Travelling to India: Safety first!

Atithi Devo Bhava is the official tagline of Tourism Department of India which is in Sanskrit. It means that the ‘Guest is God.’ It appears that tourism Department has taken this tagline too literally. They also presume that the visiting God is omniscient. They fail to appraise basic law and order situation prevailing at different places at ground level. The tourist, as gullible and vulnerable we are as tourist, hits the land mine of violence without even knowing that is was there.Another unfortunate and brutal incident of rape has injured a victim and hit the headlines. Unfortunately this is not the first. Contrary to any popular myth, rape has very little to do with sex. It is always about desire to control or to dominate. With a population of 1/6th of the world, it is a surprise that world’s 1/6th rapists are not in India.
What we teach to ourselves but not to Guests
Crime and violence is rising. Everywhere. Some cities/places have history of violence. As a tourist I would like to avoid all such places.
‘Chambal’ is the name of a river but it is more famous for its ravines in an area where this river dissects three states. The name Chambal even today chill the spines. It is a backward/undeveloped area at UP/MP border. For decades it is notorious for Bandits who lived life by dacoity and armed robbery. It is the place which contributed to English Dictionery with a new word ‘Dacoit’. Presently Blackberry does not acknowledge it.
Chambal ravines and about 150 sq. Mile radius of area comprising three States, is not considered safe for any person or visitor or tourist. Rich people living there travel with private armies. Passing through National Highway may be safe enough during day but night is another matter. The last notorious dacoit Nirbhaya Singh was killed in 2005.
The above episode occurred in Datia. Within the red circle pointed above. I would not ride through that area in the night unless I am riding a tank what to speak of cycle.
The poor tourists did not know and paid a price which was utterly unnecessary and most undesirable.
Unfortunately no Government or its official will admit these facts on safety but it is a known fact. People who live in or around these places have evolved their own safety mechanisms to survive and it has nothing or little to do with the Official Governance.

How I am so sure?

I was born and brought up at one of such places. (Not near Chambal) Should I say Chicago of East? There are rules to be followed to survive at these places. Knowing when and where not to stop is the most important.


Another fall out of this shameful act would be that MP would be marked unsafe. Which would not be entirely true. Especially when UP is doing so well to remain at the bottom of safety graph.
A very disturbing feature of travellers from West is their subtle arrogance. Seeking help is something of a last option. It is not only unfortunate but contrary to known cannons of humanity. Humanity is the dream as elusive as Utopia but can’t we take a small step of charity by giving others opportunity to help? Seek out. Find local people and listen to the ground. Ask right questions. Ask about safety first.
Avoid places with violent past. Avoid travelling by road at Night at most places. Camp only at Notified camping site. With large vacant areas in country, it may be tempting but it may become cause of trouble. Land owners are most often illogically possessive.
Cycling and road travel should be undertaken only in States with good governance and law and order. While India may seem one, It is not. Travelling past a single red light changes the conditions of law and order.
Urban India is drastically different from rural. It has a pretence that police is in control of law and order but in rural areas this pretence vanishes. Large part of India is actually safe and because people fear God and their own actions. Police serves the political masters and is often irrelevant if not part of problem in the first place.
Visitors, travelling to India may keep this advice in mind.
Though it was desired by a friend that I should post here good or bad places but if I do that I may be exposing myself to frivolous reactions on the basis of statistics, which is a fine art of juggle. But I do have a personal blacklist.

© Sandeep Bhalla

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