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
Getting “Lost” Down the Lanes of Old Delhi
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.
I was a guest of Delhi Magic, however, all of the opinions expressed above are entirely my own.