An Excellent Intro Tour to Delhi By Delhi Magic

Delhi Magic Old Delhi

With over 14 million people Delhi is both over populated and sprawling – a seemingly daunting place to navigate, but not after I’d been put on the right track during my fabulous Delhi by Metro Tour by Delhi Magic led by my wonderful guide Deepak … that is, once I found him! Turn on your GPS and delve into the hustle and bustle of India’s second largest city with us.

The Magic of Delhi with Delhi Magic

When I was looking for original tours in Delhi, the offerings of Delhi Magic, a branch of Magic Tours of India, caught my eye. This well established company aims to show visitors a different side of India and the Delhi by Metro tour succeeds at this on a number of levels. This particular tour is guided by students from Manzil, a non-profit that works towards empowering and educating youth. In addition to providing income to student guides, part of the tour profits also go to the programmes at Manzil. Another aspect I liked about the tour was its focus on using ‘green’ forms of transportation that are popular with the common man in Delhi: the subway, the auto-rickshaw, which uses compressed natural gas (CNG) and the cycle-rickshaw. The tour would be eco and social friendly, plus teach me how to get around with these means of transit on my own… or so I’d hoped… back to trying to find Deepak on the morning of the tour!

New vs Old Delhi

 It was absolutely not Delhi Magic’s fault, they gave very specific directions on how to get to the meeting point… which I skimmed it over, put the address (or what I thought to be the address) into my uber app and thought it would be smooth sailing from there. Little did I know how complicated Connaught Place was. The heart of “New Delhi,” this is not exactly a roundabout or a square as it’s deceiving name implies it’s a whole, complex area of ring roads. This was my first lesson in the difference between the broad streets of New Delhi, mainly constructed from 1911-1931 when the British move the capital from Calcutta back to Delhi, versus the narrow crooked laneways of Old Delhi.
Even though New Delhi has more of a “Western” feel, it still has it secrets. When the patient Deepak managed to explain that I was on the wrong street and how to get to where I was supposed to be, he led me through a few backstreets to a traditional tea stand (above) where I could regain my calm over some chai and his soothing voice. He then gave me a general overview of the city and some further details about New Delhi, which we would move on to explore. Into an green autoricksaw we hopped to whizz over to the capital buildings like the President’s House, Parliament House, Secretariat and India Gate – grandly designed with both British and India architectural influences.

Getting “Lost” Down the Lanes of Old Delhi

From here we took the very clean, efficient and economical Metro to Old Delhi. This was more my style: colorful shops, aromatic street food stands, tiny passageways, historic houses… oh and a ox-driven carts and meandering cows. These were all expertly maneuvered by Deepak as led me through this intriguing labyrinth of sights and flavors. I would have otherwise been quite intimidated to wander down these small, dark streets which reveal so much of the true character of the city, a definitely advantage of taking a guided tour.

A Harmony of Religions

One of the nicest aspects of the tour was that Deepak was able to give me such a great overview of not only the city, but also Indian history and culture. Our focus then veered to religion, either visiting or stopping at to discuss a place of cult or the country’s main religions which happened to be found almost side by side on the edge of Old Delhi. Deepak gave me a primer on Jainism at the Shri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir, the oldest Jain temple in the city where I got to quickly and barefoot creep through its rooms to the hum of the chanting faithful. We peered up at the famous Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India and stopped in at Gurdwara Sees Ganj Sahib, an important Sikh Temple where we could have had a free meal… though other sites and snacks beckoned.

Trinkets, Textiles and Tea

Back into the maze of Old Delhi side streets, Deepak took me through various bazars like the Dariba Kalan (the silver market), the Paranthewali Galli (Lane of Parathas) and the Kinari Bazaar (wedding market), where I quizzed Deepak on India wedding traditional dress and other customs. On our amble we somehow ended up at another chai stand – a young man after my tea-lover’s heart.

Additional Flavors of Delhi

What would a tour in India be without tasting some delicious snacks? Deepak stopped at one of his favorite matar kulcha stall and this tasty chickpea dish was prepared before by eyes. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to complete this excellent introduction to the city. Not only would I feel more comfortable about getting around the city on my own and had a great base of the city’s history and Indian culture.

At the time of publication, the rate for a half day Delhi by Metro Tour INR was 2,000/person. You can learn more about and book Delhi Magic Tours here or contact them at: magictours@live.com.

I was a guest of Delhi Magic, however, all of the opinions expressed above are entirely my own.

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