What is the “Golden Triangle”?
India's Golden Triangle comprises the three most visited cities in the country's north-west - Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, which are all connected to each other by good road and rail links. On the map, these form a roughly equilateral triangle, some 200-250km along each side. This triangle has been dubbed "golden" for the extraordinary wealth of cultural and historical splendor on offer in each of the three cities.
Jaipur, capital of the largely desert state of Rajasthan, is home to some of Asia's best bazaars. You could spend weeks in Delhi, the sprawling, fascinating Indian capital, and not see it all, while Agra, once the heart of the Moghul empire, boasts the unparalleled beauty of the Taj Mahal, which adorns the banks of the Yamuna river. The Golden Triangle is a classic introduction to India: if you've never been to the subcontinent before, start here. Which usually involves a flight into Delhi.
Is that a good plan?
Yes. For all its dirt, traffic and crowds, the Indian capital is a remarkably amiable entry-point to the nation. Guidebooks prognosticate gloomily about the culture shock and hassle factor, but all but the most sensitive souls are likely to find a first visit more inspiring than shocking or maddening. Delhi is a megalopolis on the up: the population is young, the economy is dynamic (visibly so: you'll see miserable poverty but you'll also see countless individual-run small businesses) and yet the cultural roots are holding firm.
Delhi, being such a large (population around 14 million) and diverse city, absorbs its tourists with ease. Agra and Jaipur both have sizeable numbers of Western tourists roaming around. Jaipur, as capital of Rajasthan, has a role as a commercial and administrative centre that has nothing to do with tourism, and a population of 2.5m. The city's alluringly frenetic old quarter is known as the Pink City after its red-washed buildings, packed with stalls selling everything from silk to milk. Of Jaipur's numerous monuments, the Hawa Mahal - an ornate five-storey façade, designed to allow the women of the royal household to observe the street in anonymity - has become an icon of Rajasthani architecture.
And the third point of the triangle?
Completing the triangle, Agra - for all its monumental splendor - can be a trial, with the perpetual smog and the hard-sell hawking. It can at times feel like a swollen village: its parks and public spaces have an oddly suburban ambience. Yet it boasts a stupendous Moghul fort in the city center and the ethereally beautiful Taj Mahal.
So now you’ve got a better idea of what to expect from the Golden Triangle, simply click HERE to book your holiday in India and check it out for yourself.