It had always been a dream of ours to go to India. We didn’t know when we would be ready to take this trip (we had read up a lot on India and we knew this would be a heavier trip with a mix of wonder and sadness) but it was a trip we really wanted to take. And when the opportunity came up, we were just married and we booked our tickets right away. We wanted to travel the Golden Triangle and visit Varanasi to get to know the best of India’s religious traditions.
Traveling India’s Golden Triangle is one of the most classic trips you can take in this country – and one of the most practical too! In just one week, you can visit the wonders of New Delhi, Agra, Fatehpur Sikri and Jaipur and get to know some of the most stunning monuments of India and the world.
If you’re planning a trip to India soon, here are the experiences you can´t miss along the Golden Triangle:
FALL IN LOVE AT THE TAJ MAHAL
The Taj Mahal quickly became our main reason to visit India. With our tickets booked and just married, we had this idea for a blog and we wanted to make a post-wedding photo shoot. So why not do it at the Taj Mahal, the great monument of love?
We had no idea how difficult it would be to make this dream a reality – and, really, only those who have been to India can understand how we wound up being able to do such a crazy thing at the Taj! Everyone knows the Taj Mahal fills up with crowds looking to admire it, photos are always filled with people in the background, but even that doesn’t take away from the monument’s beauty. And we were able to do something unforgettable which was to have the Taj Mahal all to ourselves. On that day, the monument of love was photographed by love itself.
WONDER AT THE AMBER FORT
A huge palatial complex, Amber Fort simply amazed us. From its vibrant colors to its sophisticated architecture, visiting this fort was almost like entering a wonderland apart from everything else in India. Nearby, we could see many tourists riding elephants around to tour the area. We don’t really like to ride animals, but it was definitely a beautiful sight to see those elephants painted in gold, pink and magenta.
BE SURPRISED AT THE WIND PALACE
This was one of those monuments that I had always wanted to see – the pink façade of the Wind Palace is one of Jaipur’s most iconic landmarks. But, in the end as we found out, this monument really just ends up being the façade! You can visit the palace inside (and it even offers pretty views of the city from the top floor) but its true beauty is on the outside. Taking photos, however, is not easy: we almost wound up losing our tripod because of the security guard but we were able to get this photo which is still one of my favorites to date!
DON´T MISS HUMAYUN´S TOMB
The most ancient Mughal tomb in New Delhi, this was the place that actually inspired the Taj Mahal. And, for that reason, it’s an absolute must. Finding the similarities between the two monuments is fun, but it’s even more interesting to discover the charming details that make this place truly special. (PS: Don’t be like us! We let our guide convince us that this place was closed and, since we hadn’t done our homework, we believed him when all he wanted to do was to avoid the traffic to get there!)
STARGAZE AT JANTAR MANTAR
Jantar Mantar is one of the most unique places in the world: built during the 18th century, this site is filled with giant astronomy instruments that worked as sun clocks that could be as precise as half a second. In India you can visit two: one in New Delhi and another in Jaipur, where you can see the largest stone sundial in the world!
FEEL ENCHANTED AT JAMA MASJID
Jama Masjid was the first great monument we visited in New Delhi and we couldn’t have picked a better place to start our adventure! One of the largest mosques in India, Jama Masjid is a true gem of architecture, tradition, religion and lots of color. Right at the entrance, Joana had to cover herself with some traditional garments to visit the mosque leaving us immediately intrigued and curious to learn more about these traditions. The garments itself were quite interesting, filled with color. And, still, she didn’t go unnoticed: dozens of children came up to her, since she was white and had lighter hair. It was all one big adventure!
CONTEMPLATE THE WATER PALACE
Jal Mahal, or the Water Palace, is one of the most serene sights we were blessed with in India. With its perfect symmetry, the palace looks like it is located in the heart of the Man Sagar Lake – almost as if it was peacefully floating among the blue waters that surround it. A unique sight in this corner of this world that can often be so chaotic.
ADMIRE THE CITY PALACE
Located in the heart of Jaipur’s historic center, the City Palace is one of the greatest testaments to the history of this colorful city. Its intriguing architecture combines European, Mughal and Rajput influences creating a cultural fusion right in front of our eyes. A must!
TRAVEL BACK IN TIME AT FATEHPUR SIKRI
After our photo session at the Taj Mahal, Joana and I visited Fatehpur Sikri and we were completely amazed. This ancient fortified city is simply magnificent; a perfect example of the very best that was the Mughal Empire. Our experience was also really funny: after spending the morning as the center of attentions, now we blended in completely with the crowd – even going unnoticed as we passed by people who had spoken to us that morning! We had to laugh – we had felt so special in the morning, but I guess now we weren’t so special anymore!
UNDERSTAND HOW INDIAN PEOPLE LIVE
You can plan a thousand different trips to India, but one thing will always be the same: the cultural shock. Because the way of life in India truly is so different from any other place on Earth. From some deeper issues, like the caste system which keeps everyone in a strict social strata, to the most mundane things, like how you don’t nod to say “yes” but instead shake your head from side to side – India is a world apart. And only when you visit this wonderful country can you understand how this cultural shock is so challenging but so interesting at the same time!
PONDER AT GANDHI SMRITI
There are many tributes to Gandhi all throughout New Delhi and India, but if you only have time to visit one make it this one. It’s here that you can learn a bit more about this great peaceful activist, visit some of his rooms which have been preserved as he left them, and see the exact spot where he was assassinated as he made his way to his morning prayers in January of 1948.
FEEL OLD DELHI
New Delhi is a cosmopolitan capital like many others in the world – stunning government buildings, beautiful large avenues (always filled with traffic) and all the comforts of the modern world. It’s in Old Deli that you can feel the true spirit of India: street food, crowds of people, agitated shopkeepers. A sight to leave you wide-eyed and open-mouthed.
RIDE A RICKSHAW IN YOUR WEDDING DRESS
Ok, maybe this one isn’t for everyone… It’s true, we’re a bit crazy; but when you’re in love you always get a little crazy!