The Golden Triangle of India, is one of the most popular tourist circuits, especially those traveling for the first time to this fascinating country. Normally, it is a journey lasting about eight days that combines the accommodation, transport and tours in New Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, three of the most magical cities of northwest India to make a first contact with the lifestyle and cultural splendor of the country. (Hence the triangle formed by the three cities is “gold”).
In general, it usually begins in the capital, Delhi, since it can be accessed more easily by air. In this huge city, you can visit famous landmarks such as the Red Fort, Laxmi Narayan Temple, the India Gate and Humayun’s Tomb in about three days.
Jaipur is home to some of the best bazaars in Asia and one of the most beautiful cities in the country, it is known as the Pink City , as its most prominent buildings are constructed of pink sandstone like the Hawa Mahal Palace, Jantar Mantar or the Jai Singh Obsevatory.
Agra is the ancient capital of the Mughal Empire and the last city that is often visited in this type of circuit. Located on the banks of Yamuna River, about 200 km south of Delhi, we can find such famous architectural wonders like the Taj Mahal or the Mausoleum of Itimad-Ud-Dalulah.
The problem of making this circuit is that the cities of Agra and Jaipur, are usually full of tourists eager to discover their incredible monuments. The feeling in Delhi, is somewhat different, since being a big city, it is more difficult to meet with crowds of tourists.
Where to stay?
One of the luxury hotels in Agra is the Oberoi Amarvilas, located within 500 meters from the Taj Mahal. Another good option is the Clarks Shiraz.
If you prefer budget hotels in Delhi, you have several options like Nurul or Alka and as for hotels in Jaipur, you can opt for the modern Bhawan, with spacious rooms.
Where to eat?
In India, to pay attention to the food it is a very important issue, since we may not be accustomed to the nuances and flavors of traditional foods. In northern India, it is more traditional to eat lamb dishes, but we can find also an abundance of chicken dishes, curry, tikka, masala …
In New Delhi, there are a number of traditional restaurants, which we can highlight the Banana Leaf (00 91 11 2331 2355), a small family and Nirula, (00 91 11 2341 7419).
Alternatively, you can opt for the Barista chain, where you will find light food and free Wi-Fi. These restaurants also exist in Jaipur, another excellent choice is the LMB Johari Bazaar, which has a totally vegetarian menu. In Agra, it is best to eat at the big hotels and avoid the food stalls near the Taj Mahal, but if you want something special, you can take a rickshaw and head to Only, a garden restaurant frequented by local families. (00 91 562 222 6834).
The most traditional way is to use the trains, which have eight different classes (each with its own code), are usually well organized and very efficient. Each train service is identified by a four digit number and each station has a letter code (very important in cities like Agra). It is advisable to book trains in India in advance. Here’s an explanation of how to make train reservations.
At the train stations, there are people who can help you to find the correct train and carry your luggage, for a small fee, very useful when there are large crowds around us. There are other services such to book a reclining chair.
Travel time from Delhi to Jaipur is about five hours and between Jaipur and Agra, there is an express line, Jaipur-Gwalior Express covering the route in about four hours. For transportation within cities, one of the most requested is the auto-rickshaw, although taxis are quite cheap.
There are a number of airlines flying to India. These airlines fly daily from London Heathrow non-stop to Delhi: Air India (020 7495 7950; www.airindia.com ), British Airways (0870 850 9850; www.ba.com ), Jet Airways (0800 026 5626; www.jetairways.com ) y Virgin Atlantic (0870 380 2007, www . atlantic.com virgen ).
What kind of packages tours are there?
Dozens of companies offer tours focusing on the Golden Triangle, with several modalities, from a few days in New Delhi and other cities, to long tours that include other entertainment like watching tigers.
Some of the best known companies that offer these trips are: Voyages Jules Verne, part of the famous Kouni tour operator Cox & Kings, which offers a week of experience in India and Essential India, with an innovative itinerary.
Once you’ve visited the Golden Triangle, we recommend you to discover other nearby places such as Fatehpur Sikri, a huge abandoned Mughal palace, located near Agra, Sariska Sanctuary silvertre living near Jaipur, like Amber Fort and mounted in the amazing historic toy train that runs to Shimla from Kalka, north of Delhi.