The first-time traveler’s guide to India’s Golden Triangle
THE incredible contrasts of sights and sounds of India draw travelers into this country multiple times in spite of its reputation of being noisy and chaotic.
Many visitors especially first-timers often experience a culture shock upon arriving in India but its rich history and heritage, vibrant colors, lively festivals, and diverse climates and landscapes leave them wanting more.
So if you’ve never been to India, the best way to discover the country is to through its Golden Triangle.
What is the Golden Triangle?
The iconic Golden Triangle is a 750km-route connecting Delhi, Jaipur and Agra, and these three cities form a triangle – all within a four-hour drive. The circuit starts in India’s capital city, New Delhi, and takes in the states of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
Highlights of Golden Triangle
Take in a few New Delhi sights such as the war memorial India Gate built to commemorate those who died in World War I and the 1919 Afghan War, and historical structures in South Delhi, namely, the 12th century tallest stone tower of Qutub Minar, the Mughal garden tombs of Humayun, and the Ba’hai house of worship known as the Lotus Temple for its flower-like shape.
But the best way to feel Delhi’s vibrancy is to walk through the streets and bazaars of Old Delhi where people jostle for spices, bread, jewelry, fabric, brasswares, pretty much everything. Towering over Old Delhi is one of the largest mosques in India made of red sandstone and white marble is the mid-17th century Jama Masjid which was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan.
The capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur is also known as “Pink City” for its pink-hued cluster of historical buildings. Jaipur’s iconic landmark is the Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds), an 18th-century five-story façade of small windows decorated with intricate latticework, designed for royal ladies to watch activities outside while remaining in purdah.
The best time to appreciate the Hawa Mahal is early morning when the light shines on the façade casting orange-pink glows.
Amber Fort is another Jaipur’s top attraction, a magnificent Rajput fort consisting of a palace complex built from pale yellow and pink sandstone and white marble. The most beautiful part of Amber Fort is the Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace) where the walls and ceilings are adorned with glass and mirror work.
At the triangle’s third corner is Agra in Uttar Pradesh where people come to visit the mausoleum of love and jewel of India – Taj Mahal.
Nothing can prepare for you for the regal splendor of this pure white marble mausoleum, influenced by Persian and Mughal architectural styles. We know the famed love story of Shah Jahan who built the Taj Mahal for his beloved third wife, Mumtaz, but sadly, he was imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb in Agra Fort in a tower with a view of Taj Mahal across the Yamuna River.
Try to time your visit to Taj Mahal at sunrise to avoid the crowds.
When is the best time to travel?
October to March.