Guide training program – week 7

The seventh week of the guide training program is done which was the orientation tour of Agra>Jaipur>Delhi. Our first city was Agra where we visited four monuments- Taj Mahal, Red fort, Sikandara (Tomb of Akbar the Great) and Itmad Ud Daula. We had one guide for fifty participants. Agra was a crazy city. The water there was so sour. We were suggested by our institute to use only bottled water. There were touts everywhere trying to sell something all the time to everyone near the monuments. We were brought to a few tourist shops also. Those shops were huge, literally huge.

The shops in Agra, Jaipur and Delhi had arranged our breakfast, lunch and dinner. It was a good opportunity for them to bring two-hundred tour guides all together to their shop at one time. They showed us around their shop, explained us how do they work and gave some gifts also to all the participants. I am sure it was a good deal for them. But the shops were so expensive. All the stuffs in those shops were at least ten times more expensive than the normal market rate but the quality of the product was also very nice.

We visited four monuments in Jaipur as well- Jaigarh Fort, Amber Fort, City Palace and Jantar Mantar. The condition of water in Jaipur was exactly same as the water of Agra. I liked all the monuments but City Palace. The City Palace was a very very commercial place. They had opened only a small part of the palace for the visitors. If somebody wants to visit other part, which is not open for visitors, they can do it by paying extra money and this extra money is decided by looking at the visitor’s profile. The City Palace doesn’t accept tour guide licenses given by the government of India; they issue their own license.

If somebody wants to have that license, then they will have to pass an exam organized by the City Palace. If a government approved tour guide goes to City Palace to do the guiding, then either he hires a City Palace guide or he pays some money to the City Palace. Our guide in Jaipur told us that City Palace is open for all kinds of activity. If someone wants to celebrate their birthday in the palace, they can do it by paying some money to the king. If somebody wants to hire the king and have him welcome the guests, it is possible by paying him.

After Jaipur we headed to Delhi which was crazy as usual. I heard something really crazy that TGFI (Tour Guide Federation of India) had instructed all the tour guides to not train us during our orientation tour of Delhi and that is why our institute had a hard time getting a guide to give us tour and train us. None of the guides in Delhi agreed to work with us. Finally the institute had to hire a monument guide. It was crazy to see how opposed TGFI was. They are the people who had sued the government against this training program but when they saw nothing happening in their favor, they did this crazy protest.

The shops of Delhi were also not so helpful as the shops of Jaipur and Agra. Even though our lunch, dinner and breakfast were organized by the shopkeepers in Delhi but the experience was not as good as the Jaipur and Agra one. My overall experience was nice but I did not learn much during the tour because there was only one guide for fifty participants but it was okay. I know that I will not start working somewhere out of Varanasi right after getting the license because I want to study first. I will start working in Benares first, then study about other cities, maybe go there and hire a guide and then work in other cities.

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