Lonely Planet

One of the interesting things on the Rajasthan trip was seeing India from the tourists’ perspective. Up until now, my perspective has strictly been that of the expat; which is neither a tourist, nor Indian perspective.

Most of the visitors (and they are not few) are here on business travel. We live in a city with very little to offer the tourist. The landmarks, while typically Indian and very interesting to an outsider, are not famous draws for foreign tourists. When we go out on trips, we tend to choose to go places where very few – if any – people go (Krishnagiri, Skandagiri, Ranganatha Swamy Hill) or to places where mass Indian tourism is the rule of the day (Hogenakal and Athirapilly Falls). We did of course see a lot of foreigners in Kochi; but as we stayed in a hotel on the other side of town than was frequented by Indian business travelers instead of a foreigner oriented guesthouse in Fort Cochin, we mostly missed the “foreign tourist” circuit.

Rajasthan was an eye opener. The hotels that we stayed in at Jaipur and Jodhpur had mostly foreigners as guests. It was like stepping into a theme park. A posh and cozy theme park, but a theme park nevertheless. I’ve noticed a correlation between how much Lonely Planet dwells on something and how many foreigners are there. Krishnagiri does not exist and there are exactly zero tourists there. Tiruvannamalai is a “hidden gem” that is easily overlooked in the guidebook’s Tamil Nadu coverage and we saw one westerner while there. It has a busy temple and several of Daniela’s colleagues like going there on pilgrimage or to visit their favorite ashram. Mehrangharh Fort in Jodhpur – one of Lonely Planet’s must see sights – is overrun with foreigners and the busy café in the fort had only one table with Indians at it.

I can only imagine what the Taj Mahal is like.


4 responses to “Lonely Planet

  1. There’s a handy book available at any of the major Bangalore bookstores or newsstands called 52 Weekend Getaways from Bangalore (or something like that). If you’re interested in going somewhere off the backpacker/tourist track in Karnataka, Kerala, or Tamil Nadu, it’s helpful in just letting you know what there is to see. It’s pitched at the upper-middle-class Indian traveler.

    I found it very useful for the coast of Karnataka, around Mangalore and in the hills near that coastal strip.

  2. Yeah, we have a copy. If you don’t know the region so well, it can be hard to use as it makes a lot of assumptions, but I generally like it. It was/is my go to guide for the local hill stations and it certainly does keep you off the foreign tourist circuit. My favorite is the part in the Pushpigiri entry telling you to write to some old guy (and giving his address) so that he’ll give you crash space at his farm on the way up the mountain.

  3. I have been to Rajasthan, i liked this place very much. But i heard about the kerala from friend of mine that it is beautiful location and less visited too. Now days i have seen the change in trends otherwise kerala was not among the must visited tourist locations of india.

    I have a blog http://www.wondersofrajasthan.blogspot.com/ and i have covered most of the destinations of rajasthan. If ever i will get a chance to go i will surely go.

  4. Lonely Planet overlooks Tamil Nadu a lot…most great places only get a few lines… most of TN is pretty much unexplored by tourists. I once read that one 1 in 100 tourists to India visit South India…specifically Kerala, Andra and TN.

    I used a Lonely Planet the few times I travelled through…the budget/mid-range accomodation has been used by a 100000000000000000 tourists before u that they are worse than most slums! Plus some of the Lonely Planet’s writers like to rough it hard so a lot fo the suggestions are really crap and vague.

    One place that I didn’t expect much from but LOVED was Varanasi. So worth it! OMGooosh it was sooo awesome.

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