It’s the motherland, and there’s no place like it. Lucky enough to call this beautiful country home, it was only last year that I took the much-hyped journey across the ‘Golden Triangle’ – the three cities of New Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur. Safe to say it was incredible. We glimpsed the Taj Mahal at sunset, catching some of the purple hues against the white marble, and roamed the ancient forts of Jaipur. Here’s your quick and dirty on what to do :
Start in Jaipur in live like a king, literally. Old royal palaces have been converted into luxury hotels that, combined with Indian hospitality (yes, it IS all it’s hyped up to be) makes it an unforgettable experience. A favorite is the Taj Sivai ManSingh Hotel located close to the center of town and a short drive from any of the attractions. Spend 72 hours in Jaipur and soak in the history.
A few of my favorite attractions include the Amer Fort – grandiose, with spectacular views over the city, it’s an icon in the Jaipur of yesteryears; Hawa Mahal – a beautiful structure telling tales of the history of women in Jaipur in the midst of the Jaipur market (ask your driver to point it out or you might miss it!); Jaipur’s City Palace – gorgeous ancient Indian infrastructure; and Jal Mahal – the floating palace. Jaipur’s markets make for some lovely shopping experiences so pick up a few souvenirs, or handmade Rajasthani wares from their warehouses, to take back home.
The capital city, it’s packed with the remains of literally every facet of Indian history – what’s not to love. Added to that Delhi’s markets – particularly, Janpath, Lajpat Nagar, and the infamous Chandni Chowk – are colourful visions of everyday life, and, if you find the right spot, an amazing place to people watch, or get a henna tattoo!
Get a tour of India’s past and visit the Red Fort, Humayun (an ancient and infamous Mughal emperor)’s Tomb, India Gate, and the Qutb Minar – a UNESCO world heritage site. Take a drive at night past the houses of parliament, and the president’s house, or ‘Rashtrapati Bhavan.’ A cosmopolitan city, Delhi is perfectly straddling old and new, so this is the place to get some of that city life you might be craving before heading onwards.
And finally, the land of the Taj Mahal. To get there, my preference would be a short train from Delhi, making it an ideal weekend getaway.
The Taj Mahal – and any Indian will be able to tell you this – was a mausoleum built by a Mughal emperor for his wife and has always remained a symbol of the power of love. A UNESCO world heritage site, wake up before the crack of dawn to be the first people in (and avoid the queues!) to catch a sunrise against the white marble dome on a clear day. Walk around the palace (book a tour with the concierge at your hotel so you don’t get ripped off at the monument), and take all the instagrammable shots you can (the Taj reflected in the narrow pool is always a winner) before making your way to the Agra Fort – a lesser known attraction but stunning nonetheless. Time it so that you are at the fort around sunset and watch the sun set over the Taj in the distance.
If you have time, I would highly recommend a trip to Fatehpur Sikri, an ancient city that continues to exist today, providing lovely and detailed insights into some of the most powerful Mughal rulers’ lives.