It is easy to get bored of spending vacations in Europe, Argentina and the more exotic locations around the world. This is when most travelers think of coming to Asia for their next yearly vacation. For any LGBT + traveler, however, Asia is far from the ideal location for travel, unless the focus is on sightseeing and not LGBT services. If you or one of your friends is planning to drop in to India for a short while, there are things that are necessary to know before making the trip, if the plan is not to make the trip a disaster.
India is almost a homophobic country. Though you will get a lot of eye candy in the form of her ancient heritage and monuments, it is not for you if you’re looking forward to a week of gay bars and partying. Homosexuality is illegal here, and PDA is an offence. If you’re caught doing PDA with your gay lover, you can easily expect a night or more in jail. Holding hands does not count, by the way, but you’ll be better off without it.
Once you are clear about your objective for visiting India, choosing where all to visit is crucial, since the country is so huge and full of travelers’ havens that going to every tourist location in one trip is not possible. The first place you might want to look at is what is popularly known as The Golden Triangle – Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. All three cities overflow with Mughal heritage and monuments, famously the Taj Mahal in Agra, the Red Fort in Delhi and loads of Mahals in Jaipur. What to expect here? – Huge castles and fortresses, a lot of heat, a lot of traditionally dressed women – basically, a lot of India. You can also extend your trip to other cities in Rajasthan, such as Udaipur, if you can stand the heat and love Mughal architecture. And for travelers especially looking forward to gay activity, there are several bars in New Delhi that have a gay night once a week.
Going south, there are cities like Mumbai, Kerala, Goa, Chennai, and a lot of hill stations like Kodaikanal and Ooty. While Mumbai has some spectacular monuments (and gay parties every now and then), like the Gateway of India, and museums, Chennai and nearby cities have some mind blowing temples. The architecture of these temples has been the primary attraction for tourists for years, all of whom can not get over the façade, the interior and just about everything about them. The immense scribbling on the façade by tourists is just proof that these temples are popular indeed!
Goa is full of exotic beaches, great nightlife and very cheap alcohol. Coming to Kerala and the hill stations of South India, here is natural beauty if there ever is anywhere. Kerala is not known as “God’s Own Country” for no reason, after all. The scenery is refreshing, serene and breathtaking. Full of lush trees and beautiful lagoons (or backwaters), Kerala is the place for you if you want to de-stress.
Northern India, too, has some scenic displays for the tourist. Leh, freezing cold, but fascinating, is a must visit for anyone looking for the perfect hill station. Then there is the disputed and terrorized territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Don’t call me crazy for this, but there isn’t much to fear while visiting the state, since the police patrol the area, and tourists visit it, all the time. If you are looking for a spiritual tour, you can probably visit the famous Badrinath and Kedarnath temples in the Himachal area and Vaishno Devi, one of the most popular Hindu temples anywhere, in J&K.
Keep in mind that asking for gay parties and bars is something of a risk in India. It is better that you look for these in online forums and discussions, get in touch with a few local guys who know the gay scene here, and then make your move. Staying in hotels is not an issue in India, since men often share a room to cut down travel expenses. Just know that advertising your sexuality will only work against you here. The rest said, enjoy India!
Article written by Shahrukh K. – 2009