India’s Golden Triangle
You may be wondering “What’s the Golden Triangle?”. The Golden Triangle is a popular tourist route in northern India that takes you through three of India’s historical cities – Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. Delhi is best known for its blended history as the capital of India. Agra is home to the world-famous Taj Mahal – one of the seven wonders of the world. Lastly, Jaipur is a city that sits in the mountains of Rajasthan with a rich history and colourful architecture.
Our adventure began in mid-January. We spent six nights and seven days travelling the Golden Triangle – two in Delhi, two in Agra and two in Jaipur. A friend’s wedding in Agra brought us to India. Most of those two days were dedicated to wedding festivities. I have split this trip report into 3 parts due to its length. Feel free to read these in any order that you wish. Part 1 includes a section on the train that we took to get to Agra. Each report has reviews of the main sights in India’s Golden Triangle and shares the usual tips & tricks!
Preparing for India
This is not something that I would usually write about, but I thought it may be of use to those preparing to embark on a similar journey. It was our first trip to India and we had heard one too many jokes (or horror stories) about Delhi Belly to not be prepared. Disclaimer: To our pleasant surprise, we were not affected by the infamous Delhi Belly! And, this was despite eating our way through all the Indian street food stalls in the Golden Triangle.
The list below contains all the items that we had packed particularly for India with a brief description.
- Imodium (aka anti-diarrhoea tablets) – Getting the awkward one out of the way for obvious reasons. Afterall, we were attending a wedding and spending hours travelling between cities. These were very easy to find, and we picked some up from our local pharmacy. Side note – the packet is still untouched!
- Dioralyte – Sachet powder packets for a replacement of essential body and water salts. Use this when you’re feeling extremely dehydrated and also, post-diarrhoea.
- Snacks – In case Delhi Belly struck, we brought some dependable snacks from the UK such as granola bars, nuts and crisps (potato chips).
- Anti-bacterial gel – Funnily enough, we didn’t use this too much as there was little need. Sometimes we would squirt a blob before eating with our hands.
- Wet wipes – We used these more frequently than our anti-bacterial gel before eating with our hands. There can be a lot of dust in India, especially Delhi.
- Scarf / Shawl – This one is for the females. I brought a thin scarf for modesty and to keep me warm in the cool mornings and evenings.
- Clothing (for females) – I was sensible with the rest of my clothing choices and ensured that my clothes were not too revealing. I felt the most comfortable in loose fitting clothing that was past my knees. Think maxi dresses, skirts and boyfriend jeans!
What we learnt on our first day
- Try breaking your Indian rupee at your hotel or in a shop. Smaller denominations are needed for street food, rickshaw journeys and metro tickets!
- Most rickshaw drivers are extremely friendly when they’re trying to wheeler dealer you. Be wary of rickshaw drivers offering to take you to an “official tourist centre”. Turns out you’ll be sent to a tour guide centre.
- Delhi is very dusty and we’re thankful we brought old runners. This was true for all the cities we visited.
- There is an air quality problem in India’s main cities and the smog does prevent you from seeing things afar. Delhi was by far the worst.
- In regards to street food, we luckily didn’t have any issues. We made sure to only eat street food that was cooked fresh in front of us. Beware of food that may be sitting out for ages! We also only drank from sealed water bottles. Unfortunately, it was difficult to avoid drinking from single use plastic bottles.
- I would also recommend sticking to Uber (or Ola, the Indian version of Uber) to avoid getting scammed by taxis. Uber worked very well for us when we had wifi or data. All of our Uber cars also had seatbelts. Most of the taxis in India have back seat covers that cover the seatbelts, rendering them unusable!
- Try everything! Keep an open mind while travelling in India and have respect for the many cultures.
Weather: End of January
During January, it gets pretty cold in northern India. It was much colder than we expected! I thought that we were escaping the cold winters in England but I was mistaken. Delhi was the coldest city, dropping to around 5°C in the early mornings and evenings. The sun also struggled to peer through the thick smog. Agra and Jaipur were warmer overall, especially in the day! No jacket or scarf required during the day. Peak temperatures peaked at around 18°C to 23°C. As it was not monsoon season, it did not rain during the whole duration of our trip.
India feels like a different world and travelling India’s Golden Triangle is a great introduction to the country. It has left me wanting to explore more. I would recommend the Golden Triangle route as it gives you the opportunity to see some main sites of India in a fairly well travelled route. There is a bit of culture shock when landing but it is all part of the adventure.
The best advice I would give is to embrace the culture and ways of India. It can be overwhelming and confusing at times but embracing (and laughing at) all the nuances and minor inconveniences allowed us to really enjoy ourselves. See you again soon, India!