July 13, 2024

The lonely planetization of travel

Is it just me or are others out there irritated by the mushrooming ‘recommended by Lonely Planet’ signboards across the country? Every single eatery, guest house and clothes / crafts stall in the bazaar proudly displays it. I cannot honestly say I blame anyone – only foreigners stay the night in Hampi, most if not all Indians who do make the effort to visit Hampi, check off the temples and ruins one right after the other through the day and hurry back to Hospet for the night, back to “star-hotel” comforts. And foreigners carry Lonely Planet guides.

As for the writers, I suppose the likes of Venkateshwara restaurant was among the best they found in Hampi, a place appallingly lacking in eating options, apart from the fabulous Mango Tree by the Tungabhadra. But it is not as if places do not try – most eateries offer you every conceivable cuisine in the world – apart from the quintessential Mughalai and Chinese, also Lebanese, Italian, American, French, Israeli, Mexican – a world of cuisine, almost all of it uneatable.

World cuisine

Chinesn food anyone?

I do not mind this whole “globalization” thingy as such – what bothers me most is that every place now feels like the other – atleast in matters of food choice. That, and the fact that there is no room now for local food – my husband and I always like to sample authentic local food when we travel and that is becoming harder and harder to find. Hampi has nothing Karnataka in its varied offerings, while Bhubaneshwar had nothing Oriya or even Eastern.

Straight from the heart

Straight from the heart

Hampi tries hard – and you have to love Hampi for that (if nothing else). And be ready to forgive anything. Unlike Rajasthan, the worst offender in this respect – I keep going back there and come back feeling miserable each time. Kerala does not even try – it is indifferent to the local and foreigner alike – the LP boards are as half-hearted as anything else resembling work in that state. I have not spotted these in Goa – perhaps Goa takes its “coolness” seriously?

14 thoughts on “The lonely planetization of travel

  1. Well, LP is a brand in itself and I must say that I have found it useful many times…but yes, I dont blindly go for it. I love hampi..it tries . Ive had great food,especially – must go during nov when the festival is around . terribly crowded , but you can get biseibela bath and masala dosa along with “macorony with cheese” , and “african thali ! “

  2. Hi Charu,

    Thanks for dropping by at my blog….you have a fantastic blog here….
    Great to meet you who shares my passion for TRAVEL.

    Let me link you so I can read more about your amazing travels:-)


  3. peter, that is the scary part – that LP is such a strong force in the travel business – we desperately need more clued-in guidebooks!

    backpakker, it is impossible to not love hampi, no? but food WAS terrible – the Mango tree was gorgeous but the Venkateshwara types were awful – even the masala dosa – maybe we didn’t go to the right places…

    btw, my fav quote is the one by Priestly – totally agree!!

    Arch, glad you dropped by. link on, link on!

  4. Funny thing is, in these touristy places, if you are seen walking the streets with a backpack and a LP in your hands, you are taken as a foreigner yourself – prime target for fleecing. Every lodge agent, every roadside restaurent, every crafts stall, every taxiwalla would woo you into buying their ‘LP recommended’ services. Like what happened with us at Agra.

    While we refer to LP often and find it quite useful most of the times, I think brand LP has really been exploited, overused and overrated. It’s just a guide book, it’s no bible!

  5. pallavi, yeah, except sometimes the face gives you away – if you not “gora'” enough, then no “foreigner status” for you!
    whole I think LP is useful, i would def prefer something that is closer to the truth and updated more often, at least for tourists from within India….

  6. I haven’t been to Hampi even though I’ve planned to, but traveling for eight months in India I’ve learned two important lessons, The LP guide can get in the way of finding the nicest places if you have a year or two years old addition there can be much change and the other is to go the places that offer simple Indian food, this is what they make best, it is cheapest, usually no risk of poisoning, especially if you see local people eating there. When you’re really into western food ask them how they learned to cook this or that food, if it is from a traveler it is usually reasonable.

    I’ve been to many places that had really good Israeli’s food (in Indian standard) because the travelers took the time to teach them how to cook what they like.

    Still on my last visit to India the food and the accommodations were chosen not for the LP recommendation and it was a very good thing to do.

  7. Hi,

    I have visited Hampi a couple of times…. and by experience I can say that you can really enjoy that place provided you don’t plan to stay there!
    My suggestion is to rent a place in Hospet and make sure that you carry food from there (Hampi is about 12 kms from there). Hire a good four wheeler and travel in groups……..
    And do your homework! Check out info on the net, and it would be great if you have a friend or if you know someone who can accompany you. Only the local people can deal with the local people!
    Start your day early! it gets very hot…and carry Cartons of cool drinks! you will need them all!
    And like all Indian villages this place is also Dusty and muddy.
    The bottom line is take care of all the basic necessities….touring Hampi is not all that convenient…but it is definitely a Beautiful place….and worth visiting.
    Hampi has mny interesting Stories…. the local people are the best sources…….. you will find different versions of the same story…which makes it even more interesting.
    Have fun!

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