PC: Soumik Ghosh
India, certainly, is stunning, magical, breathtaking, and yes, at times, awesomely confusing, too. It's one place that already is on top of every traveller's bucket list.
But again whenever it comes to travelling freely across India, a lot of travellers are set back by the thoughts of slums, rape and danger. And if it's about a woman travelling to this land all by herself, one of the chief concerns that worries the most of them is safety.
Can I be safe on my own? Shall I be okay? Good news is: Yes! You are going to be safe in India. The country can be largely populated, polluted and disturbingly noisy, but solo women travellers can have an experience here like nowhere else if they reckon with concerns about safety.
What does safety really imply to here in India? Let us break it down for you.
Tips For Solo Women Travellers
Exploring India absolutely solo requires taking certain precautions and compromising with certain small freedoms. But it's worth it! Or probably even more than that. So, here we've come up with a few simple tips that are enough to keep you safe on this crazy land that India is.
1. Do Your Research Well
It is highly recommended to do some thorough research before you decide on backpacking across India. It's of immense importance to understand India's incredibly diversified culture, customs, traditions and to be perceptive to the country's cultural nuances that vary widely from place to place.
2. Respect Local Customs
India is a chaotic amalgamation of conservative and liberal minds. Even though the metropolitans are pretty open-minded in terms of dress code, while travelling in urban areas, it is best to take a cue from locals and dress accordingly. And dressing the way the locals do also portrays that you respect their native culture and are open to embracing it as well.
3. Make Confidence Your Strength
Like every country, India also has her share of places that are more prone to crime. Be aware of your surroundings and always keep an eye on what's happening at all times. If you feel discomfort, don't shy away from voicing it. If you're lost, don't allow that to reflect on your body language.
Rather, be assertive! Ask the locals for directions; Indians are very helpful and welcoming with tourists. Be a woman of confidence and vigilance, and not the one who crumbles under pressure.
4. Be Wise While Choosing Your Stay
Book your accommodation way in advance. India has plenty of backpacker hostels in almost every corner of the country that are not only economical, comfortable and safe, but also let you meet other fellow travellers to swap and share experiences.
5. Interact With Locals
One ethos of our Indian culture is "Atithi Devo Bhava" or "The guest is equivalent to God". We love welcoming new people into our world to show them the richness of the country from a ground level. Although being cautious is important, make sure you don't miss a chance to speak with a local about their hometown, their tales of traditions. They're sure to help you find some of the hidden local gems that Google or any other guidebook wouldn't even know about.
6. Spread A Lot Of Smiles
I'm not really sure why guidebooks on India keep telling women not to smile. They say that Indian men take it as a come-on. Let me clarify, some men here even take eye contact as a come-on. But that's not something based on which we should judge an entire country. You simply can't go on thinking like that, or else you might end up staying in your room. Smile at the kids, wave at the women in remote villages-trust me, there's hardly any place as warm and affectionate as India.
Places You Can Explore Without A Worry
We have also compiled a quick list of some of India's jaw-dropping and most unforgettable locations that, without a second thought, are the safest as well for female solo travellers.
PC: Soumik Ghosh
1. Nainital, Uttarakhand
To enjoy the tranquil hills, Nainital is one of the most beautiful places you will ever come across in India. Apart from the pristine lakes, delicious "pahadi" food and historical arenas, Nainital is incredibly safe for you to explore the town completely on your own.
2. Shimla, Himachal Pradesh
Touted as the safest hill station of all, Shimla, or Himachal in general, offers some of the most picturesque and artistic views of the Himalayas. The place also has safe lodging options and sumptuous food that you would love to try.
3. Jaisalmer, Rajasthan
Whenever I picture Jaisalmer, polaroid images of a colourful and exotic town come crashing my thoughts. Known majorly for its deserts, camels, elephants, forts and palaces, Rajasthan holds within itself myriad other surprises that are pure pleasure for a wanderer's eyes and soul.
4. Hampi, Karnataka
Hampi is one tiny Indian hamlet that will change your perspective about India. Now recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hampi hosts India's historical and cultural wealth in abundance; so much so that the place literally makes you fall in love with it the moment you step in.
5. Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh
We call the northeastern valley of Ziro paradise on earth. It's rustic feel, lush rice fields, unending greenery and crystal-like rivulets all together make Ziro look nothing less than a dreamland.
Now, doesn't India already seem to be chaotically beautiful? It actually is! If asked personally, India, I'd say, is one of the safest and warmest countries for solo women travellers. Let go of the impression the rest of the world holds of India being an unsafe destination for solo women travellers and just get on the roads to unravel the mysteries of this vast, beautiful nation.
Be cautious. Have a great time exploring India, and have plenty of conversations here - sometimes meaningful, sometimes aimless - that reveal the essence of this country in its truest form.
Happy travelling, ladies!