Lynne Kirby is managing director of Enable Holidays – the specialist tour operator for wheelchair-users, slow walkers and people with limited mobility. One of the unique services provided by her company is to undertake stringent accessibility audits of overseas holidays to assess their suitability for disabled travellers. In April 2013, she was invited by the India Tourist Board to experience The Golden Triangle Tour. She now shares her experiences with us.
The Adventure Begins
Travel has been my passion and my career for more years than I care to remember, so you can imagine the number of places I’ve been fortunate to visit throughout the world. Yet one destination has escaped me – even though it’s been on my must-see list for some time now. Well today that is going to change as I find myself in Bahrain en route to Delhi and the start of my 11-day tour of India.
The Indian Tourist Board are just as excited about my visit as I am, feeling their wonderful country has much to offer disabled travellers looking for the adventure of a lifetime – with good levels of accessibility and much improved facilities for wheelchair-users and people with limited mobility. I’m certainly interested to see how accessible India can be – especially since an increasing number of our customers are eager to consider exotic destinations that offer outstanding sight-seeing opportunities. Ahead of me lie the wonders of historical Delhi, the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Jaipur, Sikandra – and many more magical places. In the past I’ve only seen them upon the pages of books or as mystical backdrops to films and documentaries – now I am about to have the pleasure of discovering them for myself – and I can hardly wait.
Delhi Old and New
After arriving at New Delhi’s impressive new airport I had a relatively quiet and trouble-free transfer to the Hotel Maidens in North Delhi. As it was now 5.30 local time and I hadn’t caught much sleep during my flight, I was pleased to see the welcoming sight of my bedroom, where the irresistible looking bed was far too appealing to ignore. And so to bed.
My first daylight experience was driving (well, being driven to be precise) from North Delhi to the southern part of the city, for my visit to the Taj Palace Hotel where I was scheduled to undertake my first inspection and audit. The journey to the hotel was an experience in itself. Travelling along Delhi’s equivalent to the M25 presented me with a myriad of emotions. At times it was thrilling, at others it was scary – but above all it was a real eye-opener. The ring road was a highway for every mode of transport (old and new, slow and fast).
But whilst bicycles and carts competed with gusto against honking motorbikes, cars, trucks and buses swerving from lane to lane (some with passengers clinging on to the sides), I was amazed to see that no-one hit anybody else – nor did anyone show signs of road rage. (So nothing like the M25, really!)
The Taj Palace Hotel is a real gem of a property. The members of staff are extremely friendly and welcoming and I noted how attentive they were with all guests. The fully adapted room is easily accessed via a ramp at the entrance, and I found it to be very well appointed. Hotel facilities are of a high standard and the pool area is a pleasant place to relax after your morning excursions.
My first excursion was to the fascinating Qutab Minar – the tallest stone tower in India which has been made accessible by the installation of several ramps. Regretfully though, I discovered that the toilets were not adapted with disabled facilities. The tower is however a very worthwhile place to visit with a very interesting history dating back to 1199!
The return journey gave me the opportunity to marvel at the imposing India Gate, Parliamentary buildings and the President’s palace which is home to no less than 340 rooms.
In just a few short hours in this fascinating country, I’m already captivated by the Indian people, their rich history and the exciting atmosphere I find myself in. This is really a whole new experience, and my early impressions are very positive. Let’s see what the forthcoming days bring!
Read an interview with Lynne Kirby.
For holidays for those in wheelchairs, with limited mobility or slow walkers, Silver Travel Advisor recommends Enable Holidays.
- Read My Golden Tour of India – Part 2
- Read My Golden Tour of India – Part 3
- Read my Golden Tour of India – Part 4