Let me tell you about a magical journey I took in search of a bathroom whilst out for darshan in Govardhan.
Ever been out and about in India and suddenly felt the need to answer nature’s call? How many of us have found ourselves on the side of the road, behind a shrub or a stack of bricks… hopefully with a bottle of water in hand? You don’t have to answer that question. I can tell by the look on your face you’ve been there too.
It was late evening and I was accompanying a couple of guests; if I remember correctly, we had gone for darshan of the supremely enchanting Shri Haridev Ji and were proceeding to Shri Radhakund. Then the unthinkable happened. Somewhere near the bus stand, one of my friends expressed the need “to go.”
The last time a friend needed “to go” in Govardhan, we had asked at several businesses and no one could oblige, so we ended up finding a secluded corner of the bus stand to fertilize.
But this time I remembered a local hotel I had seen near the bus stand. It was well-constructed with a pink sandstone façade. I somehow always felt they would not mind if a person used the bathroom in their place.
Oh boy, was I all kinds of right!
I asked my gentle guests to wait at the gate while I went in to check out the place. And lo and behold — the large two-story building not only had a bathroom… it was filled with nothing but bathrooms!
Both friends gratefully paid the five rupees and availed the facilities in our newfound toilet mansion.
And that’s how I met Sulabh Toilet Complex.
How did I not know about this before?
According to Sulabh International’s website, the organization has been providing pay-to-use toilets since 1974. Today Sulabh has more than 7,500 public washrooms in 25 states and 4 union territories of India.
Today being New Year’s Day, I thought I’d start 2017 off right by scootering down to Sulabh Toilet Complex and checking out the facilities for your convenience.
Upon arriving at the toilet complex I was greeted by the friendly five-o-clock-shadowed face of the doorman, Mr. Pathak. According to Mr. Pathak, Govardhan’s Sulabh Toilet Complex is the largest pay-to-use restroom in Uttar Pradesh.
I asked Mr. Pathak if he liked his job, and was met with an enthusiastic yes. For him, such facilities are an indespensible move towards a swachh Bharat (clean India) and an important service for pilgrims visiting the dham — the holy land of Vraj-Vrindavan. He felt proud to serve his country and his community as an employee of Sulabh.
“How many toilets does this facility have?” I asked.
“I don’t know, I’ve never counted them!” he replied with classic Brajwasi panache.
“But there are two floors filled with a good number of toilets. We have Western and Indian style toilets, and we also offer showers, a locker room, and a changing room for the convenience of the pilgrims.”
“Are you the only toilet complex on the parikrama marg?” I asked.
“No, there are two others by Sulabh International, and two government-run restrooms. But we are the largest of them all. Thousands of pilgrims use the facilities here during every festival.”
I was impressed, but there was one more thing I had to do before I left…
I paid my five rupees and went inside to get to know this toilet complex a little better.
I must say I was not disappointed.
The toilets on both floors were passably clean, as were the showers. There was a little standing water, and footprints from constant use (it is, after all, New Years Day). But if you are wearing shoes, you could easily use the toilet without much discomfort. The building’s interior was a bit rustic, but not upsettingly so. I must admit I did not do a complete inspection but all seemed to be well enough in order in the Sulabh toilet kingdom.
So next time you find yourself in Govardhan in need of a bathroom and/or a shower, feel free to give Sulabh Toilet Complex a go.
The Sulabh Toilet Complex in Govardhan is located a stone’s throw from the Govardhan bus stand. It is open from 4AM to 9PM, seven days a week, and 24 hours on special holidays.