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Talk:Sacred sites of India

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Er, is this a relevant travel topic?? Shouldn't there be a list on the main India page??

Or we could make a disambguation (i don't know the sp!!!) page. Upamanyuwikitravel 10:08, 18 February 2007 (EST)

I don't know. What do people think? My idea was to have a page of Sacred sites, which would include information about the various religions in India. In this way, it will help people who are coming to India primarily on pilgrimage or for spiritual reasons in general. At the moment it is just a list of places, but I was hoping that it could be enhanced into a proper travel topic by adding short articles about the religions and their historical connections with India. Also, there would need to be a limit on the number of places listed. Anyway, take a look at the discussion below taken from Talk India - Sacred sites discussion. So far, we have two dissensions (including yours, which I assume is a vote against), and no votes in favor of developing. Anyway, let's see if there's any more comments, and if the general consensus is to delete, then let's stamp her with a VFD. WindHorse 10:50, 20 February 2007 (EST)
  • What I mean windhorse, is that wikitravel travel topics are not intended to be lists of holy sites or national parks. I realize that many people do come to India for pilgrimages, but I have to agree with Mr. Finn on this one. We can have a section under India#Other destinations with a list of about 7-9 towns.

My suggestion is this, under the India#Other destinations section we can have a line which says, for a comprehensive list of sacred sites in the country, please see Sacred Sites of India. Make this page into a disambguation (forgive me for my wrong sp, please post the correct sp on my talk page!!) and we could move this article to that. I quote from your previous message — My idea was to have a page of Sacred sites, which would include information about the various religions in India. In this way, it will help people who are coming to India primarily on pilgrimage or for spiritual reasons in general. At the moment it is just a list of places, but I was hoping that it could be enhanced into a proper travel topic by adding short articles about the religions and their historical connections with India. Sorry windhorse, but I find a number of flaws in what you have suggested.

    • Include info on the various religions in India?? That should go in India#Understand or India#Culture.
    • It will help people coming primarily on pilmgrimages or for spiritual reasons. Will it?? People coming on pilgrimages can refer to the list on the main India page or the disambguation page. Most people who come for pilgrimages are quite sure about where they are supposed to go, so we should really try to improve the Haridwar, Rishikesh, Char Dham, Madurai, Ajanta and Ellora articles instead of wasting time on this fairly pointlesss argument. And the spiritual stuff bit, well, if you refering to weary Americans who come to the East in search of instant nirvana, we can recommend good ashrams and universities in India#Learn and more specific info on the city page.
    • adding short articles about the religions and their historical connections with India. That should go to India#Culture. The sheer diversity of religions in India can be explained in broader detail there. Upamanyuwikitravel 05:58, 21 February 2007 (EST)

: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: [1]) 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)

I think this page is totally relevant, whether or not we decide to have it replace the "Sacred sites" section of the India page. Let's continue that replacement conversation over there though - Cacahuate 14:41, 21 February 2007 (EST)
Hi Upamanyuwikitravel. I haven't communicated with you since the Shimla article, which incidentally is looking great. Thanks for you input on this matter, though I would like to make a few comments with regard to the points you raise. First of all, I feel the Understand section is for general information, so while the religions of India can be introduced there, it does not provide adequate space for such a profound and complex subject matter to be given justice. Even before we discuss the needs of dedicated believers, we need to recognize that ordinary tourists also require at least basic information about the philosophy, rituals and customs associated with the religious sites that that they will visit during their stay in India. However, at the moment, there is absolutely nothing. Of course, all this information can be mentioned on each and every sacred site article, but as most of the information is standard for all temples/sacred sites belonging to a particular religion, I believe that it would be convenient if this information was covered under one specific heading. Even general guides like Lonely Planet or Rough Guide dedicate several pages to these matters. While I agree that people already booked on a pilgrimage package tour will know where they are going, others who are traveling independently might like to consider their options. For example, a Hindu may consider staying in Varanasi and then traveling somewhere not too far, such as Haridwar, or maybe they would prefer to limit their pilgrimage to just the east and south only. Whatever, they will need information to assist with this decision. Furthermore, whether those coming to India for spiritual purposes are people looking for instant enlightenment, are deeply committed believers or overseas Indians returning to the mother land is no concern of ours. A travel guide is created to offer information to all travelers, not only those the author or contributors feel an affinity with. Therefore, from the point of view of creating a travel guide, there is no difference in providing information for people wanting to find a place to meditate than providing it for surfers looking for good beaches in Thailand or families trying to locate hiking trails in Scotland. Actually, even Japan and Thailand (and possibly other countries) have printed guide books purely dedicated to information on monasteries and sacred sites, and those countries have far less such places than India. Anyway, those are my points, but having said that, I also think that your argument is reasonable and perhaps you are right and that the subject matter doesn't require a dedicated article. However, as Cacahuate seems to feel that it does, I won't enter it for VFD at the moment. Instead, let's first explore ways to try and develop the article to accommodate everyone's (most people's ?) concerns and incorporate their ideas. What do you and others think? WindHorse 22:42, 21 February 2007 (EST)


First we need a consensus of keeping or deleting. Comments would be appreciated. If delete is the overwhelming majority, then I'll propose for vfd. If people prefer to keep, then I propose the following set up:

  • For each section give background info on the religion, with particular attention being given to its connection and significance to Indian culture/history.
  • Brief explanation of common images that tourists will encounter in India such as Shiva, Vishnu in Hinduism, Tara, Padmasambhava in Tibetan Buddhism etc. ect.
  • Info on respect - eg: are there entry restrictions based on sex or belief? What kind of clothing is acceptable? are leather items banned? Are there restrictions on non-veggie/alcohol within a temple confines? etc. etc.
  • List of places: I believe that the Hindu section requires more listing than the others religions, but how to divide up - 7 names for each religion, and then divide India into north and south for Hinduism, giving it a total of 14 listings?

At the moment this section is a mess - just a list of names - so It would be great if a decision could be made whether to keep or not. If keep, then I/we can begin the process of turning the current telephone directory into a proper travel topic. Otherwise, I can propose for vfd and move on. Thanks I'd appreciate any feedback/input. WindHorse 20:05, 23 February 2007 (EST)

  • Keep - While I can't lay out a clear vision at the moment, I'd love to see how this page develops... it's as relevant as any other travel topic we have, I think... and could also be somewhat of an itinerary, walking someone through the Buddhist 4-destination circuit of Bodh Gaya, Kushinagar, Sarnath and dipping over the border to Lumbini, for example... or on a circuit of the big temple sites in Tamil Nadu... I don't think (unless there's some policy somewhere) that we should have to limit it to 7 per section or whatever... obviously it shouldn't turn into a yellow pages since there are millions of place with some little link to a minor deity all over India, but I think the point of this page is to expand beyond the constraints of the "Other destinations" section and give a more in depth look at the possibilities - 1 page to look at that can guide someone interested in touring sacred sites to the area(s) they're dreaming about... I think it's got lot's of potential  :) - Cacahuate 13:28, 24 February 2007 (EST)
Thanks for your input. I am probably not the best person to write this article, but anyway I have had a go kick starting it. Please take a look, and tweak and change at will. I appreciate your opinion about not limiting the number of sites listed, though I am afraid that without doing so we may be overwhelmed by contributors making subjective edits. India really has a lot of sacred sites, and personally, I think it would be beneficial to travellers to only list the more important ones. That's why I thought 7 for each religion multiplied by two for Hinduism (by dividing the country in to north and south) would be a good start - which is still far more than the original front page list that offered space for only nine sites for all religions. Also, from experience, I know that it can be almost impossible to persuade a contributor not to add a place unless we can show them some regulation. Anyway, I haven't not added restrictions and will not do so unless you and others agree to it. Thanks again for your suggestions. WindHorse 03:24, 25 February 2007 (EST)

Ps. I think your idea for developing itineraries is very good. Maybe that can be the next development.

Yeah, good point, we should probably have a limit... I'll think some more about the itinerary thingy too... - Cacahuate 03:56, 25 February 2007 (EST)
Great. I've added a note to restrict the number of places listed to seven. However, if that doesn't go well, it can be changed - nine would be the limit. Yeah, an itinerary would be a useful addition. By the way, thanks for your constant and helpful feedback. I appreciate it. WindHorse 04:38, 25 February 2007 (EST)
No problem, same to you! I know how it is to try to get something done or moving without others paying attention! - Cacahuate 18:55, 25 February 2007 (EST)
  • First, my vote is to Keep. We need to discuss the direction this article is taking, but whatever we do, we shouldn't lose the material we are compiling here by precipitously deleting this article. WindHorse, please don't stop development on this article, because if not here, it will come out to be useful in a sub-article.
  • Second, I see two ideas for this article. Either we make it a list like the list of Indian states or the list of states of the US. The problem is that Wikitravel as a rule doesn't do lists and those lists aren't "real" articles. The reason for keeping them was that it would be useful as a checklist while writing other articles. If we keep this as a list, that would be a very good reason for keeping this. i.e. Someone who wants to write an itinerary can use this as a reference.
  • The other idea is that we make this a travel topic. But this is too big to be a travel topic, so this will be a main article for a whole bunch of sub-topics and itineraries. A good rule of thumb while deciding the scope of a Wikitravel article is "Can I print it out and use it as I go?" I cannot imagine myself printing the whole Sacred sites of India article - not just because of the size. But I can imagine printing out a specific itinerary if I am going on a Hindu/Buddhist/Islamic pilgrimage, or an article about where to find great examples of South Indian temple architecture, etc. So as and when a topic develops so as to be of interest to a specific kind of traveller, we split it out into a separate travel topic or itinerary as the case may be. With that in mind, please don't limit any list to 9 just because of our rule. — Ravikiran 07:38, 26 February 2007 (EST)
Hi Ravi-ji. Thanks for your positive and helpful feedback. Actually, I used standard printed guidebooks as a models. Generally these guides offer some background information about a country's specific religions, introduce the iconography and also offer a list of related sacred places. I was probably not the best person to have attempted this, but anyway I thought that we needed a prototype model, and so had a go establishing the Buddhist section. If others could help with info about Hinduism/Jainism etc, it would be helpful, as I am even less knowledgeable about their general philosophy. However, I have hung out at enough Hindu temples (as a veggie, I really appreciate their food) to possibly manage the general rules. I agree that as it grows it should be split into new articles (probably along religious rather than geographic lines), though I am slightly afraid that if there are no limits on the number of listings it may turn into a yellow page directory with everyone's aunt's favorite tree shrine listed (gasp!) As Cacahuate suggests, itineraries can be added. Slowly, Slowly. WindHorse 08:25, 26 February 2007 (EST)
Hey windhorse, good work. While I'm not too comfortable with this being a travel topic (and I feel that my reasons are justified), I'd love to see this develop and we can sort it out later. Keep up the good work and I'll be happy to contribute. The way it is developing now, I sometimes feel that it isn't such a bad idea as I thought at first glance. Upamanyuwikitravel 07:35, 28 February 2007 (EST)
Thank you. Yeah, I think at first most people thought that it was going to be just a list of places, like a telephone directory. That was my fault for not explaining well what I had in mind. Also, I agree that your point of view was reasonable, and I took that into consideration and appreciated your feedback. At the moment, I am trying to work on an itinerary for a short pilgrimage of the four main Buddhist sites. However, as I didn't travel directly between them when I visited, I don't have exact details of the travel time. Once I get this, I'll start it. Anyway, I look forward to seeing your contributions. Take it easy. WindHorse 11:18, 28 February 2007 (EST)

Sites sacred to more than 1 religion[edit]

I don't think this section is necessary. For eg, the Ajanta/Ellora Caves are sacred to Buddhists, Jains and Hindus. So let's have it under each of the 3 sections instead of having it in a separate sec. Upamanyuwikitravel 07:38, 28 February 2007 (EST)

Agree. That will make it easier when we split it off to separate articles. — Ravikiran 08:34, 28 February 2007 (EST)
Ok. I'll do that. WindHorse 11:03, 28 February 2007 (EST)

A better proposal?[edit]

I don't think I could support having this page, but I could support having something similar to One month in the Holy Land. I'm highly interested in pilgrimages and I actually want to go wandering through the Sinai desert for a couple of weeks - though there are some problems like long distances between towns, where I'll get food and water - but the point is I think there can be a place for itineraries catering to pilgrims. I don't know much about Hinduism, but it seems to me Hindus (and non-Hindus) would be better served by a Hindu pilgrimage in India article, rather than whatever this page is. I'm trying to think in terms of practicality and I just can't imagine how this article, even if it does fill up, would be useful. Also, I'm not sure about how important India is in the pilgrimage of Muslims, but that could be shipped off to One month in the Muslim Holy Land, which is currently a redirect to Hajj, but this is only an example. Thoughts? -- Sapphire(Talk) • 14:05, 28 February 2007 (EST)

Hey, thanks for your feedback. Obviously a pilgrimage is the main point of an article related to sacred sites. However, when a casual tourist visits a country where religion is an important aspect of every day life, as it is in India, Nepal and Bhutan, they will encounter religious imagery on every street corner, and if it were me, I would definitely be interested to know something about it. If you check the printed guides, such as Lonely Planet of Rough Guide, they all have several pages dedicated to explaining the basic philosophy, historical background, imagery and customs of local regions. Obviously, it is not an in depth discussion like Wikipedia, but it is there and offers sufficient information to keep tourists reasonably informed about these matters. Don't you think that people traveling in India would be interested to know what the images that they will see in every restaurant, house and temple represent, or what is the basic philosophy behind the practices that they will encounter at the numerous temples they will visit? Actually, in the early days when the article was first started, I almost entered it for vfd consideration as I thought there was no support. However, several people who are familiar with India expressed a wish to keep it, so instead I decided develop it on the lines of the consensus. Personally, I don't really care so much either way. It was just an idea. So, anyway, what are people's suggestions. Obviously, a pilgrimage route will be of interest only to believers of that religion, but what info can we offer the casual tourist? Should the article be split up based on interest groups? At the moment the momentum of the article seems to heading in the direction of developing separate pages for each religion, which will contain the understand and respect sections, and from these main pages two or three pilgrimage itineraries would be split off. However, that can obviously change based on people's ideas. But anyway, I think that at the moment it is important to work on the premises that we will keep the article, and that needs to be clear, otherwise we are constantly stuck in limbo with no-one developing the article and no-one deleting it. Is that ok? If so, then we can turn our attention to developing a consensus on how to develop it in a way that will be of value to travelers in India. How do you feel about that? Anyway, thanks again for your feedback. I appreciate it. WindHorse 21:43, 28 February 2007 (EST)
That kind of wording makes much more sense to me than some of the previous discussions on this page, meaning I understand the reasoning more concisely. I'm kind of stuck on the issue, now, because I can see how it might be useful... I'll think about this a bit more. -- Sapphire(Talk) • 22:02, 28 February 2007 (EST)
Great. I'll be interested in your conclusions and proposals. The more minds that contribute to the fabric, the richer it becomes. By the way, reading back over what I wrote, I hope you didn't feel that I was strongly opposing the option of deleting the article. I wasn't, and I am happy to do so if that's the way the consensus flows. I was just making the point that it necessary to make a final decision to keep or not and then move on. Otherwise, the article is always stuck in limbo. Anyway, thanks again for your input. WindHorse 22:16, 28 February 2007 (EST) Ps. hope you can make it to the Sinai one day. I've never been there, but it sounds great.
I think I'm sticking with my original proposal - break everything up into itineraries. I was conflicted on WindHorse's reasoning for the article (that traveller's will want to know about religions and the roles they play in the society/cultural history of India), but to solve that I also proposing giving a run down of the important religions in the Culture section and with a notice, such as: The rich philosophical and religious history of Indian culture would be impossible to document, however, for an overview of the importance of religion in India please see this itinerary, the next one, this one, and last, but not least this one. -- Sapphire(Talk) • 01:44, 2 March 2007 (EST)
That's fine, though I wonder how we can get around having to repeat the same 'understand' and 'respect' information on each itinerary article, which could conceivably run to several for Hindu pilgrimages. WindHorse 02:28, 2 March 2007 (EST)
I'm not sure we can, or if we want to get around it. I'm trying to fathom how to even tackle the "Understand" section of the Christian Holy Land article, but there's a problem... Depending on who you ask the same holiday takes place on a different date. Then certain denominations have certain rites and traditions others don't. It may be somewhat more complicated for a Methodist or Lutheran to figure out what's going on, if they're visiting a Greek Orthodox church. Maybe an easier example are Muslims. What Shia Muslims may consider a holy site, isn't necessarily so for Sunni Muslims so different respect and understand sections will be needed depending on to whom we're catering an article to. Same goes for Buddhists and Hindus, I think. -- Sapphire(Talk) • 02:55, 2 March 2007 (EST)
For Buddhist and Hindus the main sacred sites in India are the same among the denominations, such as Bodh Gaya for Buddhists, Varanasi for Hindus etc. Likewise, while there will be a few differences in customs and respect, in general they are pretty standard. So, the info currently given in the 'Understand' and 'Respect' sections pretty much covers all eventualities. For festivals that differ in date, we will just have to add the two or more dates. In Bhutan there are some regional variations for festivals, rather than religious ones, and these are both mentioned. Let's see if someone else can offer some thoughts and ideas. WindHorse 03:39, 2 March 2007 (EST)

Name change[edit]

Thinking over Sapphire's comments, I wonder whether the title of this page should changed to reflect its aims - which I consider to be offering tourists some background info on the religions that have formed and integrated with Indian culture, as well as informing them about the meaning of the symbols and icons that they will encounter on the streets of India and also advising about the 'dos' and 'don'ts' at temples and sacred sites. Specific pilgrimages can be linked to the main Indian page culture section and also to this page. In this way, the basic info will not need to be repeated on every itinerary. If this is accepted, then the name should be simpler, perhaps in the mold of similar fact-based articles such as Soccer in Europe or African flora and fauna. So, how about just 'Religions in India'? Then as the specific sections grow, they can be split off into 'Buddhism in India', 'Hinduism is India' etc. Although the 'India' part of the title might appear superfluous, I think it is necessary because the 'Understand' and 'Respect' sections will be somewhat India focused. In short, will it satisfy everyone if the name is changed to 'Religions in India' or to put it another way, will doing so help alleviate objections to keeping the article? WindHorse

I dunno about Religions in India, but Sacred sites of India seeems okay for now. After all, it's going to be split up into itenaries later (as Cacahuate suggested) and the info will be merged with other artcles. Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel )• 04:56, 6 March 2007 (EST)

Well, the reason I raise this is because at the moment the emphasis has shifted from a list of sites to articles offering basic info about the religions. I agree that the article may finally get split along religious lines, with branch articles for itineraries. However, the focus of the main article (whether in its present state with a mixture of religions or as a one religion articles) will always be to provide basic info on the religions for tourists, and sacred sites will not be a main feature on these pages as they will be formed into separate itinerary articles. Comments/feelings? WindHorse 05:16, 6 March 2007 (EST)
Well, maybe you're right... Upamanyuwikitravel( Talk )( Travel )• 05:48, 6 March 2007 (EST)