An Englishman who has resided in Delhi for several years, Nigel
Hankin operates walking tours of Old Delhi. His tours can be booked
at the lodge at the Mughal Gate of the British High Commission,
Shanti Path, Chanakyapuri.
Self-guided walking tours of a number of areas are also possible.
Beginning at the Jain Temple at the eastern end of Chandni
Chowk, by the Red Fort, a stroll through this area snakes
through the alleyways and takes in the area’s finest temples
and most colorful markets. Meanwhile, Old Delhi takes a good hour
and a half to tour the main mosques and mansions, covering the stretch
from Jama Masjid to Ajmeri Gate.
Tourism Development Corporation (tel: (011) 331- 4229 or 336-
5358) runs sightseeing tours in coaches, which include New and Old
Delhi. from October through April, the tours are in non air condition
coaches, from May through September in air condition ones.
The New Delhi tour departs everyday 09:00 (finishing at 13:15)
and includes Jantar Mantar, Birla Mandir, Qutb Minar, the
Baha’i Temple and Safdarjung’s Tomb. The
Old Delhi tour departs everyday at 14:15 (finishing at 1715),
with stops at Red Fort, Jama Masjid, Raj Ghat and Humayun’s
Tomb. Cost is Rs95 for a 1/2-day tour and Rs180 for a full-day
tour. The cost for air-conditioned tours in the hot weather are
Rs110 and Rs210 respectively.
The four-hour ‘Delhi by Evening Tour’ includes
Birla Mandir, the son et lumiere show at Purana
Qila and a drive past the Parliament House and India
Gate. Cost is Rs105 and tours begin daily at 1800 (1745 between
October and February). Tickets must be bought in advance at the
booking office at N-36, Connaught Place.
for Half Day
Located in the neighboring state of Haryana, it takes approximately
50 minutes by taxi to get to Sultanpur, 47 kilometres (29.5
miles) from Delhi. November through February is the best time to
visit this small lake and marshland. Migratory birds, such as the
greater flamingo, bare-headed and Brahminy ducks from Tibet, flock
to the sanctuary.
Also in Haryana, the ruins of Suraj Kund are only
16 kilometres (ten miles) from the outskirts of Delhi, a trip of
1/2 half an hour by taxi. Its tenth-century amphitheatre
is the only great Hindu shrine that wasn't destroyed by invading
Muslims. The shrine is surrounded by peaceful parklands and a small
artificial boating lake, and is a popular Sunday picnic spot for
middle-class Indian families.
Agra and Taj Mahal
The radiance of early morning is 1 of the best times to 1st glimpse
the impeccable proportions of the Taj Mahal, constructed
solely out of marble, by Shah Jahan, as a mausoleum for his
wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
The complex is made up of 5 main elements – the Darwaza
or main gateway, the Bageecha or garden, the Rauza
or the Taj Mahal mausoleum the Masjid or mosque, the Naqqar
Khana or rest house. The actual tomb is located inside. Most
fascinating are the 4 tall minarets (40 metres/131 feet high) at
the corners of the complex, the majestic dome in the middle and
the black and white chessboard marble floor.
The Taj Mahal is open Sat-Thurs from dawn to dusk
and entry costs Rs 750 for foreigners (Rs 250 for the ASI ticket
and Rs 500 charged by the municipality of Agra).
The other monument, which should be visited in Agra, is Agra
Fort, with tall red sandstone ramparts. The Emperor Akbar constructed
the citadel in 1565 and successive generations developed it as a
stronghold of the Mughal Empire.
The fort houses the elegant Diwan-i-Am, the Hammam-i-Shahi
(royal bath), the royal pavilions, the Nagina Masjid (Gem
Mosque) and the Zenana Meena Bazaar, where the ladies of
the court would linger over jewelry, silks, and brocades. The Agra
Fort is open everyday dawn to dusk and entry costs Rs250
The Shatabdi Express, an air conditioned tourist train, travels
the 199 kilometres (124 miles) to Agra in about 2 hours, departing
from New Delhi station. Tickets can be purchased at the International
Tourist Bureau on the 1st floor of New Delhi station and cost
Rs 800 for round trip, breakfast included. Payment is only accepted
in foreign currency or travelers’ cheques (Pounds or US Dollars
preferred). Credit cards are not accepted. To avoid the long queuing
to purchase tickets in person, a travel agent will do this for tourists,
for a small fee.
The Government of India Tourist Office in Agra, 191 The Mall
(tel: 72377 or 67959) provides additional information.