Hawa Mahal By Manudavb - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28188851

Top Attractions In Jaipur

Amber Fort 

Amber Fort By A.Savin – Own work

 

Started by Raja Man Singh, this imposing 16th century fort & palace complex, was declared a UNESCO world heritage site as part of a group of six Hill Forts of Rajasthan. Located near the town of Amer (11 km from Jaipur), the Fort has many structures that are worth seeing –

  • Jaleb Chowk – It’s the first of the four courtyards of the Amber Fort Palace designed as a parade ground which now houses a Shila Devi temple. Designed for protection, Jaleb chowk had only two entry points – the Suraj Pol and the Chand Pol. The wall connecting the two Pols served as the living quarters of the soldiers and guards of the fort. Suraj means sun in Hindi, hence the Suraj Pol faces east and pays homage to the rising sun. Entry through this gate was normally reserved only for the King.
  • Diwan-e-Aam – The main components of the second courtyard are the Diwan-i- Aam (common in Mughal structures), the arcaded hall and the Ganesh Pol. Diwan-i- Aam is the “Hall of Public Audience” built in the mid-1620s by Mirza Raja Jai Singh I. This was where the Raja and nobles interacted with their subjects. In addition to addressing problems faced by the residents of Amber city, this platform came alive with music and dance on religious festivals and special occasions, like the Raja’s birthday and victory celebrations.
  • Ganesh Pol – The Ganesh Pol is the large entrance that separates the private and public domains of the Amber Palace. The public was not allowed entry beyond this point. The grand gateway is covered in intricate fresco paintings; the depiction of floral motifs have been adopted from the Persian paintings and are again a marker of Mughal influence.
  • Suhag Mandir – Tradition was very clear about elite women not being seen outside a very small group of people. Therefore, they were confined to a part of their palace residences demarcated as the Zenana with rather limited access to other areas of the palace. The Suhag Mandir was one such space outside the Zenana that they could visit. In addition to praying for their king and showering flower petals at him when he returned home through the Ganesh Pol, the Suhag Mandir doubled up as a window, quite literally, into the outside world. The rectangular chamber has one wall made up of three large ceiling to floor latticed windows called Jaalis. The Suhag Mandir is situated above the Ganesh Pol, and allowed women to watch the events taking place in the courtyard and the Diwan-i- Aam without being seen themselves.
  • Jai Mandir or Sheesh Mahal – Jai Mandir is made from creamy marble, and with delicate designs inlayed in the walls and ceilings with Belgian glass. Hence, it is also known as Sheesh Mahal. It is visually distinct from the rest of the fort that is decorated with bright coloured paintings on the walls.

Amber Fort – Key Information

Expected time spent:
Allow for a minimum of 2 hours
Opening days:
Open daily
Opening hours:
8 AM to 6 pm (sound and light shows 7 and 9pm)
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Indians (INR 100)/ Foreigners (INR 500)
Cameras: 
Indians: Still camera INR 50/Video INR 100

Foreigners: Still camera INR 70/Video INR 150

Address:
Delhi Road, Amber City, Jaipur
How to get there:
Located 11 km north of Jaipur, buses leave Hawa Mahal every 30 minutes to the Amber Fort. Alternately, you can also opt for a taxi or an autorickshaw and cover this as part of a 1-day tour including a short stop to take pictures of the Jal Mahal and monkey temple

City Palace

City Palace, By A.Savin  – Own work

Built by Maharaja Jai Singh II in 1932 and expanded in later years, the City Palace occupies almost a seventh of Jaipur’s old city area. Constructed as a blend of Mughal and traditional Rajput architecture, the Palace is a huge complex of courtyards, gardens and a number of buildings including the famous Chandra Mahal and Mubarak Mahal.

  • Chandra Mahal – A seven storeyed building where the descendants of the royal family still reside, this houses some of the finest paintings, floral decorations and mirror work -only ground floor is accessible to general public.
  • Mubarak Mahal – Originally built as a reception centre for visiting dignitaries by Maharaja Madho Singh II, this currently houses a rich collection of garments in a variety of textiles worn by the Maharajas of Jaipur – ranging from Sanganeri Block Prints to stunning Kashmiri Pashminas.
  • Diwan-i-Aam has a collection of manuscripts including as miniature copies which can easily be hidden from invading armies. Diwan-i-Khas is famous for the two sterling silver vessels, 1.6m in height and considered largest in the world. These were used to take water from the Holy Ganga for the 1902 coronation of England’s Edward VII.

Also worth visiting are the weaponry display at the Maharani Palace or the Sileg Khana and the Baggi Khana, a museum of the Maharaja’s buggies

City Palace – Key Information

 

Expected time spent:
Allow for 2-3 hours
Opening days:
All days of the week
Opening hours:
9.30 AM to 5 pm
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Indians (INR 100)/ Foreigners (INR 400)
Cameras:
Still Camera Fee included in ticket. Video camera : INR 200.Address:
Kanwar Nagar, Pink City, Jaipur 
How to get there
Depending on your starting point, you can use any mode of transport you prefer – bus, taxi or auto rickshaw as the City Palace is well connected to most locations in the city

Hawa Mahal

Hawa Mahal By ManudavbOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Constructed as a part of City Palace, by Maharaja Sawai Singh in 1799, Hawa Mahal was an extension of the women’s chamber to allow royal ladies to observe everyday life and processions in the street below – without being seen. Rising to five-storeys, the red & pink sandstone structure has around 953 windows decorated with very fine lattice work and built in a honeycomb or beehive structure. This lets breeze circulate through the windows, giving the palace its name. You can enter from the back of the complex but the narrow corridors inside can get extremely crowded – so keep that in mind if you decide to climb the cramped stairs

 

 

 

Hawa Mahal – Key Information

Expected time spent:
Around 1 hour
Opening days:
Open daily
Opening hours:
9 AM to 5.30 pm
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Indians (INR 50)/ Foreigners (INR 200)
Cameras: 
Indians: Still camera INR 10/Video INR 20

Foreigners: Still camera INR 30/Video INR 70

Address:
Hawa Mahal Road, Badi Choupad, Pink City, Jaipur
How to get there:
Located on Badi Chaupad intersection, very close to the City Palace.

Jantar Mantar

By Hans A. Rosbach – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The name Jantar Mantar is derived from the Sanskrit terms ‘Yantra’ and ‘Mantra’ meaning ‘instruments or machine’ and ‘calculate’ respectively. This is the largest of five astronomical observatories built by Maharaja Jai Singh during the period 1727-1734. It has 14 major geometric devices for measuring time, tracking constellations, observing orbits around the sun and determining the celestial altitudes. While the accuracy of the structures here is questionable, it is still used by local astronomers to make predictions for farmers.

 

Jantar Mantar – Key Information

Expected time spent:
Allow for 30-45 minutes
Opening days:
Open daily
Opening hours:
9 AM to 5 pm
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Indians (INR 40)/ Foreigners (INR 200)
Cameras: 
Indian (Still- INR 20/Video – INR 50) Foreigners (Still- INR 50/Video – INR 100)

Address:
Near City Palace, Tripolia Bazaar, Jaipur
How to get there:
A short walk from the City Palace

Nahargarh Fort

Overlooking the city, Nahargarh Fort located at the edge of the Aravalli hills, offers spectacular views of Jaipur. Built by the founder of Jaipur, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II in 1734, the fort served as a summer retreat while also helping strengthen the city’s defense with its extended wall connecting to the Jaigarh fort. Don’t forget to take a look at Madhavendra Bhavan built by Sawai Madho Singh, which has suites built for the wives and children along with a majestic suite for the king himself.

Nahargarh Fort – Key Information

Expected time spent:
Allow for 1-1.5 hours
Opening days:
Open daily
Opening hours:
10 AM to 5.30 pm
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Indians (INR 20)/ Foreigners (INR 50)
Cameras: 
Indians (INR 10)/ Foreigners (INR 30)
Address:
Aravali Hills, Near Jal Mahal, Jaipur
How to get there:
Easiest to take an auto rickshaw from City Palace (distance around 2.5 km)

Jaigarh Fort

To protect the Amber Fort and its palace complex, Jaigarh fort was constructed by Maharaja Jai Singh II in 1726. Jaipur was a major weapon production region during the Mughal reign especially under Shah Jahan due to abundance of iron ore mines in the vicinity. Artillery specimens can be seen inside the fort museum including what was then the world’s largest cannon on wheels, the Jaivana. Amongst the most well preserved monuments of medieval India, Jaigarh has beautiful gardens along with spectacular views of the Amber Fort and the hills around

Jaigarh Fort – Key Information

Expected time spent:
Allow for 45 mins to 1 hour
Opening days:
Open daily
Opening hours:
9 AM to 4.30 pm
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Indians (INR 35)/ Foreigners (INR 85)
Cameras: 
Indians (Still – INR 20/Video – INR 100); Foreigners (Still – INR 30/Video – INR 100)
Address:
Above Amber Fort
How to get there:
Jaigarh Fort is around 4 km from Amber Fort and is connected by a tunnel. If you wish to go by road, you can take an auto rickshaw from Amber

 

Panna Meena Ka Kund (Stepwell)

Built in the 16th century, Panna Meena ka Kund, or Panna Mian Ki Baoli, is an eight storey staircase pool. The uniquely designed stairs are arranged as criss-cross steps with small niches in the walls.  The stepwell served the dual purpose of a water source and a community gathering area, where people would come to swim and relax. It also provides a picturesque view of the Amber Fort & Palace and mountains.

Panna Meena ka Kund – Key Information

Expected time spent:
1 hour
Opening days:
Open daily
Opening hours:
Visit during the day
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Free (no tickets)
Cameras: 
Free
Address:
Above Amber Fort
How to get there:
Located on the Jaipur-Amber road near Anokhi museum

 

Jal Mahal

By A.Savin (Wikimedia Commons · WikiPhotoSpace) - Own work, FAL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48912481

By A.Savin  – Own work, FAL,

Translated as Water (Jal) Palace (Mahal), this low-rise symmetrical palace was once a shooting lodge for the Maharajah and appears to float in the centre of the man-made Sagar Lake. At the top, there is a garden which has semi-octagonal towers in every corner. The pink sandstone palace is not open to the public anymore but worth stopping to take some pictures on the way back from Amber Fort. Though the palace only appears to have a single storey, it has four submerged levels with specially designed lime mortar preventing water seepage

 

Jal Mahal – Key Information

Expected time spent:
30-45 mins
Opening days:
Open daily
Opening hours:
9 am to 5 pm
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Indians (INR 10)/Foreigners (INR 50)
Address:
Amber Road
How to get there:
Located 8 km off the Amber Fort, you can cover this as part of a 1 day autorickshaw tour including the Fort and monkey temple

 

 

 

 

 

 

Itimad ud Daulah

Top Attractions In Agra

Taj Mahal 

Taj Mahal

 

Grand tombs were rarely built for women, and the equation of tomb-beauty would’ve stayed overwhelmingly in favour of the men, had it not been for this one structure, this one monument that blew all competition out of the park – the Taj Mahal built to immortalize Shah Jahan’s love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal.

Before the Taj, the Mughals mostly built using red stone with marble being used mainly for decoration purposes or to break the monotony. By choosing to build the Taj Mahal entirely from marble, Shah Jahan intended to blur the distinction between royalty and divinity and elevated Mumtaz to the level of a saint. The white marble is transluscent, and loves to play with light – so depending on the sunlight and weather conditions when you visit, you may see a different Taj!

The river provides a serene backdrop to the Taj Mahal, and the cool breeze emanating from the river has a soothing effect. But the location next to the river gave rise to the greatest technical challenge to the Taj. The sand banks and the issue of river flooding. The Mughals came up with an ingenious way to secure the foundation. They made hollow cylinders of wood (large enough for a person to fit in) and thrust them into the soft sand. These wells were then filled with stones and iron, giving them strength.

The entire tomb is situated on a two-level platform, known as a chabutra. The first level, around 1.5m high is made of sandstone, while the second one, around 6m high, is clad with marble. The two platforms bestow a look of majestic grandeur to the main tomb – almost as if the architect is positioning the tomb and its occupant at a plane higher than earth and closer to heaven.

Taj Mahal – Key Information

Expected time spent:
Allow for a minimum of 1.5 hours if you intend to cover only the highlights
Opening days:
Open daily expect Friday
Opening hours:
Sunrise to sunset (typically 7 AM to 6 pm)
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Indians (INR 40)/ Foreigners (INR 1000) and free for children under 15 years
Cameras: 
Still camera allowed for free, Video camera Rs 25. Shooting with a tripod is not allowed
Address:
Taj Road, Agra
How to get there:
Most common options are a 3-4 hour road trip from Delhi to Agra (204 km) by bus/ taxi or the Taj Express/ Shatabdi trains from Delhi. From the main parking area of the Taj, it’s a 7-10 min walk to the main Western Gate. You can also reach the Taj via the Eastern Gate or the Southern Gate

Agra Fort

Agra Fort

Agra Fort was built in 1565 – around 7 years before Fatehpur Sikri – at a time when Akbar was still expanding his foothold in the empire. Potential threats were still very high and the royal capital needed protection with massive fortifications, moats and defensive features. The Fort has many structures that are worth seeing –

  • Anguri Bagh – Angur means grapes, and those were grown here at some point of time and Bagh means garden. The garden itself has a design that resembles a carpet. Each of the quadrants have unique bed-dividers forming cartouches, which when planted with flowers look like a carpet.
  • Shish Mahal or Mirror Palace – This chamber had a lot of water devices inside to keep the royal family cool during Agra’s scorching summers. Keeping the heat out and ensuring privacy meant no windows, so the place would’ve been dark all day. How to provide adequate light? Solution: Mirrors!
  • Muthamman Burj – This octagonal tower that projects out of the fort is called either Muthamman Burj or Shahi Burj (Royal Tower). In this building, the Emperor would meet the highest dignitaries and his sons in secret council and also work with his main historian on editing the history of the reign.
  • Khas Mahal – The Khas Mahal was one of the early buildings in the Agra Fort with Shah Jahan’s imprint on it. The clear differentiation was marble – Red sandstone was discarded in favour of this smoother, more reflective and translucent stone.

Other points of interest if you have time are the Diwan-i-Aam, Diwan-i-Khas and the Masjids or Mosques.

Agra Fort – Key Information

 

Expected time spent:
Allow for 1.5-2 hours
Opening days:
All days of the week
Opening hours:
Sunrise to sunset (typically 7 AM to 6 pm)
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Indians (INR 40)/ Foreigners (INR 550) and free for children under 15 years
Cameras:
Still camera allowed for free, Video camera Rs 25. Shooting with a tripod is not allowed

Address:
Rakabganj, Taj Road 
How to get there
It’s a 20-25 minute walk from the Taj Mahal complex, quite close to the Agra Cantt railway station.

Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri

A magnificent complex on a hill, Fatehpur Sikri was for a brief period of 14 years in the 16th century, the nerve-centre of the mighty Mughal empire, then the world’s 2nd largest economy.

And then, for reasons that are still not clear, it was unceremoniously abandoned and gradually became a surreal, ghostlike complex.

The main palace complex is essentially 3 courtyards (with multiple buildings), plus a mosque.

– The first is the Public Courtyard, housing the Diwan-e- Aam or ‘Hall of Public Audience’ where ordinary people could get an audience with the Emperor to air their grievances, settle disputes and complaints, and the Emperor would proclaim his judgment.

– The second is a vast private courtyard called the Daulat Khana (or Abode of Wealth), which houses many interesting structures and was primarily restricted to the Emperor and his close, male nobles.

– A third courtyard houses the female quarters with palaces for the various queens, and living accommodations for their staff

– and finally, outside this complex, a short walk away, is the main mosque or Jama Masjid, which houses the tomb of the Sufi Saint Shaikh Salim Chishti

 

Fatehpur Sikri – Key Information

Expected time spent:
Allow for a minimum of 1.5 hours if you intend to cover only the highlights
Opening days:
Open daily
Opening hours:
Sunrise to sunset (typically 7 AM to 6 pm)
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Indians (INR 40)/ Foreigners (INR 510) and free for children under 15 years
Cameras: 
Still camera allowed for free, Video camera Rs 25. Shooting with a tripod is not allowed
Address:
Fatehpur Sikri
How to get there:
Around 45 km from the Taj Complex, about 1 hour by road. You will need to hire a taxi for the trip, or you can take a local bus from the Idgah bus station in Agra. Buses are frequent but ensure you take a bus that goes to Fatehpur Sikri town, as many buses bound for Bharatpur will drop you 1 km away from the monument.

Itimad ud Daulah

Itimad ud Daulah

This tomb was built in honor of Mirza Ghiyas Beg, by his daughter Nur Jahan, Mughal Emperor Jahangir’s wife. It is her most significant architectural contribution.

It is called Itmad-ud- Daula meaning ‘pillar of the government’ in reference to the title conferred on her father by Jahangir. It is the first tomb in India made entirely of marble (as opposed to red stone) with an elaborately carved tomb. It has octagonal shaped towers and uses arched entrances signifying the Persian influence while the Indian influence is evident from the absence of a dome despite being a tomb.

Itimad ud Daulah – Key Information

Expected time spent:
Allow for 60-75 minutes
Opening days:
Open daily
Opening hours:
6 AM to 6 pm
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Indians (INR 10)/ Foreigners (INR 250) and free for children under 15 years
Cameras: 
Still camera allowed for free, Video camera Rs 25. Shooting with a tripod is not allowed
Address:
Moti Bagh, Etmadpur, Agra
How to get there:
It is located in the Old Agra area, about 30 minutes from the Taj Complex, close to the Agra Fort

Sikandra, Tomb of Akbar the Great

Akbar’s Tomb via Ekabhishek

Akbar was the third Mughal Emperor and generally regarded as one of India’s greatest monarchs in its five-thousand-year history. A key factor driving the Mughal Empire’s longevity was Emperor Akbar who ruled for 49 long years, conquering a large part of the sub-continent including access to seaport for trade with Europe, and during his time established a centralised bureaucracy and other imperial institutions, especially in land revenue management.

The construction of this tomb, located about 10 km from the city centre, was started by Akbar himself and completed by his son, Jahangir. The gateway has large mosaic patterns set into it while its four minarets are built of red sandstone inlaid with marble patterns. The garden is laid in the Char Bagh style, common for all the famous Mughal tombs including the Taj Mahal and Humayun’s Tomb.

Akbar’s Tomb – Key Information

Expected time spent:
Allow for 45-60 minutes
Opening days:
Open daily
Opening hours:
6 AM to 6 pm
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Indians (INR 10)/ Foreigners (INR 250) and free for children under 15 years
Cameras: 
Still camera allowed for free, Video camera Rs 25. Shooting with a tripod is not allowed
How to get there:Located on the main Mathura Road, it’s about 18 km/ 45 min drive from the Taj Mahal complex

sim-cards

How to get a SIM Card / Data Connection in India

If like us at CaptivaTour, you need your mobile phone connection and data just a little bit less than you need water and air :), then you will certainly be looking for a way to be connected while on holiday.

This article will guide you on where you can get a SIM card for your phone, and the process.

Where to buy a SIM card:

  1. Kiosks at the airport: These counters are usually located immediately after you clear customs. For the most part, if you have the required documents in order, you should be able to get your card in fifteen to twenty minutes after you fill out the form. A confirmation call is made to your mobile phone to verify details provided in your application, after which the SIM is activated (usually) within 24 hours.
  2. Local cellphone dealer: You might get some reluctance from shopkeepers due to new government regulation that puts validity of the SIM card to your Indian visa or a 3 month limit whichever is shorter. The procedure for activation is similar to the earlier option. Many local dealers may not have mini and micro SIM options on hand.

 

Documentation Required to buy a SIM Card

The Government of India has tightened the regulations on the sale of prepaid SIM cards to foreigners after November 2012 and therefore you need to be prepared to submit the following documents to the vendor along with an application form.

 

  • Filled out Consumer Application Form (CAF)
  • 2 color passport photographs of yourself (3.5 inches x 4.5 inches)
  • A photocopy of the personal details page of your passport. You will also have to produce your passport for verification, after which it will be returned to you.
  • A photocopy of your Indian visa. Once again, you will have to show the original visa for verification.
  • A photocopy of the proof of your home address in your country of residence. This could be your passport, driver’s license or any other Government issued document. Remember to carry the original document along for verification.
  • Residency proof – Proof of where you will be staying in India. Guidelines state foreigners may use the address of a local reference, a tour operator, or a hotel where you are staying – A letter confirming that you are a guest will suffice.

 

Which Prepaid SIM card should you buy:

Some of the more popular networks in India are as follows:

  • Airtel: the most popular network in India because of the good coverage in metropolitan areas.
  • Vodafone: one of the better networks for metropolitan coverage.
  • Reliance and Idea: other large carriers in India, which offer both 3G and 4G connectivity.
  • BSNL and MTNL: state owned telecommunications providers that may be a better option if you’re travelling away from the major cities, especially remote regions, as their coverage is better in remote areas.

How much will a SIM Card cost?

Approximately INR 350 (USD 5) for a SIM card with 3 months validity. However depending on the voice and data bundle you buy you may get the SIM card for lower prices as well.

How to make a call using your new Prepaid SIM Card

  • For international calls dial country code + area code + phone number
  • Call to local fixed phone in India ‘City/area code’ followed by the number. City/area codes can be found here.
  • Call to local mobile Dial the 10-digit mobile number without prefixing ‘0’
  • Call to mobile in other state/service circle Dial ‘0’ followed by the 10-digit mobile number

You can add more balance to your SIM card online via the network’s website or at most shops with the network’s logo on the shop front. You will get better deals online as many local shops will not have data heavy bundles available. Most networks have selfcare apps that you can install on your phone to use for adding voice minutes and data to your SIM.

Scams

Tourist Scams to Avoid while in India

Here are a list of 15 scams to avoid while travelling to India. Most are targeted exclusively at foreigners, though some are perpetrated against locals too.

The Hotel Scam – “Pretending to have never heard of your hotel or that your hotel has moved places/burnt down/changed names etc”

The likelihood that this is true is minimal and the driver is almost certainly going to take you to an alternate place where he gets a commission for bringing in gullible travelers like you. It helps to have the location of the hotel on a map (offline or online if you have access to a data connection), distance & shortest route from the airport or railway station along with the hotel’s local number to call & check for directions if needed. Alternately, just get the hotel to organize a pick for you – more expensive but worth it to avoid the hassle. There will be plenty of time during your stay in India to try local transport once you settle in (relatively speaking!).

 

The SIM card scam – “You can buy & use SIM without filling any paperwork”

For buying a SIM in India, both locals & foreigners are required to fill out paperwork. For foreigners or tourists, you need to fill out a Consumer Application Form (CAF) and submit below information.

  • 2 color passport photographs
  • A photocopy of the personal details page of your passport. You will also have to produce your passport for verification, after which it will be returned to you.
  • A photocopy of your Indian visa. Once again, you will have to show the original visa for verification.
  • A photocopy of the proof of your home address in your country of residence. This could be your passport, driver’s license or any other Government issued document. Remember to carry the original document along for verification.
  • Residency proof – Proof of where you will be staying in India. Guidelines state foreigners may use the address of a local reference, a tour operator, or a hotel where you are staying – A letter confirming that you are a guest will suffice.

If they don’t ask for all that, they are either giving you a used SIM which means you’ll get calls all day from random Indians, or they aren’t even planning on filing your paperwork which means the SIM will not get activated. As a tourist, its best to go straight to a local cellphone dealer of any of the popular networks in India (Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance, BSNL), fill in the paperwork and get a new SIM card.

 

The change scam – “Give you the wrong amount or pretend that you have given a Rs 100 note instead of a Rs 500 or Rs 1000 note”

Show and if possible, say aloud the amount you are handing over to the driver or shop keeper or anyone else you are dealing with and always count the change you received right in front of them. It’s also a good idea to have more of 100 rupee notes with you so that these problems are avoided (change at your hotel or when buying something at a ‘respectable’ establishment). Many shops are unable to change or accept 500 and 1000 rupee notes for small transactions.

 

The photo scam – “Tips for a photo you take”

When taking photos of animals (usually elephants or dressed up cows) & sometimes even local people, someone nearby is expecting a tip. They may ask upwards of INR 100 and will shout or yell if you don’t pay up. If you see the owner around, check if there are any charges and negotiate before clicking a picture.

 

The beggar scam – “Exchange whatever you buy back for money”

Tourists are usually the first people approached by beggars/ children on the street etc asking for money. If you refuse to give money to support this “business”, they change tack and ask instead for you to buy milk for their hungry child or purchase pens for school. This sounds fine as you are not really giving money but helping them out in a more meaningful way. Unfortunately, this is a scam too as the beggars/ kids have a deal with the store to return the product when you leave in exchange for money.

 

The bill or invoice scam – “Asking you to pay again for the stay or charging for drinks/ eatables that you didn’t even order”

With anything prepaid, ensure you keep the receipts/ invoices handy to show the hotel if asked to pay again during check in or check out. The other scam to watch out for is being charged for food or drinks you didn’t order. If you catch it, they will claim it was a mix up from a different table and subtract the amount from the bill while leaving the service charge (~15%) and luxury charge (~10%) taken on the original higher amount. If the difference matters to you, get them to make a new bill.

 

The Commission scam – “Drivers/ guides etc get commissions from most places they recommend at your expense”

On the way, the driver or guide will check if you are hungry or are looking to buy anything. He is being incentivized or given a commission for bringing you there. And that’s why like most tourist places, its best to do your own research instead of asking your driver to take you to the best local food or shopping in town. Ask for a recommendation from your hotel desk or research online – TripAdvisor, Zomato (India’s Yelp) are good sources! If you get to know a driver and use him often or he comes with a recommendation from family/ friends, then you can start to build trust.

 

The Pashmina/ shopping scam – “Original available at only a 1000 bucks”

It’s a fake! There is no way you can buy original Cashmere or pashmina for Rs 1000. If you still like it and would like to buy, negotiate it down to a rate you are happy paying. Tip: Start at 50% of the original rate! On the other hand, if you are concerned about getting cheated or not one to bargain, shop at the different state emporiums in Delhi where rates are fixed but reasonable & you are assured of the quality. Other options include Delhi Haat (ensure you visit the original, fakes abound!), Tibetan market for cheap clothes & other knick knacks etc.

 

Bogus train tickets or information offices scam – “Phony offices selling you tickets”

If there are not many computers or proper desks, and the “employees” are telling you that trains or hotels are booked out due to an upcoming event but they can make alternate arrangements – you are at a fake office. Do your research on which trains are suitable for you, timings, costs etc before you go to a ticketing or information office.

 

The Free bracelet or gift scam – “Gifting you something or putting things in your hand saying they are for free and then asking to be paid”

Very common around temples where kids or “Holy men” put flower bracelets or tie a red string on your wrist saying ‘it’s a gift’ and then ask you for money. If you are not sure, feel free to decline and walk away.

 

The broken meter scam – “Check for a working meter before you get in a taxi/ auto rickshaw”

Check if the auto/ taxi has a working meter before you get in and if feasible, check at the hotel desk/ trusted local, on how much it will cost. If you are in a hurry, agree on a price ahead of time and show them the destination on a map (phone or otherwise) so they go the shortest route. Also keep in mind, just because they are willing to use a meter, doesn’t mean that the meter is set appropriately! You’ll get used to how fast the meter should run and if it’s going too quickly, call the guy out on it so he is aware that you know.

 

Leaving luggage in the car – “Only if you have hired the car & driver from a trusted source”

Do not leave any valuables in the car – your wallet, passport, travel insurance and any other important documents you are carrying. If you are leaving your luggage in the car, take a photo of the license plate, driver’s information (like name, phone no, where he is expected to park the vehicle etc) and don’t pay him until the end of the day.

 

Renting a bike or a car – “Check if it is in working condition (especially tires & brakes) before you rent it”

When you rent a bike or car, inform them and take photos of the damage already there – rent the one with the least damage to avoid hassles later. Check if the tires have sufficient air, brakes are working properly, how long the petrol is expected to last and take it for a short test ride to check if everything is in working condition. Always lock up your bike when parked even if you are running a short errand to avoid it getting stolen.

 

Food or Drink tampering scam – “Spurious bottled water, spiked food etc”

It’s important to inspect bottled water before purchase to check if the cap has been tampered with as there are cases where the shopkeepers refill with tap water and glue the lid back on – if possible, buy all food & drink at super or hyper markets. Be extra careful and never accept food or drink from strangers especially in trains as there are cases of tourists being drugged and robbed.

 

The Police scam – “Stop only the cab you are traveling in & ask for a road fee”

While traveling in a cab or taxi, if the police stop your car (and no one else’s) and ask you to pay a road fee/ fine/ tax etc, they are most probably taking you for a ride. The cab driver may be a good guy and tell the cop ‘NO’ or he may not have an option and ask you to pay to avoid getting into trouble with the local police. You can argue (not worth it) and in the end pay up as the driver won’t go otherwise. Road tolls, parking fees at certain places etc are real and you have to pay for them.

Diwan-e-Aam Pillars

Top Attractions In Delhi – South Delhi

Qutub Minar

Qutub Minar

Located in the Mehrauli Archeological park, the principal attraction in South Delhi is the Qutub Minar, an iconic 800-year-old tower that has endured earthquakes and lightning for eight centuries.

The Qutub tower at 72.5 meters (tallest stone tower in India) is a stunning example of collaboration across generations. It was started by Qutubuddin Aibak in 1193, to commemorate his victory over an Indian Rajput King, Prithviraj Chauhan, but he could only complete the first floor, before he died. Iltutmish then completed the rest of the tower by building three more floors (yes, it originally had only four floors). It is believed that the tower is named Qutub Minar, not after Aibak, but his namesake, Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki, a much revered Sufi saint, who lived around that time, and whose tomb is built nearby.

In any case, it’s a testament to Iltutmish’s humility to build 60% of the tower and not name it after himself! Around a hundred and forty years after he built it, the fourth floor was damaged in a lightning strike – it was repaired by the then ruler, Firuz Shah Tughlak, who added the fifth floor and made a few changes.  In fact when further lightning strikes and earthquakes damaged the Minar, there were other rulers down the line who repaired it. In the sixteenth century, Sikander Lodhi undertook some repair; while the British did some repairs in the nineteenth century. Having been started by Qutubuddin Aibak and then built on by further Kings, the Qutub Minar is a wonderful example of collaboration among multiple rulers.

Qutub Minar – Key Information

Expected time spent:
1-2 hours
Opening days:
All days of the week
Opening hours:
Sunrise to sunset (typically 7 AM to 6 pm)
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Indians (INR 30)/ Foreigners (INR 500) and free for children under 15 years
Cameras: 
Still camera allowed for free
Address:
Aurobindo Marg
Closest metro station:
Qutub Minar
How to get there:
The nearest metro station is Qutub Minar station which is around 2.3 km away. You can hire an auto from the metro station to reach the site.

Humayun’s Tomb

Humayun’s Tomb

Humayun’s Tomb is India’s first garden tomb, and a worthy precursor to the Taj – built around seventy years before the Taj, in the year 1571.

This beautiful building stands majestically on the banks of the Yamuna river perfect in its symmetry and awe-inspiring grandeur.

Built in the rather unique octagonal shape, it stands out among the hundreds of tomb structures in Delhi.

That symmetry, however, could not be more ill-suited to describe the life of the ruler for whom it was so lovingly created: the Mughal Emperor, Humayun, second ruler of the Mughal dynasty, and the son of its founder, Babur.

Humayun’ means ‘fortunate’. However, many believe that, given his tragic life, Humayun was quite unfortunate. A ruler who would’ve remained forgotten had it not been for this extraordinary tomb built for him, redeeming his legacy forever.

Humayun’s Tomb – Key Information

Expected time spent:
Around 1-1.5 hours
Opening days:
All days of the week
Opening hours:
7 am to noon, 1:30 pm to 6:30 pm (tourists are not allowed during prayer hours)
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Free
Cameras:
Still camera is free
Location:
Mathura Road, opposite Nizamuddin Dargah
Closest metro station:
JLN Stadium (Violet Line)
How to get there
You can take an autorickshaw from the JLN Stadium metro (about INR 50). Alternate metro stations include Khan Market and Jor Bagh.

Hauz Khas

The Hauz Khas complex contains the ancient ruins of Alauddin Khilji’s historic city, Siri, which dates back to the 13th century. In addition to its numerous ancient stone monuments, the entire village is dotted with domed tombs of minor Muslim royalty, who were laid to rest here from the 14th to 16th centuries. Other highlights include the water tank, remnants of an ancient college and the tomb of Firoz Shah, who ruled Delhi in the 14th century, as well as Ki Masjid, a fine mosque built in Lodi style.

Once famous for ancient ruins and architecture, Hauz Khas is now one of the most vibrant places in Delhi with a number of art galleries, fashionable restaurants, and boutiques.

Hauz Khas – Key Information

Best time to visit:
Any time of the day
Expected time spent:
Allow for at least 1-2 hours, more if you plan to visit the shops and boutiques.Opening days:

Monday to Saturday (closed on Sunday). Restaurants are open on all days till 11 PM

Opening hours:

10:30 AM to 7 PM

Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Free

Cameras:
Free

Closest metro station:

Hauz Khas (yellow line)

How to get there:

Drive along Aurobindo Marg towards the Hauz Khas enclave. Follow the signages for the village or ask a local. If you’re taking the metro, the Hauz Khas and Green Park stations (on the Yellow Line) are just a 5-minute auto-ride away.

 

 

Lodhi Gardens

Spread over 90 acres, Lodhi Gardens is a beautifully landscaped city park strewn with ancient monuments belonging to the Sayyid and Lodhi periods. Located on the main Lodi Road, about 1 km east of Safdarjang’s tomb, it contains – Mohammed Shah’s Tomb, Tomb of Sikandar Lodi, Shisha Gumbad and Bara Gumbad – architectural works of Lodhis who ruled parts of northern India & Pakistan, from 1451 to 1526.

Muhammad Shah’s Tomb

The tomb of Muhammad Shah (1434-44), the third ruler of the Sayyid dynasty is located in the southwestern part of the garden. Built in 1444 by Ala-ud-din Alam Shah as a tribute, it is a typical octagonal tomb with the central chamber surrounded by a verandah having three arched openings on each side. There are stone lintels (chhajjas) along the arches of the verandah with the sloping buttresses at the corner and a chhatri on the roof over the center of each side. The tomb definitely shares its prominent features with the previous octagonal tombs but the beauty of this tomb lies in its proportions, the crowning lotus and decoration on the domes. There are eight graves inside the tomb of which the central one is said to be the grave of Muhammad Shah.

Bara Gumbad

Bara Gumbad is a square tomb surmounted by a large dome, situated 300 meters northeast of Muhammad Shah’s tomb. Though often considered as a gateway of Bara Mosque, which it is not, the tomb has facades and turrets and was supposedly built during the reign of Sultan Sikandar Lodi (1489-1517). According to the records, the interior of the tomb was beautified with stuccowork and paintings. Since the tomb had no graves, the person buried inside is till date unidentified. It is assumed that he must be an officer of high rank for whom such a magnificent structure was constructed.

Sheesh Gumbad

Few meters north of Bara Gumbad Mosque lies another Lodi period tomb, the Sheesh Gumbad also known as ‘glazed dome’ because of the beautiful blue tiled decoration of the tomb, of which now only traces remain. Very similar to Bara Gumbad in appearance, the western wall of the tomb has the mihrab that served as a mosque. The tomb is surmounted by a dome, which was originally decorated with blue tiles. Some of the similar decoration can be seen today but only above the main façade. The interior of the tomb was also decorated with incised plasterwork containing floral designs and Quranic inscriptions.

Sikandar Lodi’s Tomb

Located in the northwestern corner of Lodi Gardens, this octagonal tomb lies about 250 meters north of the Sheesh Gumbad. It has a central octagonal chamber with each side opening in three arches with sloping buttresses at the corner. The tomb is enclosed within a square garden and has a wall-mosque on the west.

Athpula
Athpula is further located east of Sikandar Lodi’s tomb. As the name suggests (Ath-eight, Pula-piers), the stone bridge has eight piers and seven arches and crosses the small waterway running through the garden. The bridge is said to have been built during Mughal Emperor Akbar’s reign by Nawab Bahadur.

 

Lodhi Gardens – Key Information

Best time to visit:

Mornings

Expected time spent:
Around 1-2 hours
Opening days:
All days of the week
Opening hours:
6 am to 7 pm
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Free
Cameras:

Free

Location:
Lodhi Road
Closest metro station:
Jor Bagh (yellow line) or Khan Market (Violet line)
How to get there
This landmark garden is situated right between Khan Market and Safdurjung’s Tomb on Lodhi Road. Jor Bagh (on the Yellow Line) and Khan Market (on the Violet Line) are the closest metro stations.

Lotus Temple

Bahai Temple or the Bahai House of worship, is literally constructed in the shape of a large, white lotus flower. Like all other Bahá’í Houses of Worship, the Lotus Temple is open to all, regardless of religion, or any other distinction. It is a gathering place where one is allowed to read or chant from holy scriptures belonging to any religion, but nobody is allowed to play musical instruments, give sermons or hold religious ceremonies inside the hall. The main temple area prohibits visitors from making any noise whatsoever and lays emphasis on meditation as a means to experience divinity.

Lotus Temple – Key Information

Best time to visit:

Late evening, when it is lit up

Expected time spent:
Around 1-2 hours
Opening days:
All days of the week except Monday
Opening hours:

9 AM to 7 PM (Summer); 9 AM to 5:30 PM (Winter)
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Free
Cameras:

Free

Location:
Lotus Temple Road, Shambhu Dayal Bagh, Bahapur, Near Kalkaji Temple
Closest metro station:
Kalkaji Mandir (Violet line)
How to get there
The temple is located close to the Kalkaji Mandir metro station (on the Violet Line) and right next to the Kalkaji Park. Entry to the temple is via parking lot.
Autorickshaw

Getting Around in Delhi

Like any great city of the world, Delhi is a fairly easy to get about in once you get the hang of it. Having a data connection on your mobile will help find out routes and to get your bearings.

Here are your top choices for local travel in Delhi:

The Metro

(Delhi’s lifeline – quick, reliable, safe!)

The Delhi Metro

The Delhi Metro

metrosightGetting there: Use Google Maps or ask a trusted local for nearest metro station or look for this sign of the Delhi Metro

Tickets: For single journey, it’s best to buy a token at the station. For multiple journeys, the ‘Metro card’ is super-convenient and great value. (no lines, discounted fare and a refundable deposit)

Metro Card

Metro Card

In the metro train: First coach of the train is reserved for women and extremely useful during crowded hours (especially mornings and evenings). No food/drink allowed inside.

 

Buses

(Useful for shorter distances, routes not covered by metro)

Getting there: Use Google Maps for routes & bus numbers to the required destination. Look for this sign to identify Bus Stops.

Air-Con Bus

Air-Con Bus

Tickets: Buy using cash inside the bus – make sure you have the correct change in coins/ notes. Cost usually in multiples of Rs. 5, and very cheap!

Non-A/C Bus

Non-A/C Bus

In the bus: It can get very crowded and uncomfortable – especially during rush hours. Look for separate seats reserved for ladies in front of the bus.

 

Autos (a.k.a ‘tuk-tuks’) and Rickshaws

(Last mile-connectivity)

Getting there: Usually hailed from the street; autos can also be called using the ‘Ola’ app which you can download if you are planning a longer stay and are keen on only using public transport for travel.

Autorickshaw

Autorickshaw

Fare/ Cost: Autos are metered, but drivers rarely abide by them. Use a thumb-rule of Rs. 10/km; find out the shortest distance using Google Maps. Cycle-rickshaw fare is usually standard amount depending on distance. Ask a trusted local when in doubt.

Rickshaw

Rickshaw

Radio & App Based Taxis

(When You’re in a Hurry)

Getting there: Use your mobile phone to call for a cab using the Uber or Ola apps. Another option is Meru.

Fare/ Cost: Fares are typically around Rs 10/km, while they vary lower and higher depending on the time of the day, special offers as well as surge pricing. Meru is about 2-3 times more expensive.

By Krokodyl - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19013587

Arriving in Delhi

Delhi is most likely your point of entry into India, and you are probably flying into the bustling Indira Gandhi International Airport, which will welcome you with a warm Namastey.

If flying in from abroad, you will reach the swanky Terminal T3, built in 2011. The airport offers a wide range of duty-free shopping facilities (should you want to stock up on your favourite tipple for the journey ahead) as well as currency exchange counters (ideal for changing just a bit of currency for immediate needs – airport exchange counters don’t give the best rates).

New Delhi Airport T3 - via Wikipedia

New Delhi Airport T3 – via Wikipedia

If you arrived late at night, as many international flights do and expect your hotel to check you in only mid-morning, you you can head straight to the little rooms or the ‘sleeping pods’, chairs that recline up to 180 degrees, to sleep off your jet lag. You can also choose to indulge your taste buds from the wide variety of restaurants offering various cuisines.

The airport is also a good place to get yourself a local mobile sim card from the airport store so you can continue using your cell phone in India. It is important to have a legal local sim card issued in your name against proper documentation during your visit.

You should have your hotel booking sorted before you step out of the airport – that way the various scams and tricks you have read about will not bother you much. If possible, have your hotel arrange a pick up for this one trip – nothing wrong in slowly easing into the chaos of Delhi one step at a time.

If catching a connecting domestic flight, check the terminal number on your ticket. Terminal T3 has both an international and a domestic wing. If however, your connecting flight is to leave from terminal T1D, you will need to take a connecting shuttle bus to T1, a terminal located 8KM (5 miles) from T3.

If you are heading out to the city from the T3 terminal, there are several modes of reaching your destination. You can read in more detail about the options in our Getting Around in Delhi article.

Pre-Paid Taxi

Prepaid Taxis

Prepaid Taxis

You can book a pre-paid taxi from inside the arrival lounge as well as from a booth outside in the taxi bay. Right after your customs check, you can go the extreme left of the arrival lounge to find the pre-paid taxi booth. Since this is run by the government, there is no chance of a rip off and it is comparatively safe to avail this service. Although out of fashion, these black and yellow color taxis have a certain old world charm about them. Besides, they have to pass through the traffic police check post where they need to submit their details along with your name and destination. For further security, you may want to avoid the taxis with tinted glasses and ask for a change of vehicle if you feel unsafe. The rates start at Rs 25 for the first KM and then INR 16/KM, with a 25% surcharge at night. There are a few additional surcharges as well but you pay in advance.

Metered Taxis

You can also travel by metered radio taxis run by private operators like MERU CABS, EASY CABS, MAGIC SEVA etc. which are more expensive at about INR 23/km but will allow a more comfortable ride. You can choose a later model car with air-con through this service by shelling out a bit extra

Radio Cabs

If you use Uber in your country, and if you have taken a local data connection for your mobile, you can try calling an Uber to take you to your destination as well. A local alternative to Uber – Ola Cabs, have a similar service too.

Buses

DTC Bus - via Wikipedia

DTC Bus – via Wikipedia

To the extreme right of the arrival area, you can also find A/C local buses which stop at major railway stations and bus stops. However, it is better to avoid this if it is your first visit to Delhi and you are unsure about the route to your destination.

The Delhi Metro

Airport Express - via Wikipedia

Airport Express – via Wikipedia

Last but not least, there is the Delhi Metro Airport Express Line which will take you directly to the New Delhi railway station with just a couple of stops in between. The efficient metro service connects the entire city as well as the suburbs. You would however want to first refer to the Delhi Metro Map and spot your destination before changing lines at the New Delhi metro station.

Indian Rupees

Currency Exchange in Delhi

These are your options for changing currency in New Delhi

At the airport

Only exchange currency to meet immediate needs!

The currency exchange rate at the airport is always poorer (you could lose up to 2-5% on the rates offered depending on the currency) compared to what you can get in the city – so at the airport, change only the minimum amount of local currency that you require. Once you step out of the airport building, you may not be allowed back in to exchange foreign currency.

There are currency exchange counters before the customs and after the customs area in the arrival section of the Delhi airport, Terminal 3.

Before customs, there are 2 currency exchange counters: Thomas Cook and Central Bank of India, both of which are open 24 hours. Central Bank of India’s counter is not easy to find – so ask & look for it (refer to image) as they don’t charge any commission while Thomas Cook (refer to image) does. You should be able to exchange currency at either counter for similar rates. You can use the pictures below or the Airport’s interactive map to see where the currency exchange counters are located.

Location of Currency Exchanges - Image : newdelhiairport.in

Location of Currency Exchanges – Image : newdelhiairport.in

Currency exchange outlets in the city

Look for and exchange only at authorized money changers

Currency exchange outlets are found in tourist, market and commercial areas. They offer better exchange rates than the airport, and may or may not charge a commission. Offices in market areas like Connaught Place tend to offer better exchange rates than those in tourist areas (Paharganj, Karol Bagh etc) but always shop around to figure out which center is offering the best rate.

Govt or Reserve Bank of India approved money changers will have a sign proclaiming Authorized Foreign Currency Exchange. You can usually make out the genuine ones from the street corner people or ask for the Encashment certificate if you want to be sure. Take care when changing money – i.e. always count money in front of teller before departing, try to avoid changing large amounts of cash at any one time and check if notes are valid. You can try and bargain for the best rate if you are changing large amounts of currency.

ATMs

One of the simplest and scam free way is to use the ATM to withdraw money. Money changers like Thomas Cook and AMEX will charge much more as compared to the bank issuing the ATM card in most cases (do check with the card issuer transaction charges in advance!). However, sometimes banks may charge a transaction fee for every withdrawal, in which case it is best for you to withdraw larger sums so the transaction fee is spread on a larger amount. If you prefer to withdraw smaller amounts each time, notify your card issuer that you will be using ATMs frequently in India given most places in India accept cash only. Any fees will be up to the bank in India, and your home bank, but it will (usually) be better than a cash exchange service at the airport.

Important Note: In most (but not all) Indian ATM machines, you insert your card and then take it out immediately, unlike in some countries where you leave your card in when using an ATM. You will then be asked to enter your pin and carry on with your transaction.

 

Local hotel/ Travel agents

Cross check exchange rate being offered & decide accordingly as the rates offered here will be poorer than authorised agents.

Local Bank/ Post Office

Many local Indian banks branches will also change your currency at a fair rate if you have time for the paperwork. The other option India Post (local post offices), which in association with HDFC Bank, provides Forex services through select Post Offices across India. This is a useful service if you need to exchange money outside main cities/ towns in India and do not want to use an ATM/ bank card due to high transaction charges.

Don’ts:

  • Do not purchase foreign currency from local residents offering you a better rate. Fake foreign currency is not uncommon in tourist areas.
  • Buying foreign currency from unauthorized places is also illegal.
  • Do not fall victim to people trying to entice you by saying they will give you a better exchange rate than what the banks may offer you.

Q: How do I know if I am getting a good exchange rate?

Follow the steps below and you won’t be disappointed or feel cheated

  1. First check the rate on XE.com to get a fair idea of the current or today’s exchange rate
  2. Look at the Buy & Sell spread used by the money changer/ hotel etc. Spread is the difference between what they pay to buy a unit of currency and what they sell that unit of currency for. A bigger spread means they are looking to make more money on the transactions vs. a smaller spread which is better for you! Exchange your currency at a center/ hotel where the difference between Buy and Sell is the smallest amount.
  3. If you request for a receipt, some centers offer 0.3-0.4 rupees less than the exchange rate for the transaction. Currency exchange receipts should clearly show the amount of foreign currency exchanged for Indian currency and the rate of exchange you were given so you can reconvert your left over Indian currency back to foreign currency at the airport where you fly out from.

 

You can get a list of Reserve Bank of India approved places to exchange currency here

 

Indian Currency Notes Alert

Indian Rupee currency notes printed before 2005 will no longer be accepted after January 1, 2015. Those who have such currency notes should exchange them at par at Indian banks as soon as possible. Currency notes issued before 2005 do not have the year of printing on the reverse side. In notes issued after 2005, the year of printing is visible at the bottom of the reverse side. Tourists should ensure they are not accepting any Indian currency notes that do not have the year of printing visible on the reverse side of the currency.