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TRAVELLING IN NEW DELHI

So how do you go around in Delhi ?!!

Except for the old city's Chandni Chowk, 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) north of Connaught Place, the best way to travel around Delhi is by taxi, hired car with driver, or auto rickshaw. To visit Chandni Chowk, take a motorized vehicle to the Red Fort; then walk or take a bicycle rickshaw through the neighboring crowded district and its maze of narrow lanes.

AUTO RICKSHAW

This is the best way to scoot around town. The driver can be surly, can claim that the meter is broken, and can rig the meter to go faster than his rickshaw. But still, rickshaws are fun and reasonably cheap. Meters in auto rickshaws have not been calibrated and still start at Rs. 3, which means that you must pay 75% above the meter reading.

BICYCLE RICKSHAW

In Old Delhi if you're not up to walking, this is the best alternative. A real bargain, it should be cheaper than the auto rickshaw. Ask a local merchant to help you negotiate the fare, but remember, these guys pedal hard for a living.

CAR

Only people who believe in reincarnation should drive in and around Delhi. Traffic rules do exist, but few drivers observe them and even police enforce them only to make a quick buck. Every major route is clogged from 9 AM to 7 PM with overcrowded buses, scooters, motorcycles and cars. Cows, horses, occasional goats, elephants, and dogs are found in abundance on the roads. Major highways (oversize two-lane roads) from Jaipur, Agra, and northern Uttar Pradesh are famous for accidents, with overturned trucks and demolished cars as common as roadside restaurants. Road conditions are subject to the quality of construction (new roads can develop craters overnight). They're also at the mercy of the weather; poorly designed culverts lead to flooding during the monsoon.

REQUIREMENTS

In India your own driver's license is not acceptable. An International Driver's Permit, available from the American or Canadian Automobile Association, is necessary.

In the event you must drive a rented car in India, you are generally responsible for any damage or personal injury that you cause as well as damage to the vehicle.

CAR RENTAL

The only major international car-rental company is Hertz (tel. 800/654-3001, 800/263-0600 in Canada, 0181/679-1799 in the U.K.). Rates in New Delhi begin at $45 a day and $300 a week for an economy car with unlimited mileage.

BY HIRED CAR WITH DRIVER

Let an experienced driver chauffeur you around Delhi and to nearby destinations. Expect to pay as much as Rs. 300-Rs. 400 for four hours or 40 kilometers (24 miles) and Rs. 700-Rs. 800 for eight hours or 80 kilometers (48 miles) of sightseeing in Delhi in a non-air-conditioned Ambassador car, which is the least expensive vehicle. Larger cars or ones with air-conditioning cost more. Ask in advance about the cost for extra mileage or hours. If you are staying in an upscale hotel, you will pay less if you arrange for a car from an outside travel agent; shop around, but hire a car from a government-recognized tour operator.

BY TAXI

Rates have increased dramatically, but the meters still start at Rs. 5. Expect to pay 75% above the meter reading. There is also a 25% surcharge between 10 PM and 5 AM. Drivers should carry a chart with revised fares; ask to see it before you pay. Taxis are available at every hotel, at taxi stands in shopping areas, and in each neighborhood.

Email me at manoj@mailcity.com


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