India is high on the bucket list for many travellers, and it is easy to see why. This enormous country sprawls from snow-capped mountain ranges to humid tropical coastline and is overflowing with culture, colour, and celebration.
While the chaotic energy of its major cities may threaten to overwhelm first-time visitors, tourists will find themselves uplifted and awed by the sheer vibrancy of it all, from the richly-flavoured traditional food to the harmony of voices, bells, horns, and music that fills the air.
What is the Golden Triangle?
Blessed with the country’s best known historical landmarks, the Golden Triangle is one of the most popular India tours for travellers of all ages. The Golden Triangle is made up of Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur, three contrasting locations within driving distance of each other which are seen as the heart of Rajasthan, home of maharajas, markets, and awe-inspiring medieval architecture.
It takes just a few days to discover the highlights of this extraordinary India travel destination, although the spectacular accommodation options will lure you to stay longer. Believe us when we say – the momentous Taj Mahal is just the tip of the iceberg on a tour of India’s Golden Triangle.
Highlights of the Golden Triangle
While New Delhi is rarely found on lists of the most attractive capital cities in the world, this unique destination is still sure to take your breath away. The city seems to be split in two juxtaposing halves: Old Delhi, a labyrinth of narrow lanes bursting with sound and spice that is best explored by rickshaw, and New Delhi, a wide and surprisingly green space characterised by the striking government buildings designed in the early 20th century by Englishman Edwin Lutyens.
Delhi is the perfect place to start on an India tour to get a sense of the relentless energy that thrums through the country, especially in its busy metropolitan areas.
The city’s array of high-end hotels offer a special place to escape after a tiring day – one of the most opulent choices, The Leela Palace, is said to use 1,000 flowers a day in its flower arrangements.
A short drive takes you to Agra, a small city known throughout the world for its crowning glory: the Taj Mahal. Nothing can prepare you for seeing this wonder in the flesh – the symmetry, the intricacy, and the sheer scale of the complex cannot help but leave you in awe.
Best visited at sunrise to see the shrine change from red, to pink, to gold, and finally to white as the sun climbs higher into the sky. You can also float past the Taj Mahal on the river at sunset to see the magical kaleidoscope of colours in reverse.
Less well-known but almost as magnificent is the neighbouring Red Fort. The spectacular architectural legacies of this area date back to the time when Agra was the capital of the immense Mughal Empire and the main residence for a series of Mughal emperors.
The astonishing Red Fort, a structure of both strength and exquisite beauty, was developed over the course of eight years during the reign of Akbar the Great in the 16th century.
A Golden Triangle tour ends in Jaipur, known as the ‘Pink City’. The city earned this name in 1876 when, in preparation for a royal visit from Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, the then ruler of Jaipur ordered the entire city to be painted pink as this colour represented hospitality and welcome.
The buildings in the main streets of Jaipur continue to be painted in this hue to this day, but it is not just the colour that is striking when it comes to this city’s architecture – the staggering designs of the City Palace, Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds), and hill-top Amber Fort cannot help but entrance all who visit.
The secret highlight of Jaipur, however, is its bustling bazaar. Wander the streets and lose yourself in the vibrant fabrics, ornate jewellery, bright spices, and sizzling street food that is on offer here. Stop on the corner for a cup of sweet chai, and soak in this extraordinary setting with all of your senses.