Google may tell you everything about just every place. But when you plan to explore a new place, especially one with a historic significance, the magic that a travel guide can create is unmatched. Of course, you need to be careful that the guide you opt for is a genuine one.
If your travel guide is a genuine one and loves his job, you sure will have an enriching experience. The legends and the way the guides narrate them are truly fascinating. Plus, you do get a lot of tips like what kind of places you can shop from to get the best deals and where you can get the best local cuisine in the area.
So how to go about choosing a travel guide in India? Here are some tips:
- If you are visiting a fort or a mega temple, chances are that there is an office meant for tourists right at the entrance of the place. Many places like Udaipur and Jaipur have official tourist guides that don an identity card and have fixed rates. You need to be sure that you discuss in advance that the guide should let you take your time to explore the location and not push you to finish it fast. Also, it is advisable to opt for a guide that does not accompany too many tourists. Else he will keep on talking quickly and you will not be able to enjoy the experience.
- If you visit destinations known for an array of temples or beaches, you might not be able to find an official / state appointed travel guide. Here, you need to be careful to discuss the kind of things you would like to know and clarify that the guide does not miss a single place to visit in the area. Do not pay everything in advance and make it clear that you will pay a certain amount only when you are satisfied with the service and that the information he provides is correct. We once took a guide to help us learn more about some temples in the area. He told us some interesting stories about an idol which seemed unbelievable. At the same time, another guide was telling a completely different story about the same idol to another group. That's when we checked Google only to discover that our guide was simply cooking up a story! Yes, we did confirm our doubts with the locals. That was seriously disappointing.
- The best way to avoid the disappointment mentioned above is to read through a few blogs before visiting a location. That way, you will be able to ask some questions to the guide and ensure that he is not taking you for a ride!
- The latest trend with some of our great tourist destinations like Forts and Palaces in Rajasthan is the introduction of Audio Guides! Yes, several spots inside the forts / palaces are marked with numbers and all you need to do is press the corresponding number and listen to the story in a language of your choice (mostly Hindi, English and the local language). You can take your time to explore the place and repeat the audio as well. They are priced a bit on the higher side but are worth the experience.
So have you taken the help of a travel guide or explores the audio guides? We would like to hear about your experience.
This post is written by Anuradha Khanna Pentapalli.