India’s Golden Triangle is made through the three points of Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur, and contains some of the country’s most incredible treasures. This is a common place to visit India for the first time – you’ll find lots of tours that focus on this area. With so much to see in the Golden Triangle, it can be hard to narrow it down.
Must-See Places in Delhi
This mosque is one of the biggest in India, and in the world! It can hold up to 25,000 people for worship. There are gorgeous entrance gates, and minarets as well. It’s important to know that women will be required to cover up when entering, but they provide robes.
Climbing to the top of a minaret is an additional fee, but will give you one of the most incredible views of Delhi! (It’s not worth it on low-visibility days!) It’s a steep climb up many winding stairs, so people who have any mobility impairments or claustrophobia might want to skip it.
This is one place where you have to pay an additional fee to have a camera inside. It’s not much, but it is worth knowing about.
Connaught Place is one of the most exclusive shopping areas in Delhi. You’ll find many brands you’re familiar with in the colonial architecture. There’s a movie theater and a number of restaurants as well. If you’re craving Western food, Connaught Place is a great place to find it! But know that you’ll be paying Western prices for it!
There’s a park in the middle of the center that frequently hosts concerts and other activities. The whole of Connaught Place is a gathering place for lots of Delhi residents when they want a fun night out.
Humayun’s Tomb is one of the best-known sights in Delhi. It’s a great place to go before the Taj Mahal so you can get an idea of the scale and detail you’re in for throughout India! It was one of the earliest giant mausoleums surrounded by gardens. The Tomb was built using red sandstone and marble. It’s worth the trip!
Gurudwara Bangla Sahib and/or Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib
Gurudwaras are holy temples for Sikhs. Before going to India, it’s worth reading up on Sikhism, as well as Hinuism, as both religions aren’t as familiar to Westerners and both religions have incredible sites throughout the country. Both of these temples have kitchens that feed anyone who comes, for free, all day, every day. It’s an incredible sight to see!
Women will need to cover their hair and all will need to remove their shoes. When visiting, there are people at the entrance who will help with both of these things for free.
Must-See Places in Agra
The Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is likely the reason you’re even considering the Golden Triangle in the first place. As the world’s most incredible monument to love, it’s breathtaking! The whole building is composed of white marble with the most beautiful and intricate inlays.
There are frequent rumors that they’re going to close the Taj Mahal to the public due to the stress on the site, so it’s an absolute must-see now! In 2018, you will likely see scaffolding as they’re restoring much of the marble. This doesn’t take away from the beauty of the site! And it’s fun to see the demarcation line – It’s very easy to see which marble has and hasn’t been restored!
Agra Fort is another UNESCO World Heritage site in Agra. It’s a sprawling fort that also includes a palace. This is one thing you’ll find out quickly in the Golden Triangle – most of the forts include amazing palaces!
Agra Fort is just down the river from the Taj Mahal, so you’ll find glimpses of it throughout the palace. The palace has similar marble inlay work as the Taj Mahal, and it’s where Shah Jahan (the builder of the Taj Mahal) was put under house arrest. You can feel for him as you imagine what it must have been like to be so lavishly imprisoned, yet pining for the incredible monument you built.
Tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah (The Baby Taj)
It’s said that visiting this mausoleum is what inspired Shah Jahan to build the Taj Mahal. It’s worth going to before the Taj Mahal. If you haven’t seen the Taj Mahal, the Baby Taj is an incredible site. It prepares you for what’s coming! I can imagine that it’s also a bit less impressive once you’ve seen the Taj Mahal!
This is a giant palace city just outside of Agra. Walking through, you can see many amazing structures including the Buland Darwaza gate, the palace itself, and the Jama Masjid Mosque. The whole complex is fun to learn about. Ask about the different parts of the palace built for the different wives! It’s funny to see how there’s a giant part, a medium part, and a small part for each of the wives. The wives could clearly tell by their surroundings which one was the favorite!
Chand Bawri/Abhaneri Stepwell
Indian stepwells are ingenious and fascinating. You might be used to the idea of a well being something you dropped a bucket into and then pulled up. Not in India! They made giant (or small) stepwells that included a staircase down to the water. There were many staircases at many levels so that as the water in the well rose or fell, they simply changed how many stairs they walked. This is a bit out of the way between Jaipur and Agra, but is worth a visit!
Must-See Places in Jaipur
Jaipur City Palace
The Jaipur City Palace is gorgeous! Most of the City Palace is actually off limits because descendants of the former rulers of Jaipur and Rajasthan still live there. This is another palace that’s much more like a complex. There are multiple museums throughout the palace that feature different textiles, weapons, and other treasures from the royal family of Jaipur.
The architecture here makes it easy to see why they say Jaipur is the Pink City. It’s all coated in a gorgeous terra cotta color, with some places being truly pink! The layout of the buildings is another interesting thing – due to the heat in India, they introduced a number of different ways to have more of a breeze running through the complex.
Amber Fort honestly looks like it’s straight out of a Game of Thrones scenes. Set high up on a hill, there are gorgeous gardens and large defensive walls all around the fort. There are even elephants taking people up and down to the palace! (Don’t ride them, please!) It’s like going back in time.
The palace inside is quite grand, and has a number of fun features. You can walk through the women’s quarters, and you’ll come upon a gorgeous courtyard garden. It’s made to be identical to the one that’s at the base of the fort. Why? Because when the fort was used, women weren’t allowed to leave it. So rather than just look down at the garden outside, a replica was made for them inside.
This palace has it’s own Hall of Mirrors. Quite different from Versailles, the Amber Fort Hall of Mirrors is impressive!
Jal Mahal (The Summer Palace)
This is a quick stop, but still worth seeing. Jal Mahal was the summer palace for those who lived in the Amber Fort. To escape the heat, they would come to the palace that appears to be floating in the middle of the lake. The lake is still there, though it’s quite polluted. An effort is under way to clean it up.
The Summer Palace does not allow visitors inside, which is part of why this is such a quick stop. You can see it from the sides, but that’s it. It’s gorgeous to look at and to think about! (And for James Bond fans, it was used in one of the movies!)
Situated near the City Palace, this is an old astronomical observatory. It’s filled with ancient tools for watching the sun, moon, and stars, and shows how advanced Indian civilizations were. Many of these artifacts are older than similar ones found in Europe! (And more accurate!) This is another quick but worthwhile stop.