INDIA

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10 BOOKS ON INDIA TO READ BEFORE YOU TRAVEL

If you’re interested in reading books on India and don’t know where to start, then we’ve got it covered. Here are 10 of our all-time favourites

4 THINGS YOU MUST DO IN AMRITSAR

A spectacular temple, a turning point in history, cabaret at the border, and breakfast nirvana. How to spend two days in Amritsar

4 REASONS WHY WE LOVED DELHI

How we fell in love with India’s chaotic capital and why it’s such a must-visit for travellers

WHY YOU SHOULD MAKE LEH YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE HOLIDAY DESTINATION

Everything you need to know about getting the most out of an epic trip to India’s spectacular high-altitude adventure capital

LADAKH’S UNMISSABLE NUBRA VALLEY

How to take an epic two-day return journey from Leh to Turtuk in Ladakh’s gorgeous Nubra Valley

WHY DRIVING IN INDIA IS A BAD IDEA

If you’re thinking of taking a road trip in India you might want to read this first

THE SUBLIME COLOURS OF PANGONG TSO

Across the world’s third-highest mountain road to Pangong Tso, the world’s highest saltwater lake

A TASTE OF KASHMIR

Lakes, mountains and tales of yetis in India’s northernmost state

RAJASTHAN IN PICTURES

The sights, the smells, the sounds of Rajasthan – India’s Land of the Maharajahs

THE POCKET-SIZED GEM OF JAIPUR

How a humble Indian tuk-tuk driver in Jaipur restored our faith in human nature

WHERE WE’VE STAYED

DELHI

Hotel City Star
 Hotel City Star

Hotel City Star

Nights
5

Cost
2920 rupees per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast, air-con, wifi

Rating ****
Friendliness 3 Cleanliness 4 Location 4 Comfort 4 Facilities 5 Food 4 Value for money 3

What we thought
Very comfortable for our first and last few nights in India, with good wifi and modern, new fixtures and fittings. 15-minute walking distance to the main bazaar. Good buffet breakfast, too.

Website

AGRA

Coral Tree Guest House
Coral Tree Guest House

Coral Tree Guest House

Nights
1

Cost
2200 rupees per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast, air-con, wifi

Rating ***1/2
Friendliness 5 Cleanliness 3 Location 3 Comfort 4 Facilities 3 Food 3 Value for money 3

What we thought
Beautifully decorated room, away from the noise of Agra. Family run, the meals are on a communal table in the family’s living room. The food was a little basic, however – particularly breakfast.

Website

Trip Advisor

JAIPUR

Umaid Bhawan Hotel
Umaid Bhawan, Jaipur

Umaid Bhawan Hotel

Nights
3

Cost
3800 rupees per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast, air-con, wifi

Rating **
Friendliness 1 Cleanliness 3 Location 3 Comfort 2 Facilities 2 Food 3 Value for money 1

What we thought
Oh, where to start?! This was a splurge for us – 3 nights in a heritage building suite. The awful attitudes of the staff were only matched by the ridiculous noise coming from the restaurant until 11:30pm and from 05:30am – largely due to the sound of tables and chairs being moved continuously on what was the floor above us. Despite our complaints, nobody would do anything about it. Shame really as the room itself was lovely. Try a lower floor if you’re still tempted as Trip Advisor reviews are very good!

Website

Trip Advisor

BUNDI

Shivam Guest House
Shivam Guest House, Bundi

Shivam Guest House

Nights
1

Cost
900 rupees per night

What that included
Room only, air-con, wifi

Rating ***
Friendliness 4 Cleanliness 2 Location 3 Comfort 3 Facilities 3 Food n/a Value for money 3

What we thought
Basic but large room in a typical family homestay. Cheap and cheerful but the family made us feel welcome. The daughter’s also a pretty mean henna tattoo artist. The food gets great reviews on Trip Advisor but the restaurant was closed when we were there!

Website

Trip Advisor

PUSHKAR

Saijan Bagh Heritage Home
Saijan Bagh Heritage Home, Pushkar

Saijan Bagh Heritage Home

Nights
1

Cost
1500 rupees per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast, air-con, wifi

Rating **1/2
Friendliness 3 Cleanliness 3 Location 3 Comfort 3 Facilities 2 Food 2 Value for money 3

What we thought
Lovely heritage building, fairly basic rooms. A 15-minute walk away from the noise of Pushkar, it also has a swimming pool, although this was closed during our stay. Breakfast was basic but the Indian set menu of stuffed parathas and pickle did the job for me.

Website

Trip Advisor

 

UDAIPUR

Sun Heritage Home
Sun Heritage Home, Udaipur

Sun Heritage Home

Nights
2

Cost
1208 rupees per night

What that included
Room only, air-con, wifi

Rating ****
Friendliness 4 Cleanliness 5 Location 3 Comfort 4 Facilities 3 Food n/a Value for money 5

What we thought
Lovely heritage home and without a doubt our favourite accommodation in Rajasthan. Super-clean, bright, modern room, quiet location and comfy bed – what more do you want from a room in India?

Website

Trip Advisor

RANAKPUR

Roopam Resort
Roopam Resort, Ranakpur

Roopam Resort

Nights
1

Cost
1300 rupees per night

What that included
Room only, air-con, wifi

Rating **1/2
Friendliness 2 Cleanliness 3 Location 4 Comfort 2 Facilities 1 Food 2 Value for money 2

What we thought
Pretty grim in all honesty – the only thing in its favour being its close proximity to the fabulous Jain Temple. It’s also the only budget accommodation in town so it’s probably worth it for one night.

Website

Trip Advisor

JODHPUR

Krishna Prakash Heritage Haveli
Krishna Prakash Heritage Haveli, Jodhpur

Krishna Prakash Heritage Haveli

Nights
1

Cost
2000 rupees per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast, air-con, wifi

Rating **
Friendliness 3 Cleanliness 3 Location 4 Comfort 1 Facilities 2 Food 1 Value for money 1

What we thought
A lovely heritage building let down by a very poor room – awful lumpy bed, extremely noise vintage aircon unit, old and dated furniture etc. Worse still, we had what was probably the worst excuse for a breakfast in our whole Asia trip.

Website

Trip Advisor

JAISALMER

Silk Route Hotel
Silk Route Hotel, Jaisalmer

Silk Route Hotel

Nights
2

Cost
1250 rupees per night

What that included
Room only, air-con, wifi

Rating ***1/2
Friendliness 3 Cleanliness 5 Location 2 Comfort 4 Facilities 3 Food 3 Value for money 4

What we thought
Newly built, everything is clean and comfortable which makes for a welcome change in India. It’s situated in a pretty poor neighbourhood, which might put some people off if first impressions are important. However, the local community are very friendly and even put on a traditional music show outside our room on one night!

Website

Trip Advisor

 

BIKANER

Chandra Niwas Guest House
Chandra Niwas Guest House, Bikaner

Chandra Niwas Guest House

Nights
1

Cost
800 rupees per night

What that included
Room only, air-con, wifi

Rating ***
Friendliness 3 Cleanliness 3 Location 3 Comfort 2 Facilities 3 Food 3 Value for money 3

What we thought
Decent guest house accommodation for one night, although the bed was extremely hard. Can’t really complain, though given the price.

Trip Advisor

MANDAWA

Mandawa Heritage Hotel
Mandawa Heritage Hotel, Mandawa

Mandawa Heritage Hotel

Nights
1

Cost
1300 rupees per night

What that included
Room only, air-con, wifi

Rating ***1/2
Friendliness 3 Cleanliness 4 Location 4 Comfort 5 Facilities 3 Food 2 Value for money 4

What we thought
Beautiful heritage house and a large room with superb and comfortable four poster bed. We would have made it our favourite in Rajasthan if only the food had been better. Our mutton curry literally consisted of pieces of mutton fat in a sauce – and our complaints were met with indifference. A real shame but maybe we were just unlucky….

Website

Trip Advisor

DELHI

Sai Miracle Hotel

Nights
3

Cost
2000 rupees per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast, air-con, wifi

Rating ***
Friendliness 2 Cleanliness 4 Location 4 Comfort 3 Facilities 3 Food 2 Value for money 2

What we thought
Located just around the corner from the main bazaar the noise from the street isn’t as bad as you might think. Unfortunately, the noise from the rooftop restaurant is another matter. A corridor telephone is also used for answering room service calls which echoes throughout the building. The earliest one we heard was at 06:10 and the latest at 01:00 – and we were woken up by it each time. The room itself is comfy enough but after 3 nights’ broken sleep we wouldn’t go back.

Website

Trip Advisor

 

SRINAGAR

Himalayan Resort
Himalayan Resort, Srinagar

Himalayan Resort

Nights
1

Cost
2500 rupees per night

What that included
Full board, air-con, wifi

Rating **1/2
Friendliness 3 Cleanliness 2 Location 3 Comfort 3 Facilities 2 Food 3 Value for money 2

What we thought
We only stayed here as the houseboat on Dal Lake (see Young Alzira) was double-booked and we were provided with this as an alternative for one night. Given the same tariff applied it doesn’t compare, however.

Website

Trip Advisor

 

SRINAGAR

Young Alzira Houseboat
Young Alzira Houseboat, Srinagar

Young Alzira Houseboat

Nights
2

Cost
2500 rupees per night

What that included
Full board, wifi

Rating ****
Friendliness 4 Cleanliness 4 Location 5 Comfort 4 Facilities 3 Food 4 Value for money 3

What we thought
Lovely setting right on Dal Lake, with excellent food and friendly staff. We had the honeymoon suite at the rear, complete with four poster bed. Recommended.

Website

Trip Advisor

MULBEKH

Paradise Guest House
Paradise Guest House, Mulbekh

Paradise Guest House

Nights
1

Cost
1500 rupees per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast

Rating ***
Friendliness 4 Cleanliness 3 Location 4 Comfort 2 Facilities 2 Food 2 Value for money 3

What we thought
Good location on the Srinagar-Leh highway, including great views over a historic monastery towards the mountains, behind. As it’s right next to the road, noise from passing traffic (particularly lorries honking their horns) can be a problem.

 

LEH

Padma Guest House & Hotel
Padma Guest House & Hotel

Padma Guest House & Hotel

Nights
9

Cost
2000 rupees per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast, wifi

Rating ****
Friendliness 5 Cleanliness 5 Location 4 Comfort 3 Facilities 4 Food 4 Value for money 4

What we thought
We almost walked away from this place when we first arrived to find lots of building work going on almost everywhere. However, putting that aside, this turned out to be a gem of a place to stay – super friendly and helpful manager and staff, with killer views across to the mountains and good wifi. A new hotel building with a further 21 rooms is scheduled to be completed by early 2017, although we understand these will be more expensive than ours. Recommended.

Website

Trip Advisor

TURTUK

Khan Homestay
Khan Home Stay, Turtuk

Khan Homestay

Nights
1

Cost
1400 rupees per night

What that included
Half board

Rating **1/2
Friendliness 2 Cleanliness 3 Location 5 Comfort 3 Facilities 2 Food 2 Value for money 2

What we thought
Basic homestay in a spectacular and remote village location. Ideal for a night, although we didn’t get much of an opportunity to interact with the family owners.

KARZOK, TSO MORIRI

Goose Homestay
Goose Home Stay, Karzok

Goose Homestay

Nights
1

Cost
900 rupees per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast

Rating **
Friendliness 3 Cleanliness 1 Location 3 Comfort 1 Facilities 2 Food 2 Value for money 3

What we thought
Extremely basic homestay accommodation, including possibly the most uncomfortable bed we’ve ever slept in. Located beside the remote Tso Moriri Lake, it was actually our best choice from three in the village we looked at. Expect plenty of noise from the resident donkeys throughout the night, too.

MANALI

Rock Top Inn & Cafe
Rock Top Inn & Cafe, Manali

Rock Top Inn & Cafe

Nights
2

Cost
2920 rupees per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast, wifi

Rating **1/2
Friendliness 2 Cleanliness 2 Location 4 Comfort 3 Facilities 3 Food 3 Value for money 2

What we thought
Over-priced, although in a good location overlooking a raging river below.

Website

Trip Advisor

 

CHANDIGARH

Hotel Classic
Hotel Classic, Chandigarh

Hotel Classic

Nights
1

Cost
2800 rupees per night

What that included
Room only, air-con, wifi

Rating ***1/2
Friendliness 3 Cleanliness 4 Location 3 Comfort 4 Facilities 4 Food n/a Value for money 2

What we thought
Not much to look at from the outside but this was actually the perfect place for a quick overnight as it was situated half way between the Stand 43 bus station (where we arrived late evening) and the railway station (where we picked up our train to Amritsar at 7am the following morning).

Website

Trip Advisor

 

AMRITSAR

Hotel Puri Palace
Hotel Puri Palace, Amritsar

Hotel Puri Palace

Nights
1

Cost
2000 rupees per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast, air-con, wifi

Rating **
Friendliness 1 Cleanliness 2 Location 2 Comfort 2 Facilities 2 Food  n/a Value for money 2

What we thought
Quite possibly the rudest hotel manager we came across on our Asian trip. And, after being shown two dirty rooms we finally accepted one more only so we could use their wifi to look for somewhere else.  It gets good reviews on Trip Advisor, though. No idea why.

Website

Trip Advisor

AMRITSAR

Hotel Akaal Residency
Hotel Akaal Residency, Amritsar

Hotel Akaal Residency

Nights
1

Cost
1780 rupees per night

What that included
Room only, air-con, wifi

Rating ****
Friendliness 5 Cleanliness 3 Location 5 Comfort 4 Facilities 4 Food n/a Value for money 4

What we thought
Perfectly placed within the main bazaar area of Amritsar and just a five-minute walk to the Golden Temple. Book an executive room for the most modern furnishings, air-con units etc. Recommended.

Website

Trip Advisor

 

IMAGES OF INDIA

TAJ MAHAL

When most have the crowds have moved on, the low sun casts a golden glow over the Temple of Love.

HAWA MAHAL

Although it may look like a lived-in palace, the Palace of the Winds in Jaipur is actually a high facade of red and pink sandstone, which was used by women of the royal household to remain unseen while they watched street festivals below.

FESTIVAL ONLOOKERS

Even when space is at a premium people will always find somewhere to watch a festival. Run-down balconies and rooftops suddenly explode with colour as onlookers grab their prized viewpoint.

BUNDI

And while we’re on the subject of colour, we saw this row of pastel-shaded houses in Bundi, Rajasthan.

RAJASTHAN THALI

This vegetarian dish, including a home-made bread roll which weighed more than me, was simply a taste sensation. Give it a try at the Lake View Garden Restaurant if you’re in town.

A SACRED VISITOR

Cows are sacred throughout India so it’s perhaps not such a big deal for one to poke its nose through your front door!

THE RAT TEMPLE

Walking bare-footed through a fairly run-down temple overrun with rats may not be your idea of fun but, believe us the Katni Mata is fascinating. It’ll certainly ease any fears you may have about being near these particular rodents. The reason they’re there? It’s all down to a goddess who, after she died was reincarnated as a rat, which her followers believe will also happen to them.

LENTIL PAKORAS

One of the delights of travelling around India is sampling the fantastic street food. These lentil pakoras from Rajasthan might look simple but they were spicy, filling and delicious!

HOUSEBOATS IN SRINAGAR

Houseboats have been a feature on Dal Lake in Kashmir since the days of the British Raj. During the summer they’re extremely popular with domestic tourists trying to escape from the heat of the big cities further south.

PANGONG TSO

Remote, surreal and stunningly beautiful, much of Pangong Tso (or “lake”) is actually in Chinese Tibet. It takes nearly five hours in a jeep to get there over one of the most difficult mountain roads I’ve ever seen – but the pay off is worth it.

LEH TO MANALI HIGHWAY

Generally recognised as one of the world’s great road journeys, it’s 490km long and crosses no less than four high altitude passes, reaching a breathless height of 5,328 metres (17,480 ft). Unforgettable.

THE GOLDEN TEMPLE

A pilgrim prepares to bathe in the holy lake that surrounds the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the most sacred shrine in Sikhism.

MORE ON INDIA

Comprehensive travel guide

A budget travel guide to India for 2017

A wealth of information on India from a blogger who lives there

The indispensable guide for budget travellers

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