EIf you know where the desired object is located, this does not mean that you can easily find it. Something like this can describe the search for a travel agency at the station in Delhi, where foreigners can buy train tickets without overpayment. How can a foreigner buy train tickets at a reasonable price and not fall into the hands of scammers. How to find the treasured point with cheap tickets at the railway station in Delhi?
Where to buy cheap train tickets to Delhi?
You need to start by saying that buying train tickets to Delhi is not a problem. You can buy them in private tourist offices scattered in the center of the capital. This is not to say that there are very many of them, and they are on every corner, but they are relatively easy to find. In addition, many taxi drivers and rickshaws know where they are. The only difference is that you will noticeably overpay in these establishments.
Alternatively, you can book online through the official Indian Railways rail booking website or Cleartrip. Cleartrip is pretty easy to use, but it comes with a service charge.
If you failed to get tickets, there is another option that is tightly tied to a special quota for foreign tourists. This ticket quota is dedicated specifically to foreign travelers. Tickets can only be purchased through International Tourist Office.
I hope that this story about the search for a tourist ticket office for foreigners, where you can buy tickets at an adequate price, will help you avoid mistakes and tenacious hugs of voluntary assistants.
For me personally, finding an international travel agency at the Delhi railway station was a bit of a challenge. To be honest, I didn't even need to buy these tickets, I just wanted to find this mysterious place, purely out of sporting interest. My desire was fueled by stories that it was not so easy to get to this bureau in the sense that supposedly you would be prevented in every possible way from reaching it and directed along the wrong path.
I knew that this travel agency is located in the building of the station itself, on the second floor. It would seem that there is something incomprehensible? You enter the station building and go up to the second floor. But in reality, everything turned out to be not so simple at all.
Part one: getting to the station
Delhi Railway Station can be accessed either from New Delhi Metro, or from the side of the main backpacker Main Bazaar streets. I chose the second option.
Having walked along the Main Bazaar, which is about 1.5 km long, I finally ran into the road, crossing which I entered the station territory. It was about noon. At the entrance to the territory there were soldiers with machine guns, however, as in many other crowded places in the city. There was no search, inspection, and the like - I went through unhindered.
After walking about 10 meters, I noticed that some man was attached to me from the side and began to actively ask where I was going, what I wanted to buy, and that he said that he could help me. Repeating 3-4 times that I do not need his services, he hardly came off.
Since the station building was not that big, there were simply two entrance options: on the right and on the left. I stopped for a second to get my bearings. This was enough to get into the field of view of local seasoned "voluntary assistants" - helpers.
A man approached me, who, in an authoritative tone that brooks no objections, declared that he knew everything here and would help me find what I was looking for. Why not, I thought: he will show me where the travel agency is located, and I will refuse further services, which will undoubtedly be paid.
Having told the peasant that I wanted to buy train tickets at the station at the international travel agency, he took me by the hand and resolutely led me straight to the box office and the train schedule. Dismantling anything in the schedule without outside help was quite problematic. Remembering train stations in Kyiv or Moscow, you think, well, what could be incomprehensible? Here is the schedule, here is the ticket office, take it and buy a ticket ... But at the Delhi railway station, everything is completely different, and everything is far from being so simple and obvious.
So, the man took a blank form and for a long time told me about some nuances of buying tickets. Then he asked where and when I want to go. I made up my mind that I want to go to Varanasi tonight. He immediately stated that today I would not be able to buy tickets here, only tomorrow.
However, he said that he knows where you can buy tickets today. Taking my forearm again, he resolutely led me to auto rickshaws, which were parked in large numbers nearby. Before I could say anything, he called the tuker and told him to take me to the government travel agency, where there are cheap tickets for tourists. The agency, he said, was 5 minutes away. At the same time, he strictly indicated to the rickshaw that he would charge me no more than 20 rupees for the fare.
It was captivating that he sent me to the state office, which means I didn’t have to overpay, the low fare also didn’t bother me ... Everything seems to be clean and there are no tricks.
But I know for sure that the office is located at the station ... And since I do not need to buy train tickets, I just wanted to know where it is.
I repeated many times that I understood everything and that I would definitely go there, but later, with grief, I got rid of the peasant in half. Although he was very dissatisfied with the fact that I did not immediately go to the office indicated by him.
Part two: the search for an international travel agency continues...
It must have been 20 minutes after I entered the station, but I never got close to my goal.
Since I went into the room with a man and did not see anything like a tourist ticket office and no passage to the second floor, I concluded that I had to go right from the very beginning, from the entrance to the station territory, and then up the stairs leading up.
To go to the right, it was necessary to pass the scanner, near which a military man was standing and inspecting luggage. After I got the answer that there are platforms there and you can't go there without tickets, I asked him how I could find the tourist office.
He said that he did not know and scribbled for me on a piece of paper the name of the same state office that the first peasant had told me about. I answered ok and said that I was interested in just looking at the trains and the platform itself. In the end, he let me through.
Climbing the stairs, I moved to the platform and almost reached the train, but my way was blocked by a small fat man in civilian clothes with a notebook and a pen in his hands. Clicking on the pictures with my camera, I tried to walk past him, but he grabbed my hand, asking if I had tickets. I said I didn't have tickets and just wanted to see the trains.
I tried a second time to walk past him, not deeming it necessary to say anything else to some guy in civilian clothes. He again blocked my way and said that it was impossible to continue without tickets. This pissed me off, and we entered into a long dialogue between the blind and the deaf. My English, unfortunately, was not entirely convincing and did not allow me to give him verbal cuffs.
I got a little nervous, so much so that I even forgot to tell him to show his documents. In the end, I said that I would call the police now if he did not let me through. To this he said something that cooled my ardor a little:
…"Yes! Let’s go to the police together and let the police or the military deal with you.”
At the same time, he resolutely moved with me to the military with machine guns. At that moment, I realized that, apparently, I was not quite right and did not know something. I had no desire to sort things out with the military and ask who this person was, and I shamefully capitulated.
Part Three: I almost believed in my bad karma
Thus, about 40 minutes passed, but I still could not find the travel agency. I again headed towards the first entrance, which was located to the left of the central one. I must have missed something, I thought.
Before I had gone 20 meters, a man approached me and asked what I was looking for. After he heard the answer, he said that he would arrange everything now, and, resolutely grabbing my forearm, led me towards the rickshaws. His insistence and the way he grabbed my hand stunned me in earnest. This has never happened to me in India before: no one has ever grabbed hands, except for begging children, the most a helper could do was to persistently beg, but to grab hands ...
When I made sure that he wanted to put me in a tuk-tuk, I stopped him and repeated to him that I wanted to find a travel agency and I knew that it was located here at the station. Again, information was voiced about the state office, located 5 minutes from the station, and also that I would not be able to buy tickets here. I thanked him and went back to the box office and the schedule. He grabbed my hand again and in a raised voice said something like:
... “I told you that you can’t buy tickets here! Where are you going?"…
Not wanting to conflict, I assured him that I would definitely go to "his state office", but a little later, and now I want to inspect the station. To be honest, this situation really started to bother me. I felt foolish, as if I was reporting my plans to a stranger. But I still tried to keep within the bounds of decency. However, his next question, asked in an almost vicious tone, completely pissed me off:
…“What are you going to watch at the station? There is nothing interesting here!”…
I pushed this, probably the most arrogant of all the volunteers I met on my way to Delhi, aside and went to the ticket office ...
Part Four: "For everyone who asks receives"
In total, on the way to the goal, I had to talk and send off about five helpers. All this took me about 50 minutes and was very mentally exhausting.
I stood in the middle of a small hall where there were ticket offices and a schedule, and looked around - I did not see any passages to the second floor. Then I remembered the advice from some site that in India the military can help with information. One of these stood and let people through, checking their tickets, somewhere inside, to the trains.
After I asked about the location of the international travel agency, the serviceman immediately pointed to the right around the corner. At first I did not understand where he was pointing. It seemed that he was simply pointing at the wall of the building. However, when I walked three steps in that direction, I saw a completely inconspicuous staircase going up. Here it is! Finally!
That is, when you enter the station from the Main Bazaar, you need to go straight and a little to the left. Then enter the room, above which, by the way, “International Tourist Bureau” is written in large letters, and go to the far left corner of the room. There will be stairs to the second floor.
After you go upstairs, you will immediately see the first door on the right opposite - you can’t go wrong here. The office is open from Monday to Saturday from 8 am to 8 pm, on Sunday from 8 am to 2 pm. Break from 14.00 to 14.15.
The office is large enough, there are tourists, but not so many. Take the form, fill it out and approach one of the employees.
That, in fact, is all. I hope your search for a ticket agency for foreigners will not be as exhausting as mine. The only thing to remember is not to let the “volunteers” help you and not to let yourself be taken away from the station in the opposite direction. Good luck!