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Tuesday, September 22

About us

Surekha Narain leads Heritage walks in and around Delhi. She is a hard-core dilliwala, who has grown and evolved out of Delhi’s unique heritage. As a conservationist, her objective is to bring about an awareness and concern for our built heritage by designing walks of well-known and lesser-known areas of Delhi and its surroundings. She is constantly exploring and coming up with new and imaginative walks :  The Ghalib trail in Shahjahnabad, the Paharganj walk around New Delhi Railway Station, and the 1857 Mutiny walk were featured in Delhi’s leading newspapers. (For this please refer to the press reviews section).

SUREKHA NARAIN is a resident of Delhi with a long and celebrated lineage in the walled city area. Her early education for most parts was in Delhi. She then pursued a Finance Degree from the University of Glasgow, U.K. and thereafter a Certificate in Corporate Treasury Management, also from UK. Surekha has worked in the areas of treasury, compliance and financial consultancy in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Los Angeles.

In her spare time she engages in conservation and it’s awareness (of both built and natural heritage) by organizing and conducting walks. Surekha started the walks for India Habitat Centre (IHC) over a decade ago. She also volunteers for INTACH to lead walks.

As an organizer, her objective has been to find the best resource person to lead walks of various types – monuments, historical, trees, birds, nature, heritage, museums etc. Mr. O P Jain, former Convenor, INTACH Delhi Chapter, never failed to organize a walk for the IHC Walkers, always relenting to her ever-increasing demands, along with conservation architect Ratish Nanda. On behalf of India Habitat Centre’s (IHC) Walkers Group, she actively documented the conservation measures for Bijai Mandal and Begumpur Mosque, in joint coordination with INTACH. Nature enthusiasts Dr. Oswal and Ranjit Lal, and Trees expert Pradip Kishen keep her enthusiasm fueled. Shiela & Nik and Delhi Bird Society have shared photographs of Birds, for her to develop power-point presentations, for village and slum children. Mr. A.G.K. Menon, Convenor INTACH Delhi Chapter, now fulfils the role of Mr. O P Jain, and has introduced her to organizations such as ASI.

To create these walks, Surekha has been fortunate to interact with some eminent people in this field: scholar and historian, Dr. Narayani Gupta has been a source of inspiration with whom she has discussed many new walk ideas. Town Planner and Architect, Lucy Peck, now back in London, is still a friend and guide. Most maps that are displayed during the walks are made by her. Architect Rosemary Sachdev has evinced great interest in her work and has fine-tuned some important issues for her. Narain Prasad ji, Chairman, Indraprastha College for women and trustee of the IP Girls School, has much to share on the development of the education system in Delhi, especially for girls and women.

Surekha has grown up in an era where many interesting books on Delhi have been written. (Please refer to the bibliographies section for a list of useful books along with what she found interesting in each book.) She also meets and interacts with local people to offer them insight into, and make them feel connected to their built heritage. Their inputs are then confirmed with subject experts, as well. In addition, fellow historian friend Swapna Liddle has always been a wonderful guiding force in exploring new areas. Beeba Sobti while presenting Percival Spear’s ‘Delhi its monuments and history’ wrote “In celebration for our dear old proud Delhi which has been a source of our most beautiful memories”.

Besides Delhi, she is also looking at heritage and eco-walk trails & tours in and around Delhi which include Agra, Jaipur, Jain temples in Dilwara, Mount Abu, Shekhawati, Mussoorie, Doon valley, Shimla etc. Spiritual tours to Rishikesh, Haridwar, Mathura, Vrindavan and treks to Gangotri etc., all fall within her scope of work.

This, in brief, is how Surekha’s walks get developed. To meet the organizer, explorer, creator and conductor – join her on one of her walks and experience her passion first-hand.

Bibliographies along with interesting features.

  1. ‘Monument listings’ by INTACH and Zafar Hussain’s ‘List of ASI’ form the focal point to create a walk and explore areas of known and lesser-known sites.
  2. Lucy Peck’s book on ‘Delhi : A thousand years of Building’, has opened up new areas that would have otherwise gone unexplored.
  3. For Old Delhi, ‘10 Easy Walks’ by Gaynor Barton and Laurraine Malone are pre-requisite to explore the Old Walled City.
  4. ‘Lalkot to Lodhi Gardens’ by Ranjit Sinha add the features of archaeological, historical, architectural — all elements that are a must in the walks.
  5. ‘Delhi Past and Present’ by H.C. Fanshaw provide a clear insight to Delhi’s history along with
  6. Narayani Gupta’s ‘The Delhi Omnibus’ and
  7. ‘Delhi Then & Now’
  8. Percival Spear’s ‘Delhi its monuments and history.
  9. Delhi-based architect, C.S.H Jhabvala’s pencil drawings and his knowledge of Delhi’s history, buildings and streets is a sheer delight to read and visualize in ‘Delhi Stones and Streets’ along with the water colors 11. ‘Old Delhi New York Personal views’. 
  10. A true magnificence of the Havelis is felt in Vijay Goel’s ‘Delhi : The Emperor’s City’ and
  11. ‘Havelis of Old Delhi’ by Pavan K. Verma. 
  12. More recent publications ‘The Last Mughal’ by William Dalrymple and
  13. Rakshanda Jalil’s ‘Invisible City : The Hidden monuments of Delhi’ (especially her residence areas of Green Park and Haus Khas) add a further dimension.
  14. Some anecdotes from RV Smith from ‘The Delhi that No-one Knows’ and ‘Capital Vignettes’  add to the flavor and spice.
  15. Trees of Delhi: A field guide by Pradip Krishen
  16. Wild City & The life & times of Altu Faltu by Ranjit Lal

Early years – a Corporate Dealer

Surekha comes from a family with long and celebrated lineage in Old Delhi. Her early education for most parts was in her home city. She then pursued a Finance Degree from the University of Glasgow, UK, and thereafter a Certificate in Corporate Treasury Management, also from the UK. Surekha has worked in treasury, compliance and financial consultancy in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Los Angeles.

Even during working in the Corporate world, she engaged in heritage conservation (both built and natural) in her spare time by organizing and conducting walks.She started the city walks for India Habitat Centre (IHC) over a decade ago and volunteered as a walk leader forINTACHfor a brief period. In this endeavour, she was encouraged by her mother, Mrs Usha Raj Narain, whose enthusiasm for tradition and heritage had been a nurturing influence. (See In Loving Memory)

The start of a passion
As an organiser, she always strove to find the best resource person to lead walks of all types – monuments, historical, trees, birds, nature, heritage, museums and more. Mr. O P Jain, former Convenor, INTACH Delhi Chapter, never failed to organize a walk for the IHC Walkers, always responding to Surekha’s ever-increasing demands;further assistance came from conservation architect Ratish Nanda. On behalf of India Habitat Centre’s (IHC) Walkers Group, she documented the conservation measures for Bijai Mandal and Begumpur Mosque, in coordination with INTACH. Nature enthusiasts Dr.Oswal and Ranjit Lal, and trees expert Pradip Krishen keep her enthusiasm fuelled. Shiela & Nik and the Delhi Bird Society have shared bird photographs to help her develop power-point presentations for village and slum children. Mr. A.G.K. Menon, Convenor INTACH Delhi Chapter, who succeeded Mr. O P Jain, has introduced her to organizations such as ASI.
To create her walks, Surekha has been fortunate to interact with some eminent people in the field. The scholar and historian, Dr.Narayani Gupta, has been a source of inspiration with whom she has discussed many walk ideas. Town Planner and Architect, Lucy Peck, in London, is a friend and guide, and most maps Surekha displays on her walks have been drawn by her. Architect Rosemary Sachdev has shown great interest in her work and helped with fine-tuning some important issues.
In addition, fellow historian and friend Swapna Liddle has been an inspiration and guiding light in exploring new areas. Narain Prasad ji, Chairman, Indraprastha College for Women and Trustee of the IP Girls’ School, has shared much on the development of Delhi’s education system, especially for girls and women.

Delhi Metro Walks
In 2009, with support from her mother, Surekha finally said goodbye to the corporate world and went full-time as a Heritage Conservationist with her own company Delhi Metro Walks, taking advantage of the city’s new world class metro system to transport her walkers between places of interest.
Over the years, she has led hundreds of walks and earned an excellent reputation with passionate Delhilovers , expats, and tourists alike. She is well-known for her thorough research and her unique set of carefully collected visual aids. In addition, Surekha’s own heritage as a Dilliwala makes her unusually well-connected in the city and, this combined with her energy and persistence, enables her to get her groups into places that others cannot enter.
Now, with more than 20 years’ experience of curating and leading heritage walks. Surekha has more than 30 routes in her Delhi portfolio and is continually adding more (see Heritage Walks & Tours). For those who can’t get out, or who want to do some background reading, we provide informative articles (see Blog section) and online seminars about heritage sites and issues.  Recently added to our repertoire, we now offer virtual online tours for you to experience, all from the comfort of your home. (See Tours from Home) 

Beyond Delhi
Surekha also leads heritage and eco-walk trails and tours in and around Delhi to places such as Agra, Doon Valley, Jaipur, Jain temples in Dilwara, Mount Abu, Mussoorie, Shekhawati, and Shimla.
She can also guide you in Amritsar, Lucknow, Kashmir, Kolkata, Kutch Madurai, Mysore, Varanasi and many more exciting places (see Short Trips).Most often outside trips are in collaboration with local counter-parts, while the itinerary is wholly designed by her. add
This, in brief, is how Surekha’s walks get developed. To meet the organizer, explorer, creator and conductor – join her on one of her walks and experience her passion first-hand.

Reading and references
Surekha grew up in an era in which many interesting books on Delhi were written. (Please refer to the Bibliographies section for a list of useful books along with notes on what she found interesting in each book.) She also meets and interacts with local people to offer them insights into their built heritage, and to encourage them to feel connected to it. She also listens to what the locals have to say, and their inputs are confirmed with subject experts.

Bibligraphies along with interesting features.

1 & 2. ‘Monument listings’ by INTACH and Zafar Hussain’s ‘List of ASI’ form the focal point to create a walk and explore areas of known and lesser-known sites.

3. Lucy Peck’s book on ‘Delhi : A thousand years of Building’, has opened up new areas that would have otherwise gone unexplored.

4. For Old Delhi, ‘10 Easy Walks’ by Gaynor Barton and Laurraine Malone are pre-requisite to explore the Old Walled City.

5. ‘Lalkot to Lodhi Gardens’ by Ranjit Sinha add the features of archaeological, historical, architectural — all elements that are a must in the walks.

6. ‘Delhi Past and Present’ by H.C. Fanshaw provide a clear insight to Delhi’s history along with 7. Narayani Gupta’s ‘The Delhi Omnibus’ and 8. ‘Delhi Then & Now’ 9. Percival Spear’s ‘Delhi its monuments and history.

10. Delhi-based architect, C.S.H Jhabvala’s pencil drawings and his knowledge of Delhi’s history, buildings and streets is a sheer delight to read and visualize in ‘Delhi Stones and Streets’ along with the water colors 

11. ‘Old Delhi New York Personal views’.  

12. A true magnificence of the Havelis is felt in Vijay Goel’s ‘Delhi : The Emperor’s City’ and 

13. ‘Havelis of Old Delhi’ by Pavan K. Verma.  

14. More recent publications ‘The Last Mughal’ by William Dalrymple and 

15. Rakshanda Jalil’s ‘Invisible City : The Hidden monuments of Delhi’ (especially her residence areas of Green Park and Haus Khas) add a further dimension. 

16. & 17. Some anecdotes from RV Smith from ‘The Delhi that No-one Knows’ and ‘Capital Vignettes’  add to the flavor and spice. 

18. Trees of Delhi: A field guide by Pradip Krishen 

19. & 20.  Wild City & The life & times of Altu Faltu by Ranjit Lal