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Top 10 Things to Do in India’s Golden Triangle on a First Visit

India is a destination that will delight and challenge you — often at the same time. Here's a checklist of ten top things to do in the fascinating Golden Triangle.
4 Dec, 2023
Ten top things to do in India's Golden Triangle
Ten top things to do in India’s Golden Triangle: Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi

The Golden Triangle is one of India’s travel hot spots, thanks largely to the presence of the magnificent Taj Mahal.

However, there are plenty of other highlights of a visit to this region in the country’s north. The three points of the Golden Triangle are the capital Delhi, the city of Agra (home to the Taj) in Uttar Pradesh, and Jaipur — the flamboyant capital of Rajasthan. Between the three, you’ll discover a wealth of historic forts and palaces dating back to the Mughal empire of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.

Despite the vast numbers of tourists who visit the Golden Triangle, you can still expect a very raw and often confronting experience on the streets of these densely populated urban centres. However, it makes the breathtaking beauty of the Mughal-era monuments even more distinct.

Here are ten top things to do in India’s Golden Triangle on a first visit.


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1. Navigate Delhi’s hair-raising traffic

This may seem like a strange highlight, but navigating the insane traffic in Delhi is an adventure in itself. It’s a real life dodgem car ride and everyone’s playing to win. I’m cheerfully told by our driver you need three things to survive India’s roads: a good horn, good brakes, and good luck. May the force be with you.

Ten top things to do in India's Golden Triangle
Ten top things to do in India’s Golden Triangle: Brave the traffic in Delhi.

2. Take a morning stroll through Chandni Chowk market

Send your senses into overdrive at India’s bazaars and medieval-era markets, including Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi. Markets like this one are a stage on which the trials, tribulations and triumphs of many of India’s 1.4 billion citizens are played out. Park yourself at a teahouse, order a steaming glass of sugary chai, and try to make sense of the drama unfolding before you.

Ten top things to do in India's Golden Triangle
Ten top things to do in India’s Golden Triangle. Image: Bigstock

3. Visit Delhi’s Red Fort

Delhi’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed Red Fort is a shell of its former self, but it’s still a must-see. Established by Mughal emperor Sha Jahan in the mid 1600s, the Red Fort was later commandeered and gutted by the British for use as military barracks. Today the soaring 18-metre-high ochre-coloured parapets and guard towers have lost none of their power to impress. They stand like silent sentinels watching over the seeming chaos of Chandni Chowk.

Ten top things to do in India's Golden Triangle
Delhi’s Red Fort. Image: Bigstock

4. Enjoy the serenity around Humayun’s Tomb

Escape the hectic hubbub of Delhi with a stroll in the walled grounds around Humayun’s Tomb — a Mughal mausoleum of Persian-inspired design, which is said to have been the forerunner of the Taj Mahal. Monuments to deceased rulers like this one grew grander and more opulent over the centuries, as each generation sought to outdo the one before.

Watch our video of ten top things to do in India’s Golden Triangle:

Ten Great Things to Do in India’s Golden Triangle | Northern India Travel Guide: Delhi, Agra, Jaipur

Support our channel by becoming a member our new Top Traveller Club. Member benefits include an exclusive branded travel water bottle delivered to your door! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIWPeSl1aL72F1NCuS4ePTQ/join ************************** The Golden Triangle is one of India’s most popular travel destinations, thanks largely to the presence of the magnificent Taj Mahal.

5. Soak up the history of the Agra Fort

Agra Fort in the city of Agra is one of the best preserved royal fortresses in the Golden Triangle. Here, you really begin to appreciate the perfect architectural symmetry that the Mughal emperors insisted on. A number of them called the Agra Fort home, and each one left their own mark on the complex — including Sha Jahan — best remembered for the construction of the nearby Taj Mahal. Somewhere along the line Sha Jahan clearly developed a liking for white marble, which seems strangely incongruous next to the red stone used throughout the rest of the fortress. He was later imprisoned in the Agra Fort by his own son, and could only gaze at his prize creation — the Taj — from afar.

Ten top things to do in India's Golden Triangle
Ten top things to do in India’s Golden Triangle: Agra Fort

6. Admire the symmetry of Akbar’s Mausoleum

While in Agra, make sure you pay a visit to Emperor Akbar’s mausoleum on the outskirts of town at Sikandra. Again, expect perfect balance and symmetry. The marble in-lay work is incredibly intricate.

7. Experience the majesty of the Taj Mahal

No-one leaves the Taj Mahal the same person they were when they arrived. The monument will cast its glorious spell over you, just as it has done over millions of visitors since it was completed in 1653. If only Mumtaz Mahal could have seen the extraordinary edifice that would immortalise her name and watch over her beloved India for the next millennia. The Taj Mahal is the ultimate highlight of any visit to India’s Golden Triangle — and a piece of human endeavour that everyone should have the opportunity to see.

Ten top things to do in India's Golden Triangle
Ten top things to do in India’s Golden Triangle: Taj Mahal

8. Explore the ghost city of Fatehpur Sikri

Constructed from scratch in the late 1500s by Emperor Akbar, the sprawling walled city of Fatehpur Sikri served as the capital of the Mughal empire for just over a decade. It was suddenly abandoned (due, most historians agree, to the lack of a stable fresh water supply) and the court returned to Agra. Today the World Heritage-listed site has a somewhat ethereal feel and offers extraordinary photo opportunities. It’s located 40 kilometres west of Agra and is well worth a day visit.


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9. Solve a cosmic riddle in Jaipur

The famous pink city of Jaipur was first painted mauve to welcome the Prince of Wales on a royal visit back in 1876. Presumably everyone liked it so much that they kept the tradition going. Stroll through the gorgeous City Palace, visit the petite Hawa Mahal palace, or delve into the secrets of the universe at the Jantar Mantar observatory. The compound houses twenty large instruments that were used in the 18th century to track the course of the sun and other celestial bodies.

Ten top things to do in India's Golden Triangle
Visit the Jantar Mantar observatory in Jaipur. Image: Bigstock

10. Head for the hilltop Amber Fort

It’s hard to choose a favourite from the stunning collection of historical monuments, forts, and Mughal mausoleums dotted around India’s Golden Triangle. However, the Amber Fort outside Jaipur is right up there — literally. One of Rajasthan’s six World Heritage-listed hilltop forts, this ornate former palace offers spectacular views of the surrounding landscape. On a sunny day the reflection of the golden walls in the lake below is quite something. This is the India of maharajas and magic!

For more travel inspiration, visit www.incredibleindia.org.

Browse our range of India tours and experiences here.

Do you have any suggestions to add to our list of top things to do in India’s Golden Triangle on a first visit? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

Additional images: Bigstock

Adam Ford

About the writer

Adam Ford is editor of Top Oz Tours and Travel Ideas, and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger, and photographer. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa, and the Middle East. Adam worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.

 

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  1. Thanks for sharing the information. Next time I would like to go to Taj Mahal. I think for a North Indian trip this information will be helpful.

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