In a vibrant nation like India, history experienced through immobile objects of museums and libraries can be limiting. You need to stroll around a city like a flaneur to hear the stories from people, safe in their incorruptible vaults of memories. After all, aren’t we a civilization built on oral histories?
But does this maxim of discovering history through walks and talks still hold for large cities? The answer is a resounding ‘Yes’. Many heritage organizations, museums, citizen groups and even independent history and heritage enthusiasts conduct walking tours for groups and individuals.
So, if you’re new to any of the following metropolises of India, keep the googling and guide books to a later time. Delve into the history by taking one of these heritage walks and rediscover the city through the juxtaposition of past and present. If you’re a long-time resident, you too would be surprised with how little you know about your own city.
- INTACH- Bengaluru Chapter: Of course, we can still take walks in the city, despite what one might have heard about the city’s infamous traffic. The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) conducts monthly walks called ‘Parichay’, meaning identity/introduction, to introduce the uninitiated to the wonders of the city. An extremely popular walk, they have both Kannada and English options, and their tickets sell like hot samosas! They also conduct walks in collaboration with National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), Archaeological Survey of India(ASI) and Bangalore City Project with Max Mueller Bhavan.
You can contact INTACH here.
- Bangalore City Walks: They are one among the rare species of organizations not on Facebook or any kind of social media. More than 15,000 people have found them on their own or via word-of-mouth. The ticket prices for a three-hour walk, start from Rs.600 (Rs.450 for kids and seniors), which includes breakfast, depending on the type of walk. Their Green Heritage walk has even received a seal of approval from playwright Girish Karnad!
You can contact Bangalore City Walks here.
- Delhi Heritage Walks: For a city that has its own walk festival, it is not surprising that it has many great walks to choose from. Delhi Heritage Walks is one among them, which customizes walks as per you or your group’s needs and explores the ruins of the yesteryear Shahjahanabad as well as the metro we know as New Delhi that has been built around it. While the customized walks may cost around Rs. 4,000 for a group of 2-5 people, you can get a ticket for 600 for their regular walks, as seen on their calendar.
You can contact Delhi Heritage Walks here.
- 1100 Walks: If you’re someone who sees art everywhere and spends equal amount of time in art galleries and in front of walls with grafittis, the 1100 Walks is just for you. The 1100 is the first four digits of the Delhi pincode. Led by Himanshu Verma, one of the emerging art curators in India, these walks focus on experiential and conceptual elements of heritage. So they will introduce to the history of Delhi, but in their own way. Their prices also vary, hovering around Rs. 2,100 per person
You can contact 1100 Walks here
- Bombay Heritage Walks: Started by the architecture graduates of the city in 1999, Bombay Heritage Walks will take you through the colonial history of Bombay as seen in its impressive monuments and buildings. Their clients include former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan and even writer William Dalrymple. However, since 2014, they have discontinued open-to-public tours and conduct private tours on request for individuals and groups.
You can contact them here
- Raconteur Walks: Their Church Gate and Heritage Mile walk is one of the popular walks in Mumbai. It takes you through the iconic Victoria Terminus and the historic art district of Kala Ghoda with its gothic buildings and many art galleries for Rs.1,500.
You can contact Raconteur Walks here.
If we have missed your city, fret not. The INTACH local chapters can be found in every corner of the country. So you can find a walk that interests you. You can join them as a volunteer and start spreading the story of your own city.