Posted by: adventuressetravels | February 17, 2012

Through Dangers Untold and Hardships Unnumbered

“Happy Journey;” India Railways wishes you in print all of their train tickets.  Except tickets from Delhi, that is.

One of the most frustrating experiences in India can be trying to buy a train ticket from the Tourist Bureau in Delhi.

With India’s enormous population, inexpensive train tickets go quickly.  If you want to ride a train you’d have to make your bookings months in advance.  Fortunately India Railways know that tourists don’t always plan quite so far in advance and reserve a certain number of tickets on most routes for the “tourist quota.”  You cannot purchase these tickets online or at regular ticket counters.  The only way to buy these tickets is to go to special information windows in some cities, or the “International Tourist Bureau.”  There is one in most major cities.

Unfortunately in Delhi, getting to this office can seem like a Sisyphean effort.  Shysters go to any lengths to prevent the hapless tourist from getting to the office.   Kindly strangers will “direct” you to the real tourist office saying the old one moved or is under construction.  “Students” will lead you away from the train station to “government approved” tour agencies.  Taxis will drive tourists to “government approved tour agencies.”   Even if you get to the train station uniformed men may ask to see your ticket and tell you that you cannot go into the train station without one, or claim that the Tourist Bureau is under construction, they may even show you credentials.

Do not believe any of them.  They are getting commissions from these tour agencies and will go to any lengths to keep you from the tourist office.

Tips

–          Do not pay the taxi or rickshaw drivers until you are certain you are where you need to be.

–          If uniformed officers try to stop you just keep walking.  No matter what credentials they show or tell you.  You will need to go through security and into the train station to get to the office.  It is open 7 days a week and is certainly not under construction

–          “Government approved” means nothing.  The tour agencies cannot sell tourist quota tickets.  If they say that they can they are lying.

Believe me; my friend Trish and I spent a day trying to reach the tourist bureau and at last went home having all-but lost faith in humanity, or at least Delhi.  Luckily my wonderful and knowledgeable couchsurfing hosts gave me detailed instructions on how to get there.  Apparently another group of guests has spent three days trying unsuccessfully to make it to the Tourist Bureau.

After that, my hosts had the foresight to write down detailed instructions on how to make it through the trials and get to the elusive Tourist Bureau.

 

Though the first day was harrowing, the next felt almost like a video game.  Armed with the knowledge I made it past the dreaded hoards of shysters dodging rancorous rickshaw drivers, speeding past false guards, and eluding false tourist agents with the greatest of ease.  I slipped by the “officers,” and came out carrying prized train tickets.  Ones that did not have “Happy Journey” printed on them.

The next day, armed with this knowledge I made it past the dreaded hoards of

 

Here’s how to get to the Tourist Bureau:

–          Take the Delhi metro to the New Delhi metro station.  Exit at the Ajmiri gate side

–          Go through security and take a left

–          Climb the stairs and take a right

–          Go downstairs to platform 1

–          Turn left and walk along the platform

–          You will see a red sign that says “International Tourist Bureau

–          Walk into an open room

–          Turn left and walk to the end of the room

–          There is a stairway on the left.  Go up 1 flight of stairs and walk down the hallway

–          The International Tourist Bureau is on the left hand side

To avoid all of this you can use Cleartrip or another website to buy your tickets online.  Unfortunately because trains fill up months in advance that takes planning unless you

want to get put on a waiting
list and hope for cancellations, but this is risky at best.  If you are a tourist and not with a guided tour or a set schedule the tourist bureau is your best bet.

 

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