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Ghats are long steps going down to a river, they are important public spaces in South Asia, often containing wide paved areas, and play a role somewhat analogous to a city square. They are used for mundane tasks such as washing cloths, but often play an important religious role for Hindus, for activities such as ablutions, and cremations. They are an important in many places in South Asia.

There doesn't seem to be any way to tag them.

It's my understanding that the way to get new tags in use is to use them, and if enough people use them, then the rendering software will be adjusted to take them into account. Is this true?

If so, any advice regarding how to design the tag? I was thinking "amenity=ghat", but perhaps using a more specific key would be useful.

edit: One thing to keep in mind that they aren't just stairs, but stairs, with paved "plateaus". On the Ghats one may find people bathing in the river, performing religious rights, selling fish or tea or vegetables, cremations taking place. The cacophony of life that makes India amazing. They are a important public space, more than being stairs.

The example I saw tagged that made me notice this issue is here it is tagged as a cemetery, with the name "Ghat", I believe it is a ghat used for cremation. Thinking there had to be a better tag I looked at Varanasi, a city known for its Ghats. Varanasi is a major pilgrimage destination for Hindus, and also a popular tourist destination for Westerners. A google image search for "Varanasi" turns up mostly pictures of the Ghats. Here is a section of Varanasi with many Ghats. They are all tagged as tourism=attraction, despite having far more significance for Pilgrims, and pilgrims outnumbering tourists significantly. I've looked at other cities known for their ghats, Allahabad, Haridwar, Rishikesh, and found no Ghats tagged at all.

asked 10 May '15, 05:11

keithonearth's gravatar image

accept rate: 13%

edited 10 May '15, 17:52

5 years later, and this question is still relevant. I plan to map ghats along the river Narmada. But I'm not sure of the best way to go about tagging them.

(06 Jan '20, 05:05) soale

@soale, I agree, that this is still relent. Looking at taginfo I see that there is some usage of highway=steps with steps=ghat, and this seems to be the best solution at present. While mapping steps as areas is still in its infancy this approach allows for a transition to mapping the ghats as areas in the future.

(06 Jan '20, 17:35) keithonearth

It would be good if you gave a link to a location or two of these as I am thinking something along the lines of the following might work

Create a polygon encompassing the ghat where steps exist and tag with:

  • area=yes
  • highway=steps
  • steps=ghat

You can add additional information as per the steps wiki page

Where the ghat leads to, or contains, or is beside, wide paved areas (where cars would typically not go), do the following

Create a polygon encompassing the paved area and tag with

  • area=yes
  • highway=pedestrian
permanent link

answered 10 May '15, 07:40

DaCor's gravatar image

accept rate: 2%

edited 10 May '15, 07:41


For a bit of previous discussion, see this from 2011:

(10 May '15, 10:13) SomeoneElse ♦

Thanks for your comment, you're right I should have added links to make it more clear, I've added an additional section to my comment to make it more clear, though maybe unpleasantly long now.

(10 May '15, 17:54) keithonearth

What makes ghats particularly special is that they are used for religious rituals, otherwise they are just large steps leading down to a river for bathing.

My suggestion is: amenity=place_of_worship + highway=steps + area=yes

permanent link

answered 10 May '15, 21:46

PlaneMad's gravatar image

accept rate: 33%

Many Ghats are used for religious purposes, but not all are, as many are used for washing cloths. Whether the Ghats used for non-religious purposes are "just stairs" seems subjective to me. I Think of them as a particular subset of stairs.

But you say elsewhere that there's been no talk of this amongst the Indian OSM community. If there's no interest there, I'm not going to push the issue.

(11 May '15, 18:09) keithonearth

What they are used for is pretty much irrelevant (absolutely no disrespect meant) when it comes to the base level tagging in the same way a church is a building.

Additional significance can be applied through more detailed tagging.

There are a large number of mappers in India (assuming thats where you are mapping) that may already have come up with an agreed set of tags for this. I don't know if they have a mailing list or something similar but it might be worth your while investigating

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answered 10 May '15, 23:06

DaCor's gravatar image

accept rate: 2%


Mapper from India here. Can safely say there has been no discussion on this in the past.

(11 May '15, 14:16) PlaneMad

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question asked: 10 May '15, 05:11

question was seen: 4,100 times

last updated: 06 Jan '20, 17:35

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum