Tal Burt, MD, Duke University Medical Center, US in the past one year has been working in Gurgoan with Medanta (Medicity) Institute, shares his walk experiences.
I have been in the Delhi area for more than a year and almost surrendered to an image of mundane and chaotic struggle for daily survival. Your tours opened my eyes to hidden treasures, unseen connections, beauty, richness and grandeur right there around the corner, beneath the surface, behind the doorstep, up the stairs. With your fascinating story-telling, passionate about the details, loving every stone, shrub, and bird, you bring out the magic that has attracted humans from all corners of the world to this place and woven them into its fabric in memories, legends, songs and colors. A sensual, historical, and artistic opulence that now it seems would need a lifetime to absorb, explore, savor, and enjoy. Thank you! Group weekend walks- Qutb Minar (1st City of Delhi) walk, Jahanpanah (4th city of Delhi), Monuments in Haus Khas, Gulmohar Park, Mayfair gardens, Padmini Enclave and breakfast with a Historian, Chandni Chowk around Fatehpuri Masjid.
July 22, 2011 Private tour in Chandni Chowk (7th City of Delhi) – Spiritual, Red Fort, Street foods, people, culture, havelis…. mostly in the narrow alleys.
Today’s personal tour with you was informative, refreshing, enriching, and healthy. I can assure you that if you had told me a year and a half ago, upon my arrived in Delhi for the first time, that a full-day walking trip in July in steaming, elbowing, boisterous Chandni Chowk would have brought me to produce the above description – I would have replied: “well, I am open-minded…” but would have been deeply skeptical. Yet, it took a year of spending most of my time in the Delhi area – before my eyes and mind truly opened, with your assistance, to Delhi’s jewels and charms. I am thinking that many foreigners visiting, doing business in India or considering doing so would find their engagement richer and more attractive, maybe even less overwhelming to some if such experience with Delhi was made more accessible and knowable. I hope your mission to promote the preservation of Delhi’s hidden treasures gets the full attention, support of stakeholders and glad to help in any way I can.
|The perfect introduction to Delhi and its heritage…
If you are new to Delhi and confused by the multiple cities, dynasties and empires then the best thing you can possibly do is sign up for Surekha Narain’s Qutb Minar Walk! This fun tour takes you back to the First City of Delhi in the area now known as Mehrauli. Surekha’s infectious enthusiasm brings the monuments to life. Her clear explanations and wonderful travelling library of maps and old photos help make sense of everything you see. Walks happen early in the morning when you have the Qutb to yourselves. Stroll across well-kept lawns while parakeets fly overhead and peacocks call in the distance. You’ll see buildings dating back to 700 AD but also find later structures, even 19th century ones. You’ll meet the Hindu civilisation that flourished where Mehrauli is now, and relive the first Muslim invasion. Trace evidence on the ground to see what happened when the two cultures met and melded. See the innovations in building techniques introduced by the conquerors and view some very untypical decoration in an ancient mosque. Marvel at the mighty Qutb Minar and discover the story of a tasteless addition by a British official! Catriona Child, a travel writer in Delhi. May 2011
Penny Jewel from Australia describes the Qutb Minar & Humayun’s tomb walk
I have been coming to Dehli twice a year for many years and have seen lots of the “Sights” , however on my last visit I was fortunate to meet Surekha Narain . She is the amazing woman behind Dehli Walks , and she gave me a whole new depth of knowledge of some of the monuments we visited. Her tours are really good, she has lots of information , will happily refer you on to good sources if you wish to read more about a specific architectural period .
One of the things I liked most about Surekha’s guided walk was that she allowed plenty of time for quiet reflection. My pet hate is being somewhere with a guide who never shuts up , I always want a bit of intelligent explanation and then time to silently absorb the site and savour the atmosphere. A walk with Surekha is highly recommended. I am salivating already at the thought of doing a food walk with Surekha next October.
To date I have done three of Surekha’s walks. What stood out to me the most on these walks was Surekha’s passion for Delhi and her professionalism.
I really felt as if I had stepped back into time and was experiencing Old Delhi as it was hundreds of years ago because Surekha evoked the imagery through her words and visual aids. My favorite experience was seeing the old havelis in Old Delhi and imagining them as they were in their prime, in years past. I would have never had this experience if it wasn’t for Surekha’s tours. Truly, having worked and lived abroad for many years Surekha’s tours are a gem that I’ve yet to come across anywhere else I’ve lived! If you go on one of her tours I can promise you you will leave enriched, satisfied and with a much better understanding of Delhi than you would ever have otherwise!
Let me thank you for an excellent tour of the lesser known parts of historic Delhi today. It is very satisfying now to look at old buildings and have a good idea what they were for and from what period. It was interesting to see some beautiful gardens and quiet spots away from the hustle and bustle of the main roads, and to as an aside see so many birds – including the owl! I also appreciated you flexibility to add to the tour at Haus Khas and also in joining us for a South Indian lunch – widening my culinary experience too! I will certainly look forward to joining another tour when I return to Delhi.
Finally I would say what also made the tour enjoyable was your welcoming and friendly attitude coupled with an infectious enthusiasm for your subject. This made it an altogether very interesting and relaxing event.
A chance meeting with Surekha Narain led to some amazing experiences of traveling in Delhi and through out India. The visit to Chandni Chowk showed me places I would never have found. Her historic knowledge led us to discovering more locations in India. This led to my visiting the havelis of Rajasthan and even to the Himalayan slopes in Kumaon on over a short span of 2 weeks. Her thorough planning and expertise guided me well. Her suggestions were excellent and her commitment to planning them ensured that I, a single woman in her sixties, felt free to roam freely. I recommend her highly. Jane Hughes, UK Development Worker, Scotland, Feb. 2009.
Surekha has proved indispensable in helping us discover India – in a way we would’ve never known otherwise. She shows real talent in putting trips together which combine well-known sites with those that are more off the beaten track. She has a thoroughly researched knowledge of Delhi and is the most generous and energetic of guides who will go to extraordinary lengths to show you something she thinks would interest you.
Barbara Mitchell, French and Spanish Teacher and Translator, Brighton, UK.
Surekha lifts up the corners of time and reveals the treasures underneath. During her Ghalib Heritage Walk you will get to know Ghalib – poet, wit and bon viveur- through the places in Old Delhi associated with him.
On the way, you stumble upon delightful fragments of the glory of Shahjahanabad and find unexpected havens of peace in the chaotic heart of the Old City.
Surekha is a knowledgeable and imaginative guide who is passionate about her subject. Her enthusiasm is infectious. And she plans every detail of the tour – even producing wet wipes for us to wipe our sticky fingers with after an excellent old Delhi-style lunch at Rabea School!. Catriona Child (Kakroo), Travel writer, Ghalib walk, Feb. 2009.
During a recent visit to India, I was fortunate to be in Delhi for two Heritage Walks led by Surekha. The first walk was around Fatehpuri Masjid (Chandni Chowk) and the second was around Paharganj. Although I had briefly visited these areas, it was much more enjoyable walking with Surekha who shared her knowledge of all the history associated with the buildings and life in general and another highlight was to be able togo inside some wonderful havelis, monuments and the Qadam Sharif mosque. I found Surekha to be a wonderful host and very patient repeating some of the history when parts of the group were unable to keep up due to the small lanes and getting separated, taking time to take photos, etc. AND all this she does for free to share her knowledge with like-minded people. Highly recommended, and I can’t wait for the next one. Carole Harris, Quality Manager, Sydney, April, 2009.
We were thoroughly impressed with your energy, enthusiasm, and organizing skill to get us through this fascinating part of our new home city. You made us see the beauty of old havelis in the midst of much crooked and chaotic scenery. Your positive energy kept everybody going through tiny lanes and even a completely dark passageway at one point. After more than four hours, we arrived at the end point on the dot at the pre-announced time. I am inclined to think this was pure luck, but then, it is entirely believable that you know this city so well you actually timed us. Ulrich Bartsch, World Bank, Delhi, Summer Bonanza, Old Delhi walk (Sitaram Bazar & Fatehpuri Masjid) June 2009.
Corinne & I went on Surekha’s “Summer Bonanza” walking tour last Sunday. The only difference would appear to be the starting time which for ours was a very challenging 7am. That walk was well organized, kept to the schedule and we found Surekha to be totally professional, very personable and well prepared. Our group was a mixture of expats (e.g. World Bank), NRI’s and locals – a nice balance. Over the past [nearly] 3 years, we have taken Old Delhi walking tours with both Dr Navina and INTACH and this was by far the most exhaustive of the alleys, the haveli’s and other landmarks. The food too was excellent – tasty but not overly spiced or greasy. We also thought that we got good value for the price, especially as Surekha delivered as advertised. We would encourage anyone looking for a ‘world standard’ walking tour to give Surekha serious consideration. And yes, her tours do sell out!! Lorne & Cornne Smith, Canadian High Commission, Delhi, Summer Bonanza, June 14th, 2009, ( 2 heritage walks of Old Delhi plus a Traditional Indian breakfast served in a school in Lal Kuanp.)
Your knowledge is top, your explanation is clear and easy to follow and you are a most friendly, pleasant person.
It was a pleasure spending time with you. We all wished we could have you as our guide for the entire stay. Good luck in the future. Family Barack, Israel, Humayun’s Tomb, Dec. 08 & Red Fort Sept. 09.
|Thank you for sharing with us Gandhi Smriti, Akshardham and Jain temples. We deeply appreciate your energy and selfless service. May Master bless you. Maria McSweeney, Ananda Sacramento, USA, March 2007.
Thank you for your wonderful contribution to our pilgrimage experience. Margaux Rooney, Ananda Sacramento, USA, March 2007.