Revisiting Rajasthan

Updated: Nov 6 2005, 06:01am hrs
For the intrepid traveller, Lonely Planet guides have arguably been constant companions, over decades and continents. And when these companions decide to take in India in more detail than in one wholesome volume (but which can never delve into adequate detail), they start with easily the most visited tourist circuit in India Delhi, Agra and Rajasthan.

For anyone familiar with the guides, this one is on similar lines. The guides are essentially written for those travelling from abroad, so the starting point is usually Getting started.

But from there it is veritable treasure house of information much of which would be of great use even to the most regular of Indian travellers. Delhi and Agra have a section each to themselves, but it is Rajasthan that rightly occupies most of the guide.

Not only are the usual pointers there how to get there, history, orientation, accommodation, sightseeing, shopping, entertainment, getting around, even dangers and annoyances - all there but it is the add ons - especially the local cultural colours - which are added that make the guides special.

It is fairly clear that the writers have travelled themselves to the various places they have written on. And the writing often strays into being more detailed than what perhaps the casual traveller is looking for though this can be a bonanza for the interested. Whether it is about tribes or textile patterns, age-old rasos or mouth watering flavours of traditional dishes, theres a lot of information packed in.

What is especially laudatory is that it is not just the common places, but also lesser-known places Osiyan, Kumbalgarh and Dundlod also receive equal attention in the kind of detail provided. And given the expanse for even minor itineraries are worked out in detail, there are remarkably few faux pas.

Not all is perfect however. A common shortcoming guides suffer from is that in some aspects they get outdated very fast, especially for rapidly growing cities. So even though this is a new guide, already some changes have taken place new eateries, roads blocked, new internet rules, stricter security. But theres little any guide can do against these.

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There are some odd sentences though. The section on the Mahabharata reads This rip-roaring epic centres on conflict between the gods the heroes (Pandavas) and the demons (Kauravas). Some eyebrow-raising is warranted, right!

However, dont underestimate the guides. If you are the type of traveller who is seeking out places off the regular circuits in Rajasthan, this can be wonderful companion to discover them with.