India's Golden Triangle

Chris Ryan on 12 September 2008

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I have always been fascinated with India, its culture, colours, food and of course its amazing history. So you can imagine how excited I was when I got the opportunity to travel there a few years ago. I flew from London with Jet Airways who I have to say are excellent to fly with and a great introduction to your Indian experience. One has to keep an open mind when travelling to India. It’s a Country of contrasts. There are the extremely rich to the growing middle class but then you have the extremely poor. It also has one of the largest populations in the World so expect crowds!

On arrival in Delhi I was met by my guide and driver (essential when travelling in India). I was taken to the amazing Imperial Hotel which is a high-end Heritage Hotel located just a step away from Connaught Place, (designed by Edwin Lutyens with a very ‘Hyde Park’ feel). It is steps away from the renowned shopping district and major city attractions and a half-hour drive from the international airport. The Imperial has a real colonial feel about it. With amazing photographs portraying the past glory of the British Raj on every wall. The standard of accommodation and food and general facilities are excellent. I stayed in Delhi for 3 nights, taking in many tours such as the Red Fort; visit Old Delhi with its narrow streets and bustling markets.

My next City to visit was Agra, home of the world famous Taj Mahal. The road journey was somewhat harrowing as the rainy season had just finished and most of the roads had been washed away!! It’s a journey of approximately 2 hours. Agra itself is not a very nice city but once you go through the gates of the Taj Mahal it’s like going into a different World. The Tour tells you everything there is to know about the complex with an explanation of each building and an account of the mausoleum's urban setting, its design and construction, its symbolic meaning, and its history up to the present day.

The next day I travelled by road again on to the City of Jaipur in Rajasthan, known as the Pink City. As it was painted all in pink to commemorate the visit of the Prince of Wales in 1876. No one is quite sure why they settled on the colour pink, but since that day, all buildings in Jaipur must be painted that colour. One of the favourite sites of Jaipur was The Hawa Mahal, or Palace of Winds. It is not a palace at all, but merely a facade, much like a Hollywood set. It was built in 1799 for the ladies of the royal household to enjoy the breeze and to look out on Jaipur without disobeying the laws of Purdah. Unlike other Indian Cities Jaipur is laid out in wide streets and planned very well more like a ‘European style’.. I stayed in the 5 star Rambagh Palace. This is a Taj Hotel and must be one of the most amazing Hotels I have ever stayed in. It was a firm favourite with the likes of Lord Louis Mountbatten, Charles and Diana and Jacqueline Kennedy.

Next it was on to the Lake City of Udaipur. Whereas Jaipur is known as the pink city, Udaipur is known as the White city. I stayed here at the Lake Palace, which is the centrepiece of the city better known for being made famous in the Bond film Octopussy. It was an amazing experience. There is a boat at your disposal at all times to bring you ashore. While here we went for dinner in a restaurant that overlooked the entire lake and city, an experience I will never forget.

My trip was so involved and fantastic I would not have enough space on here to write all about it. I love speaking about it though so if you want to know anything at all just contact me.

In short India is amazing and probably the last place on Earth with such diversity where the modern and old live side by side. Do not be afraid of standards. If you stay in a 4 or 5 star Hotel you will experience excellent standards even better than here. All companies provide you with a registered Guide and Driver which I feel are essential. Of course there are rules to follow like you don’t eat fruit without peeling it and you don’t eat food prepared by street food vendors other than that you will have an amazing experience.

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