GUIDE TO INDIA
Be aware that there are many (profit-driven) travel agencies and other businesses posing as ‘tourist information centres’ in Delhi – don’t be fooled. The only official ones are India Tourism Delhi and the Delhi Tourism & Transport Development Corporation.
India Tourism Delhi (Tel: 23320008; www.tourismofindia.com; 88 lanpath; open 9am6pm Mon-Fri, 9am-2pm Sat) gives information and advice about Delhi and beyond. They stock brochures and giveaway Delhi maps, and among other things can help with air, train, bus, shopping, hotel and city-tour queries. If you have any tourism-related complaints, this office has set up a special branch to investigate them.
There are tourist offices (open 24hr) in the arrivals halls of the international (Tel: 25691171) and domestic (Tel: 25675296) airports. They’re both open daily from 8am until the last flight.
There are two Delhi Tourism & Transport Development Corporation offices in Connaught Place : in N-Block (Tel: 23315322; www.delhitourism.nic.in; open 10am-6pm Mon-Sat), and near the state emporiums (Baba Kharak Singh Marg). It also has counters at New Delhi, Old Delhi and Nizamuddin train stations.
Most of the state governments have information centres in Delhi and these include the following (for others, inquire at the tourist offices or call the local operator on – 197):
- Andaman & Nicobar Islands (Tel: 26871443) 12 Chanakyapuri
- Goa (Tel: 24629967) 18 Amrita Shergil Marg
- Kerala (Tel: 23368541) Kanishka Shopping Plaza, Ashoka Rd
- Madhya Pradesh (Tel: 23341187) Kanishka Shopping Plaza, Ashoka Rd
- Meghalaya (Tel: 23014417) 9 Aurangzeb Rd
- Rajasthan (Tel: 23383837) Bikaner House, near India Gate
- Sikkim (Tel: 26115346) New Sikkim House, 14 Panchsheel Marg, Chanakyapuri
- Tripura (Tel: 011-2301 5171) Chanakyapuri, Kautilya Marg
- Uttar Pradesh (Tel: 23322251) Chandralok Bldg, 36 Janpath
Useful Publications & Websites
Information-rich tourist publications (especially useful for ascertaining what’s happening in town at the time of your visit) include The Delhi City, Guide (Rs 20), Delhi Diary (Rs 10) and City lnfo (Rs 30); some include a Delhi map and TV guide. First City (Rs 30) is a slick magazine with particularly comprehensive listings/reviews of everything from classical dance performances to Delhi’s in-vogue nightclubs. If you’re staying in Delhi for a while and fed up with the rat race, Outlook Traveler’s Weekend Breaks from Delhi (Rs 225) may be just what you need. All of these publications are available at newsstands and some bookshops.
If you’re after a detailed map of Delhi, get your hands on the 250-page Eicher City Map (Rs 270). Eicher also sells a foldaway road map of Delhi (Rs 20). These are available at most bookshops and some modern petrol stations.
The useful information service delhigate.com (www.delhigate.com) is staffed by enthusiastic souls who work hard to answer queries within 24 hours.
In Delhi you’ll be able to find the major offices of all the banks operating in India, of which the following are just a few. Connaught Place has a branch of Citibank (Tel: 23712277) and Thomas Cook (Tel: 2334 2171; Hotel Imperial, Janpath; open 9.30am7.30pm Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm Sat & Sun), both of which change cash and travellers cheques. There are Thomas Cook branches (open 24hr) at the New Delhi train station and at the international airport. You can also change money at American Express (AmEx; Tel: 23719506; A-Block, Connaught Place ; open 9.30am-6.30pm Mon-Fri, 9.30am2.30pm Sat).
In Paharganj, Chequepoint Foreign Exchange (Baluja Forex; Tel: 23611331; Main Bazaar; open 9.30am-7.30pm daily) changes money and also does cash advances on MasterCard and Visa. There are other money-exchange places in Paharganj but take care, as some give poor deals.
The handy little bank at the Ashok Hotel (Chanakyapuri; open 24hr) changes foreign currency even if you’re not staying here. Other banks include:
- Bank of America (Tel: 23722332) DCM Bldg, 16 Barakhamba Rd
- Banque Nationale de Paris (Tel: 23314848) 2nd floor, Hansalya Bldg, 15 Barakhamba Rd
- Redit Lyonnaise (Tel: 23755213) Mercantile House, 15 Kasturba Gandhi Marg
- Deutsche Bank (Tel: 23712028) Tolstoy House, 15-17 Tolstoy Marg
- Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank (Tel:23716000) ECE House, Kasturba Gandhi Marg
Post & Communications
There are small post offices around Connaught Place, Paharganj and in various suburbs, but the main post office (Baba Kharak Singh Marg) is on the roundabout. 500m southwest of Connaught Place. Poste restante mail can be collected here from l0am to 5pm Monday to Saturday (on presentation of your passport). Ensure mail is addressed to New Delhi (the postcode is 110001 ) otherwise it may go to the Old Delhi post office. Alternatively, mail can be sent to the India Tourism Delhi office (your name, c/o India Tourism Delhi, 88 Janpath, New Delhi, 110001, India ).
DHL (Tel: 23737587; Vandana Bldg, 11 Tolstoy Marg; open 9.30am-8pm Mon-Fri, 9.30am-6pm Sat) arranges air freight worldwide.
Delhi has scores of PCO/STD/ISD telephone kiosks, some of which also offer fax and email facilities.
For changed telephone numbers call Tel: 1952 (English) or Tel: 1951 (Hindi). For the international operator (book collect calls here) dial 186, and for local inquiries call Tel: 197.
Internet outlets are plentiful. One possibility in Connaught Place is the small DSIDC Cyber Cafe (N-Block; Rs 35/hr; open 9am8pm Mon-Sat) next to the Delhi Tourism & Transport Development Corporation office. They charge Rs 5 per A4 printout.
Paharganj has Internet places in the Main Bazaar area and also at some hotels (rates range from Rs 10 to 30/hr).
Visa Extensions & Other Permits
The Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office (FRRO; Tel: 26711384, fax 26711348; Level 2, East Block, Sector 1, RK Puram; open 9.30am-1.30pm & 2pm-4pm Mon-Fri) is behind the Hyatt Regency hotel. Come here to apply for visa extensions and permits to restricted areas such as Mizoram and Nagaland. Only in exceptional circumstances will the FRRO issue 15-day visa extensions (free); they’re certainly not given as a matter of routine. To apply for a maximum one month extension on a six-month visa is also difficult. First you need a very good reason, then you must collect the long-term visa extension form from the Ministry of Home Affairs (Tel: 24623739; Lok Nayak Bhavan;
open 10am-noon Mon-Fri) near Khan Market; be prepared to wait. Then take the form and four passport photos (you can get instant snaps at nearby Khan Market – see Photography, later in this chapter) to the FRRO. A one-month extension costs US$40. When (or if) the extension is authorised, the authorisation has to be taken back to the Ministry of Home Affairs, where the actual visa extension is issued.
Since it’s so difficult to get an extension on a six-month visa, you may be approached by people offering to forge your visa for a longer stay. Don’t fall for this, as the authorities check details carefully against their computer records when you leave India. There are hefty fines and you won’t be permitted to visit India again.
If you stay in India for more than six months, you technically need a tax clearance certificate before departure. For this, go to the Foreign Section of the Income Tax Office (Tel: 23379161; Indraprastha Estate; open 10am-1.30pm & 2.30pm-6pm Mon-Fri). For details on what to bring, see Taxes in the Money section of the Facts for the Visitor chapter.
Delhi has its fair share of dodgy travel agents, so select carefully. It’s worth using an agent who is a member of an accredited association such as the Travel Agents Association of India, the Indian Association of Tour Operators or the Adventure Tour Operators of India. You should also shop around for the most competitive deals.
To renew or obtain student cards go to the Student Travel Information Centre (Tel: 23368760; ITDC Hotel lanpath).
Following are some travel agencies that get the thumbs up from travelers.
- Aa Bee Travels (Tel: 23510171) Hare Rama Guest House, Paharganj
- LTC Travel Pvt Ltd (Tel: 23632419) Chequepoint Foreign Exchange (Baluja Forex), Main Bazaar, Paharganj
- Rai Travels (Tel: 23366812) YWCA Blue Triangle Family Hostel, Ashoka Rd
- VINstring Holidays (Tel: 23368717) YWCA International Guest House, 10 Sansad Marg
- Y Tours & Travel (Tel: 23361915) YMCA Tourist Hostel, Jai Singh Rd
In Paharganj, Hotel Namaskar and Hotel Ajanta have also been recommended.
For more upmarket travel arrangements two options in Connaught Place are Cox & Kings (Tel: 23320067; H-Block) and Sita World Travels (Tel: 23311133; F-Block).
Dealing exclusively in ticketing, airticketsindia.com (Tel: 23313440; 10-B Scindia House, Connaught Place ) can arrange domestic and international flights.
Pedicures, plucking, peeling and other primping is possible at Delhi’s plentiful parlours. The beauty parlors at upmarket hotels welcome nonguests, and although they offer a certain level of luxury, they are frightfully more expensive than the less swish (but still good) nonhotel parlors. For instance, the independent Meghna Beauty Parlor (Tel: 26513149; Green Park Main Market, open Wed-Mon) charges just Rs 295 for a 30-minute olive oil head massage, manicure and hair wash, trim and blow-dry: at a deluxe hotel you’ll pay at least twice that. No matter which parlor you patronize, a tip at the end (for each of the beauticians who treats you) is customary. A minimum of Rs 20 per person seems to be the norm.
Connaught Place has lots of places to buy and process film. The Delhi Photo Company (Tel: 23320577; 78 Janpath; open 9.30am- 7pm Mon-Sat) has long had a good reputation. To develop 4×6 prints costs Rs 6 per print plus Rs 15 for processing and, among other things, they do passport photos in 10 minutes (Rs 50/100 for 6/12).
You’ll also find photo shops in major shopping areas such as Khan Market, which has Fab Foto (Tel: 24647019) and Rama Color (Tel: 24628890): both do passport photos (ready in about 10 minutes).
If you’re in the market for an Enfield motorcycle or anything else bike-related, make a beeline for Karol Bagh. Choose carefully though – we’ve had reports about dodgy operators, so it pays to shop around and seek advice from fellow travelers. In terms of Enfields, Lonely Planet has received lots of positive reports about Inder Motors in Karol Bagh (see Motorcycle in the Getting Around chapter for details).
Most places to stay have a laundry service (in-house laundries at upmarket hotels and dhobi-wallahs elsewhere). See Laundry in the Facts for the Visitor chapter.
Delhi also has dry-cleaning shops in major markets, such as Mercury Drycleaners at Khan Market, which charges Rs 50/65 for shirts/trousers (ready in two days).
Medical Services & Emergency
If you need an ambulance call Tel: 102, but don’t hold your breath. Embassies have updated lists of recommended doctors and dentists. The following is a selection of medical facilities (the East West Medical Centre has a particularly good reputation):
- All India Institute of Medical Sciences (Aiims; Tel: 26561123) Ansari Nagar
- Apollo Hospital (Tel: 26925858) Santa Vilhar, Mathura Rd.
- Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital (Tel: 23365525) Baba Kharak Singh Marg
- East West Medical Centre (Tel: 24623738) B-28 Greater Kailash Part 1