Most of us are probably planning where to go once emancipated from the COVID-19 pandemic. This has been an unexpected hiatus for everyone and travelers are eager to catch up with their wanderlust. Well then…
Here’s a guide to visit India’s Golden Triangle: New Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur in a matter of four days. Yes, you read it right. Three popular destinations in less than a week!
Day 1: New Delhi
If you arrive in the morning at the capital city of India, make a short tour in Qutub Minar or “Tower of Victory” which is approximately 11 kilometers away from the Indira Gandhi International Airport. A World Heritage Site built in 1193 to commemorate the triumph of Muslims over Delhi’s last Hindu Kingdom. At the foot of the tower is the first mosque to be constructed in India named Quwwat-ul-Islam. (Open Daily/Entrance fee is 600 Rupees)
At the start of our journey to Agra, I opted to take a nap but luckily I was woken up by the afternoon sun blazing through my window and I was able to catch a view of the rural landscapes. Supposedly, the travel time is 3 to 4 hours but we lasted for almost 6 hours due to the infamous traffic situation in India. Tip: Tell your driver to do a stopover in small eateries along the road where you can buy legit Indian Roti (flatbread) and Lassi (yogurt-based drink).
We arrived sundown and most tourists spots were already closed, hence, we decided to visit a garment shop instead to buy Shalwar Kameez. It is an Indian traditional costume which we wanted to wear in our most-awaited visit in Taj Mahal.
Day 2: Agra
We were all giddy to wear the costumes and catch the sunrise in one of the most romantic places on earth. Once you arrive at the entrance of the Taj Mahal, a number of locals will offer to guide you for a fee. It wasn’t expensive nor cheap, it’s really up to you if you want to know more of the history whilst viewing or just savor its splendor by yourselves. Tip: A lot of monkeys are scattered around the area so better take a grip of your personal belongings.
I suggest to schedule the visit during weekdays or non-holidays to avoid the surge of crowd. It is open to the public an hour before sunrise until a quarter before sunset. Take note, it is open everyday except Fridays. If you want to avoid the queue of tourists, you may buy the tickets ahead online. Tickets for foreigners include a water bottle, shoe cover, and guide map of Agra with free use of battery buses and golf carts.
Then, voila! There is no OVERSTATEMENT of Taj Mahal’s grandeur. It is really a work of aesthetic value with heartwarming history. I would never doubt why it’s included in the Seven Wonders of the World. Apart from the sunrise in Mt. Fuji, the sight of Taj Mahal will last with me for a lifetime. A glorious memento inspired by a husband’s eternal love for his wife, and it didn’t go in vain at all. The whole world remembers the story of Taj Mahal and will be acknowledged for ages.
We spent the whole morning touring around the complex and just simply devouring the charm of Taj Mahal. Honestly, it was the highlight of our trip. Then we went back to the hotel to get our things and started to head for Jaipur.
Tip: If you’re still game for it, tell your driver to take you to Chand Baori in the village of Abhaneri. It’s along the way and roughly 95 kilometers to Jaipur. Chand Baori is one of the deepest and largest stepwells in India consisting of 3,500 steps over 13 stories.
Day 3: The “Pink City” of Jaipur
You might be wondering why it’s called the Pink City? It’s because majority of the structures are painted with pink to welcome King Edward VII in 1876. The city was acknowledged as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2019. Jaipur is considered the commercial center in the state of Rajasthan, a number of small to large bazaars trading crafts, garments and jewelries intertwine in the city. Tip: You can spare a little bit of shopping here.
Afterwards, you can visit Amer or Amber Fort which is only 11kms from the city proper. The structure is made of red sandstone and marble that emphasized its architectural elegance. Although, the elephant riding was a downside for me. A lot of tourists opted to try the ride rather than walking or hiring a Jeep to take you at the top of the complex. As visitors, we have the responsibility to condem animal abuse. Please! Do not support elephant riding! (Open Daily: 0800H to 1730H/Entrance fee is 550 Rupees)
Other tourist spots in Jaipur include the City Palace, Jal Mahal, and Hawa Mahal. Be creative in planning your day so you can visit all these places, it’s possible!
Day 4: Travel back to New Delhi
It is recommended to travel back to New Delhi early in the morning to avoid traffic congestion. Anyhow, Félicitations! You just traveled the Golden Triangle of India in just 4 days. Book your outbound flight in the evening so you can still roam around the capital city during the day. We decided to visit the Humayun’s Tomb which has a similar history with the Taj Mahal but the other way around. It was requested by Empress Bega Begum to house her husband’s (Humayun) grave. The complex was declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. (Open Daily/Entrance Fee is 600 Rupees)
You can also visit the India Gate, Jama Masjid, and Red Fort. Tip: Prioritize the places you’re most interested, mine were the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
- If you’re travelling in a big group, it might be more convenient to rent a van. That way, your group will have a flexible itinerary and privacy. Otherwise, you can try their public transportation but brace yourselves for rowdy rides, it can be fun!
- Take a colossal amount of patience when you visit India because traffic jams and noise are inevitable. I have seen a lot of vehicles with signages “BLOW YOUR HORN!” It means they’re encouraging it, so imagine a number of vehicles around you doing that at the same time. I woudn’t dare to say it’s a melody!
- According to India’s Ministry of Affairs, 80% of the population are Hindus. They are vegetarians and consider cows as a sacred symbol of life, hence, should be protected. Don’t be surprised to see a number of undisturbed cows in the streets, in several cases they are the source of traffic. Just act normal, like a local!
- Surprisingly, hotels in India are not that expensive! You will find great accommodations for an affordable price. Therefore, I recommend to pick the ones which are accessible and will offer you comfort after a day’s jampacked schedule.
- From Gol Gappa streetfood to Chicken Masala served in restaurants, enjoy a gastro tour and seize the chance to taste authentic Indian food. Majority of their dishes are rich in spices which you can buy as souvenirs too.