map of India at the front of the book pinpoints highlights like Kanha National Park and the ruins of the 15th-century city of Vijayanagar, near Hampi. Black-and-white maps depict Indian regions and towns.

Lonely Planet India


  • Highlights
  • The Authors
  • Destination India
  • Getting Started
  • Itineraries
  • Snapshot
  • History
  • The Culture
  • Environment
  • Activities
  • Food and Drink
  • Delhi
  • Rajasthan
    • Eastern Rajasthan
    • Southern Rajasthan
    • Western Rajasthan
  • Punjab and Haryana
    • Punjab
    • Haryana
  • Himachal Pradesh
    • Eastern Himachal Pradesh
    • Central Himachal Pradesh
    • Western Himachal Pradesh
    • Lahaul and Spiti
  • Jammu & Kashmir
    • Jammu & The Kashmir Valley
    • Ladakh
    • Zanskar
  • Uttar Pradesh
  • Uttarakhand (Uttaranchal)
  • Kolkata (Calcutta)
  • West Bengal
    • South of Kolkata
    • North of Kolkata
    • West Bengal Hills
  • Bihar and Jharkhand
    • Bihar
    • Jharkhand
  • Sikkim
    • East Sikkim
    • South Sikkim
    • West Sikkim
    • North Sikkim
  • Northeast States
    • Assam
    • Meghalaya
    • Tripura
    • Nagaland
    • Arunachal Pradesh
    • Mizoram
    • Manipur
  • Orissa
    • Southeastern Orissa
    • Western Orissa
    • Northeastern Orissa
  • Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh
    • Northern Madhya Pradesh
    • Central Madhya Pradesh
    • Western Madhya Pradesh
    • Eastern Madhya Pradesh
    • Chhattisgarh
  • Gujarat
    • Eastern Gujarat
    • Saurashtra
    • Kutch (Kachchh)
  • Mumbai (Bombay)
    • Greater Mumbai
  • Maharashtra
    • Northern Maharashtra
    • Southern Maharashtra
  • Goa
    • North Goa
    • South Goa
    • Central Goa
  • Karnataka
    • Southern Karnataka
    • Karnataka Coast
    • Central Karnataka
    • Northern Karnataka
  • Andhra Pradesh
  • Kerala
    • Southern Kerala
    • The Western Ghats
    • Central Kerala
    • Northern Kerala
    • Lakshadweep
  • Tamil Nadu
    • Chennai (Madras)
    • Northern Tamil Nadu
    • Central Tamil Nadu
    • Southern Tamil Nadu
    • The Western Ghats
  • Andaman and Nicobar Islands
  • Directory
  • Transport
  • Health
  • Language
  • Glossary
  • Behind the scenes
  • Index
  • World time zones
  • Map legend


Sarina Singh, coordinating author, has worked on several dozen Lonely Planet books and is the author of Polo in India.

More things to see and do in India:

India — Five Great Reasons to Visit

Northeast India

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