India is a vast country in every way imaginable, it is the seventh largest country in the world by area and it is the second most populated country in the world with an estimated 1.2 billion inhabitants. As well as its sheer size and huge population, its history and culture span thousands of years, with more than 4,500 years of rich heritage to take in. It also has a large number of religious practices with Hinduism being the most popular as well as Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism.
With such a large area to cover and so much history and culture contained within, a trip to India has to be planned carefully. It is too large a destination to be able to see everything in one trip, indeed it would take many, many trips to see the whole of India. What is needed is careful planning to get the most out of your journey and if it is your first trip to this truly captivating land, then the best starting point for a taste of India has to be the Golden Triangle.
The Golden Triangle comprises of the Country’s capital Dehli, Agra the home of the stunning Taj Mahal and Jaipur located in the state of Rajasthan. The name The Golden Triangle was given as the three cities form a triangle in the North of the country and because of the wealth of historical splendor and culture that each of these cities has to offer. The cities also have the added advantage of being connected to each other with good links by rail and road, which is a bonus to the traveler. This tour is a classic introduction to India and will highlight some of the most famous and fascinating sites that India has to offer.
Starting your Trip.
The best place to start your trip is in Dehli, which is a good introduction to life in India. A great many people view Dehli as being crowded, dirty and over run with traffic and noise. All of these attributes are there it has to be said but don’t let that put you off. Even the most nervous travelers will find a charm in Dehli and although it can be some what of a culture shock to many people it is also an inspiring, dynamic city that will captivate you.
Dehli is visited mainly to experience the street life and for this, you need to go to Chandni Chowk, which is the main street in Old Dehli and is in sharp contrast to the structured and ordered streets of New Dehli. Here you will find a mix of rickshaws, animals, cars and pedestrians all fighting for space along the narrow roads in a way that is wholly unimaginable to a lot of people. You will find a whole mix of things to buy and street food to sample as well as getting a real taste of life in a bustling, Indian city.
If you are looking for some culture and a little more peace and tranquility then head for the Red Fort, the most famous monument in Dehli. This huge walled monument stretches for over 1.2 miles and is a constant reminder of when India was ruled by the Mughals. Dating back to 1638 it was built to keep out invaders but is now a rich reminder of the past histories and cultures of Dehli. It is situated in Old Dehli and is open from sunrise to sunset except on Mondays. It costs 500 rupees to enter though children under 15 go free.
Another huge monument which is well worth taking a trip to is Jama Masjid, the largest Mosque in India. A real draw for tourists because of its sheer size and architectural splendor, this huge monument can hold 25,000 people in its courtyard with ease. Built in 1650 it can be found in Old Dehli. A point to remember though is that it is a place of worship and as such appropriate dress must be worn at all times and visiting times are outside of hours of worship.
There are many interesting and varied places to check out whilst in Dehli, India Gate, the memorial to the Indian soldiers who lost their lives fighting for the British during WW1 is an awe inspiring sight and if you are looking for some peace and tranquility then visit Lodi Gardens that were built by the British in 1936 around the tombs of the rulers of India during the 15th and 16th Centuries. A fast amount of time can be spent just in Dehli but moving on the next stop on the tour is Jaipur.
The Capital city of the state of Rajasthan, Jaipur also goes under the name the Pink City because of the pink buildings and walls that are found in the Old city. There are many places to visit but a sample of some of the highlights in this stunning city is;
Amber Fort and Palace.
This amazing complex is situated high up on a hill top over looking Maota Lake, a climb well worth taking. Once here you will find many gardens and temples, amazing palaces and highly decorated halls with rich, grand interiors. This is a place that harks back to the rich history of India and of the people who once lived and reigned here.
Entrance costs are 500 rupees.
When visiting City Palace make sure to look out for the stunning peacock gate, which is a fabulous display of intricate workmanship featuring eye-catching Peacocks. The Palace introduces its visitors to a fascinating blend of architectural styles of the Mughal and Rajasthani periods.
It costs 300 rupees to enter and is open 9.30-5.00 pm daily.
Hawa Mahal – Palace of the Winds.
No visit to Jaipur would be complete without going to Hawa Mahal. It acquired its name from days gone by when the wind used to blow through the open windows, which now are all sealed shut. It is one of the most famous buildings in Jaipur and has been enchanting visitors since 1799 when it was completed. For the more energetic visitor, a climb to the top of the building will afford you with an amazing panoramic view of the city below.
It costs 50 rupees to get in and is open daily from 9-4.30pm.
After immersing yourself in the captivating splendor of Jaipur the next stop on the tour is Agra, home to one of the most famous pieces of architecture in the world.
No trip to Agra would be complete without visiting the Taj Mahal.Lying on the banks of the Yamana River, this striking mausoleum has stood as a constant testament to enduring love since 1630. The tomb holds the remains of Mumtaz Mahal, who was the wife of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and it was dedicated as an ode to his immense love for her, so immense, it took 22 years to build and required the strength and dedication of 20,000 workers. Be warned there are always crowds here due to its immense fame and popularity but it is still worth a visit, the ideal time to go is early in the morning. It opens from 6.00am -7.30pm daily except on Fridays. Cost 750 Rupees.
A short distance from the Taj Mahal is another stunning example of Indian architecture is Agra Fort, which lies on the west bank of the Yamuna river. This immensely impressive structure is made of red sandstone and has an imposing array of turrets and huge gateways. Now a World UNESCO Heritage Site, it was once one of the strongholds of the Mughals and was constructed by the third Mughal Emperor Ambar. This huge fort is laid out in an area of about 94 acres and consists of many interesting pieces of architecture.
It is open sunrise to sunset. Cost 520 rupees.
The Golden Triangle – Final Thoughts
The Golden Triangle is a well-travelled route and will give the tourist the chance to see some of India’s most Iconic and alluring cities. It encompasses a good selection of diverse country from rich, lush landscapes to desserts. It is 720 km by road with a traveling time of 4 – 6 hours between each leg of the tour.
This tour will give visitors to India a wonderful introduction to the rich and varied cultural history of India, encompassing some of the most iconic sites in the world.