While India certainly has a lot to offer there are many tourists that prefer to break their holidays into smaller circuits and make the best use of the limited time and budget they have. Located in the north of India is The Golden Triangle, a tourist circuit that includes Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. Although, it sounds like a smaller circuit it still offers the best experience that one can have in a limited space of a 5-6 days.
If you are traveling India for a week this would be an ideal way to peak into Indian landscape, terrain, culture and food. The Golden Triangle gets its name from their geographical location on the map. The entire circuit is around 621 miles in distance and it offers the best travel experience that one can get while traveling in the northern part of India. One of the reasons why The Golden Triangle is so popular with local and international travelers is because it offers a wider spectrum of country’s landscapes, culture, food and architecture in a single trip. So, let’s start with our trip of The Golden Triangle.
Old Delhi was previously called Shahjahanabad as it was built by Shahjahan to be his capital city. When you are here you cannot miss out the magnificent The Red Fort built of red sandstone and that speaks of Mughal dominance in the country. Opposite to that is the onion-colored minaret of the popular Jama Masjid that still remains one of the most elegant mosques in India.
Not too far from The Red Fort is Chandni Chowk that was established in 1650 and remains one of the most popular streets across the country for street-side eateries. While hygiene issues might matter to many international travelers but it still remains quite crowded with foodies from all over.
In contrast to the Old Delhi, the New Delhi is quite modern and the architectural landscape is ever-changing. However, here you can view the Rashtrapati Bhavan also known as The Presidential Palace and other Secretariat buildings which is the center of government’s activity. You also view the Rajpath and the most iconic India Gate which is a World War One memorial arch. Don’t miss out the Qutub Minar and the most popular and uncorroded Iron Pillar that dates back to the 4th Century AD.
On India map, Agra is 124 miles south of Delhi which holds the biggest attraction of The Golden Triangle circuit. The iconic Taj Mahal is finally what we arrive at. The world famous Taj Mahal is a white marble mausoleum that was built by Mughal Emperor Shahjahan in the memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal in 1653. The word Taj Mahal literally means – Crown of Palaces. It is widely recognized as the “Jewel of the Muslim Art in India” and one of the most admired architectural masterpieces across the globe.
One of the unique qualities of Taj Mahal’s architecture is that it combines the elements of Turkish, Islamic, Persian, Ottoman and Indian styles into one. It is surrounded by beautiful ornamental gardens and other landscape that work in symmetry with the monument.
Around 20 thousand workers, artisans and craftsmen worked on the Taj Mahal for 21 years to create this masterpiece. It is believed (no evidence was found) that after the Taj Mahal was built the emperor ordered to cut the hands of all those who worked on it, so that there would be no other monument like it elsewhere. Of course, he paid all of them handsomely. Sadly, soon after the mausoleum was complete, Shah Jahan’s son Aurangzeb declared him incompetent and place him under house arrest at the nearby Agra Fort.
As we move out of Agra, we travel 23 miles west of Agra to Fatehpur Sikri that was founded in 1569 by the Mughal Emperor Akbar (grandfather of Shah Jahan who built the iconic Taj Mahal) and the city served as the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1571 to 1585.
This ghost city remains one of the best preserved collections of Indian Mughal architecture in India. The buildings here are made of locally quarried red sandstone also known as Sikri. It has Diwan-e-Khaas which is the Hall of the Private Audience and an open courtyard which is the Diwan-e-Aam.
It also has the Buland Darwaza which literally means The Great Gate and it commemorates Akbar’s successful campaign in Gujarat. The inscriptions on the gate in Persian reads as follows: Jesus, the Son of Mary said, The world is a Bridge, pass over it, but build no houses upon it. He who hopes for a day, may hope for eternity; but the World endures but an hour. Spend it in prayer for the rest is unseen.
It also has Pachisi courtyard that looks like a giant game board where the Emperor would play chess. The name of this ghost city – Fatehpur Sikri is derived from a Persian word “Fateh” which means victory while the local red sandstone is called Sikri. So, the word Fatehpur Sikri actually means – Red Sandstone City of the Victorious. The experience of watching the best Mughal architecture is far better here than at the Taj Mahal.
Around 150 miles west of Agra is Jaipur also known as the Pink City of India. Founded by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh 2, the ruler of Amber the city was named after him. Just seven miles north of the city is Amber Fort also known as Amer Fort, a honey-colored fortress palace nestled in the Aravalli Hills.
The elegant exterior styling reflect the richness and royal lifestyle of the kings and royal family. The architecture reflects the Hindu elements and is among the most viewed forts in Rajasthan.
It is here you can visit the Hawa Mahal also known as the Palace of Winds. It is basically a high screen wall built especially for the women of the royal family to take a view down the street while being unseen from the outside. It has a honeycomb beehive structure with 953 jharokhas or small windows decorated with intricate lattice work. The lattice work also offers relief from summer heat by letting the air pass through the structure.
The Jal Mahal or the Water Palace is located right in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake in the city. You can also visit the City Palace, the Jantar Mantar, Nahargarh Fort and Jaigarh Fort here in the city. Jaipur is also a great place to shop some handicrafts and it is here that you can try some Indian food when you are done with your Golden Triangle trip.
Hope you enjoyed the post.