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Tourist Places To Visit In Golden Triangle (India)
The Golden Triangle is a collection of three destination cities in India that are must-visit when you come here. When plotted on the map, these three cities, namely, Delhi, Agra and Jaipur make an equilateral triangle of sorts. There is a reason these three cities form a major tourist hub in the subcontinent and no, it is more than just the weather and the sights.
These three cities cocoon in their lap the rich cultural history of India, from the Hindu Rajput Kingdom's strongholds in Jaipur to the capitals of Agra and later Delhi of the Mughal Sultanate. There is also the famed Taj Mahal here. You will not find a lack of tourist places to visit when traipsing the Golden Triangle -- from the Red Fort to Chandni Chowk, Amber Fort to Hawa Mahal.
Qutub Minar stands tall and strong at 73 m, almost like a symbol of Delhi’s indomitable spirit. Said to be built by the founder of Delhi Sultanate with the remains of Hindu temples, this place is also a major centre of controversy. But that does not take away its imposing charm in the Mehrauli area of Delhi. It is the tallest minaret in the world that is built with bricks. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site and serves as a major tourist attraction in your Golden Triangle Tour of Delhi.
Its architecture is a marvel in itself, with 5 storeys superposed and tapering. The Qutub Minar consists of beautiful sandstone and marble surfaces. Some of these inscribed with Quranic verses.
The Red Fort is the amalgamation of India’s rich historical pride and contemporary ruling ground. This was the place of residence of the Mughal Emperors after Shah Jahan, situated in the heart of Old Delhi. Today, the place holds the highest national importance as the Prime Minister of India hoists the national flag and delivers a speech from here on India’s Independence Day (15th August). This Fort is a strong, characteristic symbol of what India, as a defender stands for. With its octagonal shape peppered with turrets and bastions, its art and architecture a mix of Indian, Persian and European styles, Red Fort stands as much for braving wars as it does for braving time.
Some say it rivals the Taj Mahal, some believe it is even better in its architecture, while others don’t give it much importance. But nobody disagrees that it is worth a visit. Humayun ka makhbara or tomb in Delhi is the resting place of King Humayun, commissioned by his wife Bega Begum. It was designed by Mirak Mirza Ghiyas and is surrounded by gardens and greenery all year round. The Tomb was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in ’93 and welcomes visitors for its famous Persian Charbagh garden.
One of Delhi’s best places to eat street food, Chandni Chowk, translated to Moonlight Square, is a must-visit. This district is best known for its paranthas and tikkas, but also has amazing street fashion shopping and ancient streets and houses for a wholesome experience. The canals of this area reflect the moonlight every night, hence the name. Silverware and jewellery as well as lanterns, shawls, suits and sarees are best purchased here (after lots of bargaining and haggling)! Street photographers from all over the world flock here and take home amazing portraits of everyday Delhi life.
Agrasen ki Baoli
Delhi's Agrasen ki Baoli is a gorgeous step-well constructed with such precision and intricate craftsmanship that you will find yourself in a symmetrical heaven. Many recognise it today because of the Indian film PK, where a major scene was shot on its steps. It is 15 m wide and 60 m deep, sitting right near Connaught Place. The Baoli is credited to the Agarwal community from Gujarat or Rajasthan, who constructed it in 14th Century CE and is on most tourist circuits.
Hauz Khas, a historical ruin as well as a neighbourhood, is one of the most coveted places to visit in the capital. The Hauz Khas Complex is a hub for tourists who come for sightseeing, to enjoy a tour of mehak ka chota quila, parks around it and water tanks built by kings as ancient as Allauddin Khilji. Later, as the sun sets, and hunger pangs strike, people’s footsteps move towards the neighbourhood which is one of the hippest in Delhi — from cafes to chic restaurants, shops to cute boutiques. The area is divided up into blocks that are named after letters and you can enjoy walking through them all.
India Gate is a memorial of war that stands tall on Rajpath. It was built as a memorial for the Indian British soldiers who died in the First World War. Today it is inscribed with the names of 13,218 martyrs and war dead, including nurses killed in the World War as well as the third Afghan War.
In 1971, after the Bangladeshi Liberation war, a black marble plinth was added to this heritage sight as commemoration of those soldiers who lost their lives. This is named Amar Jawan Jyoti or the 'Flame of the Immortal Soldier.' It consists of a reversed rifle capped with a soldier’s helmet, signifying the sacrifice that men in uniform make. A flame has been lit in front of it which will burn until posterity. A visit to India Gate is a goosebump giving experience and must be done either at sunrise or sunset.
What can be written about Taj Mahal that already hasn’t been? It is a mausoleum, a symbol of love, a sight for sore eyes, a coming together of love and tragedy. The Taj Mahal or the crown of all palaces is many things wrapped into one, with two graves buried underneath. A UNESCO World Heritage sight and one of the 7 Wonders of the World, this structure retells the story of Shah Jahan, a mighty Mughal ruler and the love that he had for his deceased wife Mumtaz Mahal.
When in Agra, visiting the Taj Mahal is a must. In fact, people come to Agra only to visit Taj Mahal. Located on the bank of Yamuna River, this piece of romantic architecture must be toured at sunrise in summers and in the afternoon in winters.
The Fatehpur Sikri Fort is the centre of Mughal capital of Emperor Akbar’s time. An imposing structure constructed with red sandstone, it marks Agra as the ancient Mughal capital before it was shifted to Delhi.
Fatehpur Sikri is known for the Buland Darwaza which was the King’s entrance. It is 55 m tall at the entrance and then gradually comes down to human height. The fort also houses Jama Masjid, tomb of Salim Chishti, Akbar’s courts of Diwan-e-aam and Diwan-e-khaas, Birbal’s house, Panch Mahal, as well as the famous Palace of Marium-uz-Zamani that was the abode of Akbar’s chief queen Jodha bai. A visit to Fatehpur Sikri falls in the list of things to do in Agra as well as in the Golden Triangle.
Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah
In Agra, Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah is often called ‘baby Taj Mahal.’ It was later used as an inspiration to build the Taj. The tomb was commissioned by Noor Jahan for her father Itimad-ud-Daulah (erstwhile Mir Gheyas Beg) and a minister of Shah Jahan. Done in a harmonius almalgamation of Mughal and Indo-Islamic architecture, this was the first monument to utilise pietra dura and paved way for a whole new era of design.
Another architectural marvel in Agra, this one was constructed by Akbar the great. Since only red sandstone has been used in its structure, it is also popular as the red fort of Agra. The Mughals resided here before the capital was shifted to Delhi, and today this is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Some of the most interesting chambers of this fort include the Jahangiri Mahal, Moti masjid, Diwan-e-khas and Diwan-e-aam.
Angoori Bagh is located inside the Agra Fort but is so beautifully designed and maintained that it deserves its own mention as a tourist site. The sprawling complexes of the garden, four in number, are located in the Khas Mahal, commissioned by none other than Shah Jahan himself. Once upon a time the gardens were used to grow grape vines (hence ‘angoori’), with gilded marble walls and paintings adorning the alleys. Add to that spacious hamams, and the place was no less than a resort. Do visit to see what the Mughals experienced in their everyday life.
The Palace of Winds is the literal translation of Hawa Mahal. It is a beautiful pink palace in the city of Jaipur in Rajasthan, constructed by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh to facilitate the women of the palace to peep out into the real world from the many windows. It was built in 1799 and is the biggest sandstone palace standing without foundation.
The numerous lattice-work windows or jharokas ensure such ventilation that the place is airy and cool all day long, through all seasons. The Hawa mahal also gives Jaipur its identity as the pink city and stands like a delightful marvel of what a king did for the women of his house. A visit to Hawa Mahal is must when in Jaipur.
Jantar Mantar is a gallery of 19 astronomical instruments built into a monument in Jaipur. It was built by Sawai Jai Singh in the 18th Century and reflects the science and beliefs of that century. Jantar Mantar also houses the largest stone Sundial in the world and most of its instruments can be used even today to observe the astronomical movements in the sky. Its name is derived from Sanskrit roots and literally translates to ‘Instrument that Calculates.’
This monument is also a UNESCO World Heritage sight and is situated near the Hawa Mahal. It must be visited in order to see how science met with architecture in the vivid memory of India’s past.
Amer or Amber is the stronghold of Rajputana Kings near present day Jaipur. The Amer Fort is one of the biggest in the area, constructed over Cheel ka Teela (cliff of the Eagle), overlooking the Maota lake. It is connected to the Jaigarh Palace and houses the Diwan-e-khaas, Diwan-e-aam, Jai Mandir, Sheesh Mahal (mirror palace) and Sukh niwas which is a special area constructed to remain cool and airy all the time.
There are four gates to this palace fort and many entrances. Ganesh Pol is one of the biggest, named after the Hindu elephant god Lord Ganesh. Elephant rides can be taken up to the Amer Fort and are quite an experience, making you feel like the king coming home after battle. However, many animal right activists including PETA have raised concern over the mistreatment of these elephants.
Panna Meena ka Kund
In Jaipur, do not miss Panna Meena ka Kund. It is a step well or baoli, which also served as a gathering area for the locals on an everyday basis. Its 16th Century architecture is all octagonal gazebos, symmetrical steps in a maze-like criss cross pattern and beautifully done doorways. Photographers love this place for obvious reasons, as do those who have a thing for architecture and history.
Jal Mahal is a lovely palace made in true Rajputi style. Its glory lies in the fact that it was built in the middle of a lake — hence the name. The Man Sagar Lake laps around the ramparts of this gorgeous piece of architecture and the temperature always remains controlled whatever the season may be. The red sand stone adds a ruddy sheen to its interiors, while its grandness makes it loom larger than life. Many migratory birds find this palace as their home for the season, while flora and fauna too bloom undisturbed.
The jeweller’s market, this one is home to some of the most awe-worthy precious and semi-precious stones in the region. Jaipur is famous for these stones, be it rubies or emeralds, topazes or turquoises. The shops here sell raw stones, polished ones as well as jewellery. Nowadays oxidised ornaments, imitation and other kinds of designer jewellery has also made inroads into the marketplace. Do visit this Johari Bazaar for a taste of not only the local, but also of the ‘grand!’
How can you come to Jaipur ad miss out on its unique food? Masala Chowk doesn't let you leave without a taste. This district is known for its open air food court, where you get to try everything — from pyaaz ki kachori to chow mien, samosa and pakore to jalebis and pasta. All kinds of world cuisines are found here, with a decided Indian touch. Whereas if you want to go authentic, then Mewari and Marwari snacks will not disappoint.
Mathura is not on your traditional ‘Golden Triangle’ circuit. But this city lies close to all three cities — Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. So much so that, it would be a shame to miss it. Mathura is called one of the four ‘puris’ of India, one of the four holy cities of Hinduism. Why? Because this is the town where Lord Krishna was born. You can visit the prison where he was born, which is now converted into a temple. Or go to the beautiful ghats by the holy river Yamuna. Bangali ghat is one of the most famous, with a number of temples and shops lining it. Experience the spectacle that is the yamuna aarti (either at dawn or dusk) and shop for bangles, sarees, shawls, Mathura ke famous ‘pede,’ and other sweetmeats.