India’s Golden Triangle

Each end of the Golden Triangle brings with it something unique. Delhi is a complex, cosmopolitan hub, known for its robust nightlife and food culture, as well as some of the country’s most impressive Mughal architecture. Agra is wrapped in tradition and home to the Taj Mahal, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Colorful Jaipur is often referred to as the Pink City, for the pink sandstone facade of its old walled town, and is home to some of the most stunning palaces and forts you’ll ever see, as well as a network of bright bazaars that offer everything from precious gemstones to hand-dyed scarves.

Amber Fort, outside Jaipur, Rajasthan

Amber Fort, outside Jaipur, Rajasthan

Photo by Joao Canziani

Overview

Can’t miss things to do in India’s Golden Triangle

Over the centuries, Delhi has entertained warring dynasties, visionary rulers, a colonial power, and pioneered the freedom struggle. Explore these different eras, from the 15th-century Lodhi Gardens and ruins, to the Mughal emperor residence of the Red Fort, to the colonial-era splendor of Rajpath, with its array of impressive buildings and landscaped gardens. Jaipur has her own story, one of pink sandstone and opulence. This is a land steeped in royalty—of palaces and forts (particularly the Amber Fort) and an old city encased within pink walls. Finally, you have Agra, home to the marble Taj Mahal, a memorial for the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan’s beloved late wife and one of the finest monuments in the country.

Food and drink to try in India’s Golden Triangle

The Golden Triangle is known for its Mughlai and North Indian cuisine—rich, creamy curries such as dal makhani (lentils) and butter chicken, plenty of chickpeas and lamb, tandoori dishes, and kebab skewers, all served with a choice of flatbreads and a variety of rice preparations. No meal is complete without a tall glass of lassi, a yogurt drink. The region is also known for its thriving street food culture. These quick meals, often known as chaat, are easy on the pocket and packed with taste. A good chaat dish combines sweet, savory, and tangy flavors. Try the region’s signature chole tikki: potato patties served with a hot chickpea curry and tangy chutney, garnished with onion rings and coriander.

Culture in India’s Golden Triangle

There may be history, politics, religion, and family, but nothing drives passions here quite like Bollywood movies and cricket. Impromptu cricket matches take over small streets and open squares, while Bollywood songs blare out from rickshaws and loudspeakers and ricochet around cities. There is no escaping either, so give in and enjoy. Watch a movie at one of the plush cinemas in any city (usually located in a mall), or watch a game of cricket at the stadium; if you’re lucky, the fast-paced short format (T20) might be whipping up a frenzy at Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla stadium, or at Jaipur’s Sawai Mansingh stadium.

Shopping

The shopping in Delhi and Jaipur begins on the street and extends all the way to the upscale boutiques. Delhi swears by Connaught Place and Khan Market for soft furnishings, retail garments, and tailor shops. For more eclectic fare—think bohemian kaftans and beaded sandals—try Janpath’s Indian and Tibetan stalls. Delhi’s state-run emporiums are a good bet for quality Indian handcrafts: carpets, metal, and woodwork. Similarly, the bazaars of Jaipur are a must-experience. They line the streets and squares of the old quarter, and are great for dyed fabrics, leatherwork (including footwear), and antiques. Jaipur’s famed gemstone workshops are also worth a visit. Haggling is expected, the only exception being the emporiums and malls.

Practical Information

- The best time to visit is from October to March. Summer temperatures reach over 100 degrees and winters go down to 40 degrees and below.
- Optimize your time and fly in via Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, and out from Jaipur’s Sanganer International Airport.
- An advance visa is required by all nationalities.
- Get around in private and public taxis, and in rickshaws. (Delhi also has the Metro.)
- The official language is Hindi though many other languages are spoken in the area. It is possible to get by on English.
- All local transactions require the Indian rupee, and ATMs are readily available. Hotels, big stores, and emporiums accept credit cards, but bazaars might not.
- It is common to tip 10% at restaurants.
- Electricity is 220 volts. Bring suitable adaptors: Outlets sometimes require two-pin plugs and sometimes three-pin.

Guide Editor

Neha Puntambekar

Resources to help plan your trip
Touring India’s Golden Triangle of Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur can lead to the best kind of sensory overload, the kind you need to talk about with friends old and new. Make your way to Bar Palladio, a lovely dream of a spot for cocktails, or to one of the area’s other nightclubs or bars. After all, you can’t just go see the Taj Mahal or Agra Fort and call it a day. That kind of day deserves one of India’s best cocktails.
Some of the sights have always been a part of your dream travel list: the white marble of the Taj Mahal, the stunning tower that is the Qutub Minar, the sandstone exterior of the Red Fort. But India’s Golden Triangle--Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur--offers so much more. The region has museums both grand and small (one with a focus on block printing), layers of history, and, even on the busiest of streets, the always surprising appearance of that most treasured of animals, the cow.
Shopping in India’s Golden Triangle of Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra is a treasured affair for both locals and tourists. Open-air markets, government approved shops, bazaars, and luxury boutiques line the streets with goods ranging from precious gemstones to traditional attire. Several markets, including Dilli Haat, feature permanent and transitional vendors who showcase products from across India. Get lost in the labyrinth of silver and spices at Chandni Chowk or bargain for handicrafts and textiles at Janpath. Work with a perfumer to create your perfect scent at Bapu Bazaar.
Take a deep breath. Accept that you can’t see every last wonder of India’s Golden Triangle without rushing through the region. For your Golden Triangle tour, start with a long weekend in Delhi, before heading to Agra for your date with the Taj Mahal. The last few days, head to Jaipur, the “Pink City,” the nickname becoming clear with your first sight of Hawa Mahal or City Palace.
In addition to pink-walled cities and great fortresses and ornate palaces, visitors to this enchanted region fall in love with the food—whether served in manicured gardens or marble halls or at a noisy market stall.
Expect brilliant colors and bright flavors at the restaurants in India’s Golden Triangle. Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur all have strong food traditions of their own but many restaurants also feature food from other regions, including South Indian food. Your Golden Triangle tour of food should include stops at fine dining establishments, stalls at markets for street food, and, of course, some ice cream to cool you off on India’s hot days. Fans of butter chicken take note: that now world-famous dish originally hailed from Delhi.
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