Subhadra Jalali, an ophthalmologist from Hyderabad found Kolkata's Victoria Memorial enchanting but was inconvenienced for lack of restrooms. The only one available for the tourists was outside the main gate and in the scorching heat it was a long walk.
"Why can't these places be made tourist friendly by way of drinking water provision and toilets," she asks.
Besides, the Memorial, projected as a Kolkata landmark, offered no information by way of any brochures or even guides, she complained.
This sounds familiar, say many tourists. A trip to the Mysore Palace had Malini Trivedi of Lucknow horrified as her nine year old daughter Shalini had to go to the toilet barefoot.
You have to walk through the palace without any footwear and the toilets are inside. The toilets were unclean and flooded with dirty water and trash.
Sanjay Madhavan from Bangalore finds that parking in many tourist spots is a bigger pain. He would rather take a cab to win over this problem. But the harassment of the tourists starts the moment he gets into a cab.
Dysfunctional meter machines with an aim to make an extra buck, greedy touts and guides, beggars, fraudulent tour operators, surround the hapless tourist rendering him helpless.
Admits Ravi Narayan Prasad, a cab driver from Kolkata: "People say that they get frightened when they arrive in the city as the cab drivers fight among themselves for passengers; they don't know who is reliable, who isn't."
Top it with erratic train services, dirty train toilets, unclean rooms and bugs and the problem escalate. The whole experience turns into a nightmare for the tourist advertised by the government's tourism department as 'atithi devo bhavo', an oft quoted shloka in Sanskrit meaning 'Guest is God.'
All this speaks of poor support from the administration to the tourists.
Text and photos: Anju Munshi/ Trans World Features
Image: Foreign tourists in India.