The Best India Travel Guidebooks: Which are They?

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A good India travel guidebook can be invaluable when planning your vacation, and particularly so when traveling around India. Not only will it provide you with useful background information about the country and its attractions, it will give you valuable advice about what's good and what's avoidable. India can be a challenging country to visit, but with the right planning, you'll find that your trip to India is much more enjoyable.

Let's take a look at the best India travel books.

Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet guidebooks are my personal favorite, and judging by their popularity, are the favorite of a lot of other people too. Lonely Planet manages to pack an extraordinary amount of information into their books. These guidebooks used to be targeted primarily at backpackers. However, they've now expanded their focus and are suitable for all kinds of travelers, including families.

The strength of Lonely Planet guidebooks is definitely in their practical details. These guidebook have all the answers about how to get around, where to stay, where to eat, and what to see.

Lonely Planet India is a thick and weighty book -- it's got well over 1,000 pages. However, what's really handy about Lonely Planet is that you don't need to buy the complete book. If you're only planning on visiting a region within India, you can just buy the relevant section.

Whether it's South India (including Kerala) or Rajasthan, Delhi and Agra, or Goa and Mumbai, region specific guidebooks are available.

Alternatively, if you're only planning on visiting a few places in India, you can purchase and download individual chapters from the guidebook, in PDF format, on the Lonely Planet website.

This is a really inexpensive and convenient option.

In addition to guidebooks, Lonely Planet also offers a great range of travel journals and maps.

A big positive is that the Lonely Planet guidebooks are updated regularly, usually every second year. The latest version was published in October 2017.

Fiona Caulfield's Love Travel Guides

I LOVE the Love Guides! I just wish there were more of them, and that they were updated more often. Currently, these fabulous handbooks for the luxury vagabond only cover selected major destinations in India (Delhi, Mumbai, Goa, Jaipur) but they're gradually expanding. The new offerings are focused on local artisans and products. Currently there are two of these guides available: Made in Bangalore and Made in Kolkata.

The Love Guides are suited to discerning travelers, who are interested in everything hip and happening, with insightful local knowledge and a personal touch.

As their name suggests, their aim is to make you fall in love with the places you visit.

    The Rough Guide

    The Rough Guide to India is another very comprehensive guidebook that's filled with around 1,200 pages of interesting information. The appeal of The Rough Guide is that it contains a comparatively large amount of cultural information.

    If you're looking for in depth knowledge about India's history and attractions, The Rough Guide is for you. The Rough Guide also has region specific guidebooks available (including South India and Kerala), as well as a pocket-sized book on the 25 Ultimate Experiences to India. The guidebooks are updated quite often, about every three years. The newest version was published in November 2016.

    Footprint Handbooks

    If you're looking for a guidebook that concentrates more on things to see and do, rather than where to sleep and eat, Footprint India Handbook is recommended.

    It's a hefty 1,550 page book that is well researched, very practical and informative, and contains more cultural information than Lonely Planet and The Rough Guide. The newest version was published in early 2016.

    Footprint Handbooks also stand out because they offer regional guidebooks to lesser-visited places in India such as Kolkata and West Bengal, and Northeast India. Other regional Footprint Handbooks include Delhi and Northwest India, and South India.

    Enjoying India: The Essential Handbook

    This is a very useful independent India guidebook, written by a solo American woman traveler who has lived in India for nearly 10 years. She first visited India in 1980 and since then has traveled extensively throughout most of the country by herself. Her knowledge is invaluable! Her book fills the gaps left by traditional guidebooks by providing detailed cultural insights that visitors to India should not be without. This includes everything from how to deal with Indian bureaucracy (it does require special skills!) to understanding how "yes" can mean "no".

    The author has also written another newer and extremely useful guidebook about women's safety in India, called Travel Fearlessly in India, which is highly recommended.