For starters, it's Delhi's first tour by Metro! And not just the Metro - this tour uses two additional forms of 'green' transport that are popular with the common man in Delhi - the CNG powered auto-rickshaw, and the cycle-rickshaw.
The guides for the tour are special too. They are a group of youngsters from Manzil, an NGO that works in children's education. The kids at Manzil come from diverse backgrounds, but they are all united by a keen sense of wanting to learn, of wanting to make something of themselves. I was amazed and humbled and challenged by the energy and spirit I saw among them. We've now selected eight students from Manzil, and have started a training program for the tour. We're teaching them history, geography, and speaking skills, using a script researched and written specially for this tour. Manzil's own volunteer team is helping with the training as well.
The tour itself is interesting, and covers both New Delhi and Old Delhi. It starts at Connaught Place, with an introduction to the history of Delhi, and a geographical orientation of the city. From there, we take tourists by auto on an exploration of 'Lutyens Delhi' - the city of grand public spaces designed by the British, which is now called New Delhi. We drive through the Central Business District, seeing the markets and businesses there. We go to the Lutyens Bungalow Zone, Janpath, Rajpath, and visit the President's House, Parliament House, Secretariat and India Gate.
After this, we board the Metro to go to Old Delhi, where we experience the bustle of the bazaars both on foot, and using cycle-rickshaws. We will see the famous Jama Masjid (the largest mosque in India), Dariba Kalan (the silver market), Kinari Bazaar (wedding market) and Paranthewali Galli (Lane of Parathas). We'll visit Gurdwara Sees Ganj Sahib, built at the site where Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Sikh Guru, was beheaded for refusing to convert to Islam. We will also see Hindu temples, Jain derasars and churches, all standing cheek-by-jowl.
The final stop at the tour is the legendary Haldiram's for chaat and a cold drink. After that, we clamber on the Delhi Metro again, to end the tour at Connaught Place.
So - what do you think? Sounds good? If you are a Delhi local, tell me if you think I should improve something. If you're an overseas visitor, does it sound appealing? If any of you want to be guinea pigs at discounted prices, let me know!
Here are some photos of the tour training in progress.