Boris Johnson mistaken for 'The King of England' and Boris Becker as he embarks on first trade trip

Mayor of London, who is set to meet with Indian business leaders and officials, said London should be the “number one choice” for investors

As Boris Johnson arrived in Delhi today to lead his first overseas trade mission he announced he hoped to slip into the type of “blissful anonymity” that usually evades him.

There was a brief moment when it looked as though the team at the British High Commission – masters in dealing with Indian bureaucracy – had succeeded.

Britain’s biggest celebrity politician was whisked through passport control with the minimum fuss to a chauffeur-driven car which sped off to his luxury hotel in the pre-dawn traffic.

But it was likely to be the final time on his six-day tour, also taking in Hyderabad and Mumbai, that he will avoid the frenzied crowds that he is used to dealing with at home.

The fact that his visit was covered by the Sunday Times of India, The Economic Times and the Hindustan Times – some of the country’s biggest papers – should have offered a clue of what was to come.

The Mayor is in India to help London businesses establish trade links, confront the problems of the UK visa system that is limiting Indian students coming to British universities and pick up tips on infrastructure development.

But while he has denied that the trip is a prime ministerial-style venture better suited to David Cameron, who is expected to visit India himself next year, he received a reception usually reserved for foreign heads of state.

At the Akshardham Hindu temple – his first visit of the day - dozens of pilgrims, tourists and schoolchildren crowded round as he was greeted by saffron-robed monks with a garland of rose petals and the traditional red kanku daubed on his forehead.

Although visitors were banned from taking cameras into the holy site, the curious crowd grew in size as he wandered around the intricately carved Rajasthan pink stone temple. He was even granted access to holy relics – a privilege usually just enjoyed by royalty.

But for all the attention, it seems not many knew who the Mayor of London actually was, with confused locals mistaking him for the King of England and the tennis legend Boris Becker.

Akash Bharadia, 18, who is spending his gap year volunteering at the temple, told reporters:  “One of the locals shouted out it was Boris Becker while some people asked whether he was the King of England. They know it’s Boris, that’s the main thing.”

Just one lone American tourist successfully identified him as “that guy on the zip line” – a reference to him getting stuck during the Olympics.

“He’s very jolly, isn’t he?” said Rajeev Tyagi, a photographer for the Mumbai newspaper Midday. “But really only the media and the upper classes know who he his.”

That didn’t stop a crowd of Indians gathering round to have their picture taken with him at the India Gate in central Delhi.

The business delegation travelling the Mayor – including the chairmen of Standard Life, Berkeley Homes and John Lewis – looked on bemused as Indian security guards shooed away children trying to sell him sweets and jewellery.

Mr Johnson took the frenzied attention – and the cases of mistaken identity - in his stride, looking deeply relieved he hadn’t slipped into anonymity after all. “I reckon I could give Boris Becker a run around on the tennis court if I was asked to,” he quipped, before reminding the assembled crowd he was there to champion London.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'