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home > recommended index

Recommended index - states covered

The recommended section contains some basic information and thoughts on some of the places in India that have made an impression on us during our backpacking trips and travels on the subcontinent. The information is aimed mainly at backpackers and budget travellers. These listings will be expanded over time.

The recommended section has three levels:
  • top level; basically this index page, which contains shortened information for each Indian state we cover, plus links to further information on second and third level pages
  • second level; full info and descriptive text for each state, plus a shortened version of the text and info for each place within the state
  • third level; full descriptions and background information for individual places (e.g. Manali, Kochi etc) with a full page for each place

For a description of the rationale behind the recommended section and an explanation of some of the reference items included in the listings click here. Please bear in mind that the listings are very much personal choices and won't reflect everybody's tastes or opinions.

listings: please click on a state name to view the info.

Himachal Pradesh

 Goa (GA)
state capital: Panaji (Panjim)
 population: 1.3 million location: South West India
• go to the main page of the Goa section
• popup quick ref statistics on Goa
state description: On the glossy pages of holiday brochures Goa is everyones idea of a idyllic sun-drenched paradise; palm fringed beaches of endless white sand facing on to the Arabian Sea, plenty of sun, fishing boats silhouetted against glorious sunsets, welcoming people and cheap booze. The main towns of Margao... more about Goa (full listing)
 season: October to April , with the main season November to February; (peak of monsoon: July)
 tourist spots: Anjuna, Arambol, Fort Aguada, Candolim, Calangute, Colva, Benaulim, Varca, Palolem, Panaji
our  listings: BenaulimCabo de RamaCandolimColvaMargao
PalolemPanaji (one place per page)
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 Himachal Pradesh (HP)
state capital: Shimla
 population: 6.02 million location: North West India, Himalayas
• go to the main page of the Himachal Pradesh section
• popup quick ref statistics on Himachal Pradesh
state description: Himachal Pradesh is a relatively small state in the North West of India, partly located in the Himalayas, with a well established tourist industry catering to everyone from party heads to trekkers and all points in between. The Capital, Shimla, is the former Summer Capital of the British Raj at the time when the... more about Himachal Pradesh (full listing)
 season: May to October (monsoon July to August), winter months can be bitterly cold, usually snow fall in January to February
 tourist spots: Manali, Shimla, Spiti Valley, Kinnaur, McLeodganj, Parvati Valley, Kasol
our  listings: ChindiKarsogKibberManaliNaggar (one place per page)
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 Karnataka (KA)
state capital: Bangalore
 population: 52.9 million location: South West Coast of India
• go to the main page of the Karnataka section
• popup quick ref statistics on Karnataka
state description: Situated in the south of India, this big state with a total area of 191,791 square km has a coast line of a little over 300 km or so between Goa and Kerala. What we have seen of it makes it one of our favourite Indian states. People are extremely friendly and helpful, and the peace and quiet of the forested... more about Karnataka (full listing)
 season: October to March, rest of the year fairly hot
 tourist spots: Mysore (which a lot of travellers wax lyrical about), Hampi with its ancient temple ruins, India's IT metropolis Bangalore and the beaches of Gokarn
our  listings: AnkolaJog FallsKalinadi reservoirMurdeshwarUdipi (one place per page)
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 Kerala (KE)
state capital: Thiruvananthapuram
 population: 31.8 million location: South West Coast of India
• go to the main page of the Kerala section
• popup quick ref statistics on Kerala
state description: In comparison to most other Indian states, Kerala is relatively small; a slim strip of land bounded by Karnataka and the Southern Ghats (including the famous Nilgiri hills) on the eastern, inland side, and the Lakshadweep Sea on the Malabar Coast. For such a small state it has a wide variety of ... more about Kerala (full listing)
 season: November to February (rest of the year hot and humid)
 tourist spots: Kochi, Kovalam, Varkala, Allapuzha to Kollam backwater trip, Munnar hill station
our  listings: BekalGuruvayurKochiKovalamKuttipuram
ThalasseriVarkala (one place per page)
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The why and what for of the recommended section

Guidebook syndrome
Like most backpackers and independent travellers, we usually travel with a guidebook to get some idea of what we are letting ourselves in for, but over time have become extremely disillusioned with the bland writing, long out of date information and inconsistent opinions these guides usually offer. The air of neutrality and the number of writers with opposing likes and dislikes prevents these "guidebook gurus" from telling you when somewhere isn't worth the effort, or leads you into some dhaba they claim is “the best food in India” while ignoring the place round the corner that sells the Chicken Kiev you’ve been craving for 3 months, just because it doesn't fit their politically correct 70’s veggie world view.

The travellers grapevine
The best recommendations and advice always come from people you meet on the road, and in that spirit we’ve put this section together to let others know of the places we liked - and the ones we didn't, to offer a few basic facts and background to give you a feel for the place and how to get there, plus the date the information was current so you can gauge the accuracy. We have also added a note on the size of the place where it is applicable.

Off the beaten track
While some listings are our impressions of well known backpackers destinations, others are not found in the guidebooks or only rate a bare mention. Many are places we have passed through while touring by motorcycle, and may be rather inaccessible to those travelling by train and bus - or may be only worthwhile as short breaks from the heat and dust of the National Highways. In the same vein, some places are less about arriving than getting there; the landscape, villages and people that are only really accessible if you have your own transport and would not be worth the effort of 3 days on a local bus. To this end we’ve included a “whos it for?” note to give an idea if its worth the effort.

The living "heart of India"
There are many towns and villages in India that lack any obvious sort of tourism pull, yet have an undefinable quality that makes them worth visiting and watching the world go by for a few days. It is often the fact that they are simply very "typical" Indian towns gives them that edge that the pre-packaged experience lacks. They are usually the places that you find while going from A to B; Bhavnagar in Gujarat, Mandi in HP and Mahad in Maharastra fit the bill. These towns and villages - and the people who live there - are the heart and soul of modern India.

Subjective recommendations
We’ve tried as far as we can to be honest in our assessments, but will offer an opinion - good or bad - where we feel it is warranted. At the end of the day, these are very much the impressions of two people who know what they like, and you may have similar or different tastes to us, so please bear that in mind when viewing the information presented.

A note on food and costs
As a guide to the words “expensive” and “cheap” when used to describe hotels or restaurants; we think 100 Rs is cheap for a room, and 500 Rs is expensive; when in touristy areas we will usually spend somewhere around 80 - 100 RS each on a meal, in a major city, more. To put “great food” in context Kirsten is a lover of spicy dhaba food, I wish India was littered with cafes that sold a full (very non veg and chilli free) english fry up of the "heart attack on a plate" variety. We tend to agree somewhere around kebabs.

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 Weblog updates
 India blog 29 Sep 04
 Photo diary 24 Jan 09
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 Himachal Pradesh
 See also
 India states map
 Goa gallery
 Himachal Prad gallery
 South W Coast gallery
 India Stats
 national country name: Bharat (Hindi)
 capital: New Delhi
 population: 1.06 billion
 area: 3,166,414 sq km (appr. equiv to Western Europe)
 population density: 310 persons per sq km
 urban: 26.8%
 rural: 73.2%
 GNI (GNP): USD 470 per capita per year
 highest point: 8598m (Kanchenjunga)
 languages: 22 official + 1600 minor languages and dialects (dec2003)
 national language: Hindi
 major languages: 40.2% Hindi; 8.3% Bengali; 7.9% Telugu (1991)
 number of states: 28 + 7 union territories
 money: Indian rupee
 time: GMT + 5,5 hours
 electricity: 240V, 50Hz
 government form: constitutional democracy
 government: Congress party led UPA coalition
 Prime Minister: Manmohan Singh
 President: Pratibha Patil
 religion: 80.5% Hindu, 13.4% Muslim, 2.3% Christian, 1.9% Sikh, 0.8% Buddhist, 0.4% Jain, 0.01% Zoroastrian, 1.3% other (2001)
 literacy rate: 64.8% (male 75.3; fem 53.7%) (2001)
 gender ratio: 933 fem to 1000 male (2001)
 child (0-6 yrs) gender ratio: 927 fem to 1000 male (2001)
 life expectancy: 61.5yr male; 62.7yr fem
 daily calories intake: 2,388 per capita
 see full stats page
 All recommended
 Recommended index
 Himachal Pradesh
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