One of the first concerns while travelling in India is where to get water from. Drinking water fountains are a rare sight and even when where there is one, an issue of quality crops up in the mind of a tourist. The golden rule is not to drink tap water. The safest bet therefore is to go for bottled water, but is it?
There are currently half-a-dozen major bottle water brands in India. The most popular are Bisleri, kinley and Aquafina. Of these, Bisleri has a longest presence in India. It’s an Italian company which came to India back in the 1960s. It’s a big player in the bottle water industry. There are smaller players too that claim to have very high standards. But that’s only a part of the story.
India is still a developing country. Rules are not always enforced which often results in a slack in standards or outright tampering. For a tourist, it’s difficult for them to know if a particular company is meeting standards or not. Therefore it’s better to choose from well known and major brands to be on the safer side.
Although buying a bottle of mineral water that has the logo of a famous company is a good safety measure but it is not always foolproof. There are numerous accounts of tourists (and Indians of course) who have bought bottled water that have been refilled with tap water and resold to them. There are scrupulous street vendors who refill the empty bottles, keeping the company logos intact, with tap water and resell them on street stalls or railway platforms. In the absence of tough enforcement of law; it’s a common practice, even in the big cities. That’s disappointing. However, it doesn’t mean you have to carry all your drinking water with you when you are travelling in India. There are a few tips to quench your thirst the safe way.
Drinking water guide in India
Check the cap
The plastic cover or cap is not a guarantee of security. Find a relatively quiet place to open a water bottle and listen to the sound it makes. If you hear a snapping sound at two-three times, your bottle is safe. If not then it’s better to throw it in a dustbin. Caps on compromised bottles are often glued; therefore you don’t hear a sound.
Try alternative drinks
Go for juices, soda, cartoned and similar drinks. It’s because it’s harder to refill an empty juice or soda bottle. Even here, prefer big brands.
Carry a portable travel water purifier
You may find the little plastic bottle a little heavy, but it’s a must if you plan to travel for long periods. It will come especially handy when you are in the countryside, or not staying in hotels.
Boil your water
It’s not possible to carry a whole set of culinary tools with you. But it’s not difficult to carry a small mug or kettle that prepares coffee/tea. Use that to boil your water. It will save you potential trips to a doctor.
When in a situation where you are thirsty and it’s not possible to ensure if the water you are drinking is pure, you better drink something. India is a hot country and you wouldn’t want to lose conscious because of dehydration. Your best bet is to the take the typhoid and cholera vaccinations if you plan to visit India. Even Indians are now taking these vaccinations. Boosters jab normally after 6 months of your first one will immune you for life against water borne diseases.
More travel tips for India