They are on a par with the world’s best when it comes to grandeur, history and charm but Delhi’s monuments lag far behind when it comes to tourist experience.
By virtue of being the Capital of the Mughals, British and an Independent India, history lives in every nook and cranny of Delhi. The city boasts of 174 Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)-protected monuments — three of them UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
But when it comes to facilities, tourists are offered a raw deal.
The three world heritage sites — Red Fort, Humayun’s Tomb and the Qutab Minar — are better maintained and offer certain services for the tourists. But, at best, they can be described as ‘basic’. Of the 174, only 10 monuments are ticketed.
HT visited the ticketed monuments for a reality check on problems ranging from parking, approach road, missing public conveniences and the unavailability of drinking water, etc.
The three world heritage sites receive thousands of visitors daily but something as simple as a first-aid box is unavailable there.
The parking lot at Red Fort is located at least half a kilometre away from the ticket window. “We can walk in this season, but what about summer?” asked Meenakshi Gupta, who brought relatives from Agra to visit the fort. A proposal to start a shuttle service between the parking lot and the ticket window is gathering dust.
The parking area at Humayun’s Tomb is very small. “We are waiting for re-tendering the parking lots at the three world heritage sites. The proposal is pending at the headquarters,” said an official. Another problem is unavailability of trained tourist guides.
Charlotta, a tourist from England, said: “I would learn a lot more with a guide. But then there is not a right person around. Plus, I don’t know how it will be even if I pay for one.”
“Despite tourism ministry’s guidelines to allow only trained guides, either the ASI staff chip in as guides or the travel agencies bring in unauthorised persons,” said Sushil Tiwari, vice-president of the government-Approved Tourist Guide Association.
Daljeet Singh, head of ASI’s Delhi circle, promised to look into the problem.
“We will take up the issue with the guide association and ensure boards are put up with approved rates at the world heritage sites.”
ASI, DG, Pravin Srivastava admitted there were no first-aid boxes at any of the monuments.
“We will make first-aid boxes available at the three World Heritage Sites in a week’s time,” he said.