Nov 192013

The state of the Toilets in India: The Unholy side of our Holy Cities

Whenever I travel one of my biggest challenges is to find toilets in India, mind you I am not even looking at something fancy. I just need a space where I can go quickly holding my breath and do the stuff and come out. Toilets become much more important when I am traveling with Missus and my daughters, then the requirements are a bit more stringent. We not only need a cleaner place, it should also be lockable from inside, and one needs to be careful about peeping toms and cams.

But what is the reality? In most of the tourist places be it Golconda Fort or beaches in Goa  and Pondicherry toilets are almost non-existent. We plan our trips so that we stop at any bare minimum toilet/washroom facility so that I am not forced to pee in the open like half of India. It seems we do not have a concept of public  hygiene, and toilets are considered a waste of space. I mean why bother when the nation is available as a free public toilet.  The few public toilets that are available in public places mark their presence from miles by the stink they create. Sulabh Sauchalyas are present in a few places, but they are not enough for a nation of 1.2 billion give or take a few million.  To be honest in my experience even most of the Sulabh toilets is also not great, as the guys sitting outside them just collect money and the facilities are far from world-class, ( Personal experience outside St. Xavier’s Church Goa, Ooty, Sarnath etc.) But still Sulabh is doing an excellent job and their toilets are wonderful when you compare them to what you find ( if you find), from the ones maintained by our local governments.

But the worst hit is our holy cities, which convert into a spectacle of shit during major festivals. The irony is the very same people who are taking a dip in the holy Ganges, hoping for Nirvana are using the banks for defecating. Urinating men in public even on Ghats of Benaras is such a common and ugly side that you just can’t avoid it.  While walking on the Ghats of Benaras,  I was trying to click some pictures and invariably in most of the frames a guy pissing against the walls will come into the picture.  So on this World Toilet Day, I give you two pictures from the Ghats of Benaras, the holiest city in India.

urinating on benaras ghats varanasi ghats

We have a knack to Make Unholy out of Holy places

Rana Mahal Ghat Varanasi Benaras

A Nation that has got converted into open-air toilet

 But before we ostracize the citizens of India, let us remember that they do not have a choice, and even when they have a choice the facilities available are so pathetic that only somebody actively looking for  urinary tract infection will use them. Here are some articles on World Toilet day that you should check out.

Indira Gandhi World Toilet Day

Mrs. Indira Gandhi on Scavenging in India  ( pic: Sulabh International)

I think within our tourism policy of India ( if we have one), we should give Toilets at tourist places importance and work actively to make sure clean, easily accessible toilets are available to visitors. How tough can it be for a country that sends rockets to Mars? Not many are aware that Sulabh International started World Toilet Day to mark the birth anniversary of Mrs. Indira Gandhi, former prime minister of India, who was one of the first leaders in India to actually look at the matter actively and wanted an end to the humiliating practice of manual scavenging.  I hope our netas give some importance to this matter of fecal matter and make traveling a good experience for millions of travelers like me and the masses of India who are forced to convert this great nation into open air toilet due to lack of choices.

This post is a Tangy Tuesday Pick by Blogadda.  tangytuesday

What are your observations on Toilets around tourist places in India? Any suggestions ? Please leave them in comments.

  20 Responses to “Traveling and Toilets in India”

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  1. My observations are similar…the state of toilets is pathetic even if people want to use it! Sometimes even ladies have to pee in the open….actually the same is applicable for US as well – believe it or not!

  2. I am hoping that Swachh Bharat Abhiyan will do something. India is lagging way behind in providing toilets and most sad part is that they don’t understand the need of it!
    I have relieved myself behind a rock, behind bushes, in an open toilet without a door and so on. When I can feel that bad, imagine the plight of visitors from other countries!

    • You are right.. we have a long way to go and it is such a basic human need, I am not sure why it is not a priority.

      Swachh Bharat will work when all of us cooperate, on my recent trip to the old city of Yogyakarta in Indonesia I was surprised to see how clean the old city was, in 4 hours of walking through the smallest of lanes and crowdest of bazaar I did not find trash on the road.

  3. nice post ! I am visiting around 4 cities in India this March 2014 and the open air toilet is fine and OK with me. Its the experience and the journey that matters.

  4. Yes very true…And what is more shocking is that you will not find these necessities