Aditya MadanapalleJul 14, 2016 12:47:33 IST
The first PokéStop I came across when I started playing was Pathan Masjid, which is in Parel in Mumbai. I crossed it every day, but this was the first time I stopped and looked around. There were some old men reading a newspaper, and one nodding off to sleep. I caught a Weedle on a bike parked in front of the Masjid, and went on. Just a few steps down the road, there was another PokéStop, it was a small structure hidden in a corner between buildings and away from the road. It was a Sai Temple.
Further down the Holy vat Savitri tree. It was a tree used in some ritual where threads are wound around the tree. Next up were a Shiv Mandir, the Sai Dham Devalaya, Three Bell Mandir and another Sai Baba temple. The PokéStop for the Three Bell Mandir has the image of an old man who serves at the temple. You can see that man sitting outside this temple in real life. I walked about in a big circuit, and almost reached the point I had started playing one. The last PokéStop was Holy Cross Church. I wanted to find out if this was something local, or was in other cities of India as well.
In Bengaluru, near Silk Board, there were a cluster of religious points of interest. Apart from the temples themselves, temple arches, religious murals on walls, and statues carved into pillars are also PokéStops.
There is a similar pattern of PokéStops being mapped to religious places in Hyderabad as well, around Koti. Apart from the locations pictured, there was the Sri Kanaka Durga Nagalaxmi Temple, a Sunni Mosque, a Sai Baba temple, and a Ganesh temple, all in close proximity, which one can come across in one play session.
Next up was Delhi, near Green Park. It is possible to start with the Hauz Khas Masjid, and walk straight across a Hanuman Temple, Jai Shree Shyam Mandir, a mural of Hanuman, a Shiv Mandir, and finally end at the Green Park Gurudwara. The Green Park Gurudwara is not just a Pokéstops, but a Gym, and is currently defended by this formidable Pidgeot.
Darjeeling actually has more variety of PokéStops, including locations such as community halls, organisations and even pre-schools in the mix. However, the predominant points of interest are Churches, Monasteries and religious statues.
What struck me as I stood outside a chapel in Mumbai was that these were all places I would never have gone to, if it were not for the game. It was fun to discover all these places of worship hidden around the city. I felt thankful to all the Ingress players who had come to these places before me, and identified these "points of interest" as Portals. It started dawning on me, what Pokemon Go has achieved. It makes atheists visit temples. In takes you to places of worship without caring for your religion.
Apart from houses of worship, it makes you go to parks, libraries and offices of societies that you would have never gone to or found out about otherwise. As of now, the game is free of any sponsored locations, but this could change. These places do not have an online presence, they are not tourist locations, and yet, they are real places buzzing with activity, and maybe you can get involved at a very local level.
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