Incredible India is like several countries in one – culture, religion, language, food all differ from state to state, and one could easily spend several years backpacking around the country of a billion, and still only see the tip of the iceberg!
Lonely Planet is the best guide for India, but try to get off the beaten track and check out accommodation and restaurants not listed. Hostelworld.com is great to see what fellow travellers are currently recommending in India.
Rupees are a closed currency – you can only get them in India. The cheapest way to get cash is with your ATM card – all cities have machines, as do all airports. If, however, you are taking traveller’s cheques, dollars, euros or sterling etc…, go to Chequepoint, on the main bazaar in Pahaganj, Delhi for the best rates the country.
The budget hostels listed in your Lonely Planet are generally fine (the worse I experienced was a paper-thin foam mattress and a mammoth-sized cockroach or two, 95% were ok!). Dorms will always be the cheapest option, at just a couple of pounds, but I rarely saw them outside of Delhi All rooms, no matter how cheap, will have ceiling fans. Air-con rooms are perhaps around £5-£10 whilst luxury digs can start at just £25. Share with friends to make a saving. Camping isn’t much of an option on India’s beaten track.