The worst thing about having a holiday early in the year (February) is that there is a long year ahead with nothing to look forward too. So to get over the return travel blues, there is only one answer that is to book the next trip of discovery. After considering a few different options, it was decided upon that India was going to be the next stop. The golden triangle to be exact and to do it in 7 days. Who ever said holidays were for relaxing anyway.
The itinerary for the week was Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Delhi. As time is limited and not ones to hang around, it was decided a private tour would definitely be the way to go (car and driver all to ourselves)
First Stop New Delhi
Upon arriving and checking in to the first hotel, The Park Inn By Radisson - Lajpat Nagar, we luckily had the first day to ourselves and try climatise our Irish bodies to the Indian heat of 34 degrees, which didn't take long with a beer in hand. The following day we went on a tour of the sights Delhi had to offer, a visit to Jama Masjid, a rickshaw ride through the bazaars and narrow lanes of Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi, Raj Ghat the cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi, Delhi's largest Sikh temple, Humayun’s Tomb (predates the Taj Mahal by 70years) which the design of the Taj Mahal was based on. That evening we took full advantage of the metro being directly across from our hotel and headed to Rajiv Chowk, an area with all the high street shops and restaurants and local markets. We stopped for some food and drinks in a fabulous bar and restaurant called Lord of the drinks.
After two days in Delhi, we drove to Agra
(It's approximately around a 4hr drive from Delhi to Agra) For those who don't know, Agra is where one of most beautiful iconic buildings in the world sits (also one of the 7 wonders of the world) the Taj Mahal. It is also home to the beautiful Agra Fort. We had decided to take two trips to the Taj Mahal, one at sunset and one at sunrise before we leave for Jaipur (I would recommend sunrise its a lot quieter) On arrival to Agra we commenced our first tour which is the sunset at the Taj Mahal with a trip to Agra Fort. Agra Fort is a beauty in itself with amazing views of the Taj Mahal in the distance. We stayed in the Mansingh Palace. Agra at night would not be for the fainted hearted. You require your wits about you at all times. I would only recommend staying in Agra if you plan on going to the Taj Mahal for both sunset and sunrise. If not keep Agra to a day trip.
After an early 5am start to visit the Taj Mahal at sunrise, our journey to Jaipur commenced Again a long car journey of approx 5/6 hrs from Agra to Jaipur. We visited Fatehpur Sikri en route to break up the journey. Fatehpur Sikri is the deserted ancient capital of Emperor Akbar. Fatehpur Sikri was built in the 16th Century, but the city was abandoned just a mere 12 years later due to a lack of water. I would defiantly recommend a visit here but just be aware there is hawkers and fake guides everywhere. It is best to ignore them as they can be quiet persistent.
When we arrived in Jaipur, the rest of the afternoon was to do as we pleased after we check into our hotel the Shahpura House. I would highly recommend this hotel, for it beauty alone. The hotel has a beautiful pool and surrounding area, a spa and two restaurants, an authentic Indian restaurant on the rooftop and an international restaurant on the ground floor. We made full use of the spa for a 70 minute full body massage at a cost of €40 which was amazing. The following morning we did a full day tour of Jaipur with stops to Amber Fort, a quick photo stop of the Hawa Mahal, a visit to the Royal Observatory Jantar Mantar, the City Palace and Museum. All worth a visit.
The following morning we left Jaipur to head back to Delhi, which is again a 5 hr journey by car, or which would have been if I hadn't forgotten my wallet in a Cafe Coffee Day shop along the way. We drove back to find it locked safely in the safe waiting my return all 71 km. Special thank you to all the staff. Once back in Delhi we had the night to ourselves and choose to stay at the hotel The Park Inn By Radisson - Lajpat Nagar and eat in there amazing live kitchen Anti Clock. Amazing Indian food made to your liking and relaxed with a few Kingfishers beers before our flight home the following day.
While it was quite a compact/busy 7 days, the trip does cover all the highlights of India's Golden Triangle and I would highly recommend it. We travelled in an air conditioned Toyota Innova throughout the trip with a brilliant driver who was very accommodating.
Tips for your trip
1. When changing money in the airport get a lot of small notes 10 - 20 rupees (for tips, everyone expects them bell boy, taxis, cleaning staff) Approx tip for tour guide per day 100-300 rupees depending on if you were happy with them or not. Driver for day tour 50-100 rupees. It really is at your own discretion.
2. If female, blonde or brunette expect that you are going to be stared at and asked for your picture, no harm intended by anyone, everyone was really nice and just wanted selfies and pictures with their children. It happened at most major tourist sites. Kindly decline if not happy to do so.
3. Be prepared to get sick no matter how careful you are, I was lucky and it happened when I arrived home, make sure to stock up on Imodium and Arret (thank me later)
4. The traffic is insane which is followed with lots of beeping of horns all at the one time. Driving is not for the faint hearted in India. Traffic lanes do not EXIST haha
5. Pack conservative clothes, India is not like most other parts of South East Asia, it is best to just cover up, people will respect you more for it. Don’t show your shoulders or any leg above the knee.
6. Visa's are also required to enter India, which can be got here
If you need more information on anything, feel free to give me a message