Improving rural drinking water services at the village level is a high priority in India. The National Rural Drinking Water Program (NRDWP) calls for village drinking water plans on an annual basis. However, planning data analysis and mapping are complicated by the different levels of local settlement that are involved. The aims of this paper are: first, to review how the term ‘village’ has come to refer to three different types of settlement for planning purposes in India; second, to show how each settlement type has different water data and GIS map coverage; and third, to identify practical strategies for using these different data and mapping resources to develop rural drinking water plans. We address the first objective through a brief historical review of local government administration and drinking water database development in India. Challenges of data analysis and mapping are demonstrated through a case study of Pune district in Maharashtra. This challenge led to the identification of six practical strategies for coordinating the analysis of drinking water data and GIS mapping for planning purposes.