Sightseeing – Footloose in Delhi
Organized city walks that enrich the flavor of the capital.
[Text and picture by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Many organizations and individuals have been conducting city walks in Delhi. Led by qualified guides, these tours are professional in their execution. The present structure of their itineraries has been laid out after years of experience. Tourists, students, and corporate groups are a few of the beneficiaries.
Pradip Krishen’s book Trees of Delhi may be priced at Rs 795 but taking a tree walk with him is absolutely free. Doctors, artists, accountants, furniture designers, and many others have ended up wiser about the city’s green life after walking the tree talk with Delhi’s most learned Tree Walla. One Sunday morning, 120 people turned up – in the rain! But Krishen prefers smaller batches for these leafy excursions to ridges and parks.
Street Walk with Street Children
Guided by former street children, this walk takes you around New Delhi Railway Station. Organized by the Salaam Baalak Trust, it helps you in discovering the inner life of Delhi’s street kids. Knowing how they survive is crucial in understanding the underbelly of this difficult city. Click here for a detailed story on this walk.
Charge Walkers are welcome to donate what they like, but Rs 200 is good Contact Javed (981-097-5284)
Since 1995, Habitat World has conducted over 2,000 walks. Led by historians, musicologists, environmentalists, and architects, groups of 25-30 people get to explore the city’s history, architecture and culture on each walk. Some of the places included in these walks are Humayun’s tomb, Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary, Hauz Khas, the Nehru Planetarium, and Rashtrapati Bhawan.
Charge Rs 50 Ph 4366-3080/3090
Chandni Chowk, the moonlit bazaar, used to be the commercial heart of the Mughal capital. Today it is a pale shadow of its glorious past. However, the Delhi experience would be incomplete without a detour in its streets and eateries. The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage conducts weekly walks (on Saturdays) in this historic district. The bazaar also houses holy (and historically important) shrines of almost all the major religions followed in India.
Charge Rs 30 Ph 2464-1304
In collaboration with the Delhi government, INTACH started heritage walks in 2005 to popularize historical destinations like Mehrauli Archaeological Park and Chandni Chowk. The walks are led by experts, usually with an MA in Art History or Heritage Management. Apart from regular walks, customized excursions are organised.
Charge Rs 30 Ph 2464-1304
The Asola Bhatti Sanctuary is on the Southern Ridge, where the Aravalli Hills taper off. It is a great place to unwind if you happen to be in south Delhi. The Conservation Education Center conducts daily hikes here. You would walk through green patches of Anogeissus, Balanite, and Riparian belt. The sanctuary is rich in wildlife. Nilgai and blackbucks are the usual sights.
Charge Rs 50 Ph 2604-2010
Walk the Book
Walking in chaotic Old Delhi could assault the senses. If someone could lift the curtain from the clutter, point out the stunning carvings on rundown mansions, and explain contemporary settings in historical quarters, the experience is uplifting. Co-authored by two English ladies, Old Delhi – 10 Easy Walks is an ideal companion for solitary excursions. With maps and practical hints, this guidebook takes you to landmarks like Jama Masjid as well as lesser-known places like Chitli Qabar bazaar.
By Gaynor Barton, Laurraine Malone Price Rs 195 (Rupa & Co)