Bazaar Affair

The pandemonium of Old Delhi's convoluted bazaars (Map p128) is a headspinning assault on the senses, with a mindbending array of things to see and an aromatic muddle of flowers, urine, incense, chai, fumes and frying food, all discernible in one whiff. These frenetic bazaars are busiest (and best avoided) on Monday and Friday and during other afternoons. Come at around 11.30am when most shops have opened and the jostling is bearable. For silver jewellery (some gold) head for Dariba Kalan, near...

Jamunaha to Nepalganj

Plenty of domestic tourists cross into Nepal at Jamunaha in Uttar Pradesh, but most foreign travellers stick to more convenient crossings. However, Nepalganj is a useful gateway for Nepal's Royal Bardia National Park and there are regular onward flights to Kathmandu. Buses run regularly from Lucknow to Rupaidha Bazar (Rs 160, seven hours), a short rickshaw ride from the Jamunaha border post. Alternatively, you can take a train to Nanpara, and change to a bus or taxi for the 17km trip to the...

Getting Better At Doing Good

'Great work was done here after the tsunami. The difficulty is in keeping the development sustainable and long term once it's no longer front-page news.' Paul Knight, director of NGO Earth Aid Asia in Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram), is musing on the long-term effects of the disaster. 'It became apparent to us that communities inland were also suffering, but indirectly for example, in poor tribal villages where families relied on occasional day labour to buy food, both work and money dried up and...

Blessed Maharajas

The Scindia Museum, which occupies a quarter of the neoclassical Jai Vilas Palace, gives a glimpse of the lives of India's Prince Williams and Princess Beatrices. Mahadji (1761-94) founded the Scindia dynasty at the time of the Mughal emperor Babaur, after his three brothers were killed in the third battle of Panipat. He devised the family crest - a sun flanked by two black cobras - as a tribute to the cobra that, when he was a child, spread its hood to protect him from the sun. The Scindia...

Girnar Hill

The climb up 10,000 stone steps to the summit of Girnar is best begun at dawn. It's a magical experience in the early morning light, as pilgrims and porters trudge up the well-maintained steps, built between 1889 and 1908, through scrubby teak forest and past chai stalls. The start is about 2km beyond Da-modar Kund - the road takes you to around the 3000th step - which leaves you only 7000 to the top. As you gain height, the views begin to sweep across wooded hills. The refreshment stalls on...

Festivals In Andhra Pradesh

Sankranti (Jan statewide) This important Telugu festival markstheend ofharvestseason. Kite-flying competitions are held, women decorate their doorsteps with colourful kolams (or rangolis - rice-flour designs), and men decorate cattle with bells and fresh horn paint. Industrial Exhibition (Jan Feb Hyderabad, above) A huge exhibition with traders from around India displaying their wares, accompanied by a colourful, bustling fair. Deccan Festival (Feb Hyderabad, above) Pays tribute to Deccan...

Sights Activities

At Kausani Tea Estate ( 258330 www.uttaranchaltea .com admission free S 9am-6pm mid-Mar-mid-Nov), a tea plantation that involves private enterprise, the government and local farmers, you can look around and sample and buy its products, which are exported around the world. The factory produces about 45 tonnes of tea annually. It's 3km north of the village on the road to Bajinath, a Rs 5 share-jeep ride or an easy and scenic walk. About 1km uphill from the bus stand, Anasakti Ashram is where...

The Char Dham

The Char Dham of Garwhal refers to the four ancient temples that mark the spiritual sources of four sacred rivers, the Yamuna (Yamunotri), the Ganges (Gangotri), the Mandakini (Kedarnath) and the Alaknanda (Badrinath). Every year during the yatra (pilgrimage) season from April to November hundreds of thousands of dedicated Hindu pilgrims make these important treks -the exact dates that the temples are open are announced each year by local priests. Religious tourism is big business and numerous...

Independence The Partition Of India

The Labour Party victory in the British elections in July 1945 dramatically altered the political landscape. For the first time, Indian independence was accepted as a legitimate goal. This new goodwill did not, however, translate into any new wisdom as to how to reconcile the divergent wishes of the two major Indian parties. Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the leader of the Muslim India's Struggle for League, championed a separate Islamic state, while the Congress Party, led Independence by Bipan by...

Festivals In Tamil Nadu

Many of Tamil Nadu's most colourful festivals revolve around temples - there's something going on somewhere in the state all year round. International Yoga Festival (4-7 Jan Puducherry (Pondicherry), p1057) Puducherry's ashrams and yoga culture are put on show with workshops, classes and music and dance events. Held throughout the city, the event attracts yoga masters from all over India. Pongal (mid-Jan statewide) As the rice boils over the new clay pots, this festival symbolises the...

Holistic Spiritual Activities

Not all activities in India involve hauling yourself up mountains. Travellers with an interest in spirituality or alternative therapies will find a host of courses and treatments that focus on healing body and mind - after all, this is the country that gave the world meditation, massage and mantras Meditation, Ayurveda (Indian herbal medicine) and yoga have gained respect even in mainstream circles and there are opportunities to practise and improve your technique all over India. Here are some...

Tiger Trouble

It's unofficially official - there are no tigers left in Sariska reserve. In one of India's worst-kept environmental secrets, the tiger population at one of the country's leading wildlife reserves has been eliminated due to organised poaching and apparent mismanagement. Project Tiger, the body in charge of tiger protection in India since 1979, has come under serious criticism in the media, though it maintains that the government did not adequately compensate local farmers for their loss of...

Ayurveda

With its roots in Sanskrit, the word Ayurveda is derived from ayu (life) and veda (knowledge) it is the knowledge or science of life. Principles of Ayurvedic medicine were first documented in the Vedas some 2000 years ago, but it may even have been practised centuries earlier. Ayurveda sees the world as having an intrinsic order and balance. It argues that we possess three doshas (humours) vata (wind or air) pitta (fire) and kapha (water earth). Known together as the tridoshas, deficiency or...

Bhutan

Phuentsholing is the main entry and exit point between India and Bhutan you now need a full Bhutanese visa to enter the country, which must be obtained at least 15 days before your trip from a registered travel agent listed under the Department of Tourism, Bhutan (www.tourism.gov.bt). Bhutan visas for non-Indians require a prepaid tour (minimum US 200 to US 240 per day, all-inclusive). Tour and visa can be arranged within two days through RCPL Travels (Map pp488-9 24400665 travelcal vsnl.net...

The Backwaters

The undisputed main attraction of a trip to Kerala is travelling through the 900km network of waterways that fringe the coast and trickle far inland. Long before the advent of roads these waterways were the slippery highways of Kerala, and many villagers today still use paddle-power as transport. Trips through the backwaters cross shallow, palm-fringed lakes studded with cantilevered Chinese fishing nets, and travel along narrow, shady canals where coir (coconut fibre), copra (dried coconut...

Ramoji Film City

Movie fans can't miss the four-hour tour of Ramoji Film City ( 23235678 www.ramojifilmcity.com admission Rs 250 S 9.30am-5.30pm), an 800-hectare movie-making complex for Telugu, Tamil and Hindi films. This place has everything - dance routines, gaudy fountains, flimsy film sets -and the whole thing wraps up with a Wild West song-and-dance number. The 'Royal Package' (Rs 750) includes AC transport and lunch at a five-star hotel. Buses 205 and 206 from Koti Women's College, 100m northeast of Koti...

Mzs

More an extra Rs 50 brings a TV and phone. Car rental can be organised here. Hotel Bhagwat Niwas ( 2313708 Kalpana Sq s d from Rs 160 250, d with AC Rs 750 a) Hiding behind the Padma and signed down a small lane, the much friendlier Bhagwat has decent rooms with a TV around a courtyard, some boasting a balcony. Checkout is 24 hours. Bhubaneswar Hotel ( fax 2313245 Cuttack Rd s d from Rs 175 235, with AC Rs 600 700 a) The Bhubaneswar is another welcoming hotel with rooms that are nothing...

T

Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve 87,816 Taglang La 341 Taj Mahal 399-400, 130 Takhteshwar Temple 735 Talatalgarh 605 Tamil 1194-6 Tamil film 1040 Tamil Nadu 1025-105, 1027 festivals 1028 temples 1029 volunteering 1159-60 Tangole 389 Tanjore 1070-3, 1070 Tapkeshwar Temple 447 Taptapani 653 Taragarh 330-1 Tarkarll 820 Tashiding 588 Tashijong 330-1 Tattapani 291 Tawang 622 Tawang Valley 621-2 taxes 801, 937, 1026 taxis 1174-5 tea 110,535, 606, 1150 Teesta Bazaar548 Tegar 385 telephone services 1151...

Skiing Snowboarding

India's ski industry is going from strength to strength. India's premier ski resort is at Gulmarg in Kashmir, but security concerns have pushed many skiers towards the smaller resorts in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. All skiing in India takes place on high-altitude meadows, with the best snows falling from January to March. There are runs for skiers of all levels and most ski lodges provide heaters to keep out the winter chill. Prices for equipment rental and ski passes are some of the...

Samthar Plateau

This remote and beautiful plateau offers awesome views of Bhutan's Himalayan range and a chance to visit traditional villages. For trekking information, see p542. Gurudongma Tours & Travels ( 255204 www.gurudongma.com Hilltop, Rinkingpong Rd, Kalimpong s d from Rs 2115 2820) runs the cosy Farm House at Samthar, which has accommodation in cottages, rooms or tents. It'll arrange transport for its customers from Kalimpong. Lonely Planet Publications. To make it easier for you to use, access to...

Auroville

Just over the border from Puducherry is the international community of Auroville - a project in 'human unity' that has ballooned to encompass more than 80 rural settlements spread over 20km, and about 1800 residents. Two-thirds of these are foreigners, representing around 38 different nationalities. Auroville is not a tourist attraction, and casual visitors may find it a bit bewildering and unwelcoming. Each settlement has its own area of work interest and expertise - from traditional medicinal...

Around Nagpur Ramtek

About 40km northeast of Nagpur, the interesting 600-year-old temples (S6am-9pm) of Ramtek squat happily atop the Hill of Rama and are positively bubbling with playful monkeys. It's said in the epic Ramayana that Rama spent time here with Sita and Lakshmi. Autorickshaws will cart you the 5km from the bus stand to the main temple complex for Rs 25 and you can walk back down to the town via the 700 steps at the back of the complex. On the road to the temples you'll pass the delightful Ambala Tank,...

Stories Of Eve Teasing Of Sikh Women By Muslims In Kashmir

This glossary is a sample of the words and terms you may come across during your Indian wanderings. For definitions of food and drink, see p116. Abhimani - eldest son of Brahma Abhimanyu - son of Arjuna acha - 'OK' or 'I understand' acharya - revered teacher spiritual guide Adivasi - tribal person agarbathi - incense Agasti - legendary Hindu sage, revered in the south, as he is credited with introducing Hinduism and developing the Tamil language Agni - major deity in the Vedas mediator between...

Amchi

Tibetan Buddhist areas have their own herbal medicine tradition - amchi - based on a mixture of astrology and treatments with herbs from the Himalaya. Despite the arrival of Western medicine, amchi is still the most popular form of medicine in many parts of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. You can arrange amchi treatments in McLeod Ganj (p324), Leh (p368) and Kaza (p342). Himachal Pradesh Massages and other healing therapies are offered in Vashisht (p315), McLeod Ganj (p324) and Bhagsu...

Motorcycling

Motorcycles and mopeds can be hired for Rs 200 to 250 a day around the Lakshman Jhula area. There are no specific shops - you just hire from private owners, so there's no insurance ask around at guesthouses or look for rental signs. Look out for flyers around Lakshman Jhula, Swarg Ashram and High Bank advertising music tuition and concerts. Om Rudra Cultural Society ( 2434425 rudradance rediffmail.com Swarg Ashram S closed Jun-Aug) is run by an enterprising couple and offers Kathak dance,...

Tashijong Taragarh

About 5km west of Baijnath, and 2km north from the Palampur road, the village of Tashi- jong is home to a small community of Drukpa Kagyud monks and refugees. The centre of life here is the Tashijong Gompa, with several mural-filled prayer halls and a carpet-making, thangka-painting and woodcarving cooperative. About 2km south of Tashijong, at Tara-garh, is the extraordinary Taragarh Palace ( in Delhi 011-24643046 www.taragarh.com r from Rs 3500-5000 ), the summer palace of the last maharaja of...

Haridwar

Propitiously located at the point where the Ganges emerges from the Himalaya, Haridwar (also called Hardwar) is Uttarakhand's holiest Hindu city and pilgrims arrive here in droves to bathe in the often fast-flowing Ganges. The sheer numbers of people gathering around Har-ki-Pairi Ghat give Haridwar a chaotic but reverent feel - as in Varanasi, it's easy to get caught up in the spiritual clamour here. Within the religious architecture of India, Haridwar is much more significant than Rishikesh,...

Yoga Courses

There are hundreds of yoga courses on offer and some outfits are more reputable than others (especially in tourist towns). Seek advice from tourist offices and other travellers and visit several to find one that suits your needs. Many ashrams (spiritual communities) also offer yoga courses - see p102, though some centres require a minimum time commitment and residents must adhere to strict rules on silence, diet and behaviour - see the boxed text, p102. The following represent some of the many...

South Delhi

Home Away from Home (Map pp120-1 26560289 permkamte sify.com 1st fl, D-8 Gulmohar Park s d incl breakfast from Rs 1375 1575 a) This stylish apartment, in a classy suburb, is home to Mrs Kamte and she keeps the place in tip-top condition. There are just two rooms, each very tastefully decorated and with small balconies. Hush and Puppy, the pet basset hounds, thrive on affection. One Link Road (Map pp120-1 41824083 1 Link Rd, Jangpura www.onelinkroad.com s d incl taxes & breakfast Rs 1900 2300...

Isha Yoga Center

This ashram ( 0422-2615345 www.ishafoundation .org h 6am-8pm), in Poondi, 30km west of Coimbatore, is also a yoga retreat and place of pilgrimage. The centrepiece is a multi-religious temple housing the Dhyanalingam, said to be unique in that it embodies all seven chakras of spiritual energy. Visitors are welcome to the temple to meditate, or to take part in one- to two-week Isha yoga courses, for which you should register in advance. The ashram was founded by spiritual leader and yogi Sadhguru...

Hampi Bazaar

All of the following places are shown on Map p922 . Shanthi Guest House ( 241568 s d with shared bathroom Rs 100 150) An oldie but a goodie, Shanthi offers a peaceful courtyard, bicycle rental (Rs 40), a morning bakery delivery and a small shop that operates on an honour system. Gopi Guest House ( 241695 kirangopi2002 yahoo.com d Rs 200-400 i) The Gopi empire keeps on expanding - apart from the rooftop garden and restaurant, it has recently renovated a block across the road, which contains four...

Jaintia Hills

Situated in pretty, rolling countryside (think Sussex with rice), Nartiang (pop 6000) is famous for its forest of monoliths, a scatterbrained Stonehenge wannabe tucked behind the village football pitch. Raised to honour the Jaintia kings, the highest stone is almost 8m tall. Around 1km away, the famous but heavily over-renovated Durga temple was once used for human sacrifices. Spot the 'endless hole' into which severed heads were once tipped. Nartiang probably doesn't justify a special trip...

Jaisamand Lake

Located 48km southeast of Udaipur, this startlingly huge artificial lake (88 sq km) is one of Asia's largest. Created by damming the Gomti River, it was built by Maharaja Jai Singh in the 17 th century. There are beautiful marble chhatris around the 330m-long, 35m-high embankment, and Udaipur maharanis' summer palaces are dotted on surrounding hilltops. Jaisamand Island Resort ( 0294-2431401 www .lakend.com s d from Rs 1800 2700 SOct-Feb a ) is a modern but somewhat shabby hotel in a wonderful,...

H

Hadimba Temple 308 Haflong 606 Hajo 598 Halebid 909-11 Fatehpur 186 Jaisalmer 246 Jhunjhunu 189 Mahansar 189 Mandawa 186-7 NagarSheth 740 Nawalgarh 188 Parsurampura 188 Phalodl 243 Ramgarh 186 Shekhawati 185,187 Uda ipur 220-1 Havelock Island 1118-20,1118 health 37,1181-9 children 1128 food 1187 insurance 1181 internet resources 84,1183 language 1192 women travellers 1189 helicopters 1170 Hellodorus Pillar 692-3 Hem Kund 470-1 hepatitis 1184-5 Hessaraghatta 894 high commissions 1134-5 hijras 60...

Dakshineswar Kali Temple

Shaped like an Indian Sacr Coeur, this 1847 Kali Temple (Mappp488-9 25645222 S 6.30am-noon & 3.30-9pm) was where Ramakrishna started his remarkable spiritual journey. Decorated with sepia photos, Ramakrishna's small room is now a place of special meditative reverence. Find it in the outer northwest corner of the temple precinct. Taxis from Shyam Bazar metro cost Rs 85. However, arriving by (uncovered) river boat from Belur Math Ghat (Rs 7, 20 minutes) is an integral part of the Dakshineswar...

Other Sights

On the eastern side of the citadel is the tiny, walled Mecca Masjid (admission free), thought to have been built in the early 17th century. Some speculate that this mosque, with its high surrounding walls and cloistered feel, may have been for women. Further east, the Asar Mahal (admission free), built by Mohammed Adil Shah in about 1646 to serve as a Hall of Justice, once housed two hairs from the Prophet's beard. The rooms on the upper storey are decorated with frescoes and a square tank...

Travel Agencies

Most travel agencies here can arrange local tours (and some can also arrange treks, rafting trips and other activities). Reliable agencies and their specialities include the following Clubside Tours & Travels (Map p532 2254646 www.clubside.in JP Sharma Rd S 8.30am-6pm) Arranges treks and tours in West Bengal, Sikkim and Assam, and wildlife tours in Kaziringa, Manas and Jaldhapara National Parks. It's also a Jet Airways agent. DGHC Tourist Reception Centre (see Tourist Information above)...

Tezpur

Tezpur is probably Assam's most attractive city thanks to beautifully kept parks, attractive lakes and the enchanting views of the mighty Brahmaputra River as it boldly caresses the town's central underbelly. Internet access is available at Softec Point (NB Rd per hr Rs 20 S 9am-10pm), 250m north of the Baliram Building restaurants. At Chitralekha Udyan (Cole Park Jenkins Rd adult child camera Rs 10 5 20 S 9am-8pm), a U-shaped pond wraps around pretty manicured lawns dotted with fine ancient...

Transport

There are several cheap-and-nasty hotels right in Munnar town, but these are best avoided. Prices are a bit higher than in comparable Indian towns, though there are several neat homestay and top-end options around. Kaippallil Homestay ( 230203 www.kaippallil.com r Rs 200-800) Up the hill and away from (most of) the clatter of the bazaar, Kaippallil has several unique rooms in an attractively landscaped house. There are inviting sitting areas and the rooms are eclectically but tastefully...

Around Manali Hamta Pass Trek

Easily accessible from Manali, this four- or five-day trek crosses the 4270m Hamta Pass over the Pir Panjal. The trailhead is the village of Prini, accessible by bus on the Manali-Naggar road, but it's camping all the way so organised treks are the way to go - see p310 for recommendations. From Prini, the route climbs through pine forests to Sethan, then open meadows to Chikha. A waterfall campsite gives time to acclimatise before reaching the foot of the pass at Juara. The climb to the pass is...

Trekking

Charles from Mt Abu Treks ( 91-9414154854 Hotel Lake Palace) arranges superlative, tailor-made treks ranging from gentle village visits to longer, wilder expeditions into Mt Abu Wildlife Reserve. He's passionate and extremely knowledgeable about the local flora and fauna. Prices vary from Rs 380 per person for a half-day trek or Rs 530 for a full day (including lunch) to Rs 1250 for an overnight village trek (including all meals). The staff at Shri Ganesh Hotel ( 235062 lalit _ganesh...

Info

About 18km southeast of town, Dhanushkodi is a long, windswept surf beach and sandpit with an end-of-the-world feel. Other than the beach and some straggling fishing shanties, there's not much here, but it's a pleasant walk to the end of the peninsula where you can gaze out at Adam's Bridge, the chain of reefs, sandbanks and islets that almost connects Sri Lanka with India, 33km away. Legend says that these are the stepping stones created by Rama to follow Ravana, in his bid to rescue Sita in...

Sleeping

Many Udaipur guesthouse owners are slowly realising the value of sound environmental practice. Aside from the obvious issue of water conservation in a city desperate to maintain a full lake, across the skyline you'll see solar-heating panels popping up faster than satellite dishes. Even the maharaja recently got in on the act by investing in a state-of-the-art solar-powered rickshaw as an example of the city's commitment to positive tourism. One of the catalysts for this ecoawakening is an...

BUDGET

Mrs Rajalaxmi's ( 27442460 r Rs 50) One of several cheap family-run places near the Five Rathas, this is friendly and homy but pretty basic. Rooms have fans and electricity, and there's a communal squat toilet. Sakthi Family Guest House ( 27442577 6 East Raja St r Rs 60-150) This rambling old house in the town centre is owned by the affable Mrs Chandra Palani, headmistress of the local primary school. Rooms outside the house are very basic and guests are treated like part of the furniture....

Festivals In Rajasthan

Camel Festival (Jan Bikaner, p252) All conceivable types of camel fun. Nagaur Camel Fair (Jan Feb Nagaur, p242) Serious yet colourful camel and livestock trading fair that attracts thousands of rural people. Desert Festival (Feb Jaisalmer, p243) A chance for moustache-twirlers to compete in the 'Mr Desert' contest, and a host of other desert delights. Elephant Festival (Mar Jaipur, p165) Parades, polo and human-versus-elephant tugs-of-war. Thar Festival (Mar Barmer, p252) Just after the...

Tea Estate Getaways

Colonial-era tea estate bungalows offer relaxing, do-nothing heritage-style getaways. Bookings are essential. Sangsua ( 2385075 bookings 9954451548 www.heri tagetourismindia.com sangsua.html d Rs 1500-1800) Sangsua dates from the 1870s and has wonderful lawns and verandas. There's some antique furniture but standards are homy rather than lavish. The site is 7km down rural tracks from Km 442 on NH37 (the Jorhat-Deragaon road) or take Jorhat-Furkating local trains (7am and 5pm) to Moabondha...

History

This area belonged to the Buddhist chogyals (kings) of Sikkim until 1780, when it was annexed by the invading Gurkhas from Nepal. The Gurkhas' aggressive territorial expansion led to growing conflicts with the British and, after several battles, the East India Company gained control of the region in 1816. The company then returned most of the lands back to Sikkim in exchange for British control over any future border disputes. During one such dispute in 1828, two British officers stumbled...

Customs

Visitors are allowed to bring 1L each of wine and spirits and 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco into India duty free. Officials may ask tourists to enter expensive items such as video cameras and laptop computers on a 'Tourist Baggage Re-export' form to ensure they are taken out of India when you depart. There are no duty-free allowances when entering India from Nepal. Technically you're supposed to declare any amount of cash or travellers cheques over US 10,000 on arrival, and...

Ashram Stays

While most travellers make a beeline for Rishikesh to partake in yoga, spirituality and stay in an ashram, Haridwar has several excellent ashrams where you'll be surrounded by serious ashramites and fewer foreigners. You can join in with ashram activities as long as you obey the strict rules. Everything - lodging, meals, religious practice - is usually free, but a donation is expected. Most ashrams try to be self-sufficient mini-utopias - some grow their own herbs that are made into Ayurvedic...

Pathani Samanta Planetarium

This interesting planetarium 2581613 JL Nehru Marg admission Rs 12 S 2-6pm Tue-Sun, show in English 4pm features hour-long 'out-of-this-world' shows. Orissa Tourism 2431299 www.orissatourism.gov.in behind Panthanivas Bhubaneswar, Lewis Rd S 10am-5pm Mon-Sat, closed 2nd Sat in month offers a free guided tour of Bhubaneswar's temples at 8am on the last Sunday of the month. The tour, starting and finishing points are different each time, so contact Orissa Tourism for details. A city tour offered...

E

East India Company 47,49 economy 37,56 electricity 1125 Elephanta Island 797-8,990 elephants 82,84,994 Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary 1001 Dubare Forest Reserve 907 Havelock Island 1119 Indira Gandhi Annamalai Wildlife Sanctuary 1093 Nagarhole National Park 904 Neyyar Dam Sanctuary 968 Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary 1002 Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary 988 rides 459 safaris 91, 472,567 ThrlssurPooram 1016 Ellora 809-11,810, gt 91 embassies 1134-5 EME Electrical Mechanical Engineering Temple 729...

In The Park

For most accommodation in the park, book in advance, in person, with the WWO in Ooty p1098 . In low season, you may be able to get accommodation if it's available by asking directly at the park reception centre. The following three park-run places are walking distance from park reception and on the banks of the river. Minivet Dormitory r per person Rs 35 A clean place, with two four-bed rooms, each with private bathroom with cold water only. Theppakadu Log House d q Rs 330 560 and Sylvan Lodge...

Nainital

Kumaon's largest town and favourite hill resort, Nainital gets crowded with holidaying families and honeymooners during peak seasons. Occupying a steep forested valley around the deep, green volcanic lake Naini, it's an attractive, upbeat place founded by homesick Brits reminded of the Cumbrian Lake District. Disaster struck here in December 1880 when a major landslide buried a hotel and 150 people, creating the memorial recreation ground now known as the Flats. Plenty of hotels are set in the...

Bhavnagar

Bhavnagar is a busy industrial centre that makes a useful base for journeys to nearby Shatrunjaya and Velavadar National Park. Founded in 1743, Bhavnagar has long been an important cotton trading post, but now supplements its survival on diamonds, plastics and ship parts - Bhavnagar lock gate keeps ships afloat in the port at low tide. The tangled bazaars and crumbling wooden houses of the old city feel remarkably untouched by the outside world, but otherwise there's little to see, and tourists...

Bylakuppe

In the exodus from Tibet that followed the 1959 Chinese invasion, thousands of Tibetan refugees settled around Bylakuppe, 5km southeast of Kushalnagar, where the Karnataka government gifted them 1200 hectares of land. The area has since sprouted several villages centred around monasteries where maroon-and-yellow-robed monks are a common sight and Tibetan arts and crafts are practised. The atmosphere in the villages is heart-warmingly welcoming. Contact Namdroling Monastery below or the Sera Jey...

Joshimath

Reached by a hair-raising mountain road from Rishikesh that hugs steep-sided valleys for the final few hours, Joshimath is a ramshackle two-street town that serves as the gateway to Auli ski resort, Badrinath Temple, and treks to the Valley of Flowers, Hem Kund and Kuari Pass. As such it's a major destination for Hindu and Sikh pilgrims as well as trekkers. The town itself is a rather ugly administrative centre full of rusting rooftops, erratic power supply and limited places to eat, but it's a...

Nehru Centenary Tribal Museum

Andhra Pradesh's 33 tribal groups, based mostly in the northeastern part of the state, comprise several million people. This museum Map p939 23391486, ext 306 Mahavir Marg, Masab Tank admission free S 10.30am-5pm Mon-Sat , run by the government's Tribal Welfare Department, exhibits photographs, dioramas of village life, musical instruments and some exquisite Naikpod masks. It's basic, but you'll get a glimpse into the cultures of these fringe peoples. The library here has books on Indian...

K E R A L A

To Coimbatore 20km Indira Gandhi Annamalai I Wildlife Sanctuary 80km I Kodaikanal 150km f To Coimbatore 20km Indira Gandhi Annamalai I Wildlife Sanctuary 80km I Kodaikanal 150km f Coonoor is one of the three Nilgiri hill stations -Ooty, Kotagiri and Coonoor see the Nilgiri Hills map, p1096 - that lie above the southern plains. Climbing up out of the busy market area and looking down over the sea of red tile rooftops to the slopes behind, there's a strong sense of what hill stations were...

Rajaji National Park

This unspoilt park Indian foreigner upto 3 days Rs 40 350, camera free Rs 50, video 2500 5000 S15 Nov-15 Jun , covering 820 sq km in the forested foothills near Haridwar, is best known for its wild elephants, numbering around 450 to 500 at last count. As well as elephants the park contains some 38 tigers and 250 leopards although they are not as easily seen as these numbers suggest. They have thousands of chital spotted deer and hundred of sambars India's largest species of deer to feed on. A...

Marine National Park

This gorgeous, isolated park Indian foreigner Rs 30 250, Narara car permit Rs 35 200, camera Rs 50 250, video Rs 2500 US 200 SOct-Jun stretches 170km along the coast and encompasses 42 islands, 33 of which are ringed by coral reefs. It's rich in marine and bird life. The best time to visit is from December to March. The Forest Office left administers the park, or you can arrange a visit or a sailing trip to Mandvi through Hotel President p756 . It takes two hours to reach Pirotan island timings...

Benaulim

Less than 2km south of Colva, Benaulim is much more peaceful and rustic, with numerous guesthouses and small hotels spread over a wide area. Jacinta Moraes Tourist House 2770187 d Rs 150250 With chickens squawking about the house and garden and a bubbly woman in charge you're guaranteed a memorable stay. The clean rooms are a bargain at twice the price. Rosario's Inn 2770636 d from Rs 250 Rosario's, next to the football ground, is a huge, good-value backpackers inn just a couple of minutes'...

Kathakali

There are several places in Kochi where you can view Kathakali see the boxed text, below . The art form of Kathakali crystallised at around the same time as Shakespeare was scribbling his plays, though elements of it stem from 2nd-century temple rituals. The Kathakali performance is the dramatised presentation of a play, usually based on the Hindu epics the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Puranas. All the great themes are covered - righteousness and evil, frailty and courage, poverty and...

Mayabunder Around

In Mayabunder there's an unexpected gem in the shape of Sea'n'Sand 273454 thanzin_the _great yahoo.co.in r Rs 200-500 , a simple lodge, restaurant and bar overlooking the water 1km south of the town centre. Run by Titus and Elizabeth, along with their young family, it's low-key and will appeal to travellers looking for an experience away from the crowds. Titus organises a range of boat-based day tours per tour from Rs 500-2500 that, depending on the season

Little Rann Sanctuary

This is not a region for the faint-hearted. The barren, blindingly white land of Little Rann is nature at its most harsh and compelling, and home to India's last remaining population of khur Asiatic wild ass . There's also a huge bird population, and the area is one of the few places in India where flamingos are known to breed naturally. Khurs and flamingos are protected in the 4953-sq-km Little Rann Sanctuary admission Indian foreigner Rs 5 US 5, camera Rs 20 US 5, video Rs 2500 US 200 S...

Tabo Gompa

The choskhor sacred compound at Tabo was founded in AD 996 by the Great Translator, Ringchen Zangpo, who hired the best Buddhist mural painters from Kashmir to decorate the walls. Visitors must arrange a time to view the murals with the monks at the modern monastery new door. The compound is centred on the huge gTsug Lha-Khang Assembly Hall , a dark and atmospheric chamber ringed by exquisite murals and suspended life-sized stucco statues of 33 bodhisattvas. Together with the four-sided effigy...

Dimapur

Nagaland's flat, largely uninspiring commercial centre was the capital of a big Kachari kingdom that ruled much of Assam before the Ahoms showed up. All that remains are some curious, strangely phallic pillars of a former palace complex dotted about scraggy Rajbari Park admission free near an interesting market. The only reason tourists visit Dimapur is to transfer to Kohima. Right beside the NST bus station, the Tourist Lodge 226355 Kohima Rd dm s d Rs 40 150 200 is a basic but acceptable...

Mosque of Dilawar Khan

Built by Dilawar Khan in 1405, this mosque is Mandu's earliest Islamic building. Typically for this era, there are many Hindu elements to the architecture, notably the pillars and ceilings inside. Turkish Bath amp Champa Baodi Champa Baodi, so called because its water supposedly smelt as sweet as the champak flower, is a step-well surrounded by subterranean vaulted chambers cooled by Munja Tank. Stars and octagons perforate the domed roofs of the adjacent hammam, which had hot and cold water...

Mothanguri Lodge

Staying at Mothanguri within the park is Manas's top highlight. Two simple, lonely lodges are 20km north of Bansbari beside the unguarded Bhutan border crossing. Choose the seven-room upper lodge with its enchanting views across the Beki River and a stuffed man-eating tiger in the lounge. Bring food and diesel fuel for the generator . Book months ahead through the Manas Field Director's Office 261413 abhijitrabha hotmail.com Main Rd, Barpeta Rd . Guwahati-Kokrajhar buses serve Pathsala junction...

Himachal Pradesh

McLeod Ganj is the volunteering capital of Himachal Pradesh, with numerous opportunities to work with Tibetan refugees, both long and short term. See p325 for more details. About 6km south of Manali in the village of Rangri, the Himalayan Buddhist Cultural School 01902-251845 palkithakur yahoo.com has placements for experienced teachers who are willing to volunteer for six months or more. This is a working school, so call or email before turning up on the doorstep. Volunteer placements for...

Kisli

Apart from Baghira Log Huts, the following are within 500m of Khatia Gate. There are some small dhabas in the same area. Panther Resort 277233 dm Rs 240, r Rs 350-900 The best budget option is run by friendly Tushar, who has a handle on everything going on in Kisli. Basic, fan- and air-cooled rooms are housed in emerald-green bungalows and meals are cooked over an open fire. Pugmark Resort 277291 pugmark1kanha yahoo .co.in s d Rs 800 1400, American Plan Rs 1200 2400, Jungle Plan Rs 900 1800 The...

Manipur

This 'Jewelled Land' is home to Naga, Kuki, Chin and many other tribal peoples but the main grouping is the predominantly neo-Vaishnavite Meitei, who are battling to have Meitei script used in local schools. Manipuris are famed for traditional dances, spicy multi-dish thalis and the sport of polo that they claim to have invented. Manipur's forested hills provide cover for rare birds, drug traffickers and dozens of guerrilla armies making it by far the northeast's most dangerous state....

Garo Hills

Although administratively within Meghalaya, the rolling green Garo Hills are easier to visit from Guwahati than from Shillong. The landscape's undulations vary from charming patchworks of rice field, cassava-patch and orange orchard to sad slash-and-burn hillsides of depleted jungle choked with gourd-creepers and bamboo thickets. Towns aren't visually distinctive, but cottages in small hamlets remain traditionally fashioned from bam boo-weave matting and neatly cropped palm thatch. Around 80 of...

Eating Drinking

Chamba is known for its chukh - a chilli sauce consisting of red and green peppers, lemon juice and mustard oil, served as a condiment in most restaurants. Most places are open from 8am to 10pm. Caf Ravi View Chowgan snacks Rs 20-40 h 9am-9pm A modern HPTDC-run snack house, on the river side of Chowgan, serving Indian and Chinese fast food - including a bargain veg thalis Rs 35 - plus icy cold beers. Jagan Restaurant Museum Rd dishes Rs 25-100 Opposite the Dogra Bazar, this place offers the...

Padum To Darcha Via Shinkun La

This extremely popular seven- to eight-day route follows the Tsarap Valley east towards Darcha on the Manali-Leh hwy in Lahaul. A road is slowly being built along the valley, allowing trekkers to cut out several stages at the start and end of the trek. Starting from Padum, the route runs east to Raru on foot or by jeep then up to Purne in two moderate days. Most trekkers then detour north to the cave monastery at Phuktal and spend a second night in Purne to prepare for the sustained climb to...

Sleeping Eating

Most places offer significant discounts, except during festivals. Meera Hotel 234031 High Way Rd s d tr Rs 120 180 240, with AC Rs 500 750 1000, thalis Rs 40 a This hotel is on the main approach road, and rather on the outskirts, but has a good range of rooms - those on the top floor are cheap and cheerful, while the deluxe rooms are comfortable. There's a popular dining hall, which does good thalis. Kokila Dhiraj Dham 236746 Hospital Rd r Rs 300 This Reliance hotel is seriously good value...

Other Areas

Hotel Ajaya Map p426 2203707 fax 2202224 Kabir Chaura Rd s d from Rs 200 300, with AC Rs 500 700 a The rooms vary a lot in this generally well-kept place near Hotel Buddha - those with AC are much nicer and some have balconies. The hotel also has a restaurant and bar. Hotel Buddha Map p426 2203686 hotel buddha rediffmail.com s Rs 350-400, d Rs 450-500, d with AC from Rs 650 750 0 Buddha has long been one of the better budget hotels in the Lahurabir area with light modern rooms with TV, built...

Nimatighat

This windswept sandbank is the departure point for photogenically overcrowded ferries to Majuli Island. On an otherwise deserted river-island reached from here by private launch Rs 50 , newly opened Mou Chapori River Resort 9435357171 hornbill121 rediff.com furnished tent bamboo hut luxury cottage d Rs 600 1200 2000 has traditionally styled hut-accommodation. From here the one-day group tours Rs 800 per person are a particularly convivial way to visit Majuli Island. Book via Rhino Travels p598...

Lesbian Japan

For details of major bus routes from Harid-war, see the table, below. Private deluxe buses and sleeper buses run to Agra seat sleeper Rs 240 400 , Delhi Rs 180 300 , Jaipur Rs 350 450 and Pushkar Rs 450 550 . They leave from a stand around the corner from the GMVN tourist office and any travel agent in town can make a booking. The main taxi stand is outside the train station on Railway Rd. Official rates include Chilla for Rajaji National Park, Rs 300 , Rishikesh Rs 460 and Dehra Dun Rs 650 ....

Kakkabe

The region around the village of Kakkabe is an ideal base if you're planning an assault on Kodagu's highest peak, Tadiyendamol. The small and picturesque Nalakunad Palace admission free h 9am-5pm , 3km from Kakkabe, is the recently restored hunting lodge of a Kodagu king and dates from 1794. Within walking distance of here you'll find several excellent places to stay. Hill Honey Valley Estate 238339 huts amp r with shared bathroom from Rs 200, d with private bathroom from Rs 700 is a wonderful...

Sonamarg

Set in a sweeping, forested valley, Sonamarg was once a popular trekking destination, but the town now has a heavy military presence. The road to Leh and Kargil passes through Sonamarg, so you can enjoy the scenery from the bus, even if you don't stop over. For those who do stay, J amp KTDC 2417208 can arrange ponies for day trips to beauty spots like the spectacular Thajiwas Glacier, 4km above town. For accommodation and meals, try the well-run J amp KTDC Tourist Huts 2417208 dm Rs 150, r Rs...

Deeg

Built by Suraj Mahl in the mid-18th century as a summer resort for the Bharatpur rulers, Deeg was also the second capital of Bharatpur state. The town held a famous battle in which the maharaja's forces withstood a combined Mughal and Maratha army of 80,000 men. Deeg is now famous for the Suraj Mahl's Palace Gopal Bhavan admission Rs 100 h 10am-5pm Sat-Thu , one of India's most beautiful and delicately proportioned buildings. It is splendidly preserved and feels like a time capsule - it was...

Cooking Courses

You might find yourself so inspired by Indian food that you want to take home a little Indian kitchen know-how - the listings below represent just a few of the ever-increasing number of places offering cooking courses. Some are professionally run, others are very informal, and each is of varying duration. Most require at least a few days' advance notice. Bhimsen's Cooking Class p325 McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh Cook amp Eat p1006 Kochi, Kerala Deepa c o Saraswati Music School p194 Pushkar,...

Pristine Beach Resort alexpristine

Hotmail.com huts Rs 100-150, cottages with private bathroom Rs 250-400 Run by an affable couple, these cute huts, good restaurant and a licence to serve alcohol make this a cut above most places. The bar stays open late for night owls but quietly enough to allow other guests to sleep . It's on a nice bit of beach. Island Vinnie's Tropical Beach Cabanas 282187 www.islandvinnie.com cabanas without with bathroom Rs 450 1200 New in 2006, these comfortably furnished pink canvas tents, raised on...

Kumily

There's a growing homestay scene in Kumily offering better bang-for-your-rupee than the town's uninspiring hotels. Green View Homestay 211015 www.sureshgreen view.com Bypass Rd s Rs 150, d incl breakfast Rs 300-600 With loads of greenery, there are great large and airy doubles here, all with balconies and small sitting areas - though the singles are tiny. The garden out the back has hammocks to laze in and the hosts are very friendly. HIU'IM Coffee Inn 222763 coffeeinn sancharnet .in Thekkady...

BUS

The bus station has a ticket office S 8am-noon amp 1.30-7pm off Link Rd No 2. There are regular buses to Jhansi Rs 90, five hours including deluxe services Rs 170, 9am and 11.15am the second connects with the Jhansi-Delhi Shatabdi train. There's a bus to Agra Rs 240, 10 hours, 8am and, on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, a night bus to Varanasi Rs 190, 14 hours, 3pm . Three buses run to Satna Rs 80, hours, 7.30am, 2pm and 3pm and there are regular services to Mahoba Rs 40, four hours and to Madla...

Hoysala Architecture

The Hoysalas, who ruled this part of the Deccan between the 11th and 13th centuries, originated in the hill tribes of the Western Ghats and for a long time were feudatories of the Chalukyas. They didn't become fully independent until about 1190, though they first rose to prominence under their leader Tinayaditya 1047-78 , who took advantage of the waning power of the Gangas and Rashtrakutas. Under Bittiga 1110-52 , later named Vishnuvardhana, they began to take off on a course of their own it...

Kutch Creativity

The crafts of Kutch are beautiful and intricate, with a diversity that reflects the differing traditions of different tribes. Numerous local cooperatives invest in social projects and preserve the area's artistic heritage by ensuring work is not merely market driven. Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan 256281 11 Noolan Colony, Bhuj is a grass-roots organisation, comprising 8000 rural women 2000 artisans , that pays members a dividend of the profits and invests money to meet social needs. The...

Airport Area

Hotel Tarra Map pp120-1 26783677 A-72, St 2, Ma-hipalpur Extn, National Hwy 8 s d Rs 450 495 a Hallelujah Budget travellers have somewhere respectable to stay if their flight departs at a silly hour. Tarra has eight ordinary but comfy rooms arranged around a small garden courtyard. Its location, in a quiet unpaved lane, means you can sleep like a baby. Passengers departing within 24 hours of arriving by plane, can avail of the retiring rooms of the domestic terminal 25675126 per person Rs 505 a...

Around Khajuraho Raneh Falls

These waterfalls 07686-272622 Indian foreigner Rs 10 200, compulsory guide Rs 40, video Rs 200, autorick-shaw car entry Rs 15 30 S 6am-6pm are 18km from Khajuraho - a Rs 300 autorickshaw or Rs 400 taxi return journey. While the falls are only 30m high they are wide and tumble as a churning mass over black and red rocks. There are boats for hire Indian foreigner Rs 50 100 and it's possible to view gharial or mugger river crocodiles 1km away at Ken Gharial Sanctuary S1 Oct-30 Jun .

Gramphu to Kaza

From the dhaba at Gramphu, the road to Spiti follows the gorge of the Chandra River, which was carved by glaciers as the Himalaya thrust upwards 50 million years ago. There are few permanent settlements, but buses stop for chai at Chattru, a small cluster of dhabas around the first bridge over the Chandra. There's second bridge and a single stone-hut dhaba at Battal, where a rough track runs 14km north to lovely Chandratal Moon Lake , a tranquil glacial pool set amongst snow peaks at 4270m....

Pahalgam

Set in a magical valley beside the Lidder River, Pahalgam is framed by pine forests and snow-covered peaks that bear more than a passing similarity to the Rocky Mountains. This was once Kashmir's most popular resort, but today it exists in a state of limbo, empty for most of the year, but deluged with visitors during the annual Amarnath yatra pilgrimage from June to August see p362 . Outside of the pilgrimage season, this is a fine spot for walking, pony trekking or just enjoying the cool,...

The Kishkinda Trust

The Kishkinda Trust TKT 08533-267777 wwwthekishkindatrust.org runs programmes and builds business opportunities in Anegundi that benefit both the local community and help preserve the village's heritage and culture. The first project in 1997 created a cottage industry of crafts using locally produced cloth, banana fibres and river grasses. It now employs over 500 women and the attractive crafts are sold across India you can view the range at the Hoova Craft Shop amp Caf h 9.30am-5pm Mon-Sat,...

Old Manali

Uphill from Manali on the far side of the Manaslu Nala stream, Old Manali is a well-established traveller centre. Most hotels and restaurants close down for winter in late October. Jungle Bungalow Map p307 252278 s d with shared bathroom Rs 100 150 Firmly targeting the backpacker market, this faded but inexpensive guesthouse has sparsely furnished rooms and big communal balconies. It's on the path above the Club House. Veer Paying Guest House Map p307 252710 veer-guesthouse rediffmail.com r...

Chennai To Mamallapuram

Chennai's urban sprawl continues a fair way south before opening up on the East Coast Rd to Mamallapuram. Along this stretch, known as the Coromandel Coast, are several small beach resorts and wonderful artists' communities, along with less fortunate tsunami-ravaged fishing villages still slowly being rebuilt. In the village of Injambalkkam, 18km south of Chennai, the Cholamandal Artists' Village 044-24490092 cholamandalartvillage.com admission free S 9.30am-6.30pm , set on 4 hectares of land,...

Around Kalimpong Teesta Bazaar

About 16km west of Kalimpong, Teesta Bazaar is an important centre for white-water rafting. Most people book in Darjeeling see p537 for details or at the DGHC office in Kalimpong, but you can also book here with the DGHC 03552-268261 Chitrey Wayside Inn, NH-31A , about 1.5km from Teesta Bazaar along the road to Kalimpong. The friendly Chitrey Wayside Inn dm Rs 100, d with private bathroom amp geyser Rs 450 boasts a bar, restaurant and balcony overlooking the jungle banks of the Teesta River....

Bfc

Rooms are sparsely furnished but the colour scheme is bound to tickle you pink. Car hire can be arranged. Hotel Vishal 23562123 vishalhotel hotmail.com 1575 Main Bazaar s d Rs 200 300 ai A labyrinth of a place with scrawny cats creeping through the corridors, Vishal's rooms are a real mixed bag, some larger and with cleaner sheets than others. Hotel Downtown 41541529 4583 Main Bazaar s d Rs 250 300 The rooms are smallish and minimally furnished but this hotel is still in better shape then many...

Scenic Flights

For eagle-eye mountain views, Sikkim Tourism 281372 stdcsikkim yahoo.co.in arranges scenic helicopter flights. Book at least three days ahead. Prices are for up to five passengers four for Khangchendzonga ridge brief approximately 20 minutes buzz over Gangtok Rs 6900 circuit of West Sikkim Rs 46,750, one hour Yumthang Valley Rs 55,250, 70 minutes Khangchendzonga ridge Rs 63,750, 1'A hours

Yoga Meditation

Varanasi has plenty of opportunities for yoga courses, but beware of 'fake' yoga teachers who are mainly interested in a hands-on lesson with young females. Some guesthouses also advertise yoga classes on their rooftops, which are occasionally free to guests. The following are all genuine places located around the old city. International Yoga Clinic amp Meditation Centre Map p429 2397139 gurujivyas satyam.net.in Near Man Mandir Ghat but difficult to find, Yogi Pra-kash Shankar Vyas teaches...

Music Dance

Varanasi's old city has several music centres where you can learn to play instruments such as the sitar and tabla. The family-run but grandly named International Music Centre Ashram Map p429 2452303 keshavaraonayak hotmail .com is hidden in the tangle of backstreets near Rana Ghat but worth seeking out. Sitar, tabla flute and classical dance tuition is Rs 150 per hour, and concerts are held every Saturday and Wednesday evening at 8pm Rs 50 . Ankit Music House 9336567134 Sakarkand Gali , near...

TOP END

Villa Jacaranda 2610296 www.villa-jacaranda.biz d Rs 3300-4400 The ultimate in understated luxury, this romantic retreat has several huge, bright, beautiful rooms with balconies, individually decorated with a chic blend of modern and period touches. Front rooms have sea views the roof-terrace room is really impressive. Taj Garden Retreat 2603000 www.tajhotels.com r US 120-145 a0 Luxury, '80s-style this opulent but slightly dated resort has big rooms, an Ayurvedic centre, bar and health club....