India’s rapidly expanding capital city of New Delhi is home to over 20 million people and boasts several World Heritage Sites. You will need at least two days to see the highlights of this remarkable city so don’t make the mistake of only booking an overnight stay at the beginning of your Golden Triangle holiday. The splendid colonial architecture of New Delhi includes India Gate, the Parliamentary complex and the Presidential Palace, originally built for the Viceroy of India.
In contrast, enjoy a chaotic rickshaw ride through Chandni Chowk market in the 17th century walled city of Old Delhi and walk around the huge Red Fort, once the most opulent palace in the Mughal Empire. Don’t miss Humayun’s Tomb, which inspired the Taj Mahal, or the Jamia Masjid, the largest mosque in India.
The Qutub Minar victory tower built in 1199 is another must-see on Golden Triangle holidays, with its imposing cylindrical tower that is still the tallest minaret in India. Pay tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, the father of modern India, at the simple Raj Ghat memorial. At the Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple you’ll be blown away by the presentation of over 10,000 years of Indian history.
Agra is set on the banks of the Yamuna River and was once the capital of the Mughal Empire. Today it is not a pretty city, but it is home to the greatest monument to love, widely regarded as the most beautiful building in the world, the incomparable Taj Mahal. With its remarkable symmetry and some of the best marble inlay work ever seen, most visitors chose to return for a second visit at sunrise or sunset, when different hues of light are reflected – with unforgettable photo opportunities of holidays to Rajasthan.
On Golden Triangle holidays, Agra Fort is also not to be missed. Afterwards ask your guide to take you across the river to the Baby Taj, a forerunner of the Taj itself, which can be enjoyed without the crowds. Also visit the abandoned red sandstone city of Fatehpur Sikri outside Agra that has provided a dramatic backdrop to several famous films.
Wildlife enthusiasts must visit Sawai Madhopur on holidays to Rajasthan, for the once in a lifetime opportunity to come face-to-face with an endangered Royal Bengal tiger in Ranthambore National Park, once the hunting grounds of the Maharaja of Jaipur. Early morning is the best time to see these huge majestic creatures in the wild, but be aware that it can be difficult to find them in the jungle and sightings are not guaranteed.
On holidays to Rajasthan, birders can also visit Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary near Bharatpur, a seasonal RAMSAR wetland that provides protection to migrants and endemics at certain times of the year.
Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, is known as the Pink City because its buildings were painted pink to commemorate a visit of the Prince of Wales in 1853 and this remains the tradition. Ascending the ramparts of its Amber Fort on a caparisoned elephant is nothing short of exhilarating. The design of the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds) is another extraordinary sight on holidays to Rajasthan, with its hundreds of small windows and screened balconies from which royal women living in purdah could view the outside world unseen.
Other must-sees on Golden Triangle holidays are the City Palace and the Jantar Mantar Observatory, the largest stone observatory in the world. You can also rub shoulders with Jaipur’s residents at a Bollywood theatre and enjoy a home-cooked meal with a local family.
Holidays to Rajasthan are not complete until you have travelled deeper into the Great Thar Desert where you will find Bikaner, Jaisalmer and Jodhpur, with their magnificent forts. Here you can immerse yourself in the local culture and ride a camel. The great walls of the Mewar fortress at Kumbhalgarh extend over 24 miles and are second only to the Great Wall of China in length, and at Ranakpur there is a famous Jain temple. End your holiday to Rajasthan in beautiful Udaipur, a city of lakes and palaces that offers a lush contrast to the desert.