Travelogue: Highlights of India’s Golden Triangle
From piping-hot parathas to the Taj Mahal at sunrise, the attractions of the Golden Triangle leave Lisa Warner plotting her next trip to India.
A&K's former Managing Director, Lisa Warner
Visiting India was a long-held dream come true. My first trip to this fascinating country took me to the famous Golden Triangle – Agra, Delhi and Jaipur. While there’s much to see beyond these three iconic cities, the charms of the south would have to wait for a future visit. Here are just a few of my highlights.
The Taj Mahal at sunrise
It might be a cliché, but visiting the Taj Mahal in Agra was my favourite experience in India. We took photos at sunset and returned the next morning for sunrise. On the advice of our guide, we sped past the camera-clicking, selfie-taking hordes and for five magical minutes we were completely alone inside the Taj Mahal. It was one of the few times in my life when using words like awe-inspiring, breath-taking, and jaw-dropping actually seemed justified.
Jaipur on two wheels
My guided morning cycle-ride around Jaipur was incredible. An early start meant we avoided the traffic and had time to be part of a city just waking up – meandering through the flower market, going to temple with the locals, and enjoying a cup of chai on a rooftop overlooking the city walls.
Other standout experiences from my trip included a cooking lesson in Delhi, lunching with local ladies in a rural village, joining a classroom full of children in time for their English lesson and spotting a sloth bear on safari. Of course, being in India also meant eating some of the best, most authentic Indian cuisine around. The deep-fried, piping-hot parathas we ate during our street food tour in Agra were so good we went back for seconds.
Every place we stayed was outstanding, but if I had to choose one to celebrate, then it would be Rajmahal Palace RAAS in Jaipur. A palace in a previous life, it boasts just 15 suites and rooms, all named after illustrious former guests, giving it an intimate, boutique feel. The interior design could have been overwhelming – with vibrant colours, heavily patterned wallpaper, and velvet furniture throughout – but it just works. They’ve combined the past and the present with incredible results and the personal, unobtrusive service was first-class.
Beyond the Triangle
Udaipur was my favourite for all the reasons the guide books tell you. By Indian standards, it’s relatively sedate. Whether you wander the narrow streets, cruise the lake at sunset, or enjoy the view at dinner from any of the excellent lakefront restaurants, it’s a fabulously colourful and romantic city.
I never normally bring anything back from holidays, except photos, but this time I returned home with a suitcase stuffed full of beautiful, handmade Indian textiles: incredible scarves, throws, and bedspreads. The fabrics were too extraordinary to pass up (everybody I know received something from India last Christmas).
So, what did I learn from my first visit to this fascinating country? I realised that I’d only scratched the surface of what there is to learn about India’s diverse culture, faiths, history, and customs – hence the need to return. And that tiger are notoriously difficult to spot.
If you’d like to tick India off your bucket list in style, or perhaps see a new side to this old favourite, browse our suggested itineraries or speak to one of our travel specialists today.