Pankaj Sharma

Pankaj Sharma
Photo Credit: Puneet K. Paliwal

The Delhi-based tour guide showcases the cultural side of a historical place

Kavita Devgan
April 01 , 2014
03 Min Read

OT: Tell us a bit about yourself...

Pankaj Sharma: I was raised in a joint family in Mehrauli (we have been here for five generations). So I grew up playing in some of Delhi’s most spectacular ruins (some over eight centuries old) and ended up becoming a history buff. I graduated from Delhi University in commerce, though, and completed my Masters in social work from Annamalai University.


OT: So what is it that you do now?

Pankaj Sharma: I work as a freelance tour manager and guide. While I manage tours across the country for different travel agencies, what I love most are the guiding assignments in and around Delhi. I have been in the travel industry for seven years now, but each day is a new day and each assignment, a new experience. 

OT: How do you get a licence to become a guide?

Pankaj Sharma: Guide-training programmes are held by the Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management once in two years or so — although they had been put on hold for some time, they are back on track now. The date of the entrance test is advertised in the newspapers. I got my licence in 2010.

OT: What do you enjoy most about your job?

Pankaj Sharma: Travelling and meeting people. Plus it’s really exciting to be my own boss.

OT: How do you make your tours interesting?

Pankaj Sharma: Apart from the historical facts, I like to showcase the cultural side of a place too. So, if I am taking my guests to the Red Fort, I try to take them on a rickshaw ride through Chandni Chowk to see how a city with its roots in the seventeenth century copes with modernity.

OT: Any on-the-job anecdotes?

Pankaj Sharma: Once, after a tour of the Red Fort, I was talking to a group of foreign tourists about how hospitality is so intrinsically Indian, when they asked me to prove it. So I asked them to choose a house in the neighbourhood and walked right in. I told the people staying there that we were keen on seeing their house and knowing about their lifestyle. They were more than happy to welcome us. We were served tea, and were even invited to stay for lunch!

OT: Your favourite monuments in Delhi?

Pankaj Sharma: I like the Qutab Minar and the Hauz Khas area. But the Red Fort is where I enjoy taking people the most. It is so easy to visualise the grand life that the Mughals led here. The gardens, the fountains, water canals... But what renders it almost human is that it bears so many scars of its chequered past. I’m fascinated, for instance, by how Bahadur Shah Zafar was tried by the British in his own home here after the first war of India’s independence and deported to Rangoon.

OT: What do you do during the lean months?

Pankaj Sharma: I use the free time to travel to remote places where not many tourists go, and dabble in photography. Uttarakhand is my favourite. I also like reading about their history. So effectively, I’m always at work!

Pankaj Sharma, Tour Guide, Mehrauli, Delhi, 9899816440,

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