One of the most popular organized tours in North India is the “Golden Triangle” tour which incorporates New Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. Although you’ll spend a lot of time travelling by plane, car and even train if you take up the challenge of a tour like this, all three of these destinations are definitely worthy of a visit and will open your eyes unlike anywhere else in the world.
If you’re thinking about taking the plunge and exploring the Golden Triangle in North India, here are ten sights that you need to make sure are on your itinerary.
1. Gurudwara Bangla Sahib
It’s not often you see a fairytale brought to life, but that’s the feeling you get when you stand in front of Gurudwara Bangla Sahib. This Sikh house of worship is situated in the heart of the Connaught Palace in Delhi and is easily recognizable by its dazzling gold dome and white façade which features rounded balconies and lotus-inspired arches.
2. Bahai Lotus Temple
The Bahai Lotus Temple is the most modern sight to feature on this list. Completed in 1986 and named so for its distinctive flower-like shape, this temple has won a significant number of architectural awards and welcomes people of all religions. As of late 2001, the Bahai Lotus Temple has been visited by more than 70 million people, making it more visited than even the Eiffel Tower.
3. Humayun’s Tomb
The UNESCO World Heritage Site Humayun’s Tomb has got to be one of the most alluring attractions in North India. It was commissioned by the Mughal emperor’s first wife and was the first ever structure to use red sandstone at such a grand scale. The landscaped gardens which surround the tomb are lush and green, peppered with man-made pools and rivers, providing a natural, earthy contrast to the man-made building.
4. Keoladeo National Park
Spread out over 2,873 hectares in Bharatpur, the Keoladeo National Park is home to thousands of birds, with more than 230 species known to have made the park their home. For many, the highlight of this park is the spot around the temple where a dedicated local feeds the soft-shelled turtles and the giant catfish which flock to the lake’s shore. The best time to visit is during the winter months when surges of birds migrate to the park from around the world.
5. Hawa Mahal
The magnificent Hawa Mahal rises out from the hustle and bustle of the streets of Jaipur, almost like it’s been misplaced in the hectic city. This colossal piece of architecture stretches 50 feet into the sky and is constructed from pink and red sandstone, with loads of identical balconies peppered across the façade. It was built in 1799 to allow the women of the royal household to admire the street festivities below without being seen.
6. Dilli Haat
Even if you’re not interested in the slightest in buying anything, spending a few hours at Dilli Haat in New Delhi is a must. This open-air market provides visitors with the authentic ambience of a traditional village market without moving too far out of the comfort zone. Here you’ll find hundreds of stalls selling all sorts of typical Indian goodies, from shawls and hand-painted artwork to handmade shoes and delicious local delicacies.
7. Amer Fort
Pronounced “amber”, the Amer Fort is located just outside Jaipur perched on top of a hill which overlooks the city below. For many people, the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site isn’t the best part of the visit – it’s the trip up there that wins hands down. To reach the main fort, you’ll need to climb onto the back of an elephant and endure a rocky ride to the top. With temperatures often pushing 110°F in the spring and summer, you’ll be glad you don’t have to walk to the top yourself!
8. Ranthambore National Park
The Ranthambore National Park is one of the largest and most famous national parks in North India. Once the famous hunting grounds of the Maharajas of Jaipur, today the park is a haven for wildlife and a popular attraction for travelers who can’t wait to see them. Within the park you’ll see a wealth of exotic birds, peacocks, crocodiles, wild boars, Sambar deer and spotted deer. But while all these animals are well and good, most people visit the park for the chance to see the infamous diurnal tigers.
9. Red Fort
Located in the centre of Delhi, the Mughat emperor of India, Shah Jehan, made the Red Fort his residence between 1648 and 1875. It was named so because of its enclosing walls comprised of red sandstone. These walls measure108 tall and were intended to act as a reminder of the supreme power of the Mughal emperor. The inside of the structure is even more impressive than the outside, with tall pillars and lotus-inspired arches stretching down huge open-air corridors.
10. Taj Mahal
Of course, we can’t mention North India attractions without naming the one iconic landmark that some people would travel half way around the world just to see – the Taj Mahal. Located in Agra, this stunning example of architecture is yet another designated UNESCO World Heritage site and attracts more than 3 million visitors each year. Construction began in 1632 and took 20,000 artisans 21 years to build, all so the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan could prove to his late wife how much he loved her and bury her within the white marble mausoleum.
While you might be hard-pressed to fit all these sights into your trip to North India – especially if you’re only visiting for a week or two – it’s definitely worth the effort of going out of your way. Not only are each of these attractions charismatic in their own way, but they’ll introduce you to a whole new way of life and a culture far from your own.