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BTW, regarding the recent addition of data cards, they are indeed very handy ''but'' it's very, very difficult to get your hands on one if you're not a bona fide resident of India, as the operators require signing up to long-term monthly contracts. [[User:Jpatokal|Jpatokal]] 12:12, 29 June 2008 (EDT)
 
BTW, regarding the recent addition of data cards, they are indeed very handy ''but'' it's very, very difficult to get your hands on one if you're not a bona fide resident of India, as the operators require signing up to long-term monthly contracts. [[User:Jpatokal|Jpatokal]] 12:12, 29 June 2008 (EDT)
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:That's a valid point; there's a lot of paperwork involved. But I still reckon it's better than rushing to Barista/CCD/Hard Rock and paying cover charges (or dowsing yourself with coffee) for wifi. Of course, as I had mentioned, if you're in Pune, Mumbai or Bangalore, it's OK. But even here in Delhi, wi-fi coverage is remarkably poor. The main problem with datacards is that it's hard to rent one, you have to buy one outright (which isn't worth it unless you're in India for 2 years or more). [[User:Upamanyuwikitravel|Upamanyuwikitravel]] • <small>( [[User_talk:Upamanyuwikitravel|Talk]] )</small> • <small>( [[User:Upamanyuwikitravel/Travel plans|Travel]] ) •</small> 03:24, 30 June 2008 (EDT)

Revision as of 07:28, 30 June 2008

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City cleanup explanation.

I've done some drastic and almost surely unfair "cleaning up" of the cities and other destinations sections. It is difficult to get 7+/- 2 of anything in India, so I've had to use my judgement and it might be a bit biased.

First, most of the places listed under "Other destinations" should really have been listed under "Cities", because they are cities. The other destination is for those places that do not really fit the definition of a "city". In the case of India, I can only think of those National Parks that do not fit and yet will have their own articles.

I've split the "Cities" section into 3, one for large cities, another for tourist cities and the third for sacred sites. The large cities are the largest ones by population, so I guess that is the most objective set you can get.

The tourist cities section is probably not a representative sample and needs more cleanup. I moved many places from "Sacred sites" to here. The call that I took was that I classified "Sacred sites" as places where people actually go on a pilgrimage right now, rather than places that were built for religious purposes, but are now only visited as tourist attractions. My Hindu and Indian bias might be showing here, especially as I moved most Buddhist sites to the "tourist" category.

Both "tourist" and "sacred sites" have been pruned quite a bit and a lot of it reflects my judgement and bias. Partly it is my subjective judgement about which ones are important. Partly, I have used the rule that if there isn't already an article, it goes off. This whole thing is work in progress and will probably always be. I've moved what was in the "cities" and "Other destinations" to Talk:India/Old cities --Ravikiran 12:51, 6 Dec 2005 (EST)

Thanks for this work. The "cities" section at the country level is mostly for shortcuts; if 90% of readers are going to be jumping to the same 5 or 10 cities, it makes sense to add a little shortcut for them. If it gets too long, it can give the wrong impression to contributors ("Add all cities here"). --Evan 13:29, 6 Dec 2005 (EST)


Unless you strongly object, I will return Sarnath to the Sacred ites category. Unlike the caves at Ellora or other such places there is nothing at Sarnath for tourists to see. It is 100% pilgrimage site.
No problem at all. I realised that my bias might be showing - there are many Buddhist sites which are only tourist attractions for most Indians, but pilgrimage sites for prople from East Asia. --Ravikiran 00:25, 7 Dec 2005 (EST)

P.S. Please consider creating an account.

Here would be my candidates for a list of "shortcut" cities that dumb foreigners like myself will be looking for: Agra (for the Taj Mahal), Bombay, New Delhi, Calcutta, Pondicherry (Life of Pi and all that), Madras, Bangalore, Goa (yes, I know it's not a city) or a city thereon, Dharamsala (for the Tibetan government-in-exile). --Evan 23:52, 10 Dec 2005 (EST)

That's a nice shortlist, but this is obviously a case where there is a benefit from different perspectives. Software and services get more publicity, but India's biggest export is Gems & Jewellery - and I think Surat is a hub [1] for that. A business traveller who's into importing textiles would probably be interested in Coimbatore. Then I understand that a lot of Buddhist tourists from the East - Japan etc. visit Bodh Gaya etc.. I'll think a bit more on this. But in the meantime I will remove Ayodhya - there is no article yet and it is not a tourist destination by any stretch. --Ravikiran 14:50, 11 Dec 2005 (EST)


I agree that Varanasi should be included in the sacred sites section. If Varanasi isn't recognized as a place of pilgrimage, where is? For Buddhists, Bodhgaya and Sarnath are the big two, and not just for Japanese and Taiwanese. On my visits to these places, Westerners and Indians have been in the majority - as you know, not all Indians are Hindhu, and even among those that are, many recognize the Buddha as a deity. As for Surat, it might be the center of the jewlry trade, but its lack of any other amenities should, I think, exclude it from being in the main list of cities. Finally, as an Indian living in India, you could definitely be of great help reorganizing the regions section, see talk above - just some suggestions. 11 Dec 05
Ah.. the regions section. Yes I should do something about that. --01:10, 12 Dec 2005 (EST)

Might I suggest the inclusion of Kushinagar (located in Uttar Pradesh) on the short list of holy cities? It is a part of the Buddhist circuit route developed by Indian tourism ministry and is the location where where the Buddha attain Parinirvana and was cremated. L1CENSET0K1LL 11:20, 16 Jan 2006 (EST)

Thinking of this, I've come to the conclusion that the best way to handle this is by using itineraries. We list all the circuits popular with tourists in a separate section. For example,
How do folks like the idea? --Ravikiran 13:25, 16 Jan 2006 (EST)

I strongly feel the major city list should be modified to do justice to North Indian region. Here is a breakup of the major cities included: Himalayan North: 0, Plains: 1, West: 3, South: 4, East: 1, North-east: 0. While all other cities are among the top 10 cities of India in size, Cochin is not even in the top 15! Also, Kanpur is a much more important city in Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in India, than Pune is in Maharashtra. Kanpur is also the 10th largest city of the country as a whole. I think Kanpur (for educational, commercial and cultural importance to the North) must be added to the list here. Also, one of Jaipur, Dehradun, or Guwahati should be added, preferably one of the latter two for their importance in the Himalayan region of India, and their representation of the Himalayan lifestyle to any foreign or Indian visitor. Any comments??? apalaria Dec 15, 2006 11:00 AM EST

Size, educational, commercial and cultural importance are not the factors here -- touristic importance is. On this scale Pune and Jaipur rank much higher than Kanpur. The Himalayan region is already more than sufficiently represented by the Other destinations list, and more importantly, people don't go there for the cities anyway. Jpatokal 11:51, 15 December 2006 (EST)

The truth is tourists don't go to India for cities at all, only businessmen do. No Indian city compares with American, European, or East Asian cities to be visited in that sense, except perhaps Delhi and Chandigarh. If beauty is the criterion, Chandigarh, which is called the Beautiful City must be included! What tourists can get by visiting the cities is either the historical benefit (if the city has a glorious past) or a view into the local culture. I guess the question is what is the criterion for the cities to be listed in a tourist site like this. I firmly believe for a country like India, it is the histroical or cultural benefit, until India "upgrades" the look of her cities. So once again, I think it is the size + cultural/ historical benefit that matters. apalaria Dec 15, 2006 12:00 noon EST

I think listing Kanpur and Guwahati is ridiculous. Jaipur is one of the Golden Triangle cities and the most important city in Rajasthan, and if we have to choose one of Pune and Cochin, I'd pip for Cochin as the gateway to Kerala, a very popular tourist destination these days. Jpatokal 12:23, 15 December 2006 (EST)

Guwahati is important to retain for that is the only representation of the North-east region of India in the section. I think the section is well-balanced now and adequately represents the whole country and its culture aptly. apalaria Dec 12, 2006 3:00 PM EST

I agree with Jpatokal, replacing Pune, which has around nine million people making it India's nine largest city, with Kanpur and Guwahati makes no sense. Cochin is also an acceptable destination, though I go for Pune as it is a very large city as well as being a cultural destination. I have reverted to the original. WindHorse 20:25, 15 December 2006 (EST)

Sacred sites, Tourist Destinations, Other destinations

  • First, I think that 'Tourist destinations' and 'Other destinations' should be combined and pruned down to a list of no more than nine places - some I am familiar with, others not, so I pass this on as a suggestion only.
  • The 'sacred sites' needs chopping down to a list of no more than nine places. I suggest the following should be included: Amritsar, Haridwar, Bodh Gaya, Sarnath, Shravanabelagola, Varanasi... NB: These are suggested locations only, and feasibly another three places could be added to the list. Suggestions/ideas?!? WindHorse 06:03, 17 October 2006 (EDT)
I would agree with that... and list the others in the state sections... like Trichur, and in fact all of the Kerala sites, doesn't need to be on main India page... maybe have 1 bullet for 'Tamil Nadu - amazing temples such as xxx' and then have a broader list on the Tamil Nadu page... Cacahuate 04:36, 22 October 2006 (EDT)
I've made an attempt at reorganizing the lists of 'sacred sites', 'other destinations' and the renamed 'national parks'. Hope it is acceptable WindHorse 11:44, 23 October 2006 (EDT)
Looks much better! Good job... Cacahuate 03:56, 25 October 2006 (EDT)
Thanks. Unfortuately the choice of which places to include was quite arbitary. If you can think of more deserving ones, feel free to make changes. WindHorse 04:00, 25 October 2006 (EDT)

I made the change to include Rishikesh in the Sacred places because being the major meditation and Yoga center, it is a better represeantative of the religion followed by more than 80% of Indians, and is certainly more deserving to be visited not just for its importance to the Indian culture, but also for its scenic beauty. Also, I believe it is better to report Gangotri with its three neighboring sites as Char Dham, for that is how the region is viewed in Hindu philosophy and scriptures and also by Hindu pilgrims. No doubt, Gangotri is one of the ultimate Hindu destinations, but what makes it even more important is the neighboring sites. apalaria Dec 15, 2006 10:30 AM EST

I agree that Rishikesh probably deserves a place on the main page. However, please consider that 6 of the 9 sacred sites are related to Hinduism, while the other great Indian religions such as Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism are only represented by one place each. Before any other changes are made, this needs to be taken into account, and none of these three sites should be deleted. Don't forget, the information in this guide is not only for Indians, but for the whole world. Thanks. WindHorse 10:35, 15 December 2006 (EST)

I understand that, and that is why I have not touched a single site for either of those three religions! In fact, not just from the point of view of the remaining world, the other sites are essential to the spirit of Indianness. I agree they must be included. apalaria Dec 15, 2006 10:50 AM EST

I would suggest taking out Haridwar and replacing it with Rishikesh: they're nearby and similar, but Rishikesh is better known (especially outside India). Jpatokal 11:03, 15 December 2006 (EST)

I think the list as it exists currently is good, because this is not meant just for outsiders or for Indians, but for eveyone. Rishikesh and Haridwar represent two different facets of Hindu religion, one the ceremonial and religious aspect, the other the scientific and meditative aspect. Leaving out Haridwar would not be justice to the Hindu religion, for scripturally that is one of the most important Hindu cities. Replacing Haridwar by another less significant site would amount to replacing Sistine Chapel in Vatican by the San Xavier Mission in US. apalaria Dec 15, 2006 11:10 AM EST

It's a big country, but if we can manage to keep the list to 9 for China, we can do it here too. This is not meant to be an exhaustive index, just a list of recognizable starting points. Varanasi, the most famous of them all, more than adequately represents the "ceremonial and religious aspect". Jpatokal 11:59, 15 December 2006 (EST)

Sure! So the list is good! apalaria Dec 15, 2006 12:05 PM (EST)

No, it's not, there are way too many places in Uttaranchal -- they should be tied together with an itinerary and that should be listed instead. Madurai, Ajanta/Ellora and Khajuraho would make good replacements. Jpatokal 12:27, 15 December 2006 (EST)

They are already tied well enough. Given the strategic importance of Uttaranchal for the Hindu religion and and perhaps the most direct image of the Santana Dharma, it makes sense to have so many sacred places from Uttaranchal in the list. I have made modifications to include Jaipur instead of Kanpur among the nine major cities, but I think Guwahati is important to retain for that is the only representation of the North-east region of India in the section. apalaria Dec 12, 2006 2:55 PM EST

Regarding Khajuraho or Madurai, I think one of them should definitely replace one of Hampi or Mysore from Karnataka in the landmarks section (after all it is the beauty of the temples that makes Kahjuraho or Madurai famous), but either of them cannot replace the religious and spiritual significance of the sites in Uttaranchal. Also, I would vouch more for Khajuraho because they are the only temples that tie erotica so strongly with religion. apalaria Dec 12, 2006 3:10 PM EST

...so why are you now deleting Khajuraho? And while I'd be OK with replacing Uttarakhand with Char Dham in the future, I'm not going to accept that until you write the article for it! Jpatokal 13:10, 11 February 2007 (EST)
The current lists have been in place for many months, which implies that most people are satisfied with the current situation. While minor changes can be discussed, it is not not in the general interest to make sudden major arbitrary changes. I have accepted a few of your suggestions. Others I have reverted. For example, the section on landmarks is for places that are neither in a large city or a sacred site. Therefore, temples or religious caves should not be placed here. WindHorse 20:21, 15 December 2006 (EST)

This is an absurd argument! Most people have not even visited this page. Also, when the two cities in Uttar Pradesh can be cited in the same section, I don't see why not more than one reference can be made to Uttarakhand. Once again, one cannot redefine the importance of sacred places. Talking of Khajuraho, it is ridiculous to have it in the sacred places section, because those temples are famous only for their sculpture. I see no reason to have Mysore Palace in the landmark section either. But we can grant some difference of opinion there, but when it comes to sacred places, there can be no controversy. After all the discussion from WindHorse and Jpatokal, I get the feeling that they have connections to the Southern half of the country and are deliberately sabotaging interests of places from the North. I am sorry if they have not visited the places in question, but their visits or interests should be a secondary issue when it comes to doing a community job like maintaining this page! apalaria 22:02 (EST), Feb 12, 2007

That's right, you've being oppressed by the evil pro-Southern conspiracy of a Finn in Delhi and a Mumbaikar. Death to chapattis and kebabs! All hail the mighty masala dosa! sigh
More seriously, you'd make a better impression by discussing more and reverting less. My view, at any rate, is that Wikitravel is a general travel guide and the arbitrary nine entries should showcase awe-inspiring points of interest all over the country. Instead of a somewhat artificial religious/non-religious split, I'd be tempted to suggest a natural/manmade split?
Also, I'm OK with dropping Vrindavan, but I'm really not happy with Char Dham when the article doesn't exist. Why not write it, as an itinerary, if you're so keen on promoting it? Jpatokal 07:27, 13 February 2007 (EST)
Hey Apalaria-ji. Thanks for your feedback...it is besides the point, but actually I have probably spent more time in northern India than I have in the south. Furthermore, why do you need to think in terms of north and south or east or west? It is all India, right? Anyway, I appreciate your enthusiasm and you seem to have a lot of valuable knowledge about the country. However, as this guide is a group effort, doesn't it make more sense to try to gain a consensus of opinion before making drastic amendments? I think if you stopped for a moment and thought about how your arbitrary changes appear to the community and disrupt the flow of developing articles, you will agree. Furthermore, you need to consider that this is a general guide, and so a destination is deemed worthy of being placed on the front page, even in the sacred sites section, not because it has greater spiritual value (which is almost impossible to assess anyway), but because it is of interest to the widest cross section of visitors. Furthermore, just out of idle curiosity, how do you know that 'most people have not even visited this page?' Anyway, my suggestion is if you wish to make a few changes, first try to gain a consensus of opinion before doing so. This will save a lot of time adding and deleting. Furthermore, contributors (and that includes me as well as you) all need to accept the fact that our suggestions may not be accepted, and if they are not, then for the greater good of the project we need to let them go. As for your suggestions, I think Mysore Palace should definitely be included under landmarks, but if you can come up with somewhere that you believe has a wider appeal than Hampi and that place is neither a sacred site or major city, then I'm certainly prepared to accept the change as long as other members agree. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. Cheers. WindHorse 09:09, 13 February 2007 (EST)

There is not a single abritrary change here. I think I have given enough arguments above to specify why there is a need of change in the sacred places section. Your hypocritical talk is too tiresome. You talk of one India when, very obviously, you appear, as I mentioned earlier, keen on promoting only certain sections of the nation. You are giving my arguments back to me. A little introspection will show you that you are the one not ready to accept any change to the list. The biggest problem of India today is people who have an attitude similar to yours. Give me ONE good reason why you are reverting the sacred places section... Regarding Hampi, Khajuraho is the best replacement. Even though temples, it is NOT really famous as a sacred place. apalaria 7:02 am (EST), Feb 15, 2007

And, by the way, if you are all that keen on grouping all places of Uttarakhand, here's a suggestion, JUST NAME STATES IN EVERY SECTION!!!! Why care about pointing out specific locations? You cannot have a state on one side and specific places on the other. User:apalaria!apalaria 7:05 am (EST), 02/15/07

Replacing Vrindavan with Khajuraho is very absurd. Go and ask any Hindu and you will know the importnace fo the sacred places!!! It doesn't make sense for Khajuraho to appear in the sacred places section, leaving out other significant locations, just as it does not make sense to have Hampi in the landmarks section. apalaria, 02/15/07

I agree, you have been giving reasons for changes on the Other destinations. I was thinking or some of your earlier amendments to the cities section when you suddenly switched Pune for Kanpur and added Guwhati. Yeah, the present list looks like we are slowly getting there, though there may of course be some minor changes. However, there is no text on the Char Dham article. Can you help with that? Regarding Hampi, as I said previously, I have no objection to changing that as there are probably more deserving sites in places like Rajasthan. Where do you suggest? WindHorse 11:34, 15 February 2007 (EST)
No, I don't accept this, and I don't want to encourage Apalaria's ghoonda-like behavior either. Apalaria, you keep on putting back the same old changes, but you're not listening to us at all! You're ranting about some bizarre pro-Southern conspiracy (!?!), but before your revision there were 3 out of 9 in the south and now there are only 2! Is that fair or balanced?
Once again: this is not a ranking of the "holiest places" in India (in itself an absurd idea: is the place where the Buddha achieved enlightenment "holier" than the birthplace of Krishna?), this is a list of sacred sites that are also tourist destinations. Tourists go to Khajuraho because of the erotic sculptures and they go to Varanasi because burning corpses are creepy. They don't usually go to Vrindavan or holy sites up in the mountains because, well, there's not much to see if you're not a Hindu believer yourself. Jpatokal 11:52, 15 February 2007 (EST)
Personally, I don't have a problem with Apalaria's sacred sites list, though you have your point of view and that's fine. What I strongly objected to was his amendments to the city's list, which made no sense at all. As for his attitude, I have not given it much thought other than to notice that it takes a little longer to extract the relevant facts from his argument than from most contributors, but that's ok. Anyway, that's my position. WindHorse 12:43, 15 February 2007 (EST)

I have no problem with adding an article on Char Dham, if that's what is needed here. Regarding Jpatokal's views, he/she should be changing the the title of the sacred places section if he/she wants to have some erotica there. "Tourists go to Khajuraho because of the erotic sculptures and they go to Varanasi because burning corpses are creepy. They don't usually go to Vrindavan or holy sites up in the mountains because, well, there's not much to see if you're not a Hindu believer yourself." Obviously, I have no idea about the religious beliefs of Jpatokal him/herself; but India is a Hindu majority secular nation, and is the birth-place of Hinduism and several other religions thereafter (each of which borrows heavily from the original Hindu faith). Naturally, in the list of Hindu sacred places, it is the places which aptly represent Hindu religion that must be included: Anyone interested in knowing about the Indian culture and Hindu history must visit the Himalayas (which happens to be the only region where "pure Indo-Aryan" tribes exist to this day). And regarding Himalayas, Jpatokal's argument of "tourist places" falls totally lame, since, there is no comparison to the majestic beauty of the Himalayas, especially in the higher reaches around Char Dham. In fact, non-religious tourism in Uttarakhand in on a steep rise, with more and more sporting opportunities (mountaineering, skiing, river-rafting, etc.) being provided there. Similarly, Vrindavan and Ayodhya are the only existing places in India that are credited with being the birthplaces of some Hindu Gods. If non-Catholics visit Vatican, I see absolutely no reason why non-Hindus would not visit Vrindavan. And let us not forget that Vrindavan is already among the places with a high number of foreign tourists. Finally, people who are interested in erotica, and not so much sacred places, might want to visit Khajuraho, or perhaps, they have a better option in the numerous bars available in any of the "major cities" (except Jaipur perhaps)! I have no problem with whatever term Jpatokal chooses to call my in-place and very logical arguments, but so long I am confident of what I am speaking, I will continue to exercise my freedom of speech, and do my best to avoid any hegemony or biases here. apalaria 00:02, Feb 17, 2007

Regarding replacement for Hampi, how about Lake Palace in Udaipur? For more details please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Udaipur%2C_Rajasthan OR http://www.rajasthantourism.gov.in/destinations/udaipur/udaipuroverview.htm apalaria 00:04, Feb 17, 2007

You see, my friend, you have freedom of speech and so do I. Does reverting back and forth serve any useful purpose? Why don't we just find something we can all agree on?
So, I've shuffled the list once more, keeping most of Apalaria's proposals. If you actually write the bloody article on Char Dham I'll be happy to add it to the main page as an itinerary — but right now, it does travellers no service at all to add a red link.
As for natural wonders and sports, I'm all for adding a list of those too, but somebody needs to pick the cream of the crop from Indian National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries. Jpatokal 00:56, 17 February 2007 (EST)
Hi Apalaria. Great. I was also thinking of the Lake Palace as a replacement for Hampi as it is an internationally famous site. In fact, along with the Taj, it is probably one of India's most recognized landmarks. I'll make the change accordingly. As I said earlier, I don't have problem with you sacred sites list. However, I think the main bone of contention is our focus. As you know, Wikitravel aims to provide information for a wide cross-section of travelers. So, the places listed on a country's front page article (even in the Sacred sites section) should be based on that criteria. Of course, travelers also includes pilgrims, but listings are not created for them exclusively. If the Vatican only attracted Catholics on a pilgrimage, then it would be unlikely to be given prominence on a Wikitravel article, but like Varanasi and to a lesser extent Bodh Gaya it also attracts not believers of those religions. So, in your opinion, does Vrindavan meet the criteria of attracting a a wide cross-section of tourists or does Khajuraho better suite this requirement? Furthermore, please remember that it is the nature of the site that is the deciding factor in which places are listed, not the religion itself. For example, if a huge and spectacular Hindu monument built in a predominantly Christian or Buddhist country became a tourist destination, then even though it does not represent the beliefs of the majority of the indigenous population, that site would still meet the criteria for being listed on the front page,. Anyway, in the light if this info, I'd be grateful if you could give the Vrindava vs Khajuraho some more thought, and let us know what you think. Unfortunately, as have not been to either place, I'm afraid I cannot offer any input on this. Yes, if you could add info to the Char Dham site, that would be great. The Sleep section for Bodh Gaya is also a little empty, so anything you could add to that would also be helpful to travelers. Thanks a lot. WindHorse 01:13, 17 February 2007 (EST)
I was too slow typing, and most of the changes have already been made. Cheers. WindHorse 01:15, 17 February 2007 (EST)
Apalaria, create the Char Dham article and tell me what's wrong with Madurai. Otherwise I'll keep using my "freedom of speech" and reverting you. Jpatokal 08:50, 17 February 2007 (EST)
I agree. We need more info on why Char Dham should replace Madurai. This has not been discussed yet. WindHorse 08:57, 17 February 2007 (EST)
Whoohoo, you did! Unfortunately it looks like a second-class toilet after a 36-hour train ride. Please format as an itinerary and create articles for the four main destinations in it — I'll help out later, but now I've gotta go catch a plane... Jpatokal 08:54, 17 February 2007 (EST)

Okay, so the Char Dham page is up. Please go to the Char Dham page, and you will know why it is more important than either of Madurai or Ajanta-Ellora. Any help with the page is highly appreciated. apalaria 10:45 EST, Feb 17, 2007

I've taken a look at the info for both places on Wikipedia and agree that Char Dham probably is more of an important tourist and pilgrimage site than Madurai. However, until the stuff copied from other sites (eg: [3]) has been removed from the article, I oppose its addition on the front page. Once this issue has been dealt I will no longer object. Cheers. WindHorse 11:00, 17 February 2007 (EST)
So I haven't thoroughly read the long-winded conversation above, but I just spent about a year in India, and I've never heard of Vrindavan or Chan Dham. Not that that's a measure of much... but if Chan Dham is going to replace something, I think it should be Vrindavan, rather than Madurai. For one, there isn't an article written yet about V, and Madurai is pretty hugely visited, and then also used as a base for the plethora of other temple sites around Tamil Nadu - Cacahuate 03:54, 18 February 2007 (EST)
Ooh, another thought... what about creating a travel topic such as Sacred sites of India, with sections for all of the religions. Then we're not trying to fit a sea of possibilities into a list of 9 - Cacahuate 04:01, 18 February 2007 (EST)
That's a good idea. In fact, let's give that a try. Like national parks, there are just too many sacred sites in India to fit into a selection of nine. A specialist page with the main sacred sites listed will be convenient for people coming to India purely for spiritual reasons. Anyway, I'll set it up, and if there a lot dissent, then we can always hit the roll back button. WindHorse 04:12, 18 February 2007 (EST)
I'll dissent, for one. A comprehensive list of sacred sites for India would be near-infinitely long, and the point of the main India page is to give selected pointers, not whack readers on the head with a phonebookful of listings. Jpatokal 02:26, 20 February 2007 (EST)
By setting this up, I was thinking in terms of the major sacred sites, not every garden shrine. It can still be limited, but by increasing the number of sites listed it facilitates more people whose specific purpose to visit India is for pilgrimage. Such a list will give them the opportunity to find places directly, rather than going through regional lists. The hodgepodge list of mixed religious sites on the front page does not accomplish this, because obviously most Hindus will not be interested in the Sikh shrines and Sikhs not interested in the Buddhist ones, and therefore merely listing one Sikh holy place is of no benefit to Sikhs traveling to India on pilgrimage. Now, if you are dissenting on the basis of tourists finding a destination of interest, then the places don't necessarily have to be listed as sacred sites, rather as Other destinations with spiritual significance, because except for Varanasi and possibly Rishikesh/Haridwar most tourists will be less interested in the ritual, special festivals excluded, than in the the architecture. Certainly Ellora and Ajanta fit this category and I believe that most visitors who trek over to Bodh Gaya are Buddhist as are those who make the journey out to Sarnath, because, to be frank, there is not much there of interest to the casual visitor. To conclude, I feel that a Sacred site list as a travel topic is no less valid than Electronics and entertainment shopping in Thailand, Golf in China, California desert camping or Tramping in New Zealand, because like these articles it serves to supply information suited to a specific group of people with specialist interests and, yes, I do believe that the Sacred sites article should include basic information about the religions and possibly their historical connections with India, and not just be a telephone directory of names. Anyway, I do understand your point, and I fully agree with you if we are looking at the matter from the point of view of a front page listing, and this why it has been changed to a travel topic - to supply more detailed information to a specific interest group. Significant sacred sites that are of interest to tourists can still be listed under Other destinations. Anyway, that's my point, but if you strongly disagree, that's OK. I agree that your point is also valid and that the setting up of a Sacred sites specialist page does have it flaws and draw backs. As with most thing, nothing is 100% right or wrong. Let's see what others think, and I am happy to accord with the general consensus. WindHorse 03:36, 20 February 2007 (EST)

New proposal

My thoughts for liking this idea is that perhaps then we can just have 9 listings total under "Other destinations", rather than having it subdivided into a few groups of 9. There's so many different religions in India that trying to list 7-9 on the main page is opening up unecessary headaches, trying to cover all bases, and in the process putting things on the main page that maybe aren't that worthy were it not a religious debate. I think just list the couple that are undeniably large tourist sites (Varanasi the most obvious). Whether we follow this idea or revert back to the "Sacred sites" section, the new travel topic should remain, I think it has good potential. Getting it to 9 may be a little tight, but I think with the other sections it was getting too loose.

A first attempt at what only 9 destinations would look like:

  1. Agra
  2. Amritsar
  3. Dharamsala or Bodh Gaya
  4. Hampi
  5. Khajuraho
  6. Mysore
  7. Shimla
  8. Udaipur or Jaisalmer
  9. Varanasi

Others to consider: Madurai, Ellora/Ajanta,

Shimla and Mysore, to me, are the weakest of these and easiest to replace.

Char Dam could be mentioned under the Himalaya North description in the "Regions" section to satisfy that argument if people really think it needs a mention on the main page.

Am I crazy? What am I overlooking? - Cacahuate 14:37, 21 February 2007 (EST)

Sounds eminently reasonable to me. In the interest of geographic variety, I'd suggest dropping Shimla for Madurai and pipping for Jaisalmer over Udaipur (as Jaipur is already in the Cities section). I'm not sure which of Dharamsala, Bodh Gaya or Ellora/Ajanta should get the Buddhist spot though... if we need more space, one option might also be to pop Amritsar (a big city) into the Cities list to replace Ahmedabad, which is big but rather untouristy. Jpatokal 00:49, 22 February 2007 (EST)
Yep, I agree, though as the former summer capital of British India, Shimla is a very popular destination both for foreign travelers and domestic tourists. Therefore, I suggest switching Hampi, not Shimla for Madurai. As for the Buddhist spot, it is a no competition - Bodh Gaya wins hands down. Dharamsala is popular with some followers of Vajrayana Buddhism and Ellora and Ajanta will draw in a few dedicated believers, but Bodh Gaya is sacred to all Buddhists and is their number one pilgrimage site. WindHorse 01:23, 22 February 2007 (EST)
I totally agree with both on all those points... I'm gonna swap out Ahmedabad for Amritsar now. So:

Round 2

  1. Agra
  2. Bodh Gaya
  3. Hampi
  4. Khajuraho
  5. Madurai
  6. Mysore
  7. Shimla
  8. Jaisalmer
  9. Varanasi

Any objections to this being the "Other destinations" list of 9? - Cacahuate 01:47, 22 February 2007 (EST)

Support, and I also agree that Amritsar is a more deserving candidate than Ahmedabad for inclusion in the Cities section. My only dissension is Hampi. It is a great place, but just not that high on the list of Indian destinations. Personally, I think that Udaipur, with its internationally famous Lake Palace, is probably a better choice. Anyway, this is just a suggestion that I'm throwing into the discussion. If you don't agree, that's fine. The list is already good. WindHorse 02:20, 22 February 2007 (EST)
Well... the only reason I wouldn't change it is that then we'd be listing Jaipur, Jaisalmer and Udaipur on the main page, making it a little Rajasthan heavy... but it is the most touristed state... I really like Hampi though, and most foreign visitors that reach the south try to go through there, I think... at least they should ;) - Cacahuate 02:33, 22 February 2007 (EST)
Ah, I'd forgotten about Jaipur being on the main city list. As you say, adding Udaipur would really be an over load of Rajasthan destinations. Yeah, I agree about Hampi. It is great little place, and in easy reach of Bangalore and Mumbai/Pune, so let's leave it on the list. No combination will ever satisfy everyone, but I think this one is pretty representative of India and (with a little open-mindedness and flexibility) should be acceptable to most contributors, so, yes, support. WindHorse 02:49, 22 February 2007 (EST)
Sorry for not speaking up earlier (This topic gives me a headache). But I have the following problem:
Q: Why are Shimla, Jaisalmer, etc. under "Other destinations" when they are cities?
A:Umm... because... Shimla and Jaisalmer are more of tourist attractions rather than the list on top, which is...
Q: Which is?
A: Actually, it is just a list of the largest cities.
Q: But the list of cities under "Cities" is not supposed to be the list of largest cities. It is supposed to be a list of cities travellers are most likely to visit. That was the stand taken in other country guide, including the USA. So why is that list there?
A: Well... actually, back when Ravi was practically the only guy editing the India guide, he did not feel qualified to come up with a short list of 9 cities most interesting to the traveller without there being a consensus of travellers. So he wimped out and set up a section called "Large cities" where he listed cities strictly by size, on the heuristic that a large city is more likely to be interesting to a traveller.
Q: So you are just continuing with a bad decision taken by him when quite clearly now you do not face the constraints he faced?
A: Well I suppose you could say that.
Q: Wait a minute. Amritsar is not in the list of the largest 9 cities! It should be Ahmedabad.
A: Actually, yes. We changed that because we figured that Amritsar is more interesting to the traveller..."
Q: Hey that was your criterion for "Other destinations"!
A:...
Q: So... basically, the first list is "Cities most interesting to the traveller and the second is "Even more cities and some other destinations interesting to the traveller because we couldn't agree on just 9"?
To avoid the problem, I think that now that we've started, we should just prune the whole list to 9. Let's keep the four metros - Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata for size.
  • Keep Bangalore for its IT importance,
  • add Varanasi,
  • Keep one of Jaipur/Jaisalmer/Udaipur,
  • Agra for its Taj Mahal
  • one of Madurai/Mysore/Cochin for Southern balance. If it comes to that, let's take a decision to get the list to 10 and then decide that any further additions or changes should gain a consensus. Restrict the "Other destinations" to places like Khajuraho, Hampi, Bodh gaya that aren't really cities. In addition, there we add the groups of destinations that people visit, like the Buddhist circuit, or Hindu religious circuit, Rajasthan/Goa/Kerala/Northeast circuit or whatever, and encourage people to make itineraries for them. — Ravikiran 08:05, 22 February 2007 (EST)
Hey Ravi, I was wondering where you were. Thanks for the Q & A account of the situation. Actually, that proposal is fine with me, and as you state, it actually accords with WT policy on listings. So, based on your ideas, here's a new proposal.

City (Proposal 1):

Out of the options, I vote for Jaipur and Cochin (Mysore is great, but very close Bangalore. Pune, likewise is an interesting town, but too near Mumbai) Others?

Other destinations (proposal 1)

WindHorse 08:32, 22 February 2007 (EST)

I think y'all are defining "city" a little too strictly here: India and its cities are generally so huge that a place like Jaisalmer, with a pop. of ~350,000, barely makes it into the top 1000 based on size.
Also, Agra and Madurai resemble Khajuraho and (Bodh) Gaya in that they're towns that happen to contain one single massive attraction — whereas Cities with capital C are visited because they contain lots of stuff. Agra is kinda borderline because it really is big, but I'd suggest kicking Madurai, Jaisalmer and Shimla down into Other, and popping for Kochi as the "southern balance" city. Jpatokal 08:56, 22 February 2007 (EST)
We are unlikely to get a solution to suit everyone, but I think it is good to make a decision on this earlier rather then later. Jpatokal raises some good points, but I think it might over complicate the issue. An urban area with a population of over 350,000 is still a city to me, and knowing that there are larger centers of population in the same country doesn't diminish the sense of being in an urban environment (though there will obviously be differences between a city of 350,00 and a city of 1 million as there will be between a city of 1 million and one of 8 million - where do we draw the line of what constitutes a city?) Furthermore, due to India's diverse history and varying regional laws, it is not necessarily true that a large city will have a greater variety of attractions than a much smaller one. Take for example Ahmadabad. It has more than five times the population of Mysore, yet Mysore has far more tourist attractions. Likewise, because Karnataka's laws are more liberal that those of Gujarat, there is also a greater diversity of night life. Shimla and Patna is an even more extreme example of a small town offering a much wider range of attractions than a much larger center of population. So, based on this, I go for Ravi's solution of using the Cities section to list cities of all sizes and to use the Other destinations section to exclusively list places such as national parks, sites of archaeological interest, such as Hampi, Ellora, Ajanta or sacred sites, such as Bodh Gaya (which incidentally is over 15kms from Gaya city). If we can find enough places in U.S. outside of urban areas to create a respectable list of other destinations (see: United States of America #Other destinations), then surely it will be no problem in a country with an ancient civilization like India. Finally, to accommodate Jpatokal's concerns that places like Agra will occupy a spot on the city list when in reality people only travel there to see the Taj, I wonder whether it would it be worth considering the UK model of listing landmarks (United Kingdom#Landmarks) - or are we then going round in circles.... In short, I prefer to adopt Ravi's proposal, though as I consider the other ideas to also have their merits, I am happy to accept any of those if that's the way the consensus flows. WindHorse 01:17, 23 February 2007 (EST)
Any of that sounds fine to me too... but it definitely looks like we can get it to a list of 9 cities and a list of 9 other destinations, without subsections, which I think is much better. We could list the "Taj Mahal in Agra" in the other destinations section rather than cities, since it's really the Taj that is the "other destination" - Cacahuate 14:24, 23 February 2007 (EST)
Ok, then based on people's input, here's are new proposals:

City (Proposal 1):


Other destinations (proposal 1)

We are unlikely to get a perfect combination to suit everyone's ideas, but how does this look? Are we getting close to a consensus, moving further away or going around in circles? If you could give some feedback, then we can move on. Thanks. Furthermore, I'd appreciate a decision being made regarding the Sacred sites of India article. At the moment it is stuck in limbo. Please take a look at the Talk page there and offer comments, then if people want it to be deleted, I'll propose it for vfd. If not, then I'll start the process of improving it. At the moment it is useless and I'm hesitant to make a major overhaul until I feel that there is a consensus for keeping. Thanks again. WindHorse 19:45, 23 February 2007 (EST)

This is looking good to me! I like the second way to list in OD (Taj Mahal in Agra)... and we should add "Golden Temple" in Amritsar to OD. At any rate, it feels like we've gotten close, perhaps... if we were to implement this, then at least there's a good base and any little annoyances that come up later are just a matter of adding/swapping if consensus is reached... I think we should do it for now, any objections? Still 1 more slot in OD for a genius addition - Cacahuate 13:45, 24 February 2007 (EST)
OK - then let's do it. WindHorse 23:08, 24 February 2007 (EST)
I realised that I hadn't commented on this after my outburst. Just want to say that I like how this is going. I think a good way to differentiate the two is to think of whether foreigners look for a city or a specific attraction that happens to be in a city. So the Taj should be under "Other destinations" even though Agra is a big city, because people look for the Taj and not for Agra. Mumbai should be under cities because people look for Mumbai. — Ravikiran 07:18, 26 February 2007 (EST)
Thanks for the positive feedback on the current set up, which actually is pretty much based on your earlier suggestions. 08:30, 26 February 2007 (EST)

Incredible India

...is the official state-run campaign to encourage tourism in India ((c) Ministry of Tourism - Incredible India - Government of India 2006, quoth the bottom of the page), so it's the country's primary link. Jpatokal 22:55, 4 December 2006 (EST)

What does this mean...

Another choice for tourers is the new kid on the block, the Bajaj Pulsar twins. These bikes are available...,... easy to maintain and also have excellent drinking habits...

excellent drinking habits. bikes. Is this a pun, or simply a case of trolling?? Upamanyuwikitravel 10:52, 18 February 2007 (EST)

I think they are talking of the petrol drinking habits, i.e. fuel efficiency. — Ravikiran 13:35, 18 February 2007 (EST)
I tried to clarify that and give figures (roughly 48 kilometers per liter/30 miles per quarter gallon), but those figures seem a little too good to be true. Does anyone know for sure? -- Sapphire 14:05, 18 February 2007 (EST)
They do seem a little too good, but here are the figures.
  • [4] - 100km/L (sounds impossible)
  • [5] - 45-50km/L (a review)
  • [6] - 30-35km/L (the same site)

Personally, I have no clue. I know nothing about motorbikes, I'm too much into F1 cars! Upamanyuwikitravel 06:17, 19 February 2007 (EST)

It needn't be surprising. Motorcycles can easily achieve such fuel economies. It just happens that while in India they are used for cost-conscious people for transport, in the West, only hobbyists drive them, and they are concerned with speed and power rather than fuel economy. — Ravikiran 07:16, 19 February 2007 (EST)
Most of the bikes there that I've ridden on have almost no hp compared to what we have in the US, so it does make sense - Cacahuate 20:09, 19 February 2007 (EST)
I'm changing it to ...excellent mileage upto a 100km/L. That okay with you folks?? Upamanyuwikitravel 08:49, 20 February 2007 (EST)

Lead Photo

Can't we come to a concensus on this one. I see the Taj Mahal one day, a lake in Jodhpur the next and there was a photo of the India Gate as well!I'm not too comfortable with Taj, although it is a wonder-of-the-world, it does not really capture the spirit of India. Upamanyuwikitravel 06:39, 27 February 2007 (EST)

I don't like the Taj photo either. It makes it look like Wikitravel lacks imagination. — Ravikiran 06:41, 27 February 2007 (EST)
I agree, though what image could be used that is both representative of India as a whole, but not stereotypical (How about a picture of a young and smiling Upamanyuwikitravel to capture the spirit of modern India?) WindHorse 10:16, 27 February 2007 (EST)
Hey windhorse, that's very nice of you!
Maybe a great Bharatanatyam shot? Don't have one to offer, but if one was to be found... or a Rajasthani dude in a huge pink turban? Or a camel biting a tourist kid in the ass, sort of like that old sunscreen advertisement where the dog is tugging at the kids undies? - Cacahuate 14:41, 27 February 2007 (EST)
Good one, Cacahuate. But please don't remind me of dogs tugging at undies, I've had some pretty nasty experiences myself at Bombay (needed to take 6 anti-rabies injections to recover!). Needless to mention, it was the end of the undies as well!

But I like the Jaswant Thada Lake image, although I agree that a better one would be welcome. Rajasthani dude in turban shouldn't be hard to find. Upamanyuwikitravel 05:37, 28 February 2007 (EST)

Baksheesh

Why is baksheesh being refered to as bribe? It's more like a tip/reward for services offered, and sometimes given to get the service done! It's a bit like tipping in New York. The word for bribe is Rishwat (Hindi) or Ghoosh (Bengali), dunno for other Indian lingos, but the prime thing is that BAKSHEESH AIN'T BRIBE. So unless anyone has something to say, I'm gonna change it by tomorrow. Although corruption is high in India, it does not mean that wikitravel should encourage travellers to pay bribe, it's morally wrong, and the person who wrote this knows it. Upamanyuwikitravel 08:49, 2 March 2007 (EST)

Paying money to people so they do a service they're supposed to anyway is a bribe. Wikitravel doesn't encourage people to do anything, it just tells it like it is and lets them decide by themselves. Jpatokal 12:28, 2 March 2007 (EST)
Jani, I'm afraid you misunderstand me. Baksheesh can be
  • A) A reward, a bit like a tip
  • B) A small sum of money so that a person goes out of his way to do something that isn't part of this job.

I agree that paying people to do stuff they are supposed to do is bribe. And although that is very much prevalant in the country, it does not mean that everyone does it. Bribe is something very different, a common example is paying the Municipal Corporation a few ten-thousand bucks to get legal papers quickly or something like that. So I'm removing it and changing the wording right away.

Paying people money to do something they are supposed to do is known as speed money (at least in Delhi slang it is, I dunno about other Indian cities). Upamanyuwikitravel 05:23, 3 March 2007 (EST)

I'm afraid you misunderstand English. Bribe: the offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of any item of value to influence the actions as an official or other person in discharge of a public or legal duty. Your "speed money" is a small bribe, and the only difference to a large bribe is the size of the payment. Baksheesh can refer to tips (A,B) and to bribes, so the article is thus perfectly correct. Jpatokal 08:17, 3 March 2007 (EST)


P.S. I did not mean that speed money isn't bribe, I know that it is. I meant that baksheesh is not= bribe, which is a fact. Upamanyuwikitravel 09:22, 3 March 2007 (EST) P.S. Ok, maybe you're right. But why are you so rude about everything? {I'm afraid you misunderstand English.) Is it because of the pic incident? If User:Cacahuate and User:WindHorse can forget about that and encourage me to plunge forward and edit articles, why do you have to reply with a sarcastic (no, rude) comment each time I merely ask a question? Do you hate kids or something like that? This should go on your talk page, but you'll probably delete it and write misplaced whining like you did last time, so I've left it here. Upamanyuwikitravel 09:22, 3 March 2007 (EST)

I'm not being rude or sarcastic — to me, your earlier comments indicated that you genuinely don't understand what a "bribe" means, and that you were trying to sweep this issue under the carpet. But I'm not going to blow sunshine up your ass either: if you make a comment or edit that I think is misguided or outright wrong, I'll say so. Don't take it personally, I do the same to everybody else, and you're welcome to do it right back. Jpatokal 01:31, 4 March 2007 (EST)
I have a problem with this sentence.

While it is a big problem in India, indulging in it can ease certain problems and clear some hurdles.

No doubt it can! But this makes it sound as if wikitravel encourages people to bribe others. Upamanyuwikitravel 08:28, 3 March 2007 (EST)


The thing is, it is both a tip and a bribe, and it is usually difficult to distinguish between the two without context. A tip is something you pay out of your own free will out because you appreciate services received, or because it is customary. If you pay the waiter because you are happy with the service, it is a tip. If you are forced to pay because the restaurant is a legal monopoly enforced by the government and the implicit threat is that if you don't pay the waiter will spit on your food the next time, then it is a bribe, even though the waiter may describe it as baksheesh and may show an ingratiating tone while asking for it. The unfortunate fact is that many payments styled as baksheesh are in reality bribes, or, more accurately extortion. Back in the bad old days when the government had a monopoly on your telephone, not paying Diwali baksheesh to your linesman meant that your phone line would develop a mysterious fault which would require multiple visits by the linesman to rectify, and wouldn't go away unless you paid extra baksheesh.

But then the fact remains that it is customary to hand out baksheesh to people who serve you on special or festive occasions. It is also customary for them to ask for baksheesh, and they tend to be persistent about it. (unlike waiters in the west who merely hint of it.) It is important to explain this to foreigners and make it clear that not all apparent demands for baksheesh are in fact extortion threats. It is also an unfortunate fact that often, you have to give in to these extortion threats — we can't expectforeigners who are here on a holiday to fight a crusade we should be fighting. On the other hand, there are many demands for baksheesh that really need not be and should not be paid — ones that just prey on the cluelessness of foreigners. It is also important to warn them of those too, at appropriate places throughout the guide. I will write up this explanation later in the day. — Ravikiran 02:07, 4 March 2007 (EST)

Metros

For some time, I remember that the nine major cities were described as "Metros". While I don't think that there is an official status, only the big four — Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai are uncontroversially considered metropolitan cities, and these days Bangalore is included among them. — Ravikiran 02:25, 4 March 2007 (EST)

Ya, that's true. Hyderabad is sometimes considered a metro, but not always. Pune isn't, nor is Ahmedabad — although they have 2 digit STD codes.

Phone

The Contact/Phone section was rather confusing now, so I attempted to make it a little clearer. Please correct if there are any issues. I'd also explain the weird way 1800 numbers work (or don't work) in India depending on your operator, but I still don't understand the system! Jpatokal 03:31, 4 March 2007 (EST)

Mere mortals cannot understand the system, but after poking around a bit, I think that what we have right now approximates the situation on the ground. I think that the system of dialling 95 within a state is true only to a first approximation. It is actually true for dialling within what we call telecom "circle" which generally covers a state, but sometimes covers more and occasionally less. For example, I think that here Maharashtra and Goa are within the same circle. I don't think I can add more details without making the whole thing hopelessly confusing. Also, I think the 1-800 number situation is simply that those numbers are controlled by BSNL and MTNL, and they are gridlocked with all other providers regarding how payment is to be made, so tollfree numbers can be called only from a BSNL or MTNL number. — Ravikiran 04:07, 4 March 2007 (EST)
Sorry, I'm more confused now. So is the within-circle syntax 95+area code+number? And there definitely are Airtel-only 1800 numbers, eg. [7]. Jpatokal 05:41, 4 March 2007 (EST)
OK you win. I had never seen a non BSNL/MTNL 1-800 number before. Essentially you are right then. The various service providers haven't managed to agree on how to share revenue from the toll-free numbers.
About the telecom circles, that is correct. I haven't been able to find a definitive list of circles, but a) they approximate state boundaries, but not always (Maharashtra and Goa are the same circle while Eastern and Western UP are different circles all by themselves) and b) the circles are different for landline providers and mobile providers. — Ravikiran 07:53, 4 March 2007 (EST)


1-800 is used for national toll free nos, I think. Upamanyuwikitravel 06:54, 4 March 2007 (EST) Telecom circles in India don't have much to do with geography. Bombay and Pune (200 kms apart) are in the same telecom circle but Delhi and Ghaziabad (bordering the state) aren't. Upamanyuwikitravel 06:57, 4 March 2007 (EST) The moral of the story - This is India. Don't try and understand how the system works, just dial as you're told! Upamanyuwikitravel 06:57, 4 March 2007 (EST)

Old Monk for Rs. 170!?

"Rs 170-250 for a 750mL bottle of Old Monk" — where, dare I ask? Jpatokal 12:41, 30 March 2007 (EDT)

Maps

There seem to be a project on Commons to create maps for India and Indian cities. Can be quite useful to use those here. See Commons Category:WikiProject India Maps --NJR_ZA 17:32, 15 April 2007 (EDT)

Good job, but...

I just had the chance to read the article, and I was amazed by the information it gives about our lovely country. I applaud the work of all Wikians who are working to make it better.

But while reading the later part, specially the sections after how to travel, it increasingly becomes an article on why not to travel to India. I understand that it is a good practice to make the prospective tourists aware of the risks involved, but the warnings actually dominate the article and might prove to be spoilers rather than helpers. I suggest that more information be given on what all things can be enjoyed in India, and, to be safe, the above precautions must be taken. I will try to put in some points that will do the same.

However, that is just my viewpoint. I can be wrong. Keep up the good work guys.Chintu rohit 09:56, 3 May 2007 (EDT)

Thanks for your comments! While I encourage you to plunge forward and make some edits, keep in mind that the traveller comes first. Basically, we need to focus on what's going to be most helpful to travellers-- this may include focusing on some negative possibilities more than encouraging people to travel to a particular destination. It's important to be fair! Let me know if you have any questions. Thanks! Maj 10:20, 3 May 2007 (EDT)


If anything, I think the article should emphasize a little more that India really is not for everybody, and in quite a few ways it's one of the world's most demanding travel destinations. Can't put up with seriously dodgy hygiene, often unbearable weather, uncomfortable and dangerous transportation, and 1.3 billion people who haven't quite caught onto Western ideas about personal space or fecal-oral contamination? India's probably not the best place to go. Jpatokal 10:24, 3 May 2007 (EDT)

Hyderabad instead of Bangalore? - The case for.

An anonymous contributor added Hyderabad to the cities list and I had to revert it because of the 9 cities rule. Here is the listing.

  • Hyderabad — With the formation of Greater Hyderabad it is now the second largest city in India. Hyderabad, also known as City of Pearls, was once famous for Golconda diamonds and is now a major IT hub and home of Charminar, Golconda and the world famous Salarjung Museum.

I want to see if there is a case for having Hyderabad replace Bangalore. The reasons for are:

  • Hyderabad is almost as big as Bangalore in terms of size
  • It is far more interesting for the tourist.
  • It will do just as well as Bangalore as a representative of an IT hub city.
  • It will do just as well as Bangalore as a Southern city.
  • Since April 17, it is the "second largest city in India" in terms of size. (Personally I don't care for such administrative stunts, but there it is. )
  • The Hyderabad guide will look much better than the Bangalore guide once I am done with it (ahem...)

I am personally not taking a stand either way and I am not suggesting action any time soon, but I want to throw this out here and see how the discussion develops. — Ravikiran 06:51, 22 May 2007 (EDT)

My only argument against the swap is that Bangalore is more of a "household name" than Hyderabad (perhaps assuming that one's household includes an IT worker whose job {has been/may be} exported). - Todd VerBeek 07:17, 22 May 2007 (EDT)
I still go for Bangalore for the following reasons: It is far more internationally well known that Hyderabad and, in addition to IT, which is only a recent phenomenon, Bangalore has been famous since the British colonial times for its beautiful gardens and vast expanses of green, for which people still visit the city (albeit with a little more of a cough and a splutter than in the pre-IT era!) Hyderabad is no doubt a worthy candidate for the front page (and is a city I personally like and I'm sure Bill Gates would support the proposal), but I strongly believe that Bangalore's international status together with its foreign visitor figures (just take a look at the number of 'splurge' category hotels that are located there - also the number of hits on Google is around a third more for B than for H) make a very strong case for it being listed on the front page. Although an historical city, Chennai has been quite lacking in vitality for some years, and comparatively neither attracts a great many tourists or business people, so if a southern city has to be replaced to make room for Hyderabad, then perhaps Chennai is the better candidate. Anyway, just throwing a few ideas into the pot... WindHorse 08:06, 22 May 2007 (EDT)

I suggest dumping Simla or Cochin instead. Hyderabad is definitely a more important than either of those two. Bangalore can't be dropped for obvious reasons, and I don't see why Simla is up there (beautiful city btw) instead of Hyderabad. Added by contributor 'Wandering'

I'm also not adverse to swapping either Cochin or Shimla to accommodate Hyderabad. Shimla is the obvious candidate to get the chop as it is quite small, though if people prefer to keep the switch local, then I'm fine with loosing Cochin. I think Hyderabad's case is strong enough to dislodge either of these two places and, in my opinion, also Chennai, but I don't believe the city's influence or fame surpasses that of Bangalore nor do I believe that it has higher visitor figures (not yet at least, though maybe after Bill Gates has pumped in a few more billion $$s and Ravi's influence has been felt the situation might change). In short, it seems that the main competition for a slot on the front page is between Hyderabad and Chennai, Shimla and Cochin, not Bangalore as so far nobody has supported that option. Opinions? WindHorse 10:35, 22 May 2007 (EDT)
I wouldn't dump any of those for Hyderabad, personally... if anything, then Bangalore, but certainly not any of the others. Chennai isn't the most amazing thing ever, but is a stop on many (dare I say most?) visitors itineraries when visiting the south... it receives int'l flights, and many people also end there and then fly back to Delhi/Bombay for their home flight, etc... Shimla and Cochin are also super popular and add diversity to the list. I vote for keeping the list the way it is, for now – cacahuate talk 14:34, 22 May 2007 (EDT)
I can live without Hyderabad (do note though that it receives quite a few international flights now, including British A. and Lufthansa) but dropping Bangalore would be wrong. If nothing else, it is a major domestic transport hub. And, think of all the IT guys on a three day visit to Bangalore who look for the city in wikitravel and will be disappointed if they couldn't find it easily!--Wandering 14:52, 22 May 2007 (EDT)
Yeah, Cacahuate makes a good point regarding the current mix of cities as being something worth preserving. However, I'm not sure that I agree that most visitors to the south include Chennai on their itinerary, as many head west to Kerala. In addition, as I stated above, Bangalore has much more to offer than IT - even before the city's explosion on the international business scene it was well known as the garden city of India and received many visitors. Also, most people visiting Hampi, Mysore and the large Tibetan community in the south of Karnataka will inevitably pass through Bangalore. Finally, though, if consensus does eventually swing towards including Hyderabad, I still prefer to drop Shimla (as beautiful as it is), because the city is really very small (only around 160,000 inhabitants), and therefore lacks the diversity of activities and sights that larger cities offer (or Chennai, if people prefer to keep the switch local). Anyway, unless Ravi has a strong objection, then maybe we just leave Hyderabad to languish in the sidelines until his positive influence there has raised its profile so much that it will be an undisputed and uncontested candidate. Is that ok with everyone? WindHorse 22:10, 22 May 2007 (EDT)
Works for me! Actually I wouldn't disagree with anything you just said, you make a good case, as usual  :) – cacahuate talk 01:28, 23 May 2007 (EDT)

Revert of Sarasvati

In response to your email, yes I did look over your edit before reverting it, as did WindHorse before the first revert. When dealing with political situations it's generally better here to try and remain neutral, as I said in the edit summary, Wikipedia is the ecyclopedia where you can hash out the details of history, over here we just want to build a travel guide. Your anti-British stance isn't unwarranted or uncommon, it just doesn't belong here. – cacahuate talk 19:43, 26 May 2007 (EDT)

I own up. I actually hadn't noticed the rump of the edit, and the focus of my revert was the line 'India prides itself on being the world's largest democracy,' which had been changed to a less explicit 'India is the world's largest democracy.' However, I fully agree with Cacahuate's explanation. While the excesses of colonialism are well documented and there is probably no one more against colonial-type hegemony than me, we need to recognize that this is a travel guide, not an encyclopedia. Therefore, the focus of our efforts is to provide information pertinent to the traveler. Every nation has had troubled history, but we do not have the recourses, nor is it our aim, to research and document this here. Furthermore, as many historical events are contentious, it would be difficult to gain a consensus of opinion about such matters (for example, a rebel to one person is a freedom-fighter to another), and so a lot of time and effort would be diverted from actually compiling information that is useful to travelers to dealing with historical data. In short, we would no longer be a travel guide, but a kind of on-line version of National Geographic. Anyway, we appreciate your sentiments, but I hope that you can understand and also accept our reasons for maintaining a more neutral stance on historical events. Thanks. WindHorse 23:05, 26 May 2007 (EDT)

Hitchhiking in India

How about the hitchhiking opportunities in India? Can someone with the knowledge please clarify?

I’d also like to have more information about off-peak season prices. Do they fall or skyrocket because there are not many would-be purchasers? Or are they same in any season because there is a steady number of tourists/travellers in India any time of the year? --81.212.248.118 15:28, 27 May 2007 (EDT)

Prices do fall in the low season, but not that drastically. And in many places in India the low season is there for a reason -- midsummer in Rajasthan or monsoon season in Dharamsala is pretty sucky. Jpatokal 21:40, 27 May 2007 (EDT)
Hitchhiking I think is pretty uncommon for travelers, most probably because it isn't necessary. You can take trains and buses pretty much anywhere you want to go. If you do find yourself way off the beaten track, say up in the Himalayas, and a jeep with a couple of Indian tourists approaches make sure to have a handkerchief handy to keep their dust out of your lungs as they speed by. At least that was my experience. If you're in an area where trucks pass thru, you may be able to climb into the back or up on top (and there's a good chance you'll be charged for the pleasure), but I wouldn't rely on that either. Anyway, you'd be pretty surprised by the amount of places you can reach by overcrowded local buses. – cacahuate talk 21:47, 27 May 2007 (EDT)
I agree with Cacahuate's comments. In addition, public transport is not only very extensive (if not always reliable), it also very cheap. Hitching just isn't worth the hassle, and if you just want to do it for fun or for the hell of it, I think you'll discover that Indian buses will more than adequately fulfill your need for a thrill! Personally, I would recommend traveling there in the Fall or Winter as the air is less dusty after the summer rains and the temperatures less oppressive than in late Spring. However, places like Ladakh are more suited to visit in the summer. Anyway, good luck on your travels. India is a great and fascinating country, and I'm sure that you will have a great time there. WindHorse 23:40, 27 May 2007 (EDT)

Train station codes

Recently someone added the station code to Varanasi#By_train, which I think is a great idea... online booking is becoming more and more popular, and the code can be helpful and make booking quicker. Just wanted to throw it out there.... We could format it similar to the way we use airport codes - Station name (Station code: BSB). – cacahuate talk 13:32, 4 July 2007 (EDT)

Me too. Knowing the codes makes dealing with IR's booking site much easier. Jpatokal 13:45, 4 July 2007 (EDT)
Agreed. It is very helpful. WindHorse 22:36, 4 July 2007 (EDT)

Earthquake warning

Do we really need to talk about earthquakes in the stay safe section? — Ravikiran 01:21, 3 August 2007 (EDT)

I wondered about keeping that entry, but finally just modified it. Thanks for making the final decision. However, I think perhaps it would be it would useful to have travel topic about earthquakes , and then places like northern India could be linked to it. The info on Japan - stay safe could be modified as basic outline. What do you think? WindHorse 02:32, 3 August 2007 (EDT)

Religion and rituals

The picture of Indian toilet in "Religion and rituals" section looks very inappropriate especially when someone is skimming through. Any objections if I remove that image? At least move it to other section.

I vote for removing it. Squat toilets are quite common across the world and are not peculiar to India.--Wandering 04:09, 31 August 2007 (EDT)
I like it, and not just because I uploaded it ;) They aren't particular to India, but they are a big part of traveling there. I uploaded it partly in humor, and partly in giving people an idea of what to expect (obviously meant for those who haven't really traveled in this part of the world before). I moved it down to "etiquette", but another option is moving it back to the "Culture shock" infobox, as I originally intended it to go there. – cacahuate talk 03:03, 1 September 2007 (EDT)
Thanks guys for considering my suggestion. I think it would fit better in "Culture shock" section. 10:44, 11 September 2007 (IST)
Me too... any objections? – cacahuate talk 02:24, 11 September 2007 (EDT)
Kinda -- images in infoboxes don't work too well. Some creative template hackery is needed, eg. making the image an optional 3rd argument. Jpatokal 02:52, 11 September 2007 (EDT)
The one on Cuba isn't terrible... – cacahuate talk 03:32, 11 September 2007 (EDT)

What Jani said...

If anything, I think the article should emphasize a little more that India really is not for everybody, and in quite a few ways it's one of the world's most demanding travel destinations. Can't put up with seriously dodgy hygiene, often unbearable weather, uncomfortable and dangerous transportation, and 1.3 billion people who haven't quite caught onto Western ideas about personal space or fecal-oral contamination? India's probably not the best place to go. Jpatokal 10:24, 3 May 2007 (EDT)
Now this is really unfair. The anon had a fair point. While I certainly do admit that hygiene levels are pathetic, the unbearable weather point is simply ridiculous. I mean, Rajasthan or the Gangetic Plain in the summer can get unbearably hot, but there are many temperate regions as well. Most of the southern coast is OK. In winter, nearly the whole country is pleasant (with the exception of Kashmir, Ladakh and upper H.P.). As for uncomfortable and dangerous transportation - well, the flights are OK (the airports are the world's worst, but that's a different matter...), the condition of the trains are improving and mass rapid transit systems are being made constructed in quite a few cities. As for the last bit, well, we'll get to that later... :)

Talking about weather, why don't you compare some European cities and decide.

  • London - If it isn't raining, it's the fog. If there's no fog, it's pouring cats and dogs. Wow!
  • Paris - I happened to be stuck up here during the year of the heat wave, that too in a 2 star hotel. No A/C, no electric fan. Give me a Delhi 2 star in May any day.

upamanyu 06:58, 14 September 2007 (EDT)

I'm seeing this line of argument so often that I think we need a rule: "Just because other places suck doesn't mean your place doesn't." And, as usual, you're not even looking at the articles coz the UK page says, among other things, "quite often conditions are windy and wet" and "British rain is legendary".
So. Delhi has, quite possibly, the worst weather of any major city in the entire world. Winters are freezing and miserable, summers are excruciatingly hot, then everything gets flooded, and there's a few weeks in between when temperatures aren't too bad but you still get to choke on red dust, exhaust and dung fumes.
Upamanyu, I would like to correct you on this one. I have lived in Delhi for 17 years and I can tell you first of all, the winters are NOT freezing and miserable at all! the temperature never goes below zero degrees celsius, its mostly always SUNNY (if everything needs to be compared to the western world, would you say europe has better/less miserable winters than Delhi?) In fact, I think Delhi in the winters is a great place to be. Slightly cold, yes of course, since it *is* winter, but not the gloomy miserable freezing winter that most of Europe and North American seem to have! Next, it definitely does NOT flood in the monsoons, this is one city where I have never even heard of a flood and finally, yes of course summers are harsh. Even Houston, Texas has harsh humid and hot summers, I've never heard people dissing Houston because of that. Finally, I also don't see the point or logic in criticising a city based on how dusty it is because you cannot control nature. That's the way the subcontinent is. Delhi is in the plains, AND right next to the Thar desert, what can you expect? I think it is very unfair to criticise a city based on this, be it Delhi or any other place. - ananya 15:18, 28 April 2008 (CET)
Upamanyu, dig this: I've been to 5 continents and 70 countries. I've been to the bombed-out shells of Gaza and Bethlehem, the squatter settlements of Alexandria and Jakarta, and the rural countryside of Zambia and Malawi (the world's poorest country). Guess what? When it comes to sheer poverty, misery and difficulty of getting around or actually doing anything touristy, India's the worst, and by a long shot.
Anyway, the quote of mine that you're objecting to so much isn't even on the main page, so I don't really see what you're trying to accomplish here. But, yes, I continue to stand by every word of it. Jpatokal 08:18, 14 September 2007 (EDT)

Hang on. You mean to say that when it comes to sheer poverty, India's beats sub-saharan Africa?

Yup. Malawi's GDP per person is ~$180/year; as of a few years ago, Bihar's was $81/year. Those are raw figures; adjust for PPP, and Malawi whups Bihar's pathetic ass even harder at $596 (still the world's poorest) vs $155. Jpatokal 10:53, 14 September 2007 (EDT)

And I don't blame those people who argued with you over the Jakarta issue. It's all very well to call a spade a spade, but you just look at the negative aspects of every third-world country there is. Come on, you called it a shithole, didn't you? And talking about NY shitholes, I'd highly recommend the Chambers St Subway Stn in Manhattan.

P.S. Delhi not = India, definitely not in terms of weather.


This is a travel guide, it's supposed to prepare people for what they will actually experience. Or would it be better if we parroted the party line and copied the Ministry of Tourism's description of Delhi: Today, the city is a curious blend of the modern and traditional, skyscrapers, beautiful gardens and wide tree-lined avenues perpetuate the Mughal passion of landscaping and architectural excellence. More important, however, Delhi blends within its folds the great cultural variety of India; an unceasing range of activity, a million ways of saying 'You are Welcome'. Jpatokal 10:53, 14 September 2007 (EDT)
While I disagree with Jpatokal's specifics (domestic air and rail travel in India is quite the opposite of uncomfortable and dangerous; the weather is quite bearable; and, IMHO anyway, personal hygiene has been on an upswing for the last few years - though garbage seems to be increasing exponentially!), I think the larger point being made is quite valid. India is a love it or hate it kind of country and it is best to let people know that. I've traveled a lot myself and the only place that comes close to India is Hanoi in the 1990s (I understand it has been cleaned up these days) or, perhaps, the villages in Chiapas. Letting people believe that they will go to Delhi and all they will see is 'a curious blend blah blah blah' is doing a disservice to the reader. The reality is that they will be hassled and utterly confused trying to find their taxi when they leave the airport, and they will notice the chaos, the people, the traffic, the beggars, and the garbage, well before they start noticing the Mughal mausoleums that dot the city. Calling any place a 'shithole' is a bit extreme but a nicer way of conveying that a tourist might be a bit shocked is not a bad idea.--Wandering 11:40, 14 September 2007 (EDT)

To Jani, please see this. [8]

Etiquette

Is all this true? The left hand supporting the right hand thing is prevalent in SE Asia and Tibet, not really that common in India. The stuff about who pays seems more appropriate to the middle east, Indians tend to be more pragmatic about that sort of thing. The dress code, and, perhaps using the right hand for eating (though no one will be offended if you use your left hand), seem to be the only thing that is appropriate for India. --Wandering 12:45, 4 October 2007 (EDT)

Giving and accepting important things using your right hand is really sort of expected. Not that people will throw a hissy fit if you don't, but... this is etiquette, not the law. The acceptance varies across India, but I'd feel somewhat uneasy if someone accepted a gift with his right hand, and I am easy going about these matters. (Though the thing that really offends me is touching books with your feet.)
As the author of the friendly argument bit, I'll say that perhaps it can be rewritten. Yes, we are more pragmatic than the middle-east, but if you are a tourist and you find that your host has suddenly taken out the cash for something that should really be your purchase, it is good to remember the rules... — Ravikiran 13:21, 4 October 2007 (EDT)
No worries. And, I agree about the foot and book thing (very South Indian!). The offering to pay thing is (IMHO) more common in the North, especially amongst Punjabis (who, I guess, have borrowed many customs from Islam and the middle east). Still, it is definitely more likely to happen than, say, in the USA. I happened to notice this section when I stopped by to look at that obnoxious (with apologies to User:Cacahuate!) loo picture!--Wandering 13:34, 4 October 2007 (EDT)

Respect

The text under "Food and water" is egregious in the extreme and reads like something out of a manual for British Civil Servants in India during the days of the Raj. I'm not sure it has a place in a modern travel guide and it should be deleted. Comments?--Wandering 16:07, 1 January 2008 (EST)

I agree with you totally. I made revisions to it, placing many of the warnings in the past tense. The claim that almost everywhere in the countryside, and even most place in cities, Indians, even high-caste Indians, view foreigners as polluting and would destroy a vessel that they've touched or purify a room they've been in betrays a dizzying ignorance of India. There are restrictions in highly formal ritual contexts: just as in a European church one wouldn't jump up to the altar during mass to finger the Host, so too in temples and rituals people, especially non-Hindus, shouldn't go about fingering things. But the article as it stood conveyed a ridiculous impression of Hindus panicked by contact with foreigners. Far more important than this supposed obsession with non-caste foreigners would be a discussion of the role of gender. Social spaces will be usually strongly connected with either men or women and this, more than any worries about mleccha ('barbarians'), will shape proper behavior. Interlingua 23:09, 13 April 2008 (EDT)
I went further and deleted/reworded most of it. Jpatokal 01:14, 14 April 2008 (EDT)

rate examples in Contact-Mobile

Examples of rates would be very helpful in the Contact:Mobile section of this article. Would anyone contribute some details from his experience? --DenisYurkin 18:11, 18 January 2008 (EST)

validity and talk time

> Beware that talk time and validity are considered separate and you have to keep both topped up, or otherwise you may find the Rs.500 you just recharged disappearing in a puff of smoke when the one-month validity expires.

So what exactly is validity time, and what is talk time? How can you keep validity topped up? --DenisYurkin 18:19, 18 January 2008 (EST)

When you buy talk time there is often a time limit in which you have to use it... say 30 days... so if you spend Rs 500, and only use 1/2 of it in 30 days, then you'll lose the other half. However, every time you buy new talk time for your phone the 30 days starts over... So, if you have Rs 1000 of talk time left on your phone that is about to expire, you could just add Rs 100 of time to your phone, which will give you a total of Rs 1100 that is now good for 30 more days... See? – cacahuate talk 23:31, 18 January 2008 (EST)

star potential

So what exactly still needs to be done on this article so it can be nominated for Star status? --DenisYurkin 18:42, 18 January 2008 (EST)

Well, all of the sub-articles would have to be at least guide status or better... We don't have any star country articles yet, because it's not just the country level article that needs to be in good shape... all of the region articles and major cities too would have to be at least guide status – cacahuate talk 23:33, 18 January 2008 (EST)
And what about the article itself? How far is it from Star standards?
BTW, I could not find the requirement that sub-articles should be at least guide status--can you point me to an appropriate link? --DenisYurkin 07:27, 19 January 2008 (EST)
Wikitravel:Country guide status --Peter Talk 15:13, 19 January 2008 (EST)

Additions to Internet

A mention about (and links to) more reliable and fast Internet browsing centres (chains) like Sify Iway [9], Reliance's WebWorld [10] will be useful. And also about wirless internet access? 138.231.136.9 15:27, 11 June 2008 (EDT)

Plunge forward! It will be useful. Jpatokal 00:59, 12 June 2008 (EDT)

BTW, regarding the recent addition of data cards, they are indeed very handy but it's very, very difficult to get your hands on one if you're not a bona fide resident of India, as the operators require signing up to long-term monthly contracts. Jpatokal 12:12, 29 June 2008 (EDT)

That's a valid point; there's a lot of paperwork involved. But I still reckon it's better than rushing to Barista/CCD/Hard Rock and paying cover charges (or dowsing yourself with coffee) for wifi. Of course, as I had mentioned, if you're in Pune, Mumbai or Bangalore, it's OK. But even here in Delhi, wi-fi coverage is remarkably poor. The main problem with datacards is that it's hard to rent one, you have to buy one outright (which isn't worth it unless you're in India for 2 years or more). Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel ) • 03:24, 30 June 2008 (EDT)

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