India’s Golden Triangle
The Golden Triangle is the most famous tour of India, a route between Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, named for the nearly perfect triangle formed by the three cities. Starting in the capital, Delhi, and taking in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, it’ll give you an amazing collection of extraordinary religious and historical sights.
While you could spend weeks exploring what Delhi has to offer, from the Mughal Red Fort museums to the impressive Qutb Minar and the British Raj-era India Gate, the best way to get a feel for the capital’s eclecticism is by walking through its streets and bazaars such as Chandni Chowk and Paharganj.
Swaminarayan Akshardham is simply a must-see. This Hindu temple was built recently using traditional methods, but its grandness and intricate decoration elicit the memory a long-gone era. Its sheer scale prohibition of photographs provide a unique setting for peaceful introspection guarded against the usual swarms of tourists you’re likely to find in similar attractions in other parts of the world.
The iconic Taj Mahal is, unsurprisingly, Agra’s top attraction, and nothing can really prepare you for the awesome splendour of this monument to love, especially if you can time your visit with sunrise or sunset when the Taj is at its most majestic. The Agra Fort is close by and it will be time well spent — from its walls, you can spot the Taj Mahal rising up in the distance. Maybe plan to catch the sunrise at the Fort and the sunset at the Taj Mahal?
Another way to pass the time and get over the crowd of the Taj Mahal is the small nearby city of Fatehpur Sikri, once the capital of the Mughal empire, boasting the grand Jodha Bais palace buildings and imposing Jama Masjid mosque, which have remained relatively safe from the crowds.
Your last stop on this epic tour is the capital of Rajasthan Jaipur, famously known as the “Pink City” for its pink-walled cluster of buildings. Do yourself a favour and roam (somewhat aimlessly) around the centre to encounter historical landmarks like the impressive City Palace or Hawa Mahal. Jaipur is the place to shop for fabrics and presents to take home since it’s renowned for its traditional crafts and designs.
Jaipur is the least hectic of the Golden Triangle’s vertices. Outside the city, Nahargarh Fort gives the best viewpoint over the far-reaching streets, while a visit to Galtaji is an entertaining opportunity to admire the hundreds of macaque monkeys that have conquered the ancient temples.
Bus and train, no pain
If you’re on a shoestring budget, the easiest way to travel is by bus, guaranteeing a unique cultural experience as people storm in, perching on the armrests and sitting in the aisle. For the long stretches, the train will serve you well, and you’ll have the opportunity to catch a glimpse of India’s countryside.
From busy bazaars and speeding tuk-tuks to peaceful temples and majestic mosques, the Golden Triangle provides a holistic approach to the views and sounds of India — its noisy, colourful vitality will capture your dreams and you’ll be back soon for more.
This article was written as part of an ongoing collaboration with Volunteer Invest, a London-based social enterprise at the forefront of several organisations advancing human rights, child development, child therapy and HIV/AIDS treatment across the world.