Women Safety in India is a recurrent question I have been asked several times by almost every woman I have met and on several social media forums. To answer the question, India is not the safest country to travel for solo women but it’s definitely not the worst and it is quite possible to travel solo if you have your wits about you. Also for most places due to the heavy population of both local and foreign tourists, you will never be alone anytime of the year. I have been traveling solo for quite some time now and definitely prefer that to traveling in a group even in India.
India is a beautiful country in terms of food, people, culture, history, landscape, mountains, thus every way possible. Thus do not let some travel concerns deter your travel plans. Trust me the people who staunchly would say, “Do not travel alone” are the ones who have never done so in their lives.
if you want a one-word answer then the answer would be no but having said that India is too large a country to speak for as a whole and I have always lived in India and traveled around most of the country by myself or with just one other male/ female friend.
Some Recommended Do’s and Don’ts for Safety
Here are few tips that I deploy to ensure my safety and would help you as well:
- Plan a Safer itinerary: Plan your itinerary to the safer parts (states) of India: covering area around Mumbai and Goa or the Himalayan states. If you would like to cover Delhi, Taj Mahal and the frequented golden triangle route, make friends at the backpackers district- Pahadganj at Delhi and travel with them as you are bound to meet several tourists on this route.
- Use Public Transport: Whenever possible use metro within city, a train or bus to between cities or shared cabs. If you know how to ride, rent a motorcycle. Avoid taking a private cab. Download the app for Ola (https://www.olacom/mobile) or Uber (https://www.uber.com/ride/) for booking a cab.
- Interact with Local Families and Women: Most places you visit in India will have other families and women traveling. Interact with them and seek their advice for any queries and if you find any creepy dudes lurking about.
- Dress Conservatively: Dress conservatively with clothes that are not too revealing. The clothes in India are really cheap, so you do not really need to carry too many clothes, you can buy them here.
- Local Phone: Please buy a local phone SIM and store the number of any trustworthy contact person you find here.
- Avoid Late nights, secluded places and drugs: Stick to the crowded places. Do not venture out on your own in the city post 9 pm, especially in Delhi. Mumbai and Goa, however, are quite safe at night. Do not buy drugs or interact with people selling drugs.
- Report any Misbehavior: In case any person misbehaves with you, please report to the nearest police station or call 100 or 1090 (woman helpline number) to report.
My Travel Anecdotes on Safety
Here are 2 true travel anecdotes that might help you restore your faith in people.
- Shimla/ Kufri: I was staying at Shimla and visited Kufri for snowfall. On return, due to snowfall, there were no buses plying from Kufri. Also there was no electricity and hence it was pitch dark. Fortunately I found another girl struggling to get back to Shimla. We were met by an onslaught of cab drivers and hoteliers, cajoling us to take a cab or room at ridiculous prices. What happened next left a lasting impression on me! A car stopped and a lady offered us a ride till Shimla. We gratefully accepted. She then explained, “My sons had driven past you and had seen you getting harassed but they didn’t stop as you wouldn’t have trusted boys alone. So they drove ahead about 3 km in the snow, picked me up and then we drove back to pick you up.” Seriously, who makes that much of an effort for strangers! The family was from Delhi.
- Mcleodganj: I spent about 10 days alone in Mcleodganj learning wood carving. One of those days, I walked to the church in the morning, slightly out of the main city. While returning, on the deserted road, a truck driver stopped a few blocks ahead of me and got off. He then waved and made another truck passing by stop as well. Both of them watched me approach them, which made me uncomfortable. I turned around and walked in the opposite direction. I spotted a morning jogger and spoke to him about my concern. He hailed a shared cab that dropped me off at Mcleodganj. I am not really sure if those men had any wrong intentions but I took my precautions as they had made me uncomfortable.
While there are many creepy dudes out there, the number of good people far outnumbers the creepy ones. I believe with the general precautions above you should be fine. If you are ever in doubt or suspicion, just ask any local Indian woman around. Most people speak English and are keen to help. Also India is a beautiful and unique country and incredibly cheap (of course after bargaining!!) so don’t let the media deter you from traveling here but do be cautious.
Please share your travel experiences and other tips you may have for staying safe. Please feel free to get in touch with me for any concerns or queries regarding India.