Apr 10, 2011

India - New Delhi

On our first day in New Delhi we decided to go to the train station to buy the tickets for our days in India, as we usually do when we arrive in a country/city : taking care of our next journeys is the first step before visiting and enjoying the local sights!

We headed toward the main train station. We knew it would not be that easy because India railways has quotas for foreigners. In the street, a young guy pretending to be a student approached us to "practice English" as it has often happened to us since we left Europe. He asked us where we were going and when we replied "to the train station", he told us that the policy had changed and that foreigners could no longer buy tickets in the train station. We were now supposed to buy them in official agencies. Our first instinct was to go anyway to the station when he used a persuasive argument: "I am only a student. What do I have to earn with your train tickets?" He then pointed us a direction that we followed. After a 15 minutes walk, we asked someone else where was the official train agency in the area to confirm the first information. We were shown a door with "Ministry of Tourism" written on it..

What happened next is still mysterious to us and subject to interpretations. Even the both of us who experienced the same thing have a different analysis of this story. According to Luis we have been scamed whereas for Axelle we only agreed to pay more than we planned, for a upper service. We seated in a booth with a 30-something officer to buy train tickets and we left one hour later with a sort of organized tour for two weeks!!

We studied together with the officer the itinerary we had planned before and then the man asked us about the hotels we booked. He kind of scared us when he told these hotels were the same as the crappy one we were in New Delhi at that time.

At this point, we were sure that this office was one of the governmental agencies openned in India to prevent very common tourist scams. In fact, the man presented himself like that and showed us their usual contract paper with written above and in capital letters "MINISTRY OF TOURISM – GOVERNMENT OF INDIA". Only the day after we realized the small "approved by" at the beginning..

After a while we agreed on using their services to book five train tickets, three trips in private mini-buses and seven nights in western standard hotels. They added to that package: pick-up services from train stations to hotels and vice versa, and a private driver at our disposal to take us from one sight to another during seven days.

The arguments he used:
- They are governmental agencies, understood non-profit.
- Local-class trains we planned to take are too dirty, crowded with people and animals. And we all have seen that kind of images in movies or documentaries about India. We surely would be better in second class coaches!
- Trains for our last three planned journeys were full. Local buses are not safe so a private mini-buses is the best option.
- In Agra where we are supposed to arrive 2.20am, the train station is 40 kilometres away from the city. And taxi drivers profit a lot from this localisation. It is not true.
- The hotel we booked in three cities are total dumps.

He then presented us three different prices for the basic package, the medium one and the deluxe one. Only at this point we realized the kind of amount we were talking about and we told him that even the basic price was above our anticipated budget. He then proposed us a 130 euros discount based on our under-30 ages.

At that moment, it seemed a good deal, reasuring for our tired, jet-lagged mood. After a quick calculation we checked that with a five euros upgrade to our daily budget per person it would be affordable. So we signed the contract and gave our credit card to the supposed civil servant!

The next day we went back again to the agency to collect our hotels vouchers and train tickets. And we started thinking that something was not turning right:
- They were not a govermental agency but only "approved" by the ministry of Tourism,
- They were not located where they showed us on the map circling an "information" logo,
- We saw the prices on the third-class train tickets we had in our pocket,
- We had studied the country and the local prices before so we realized that they have made a comfortable profit at our expenses.
Behind the contract, in big letters: "NOT REFUNDABLE"!

Scam or not scam? It is maybe difficult to say now as we did not yet start to use the whole services we paid for. Anyway after one week in India we can see that we had well estimated our budget for the country. But this mistake creates a situation in which we have to be now very careful about our daily expenses in order to try to limitate the damages.


If that unfortunate adventure did not give us a very good impression about the country and the local practices toward tourists, we anyway enjoyed our first visits in India! ;)

New Delhi wild life has something disconcerting.

Where is the cow?

And sometimes we bumped into typical festivities that we did not understant at all!!

Like this one...

... or this one!

And our first evening in New Delhi matched with the Cricket World Cup final that India won!! Crazy scenes of joy, jumping and dancing in the street, firecrackers, a lot of flags!!


The Red Fort is one of New Delhi's main attractions, with its red walls of two kilometers long and a height that varies between eighteen meters on the river side and thirty three on the city side! It is a really huge sight with where you can enter inside some royal halls and the palace of colour.

The Red Fort



Humayun's Tomb is located in a big park with other fine buildings and tombs. Built in the 16th century, this amazing tomb is an example of early Mughal architecture and would have inspired the Taj Mahal!
Humayun's Tomb

Afsarwala Tomb and Mosque

We also visited Qtub Minar complex classified as a Unesco world heritage monument. This complex shows us a different style, the Afghan or Islamic one. Qtub Minar is a high, incredibly intact and impressively ornated tower.


  1. Bellissime foto Axelle! Allora non siete solo dei viaggiatori...ma anche degli artisti! Un abbraccio Robi

  2. Grazie mille stella! Spero che tutto vada bene!! Un milione di bacci :)

  3. Wouhouh, ça avait l'air d'être bien la fête !

  4. hello ! mamyjo du 22 !
    thankyou for this beautiful photo book about your travel !! i understand general idea ....so i can imagine you and it's good for me. go on dear friends
    Nepal ans India is better for me better than..Iran for exemple but all is right for you so good and....for parents too! now we are more quiet for you so be careful of course.good luck