India’s ‘Golden Triangle’, the cities of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, is the centre-piece and the repository of an extraordinary abundance of history, culture and architecture of Northern India. These historical cities offer a collection of magnificent structures; tombs, fort, palaces and gardens, created by the Mughals, the Rajputs and the several other smaller dynasties and kings that have ruled the Gangetic plains and scorching Rajasthan. The historical treasures of India however extend well beyond these three cities; visit the city of Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, realm of the Scindia kings, home to the Gwalior fort, also known as the ‘Gibraltar of India’, the bird sanctuaries at Bharatpur and the Chambal valley, and Ranthmbhore Tiger Reserve, home of the endangered Bengal Tiger.
The city of Agra, located on the banks of the Yamuna before the river changed its course, rose to fame as the capital of the Mughal Empire. It is dotted with the extensive and lavish architectural efforts of successive emperors, beginning with Akbar and the Agra Fort, and culminating in the superlative Taj Mahal of Shah Jahan, the finest example of Mughal architecture at its pinnacle.
Modern day Agra is a bustling town with extensive leather works, carpet weaving and stone sculpting. Just a short train ride from Delhi, Agra can be visited as a day trip, though Cox & Kings would recommend a stay of 1 or 2 nights to be able to see the Taj Mahal at sunrise or sunset, and also the city’s other major attractions.Read More
Bharatpur in Rajashtan is about an hour’s drive from Agra and home of the Keoladeo Ghana National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site. It was once a private hunting ground of the Maharajas, but is now India’s finest bird reserve, with over 360 species making it their home at one time. A large number of these are migratory, including the Siberian crane, as well as a significant number of aquatic species that make the most of its wetlands. We recommend an early morning or late evening boat cruise on the water bodies at the park.Read More
Chambal, in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, is the location of the National Chambal Sanctuary, home to the Gangetic dolphin, now a rare species. Other wildlife here includes turtles and gharials, and an abundance of bird life, migratory as well as resident, such as Indian skimmers, fishing eagles, cormorants, spoonbills, flamingos, herons, kingfishers, partridges and pelicans. A river safari on the Chambal river is an excellent way for birdwatchers to make the most of this paradise.Read More
Dholpur, in Rajasthan, was originally named Dhawalpuri after its first king, Dhawal Deo. Strategically located along the caravan route from Kabul to the Deccan, the city lies close to Gwalior and Agra. Frequently invaded and conquered, Dholpur has the excellent Shergarh Fort and the Machkung temple, and is perfect for those stepping out of the Golden Triangle route. Rural walks and bird watching also comprise some of the activities here.Read More
The capital of India, Delhi, is a bustling modern-day megapolis, and like most historical cities has a glorious, turbulent past. The principal prize of every invading army, Delhi is sprinkled with monuments and sites of its past and present glories. The Red Fort, the Jama Masjid and the pulsating and teeming bazaars of Chandni Chowk, all built by Shah Jahan when he moved his capital from Agra to Delhi. Offsetting this are the more modern symbols of present day Delhi; Connaught Place, a thriving business hub; India Gate and its surrounding parks; the seat of Government, the Parliament House, the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the presidential residence and other buildings, a legacy of a more recent history.
Must see sites are the graceful Humayun’s tomb, an example of Mughal architecture in the bud, and the Qutab Minar, a 13th century red sandstone minaret.
Cox & Kings recommends a stay of a minimum of 2 nights at Delhi.Read More
The Pink City of Jaipur is the capital of the rugged landscape of Rajasthan. Founded in 1727 by Sawai Jai Singh, and named after him, the city is a treasure trove of history and the valour and martial spirit of the doughty Rajputs. Major attractions here are the City Palace complex, even today the home of the ruling Maharaja; the Hawa Mahal, a museum of the royal family; the Jantar Mantar, an observatory of such precision that it can even be used today. At the outskirts lies the magnificent Amber Fort, the original residence of the royal family of Jaipur, and a fascinating amalgam of Mughal and Hindu schools of architecture. Jaipur is a delightful shopping destination, with its silverware, silks and jewellery being much sought after. The choice of accommodation is vast and varied, from palaces converted into hotels, traditional stays at the havelis of the Jaipur aristocracy and other modern luxury hotels.Read More
The Ranthambhore National Park was once the private hunting ground of the Maharajas of Jaipur, covering a sprawling 400 sq. km. After being converted into a national park under the auspices of Project Tiger, the park became India’s foremost tiger reserve, for which it is most famous. In addition however, the park also houses a vast variety of wildlife, such as panthers, leopards, sambar deer, crocodiles and sloth bears. It is also home to over 250 avian species making it a birder’s paradise. Other features of the park are an 8th century fortress, old temples and lakes. Safaris into the park on 4x4’s are available and the best time to visit is usually between October and May.Read More
The Shekhwati region in north-east Rajasthan is a dry, semi-arid area which once had the good fortune of being on the caravan routes leading into India and grew into a formidable trading post. With the passage of time and the development of ports, its community of traders slowly moved away leaving the town mostly deserted. Shekhawati is today famous for the ornate havelis of its Marwari community merchants, which are decorated in brightly coloured, rich frescoes. While some havelis have crumbled over time, some have been restored, their frescoes offering revealing insights into the history of the community, the way of life in the region and the influences encountered by the merchants in their trading forays abroad. Mandawa, Fatehpur, Nawalgarh and Dunlod villages are said to have the most exceptional artwork of the region and together function almost as an alfresco art exhibition, with the highest concentration of frescoes anywhere in the world.Read More
Spread over a vast 80 hectares smack in the middle of Delhi lays its only archeological park at Mehrauli. Dotted with monuments built over 500 years, and their remains, the main attractions here are the Tomb of Jamali Kamali, an aquifer called Rajon-Ki-Baoli, one of the many water tanks built in this area, Balban’s tomb and the pleasure palaces of the Mughals.Read More
Mehtab Bagh, or the moonlight garden, was the eleventh and last of the Charbaghs built by the Mughals at Agra. A part of the Taj Mahal complex, the garden lies on the opposite bank of the Yamuna, in perfect symmetry to the Taj and is said to be the perfect place to watch the sun set over the Taj Mahal on cool moonlit evenings as an octagonal pool reflects the image of the mausoleum in its clear waters. Aurangzeb, the last Great Mughal, visited Mehtab Bagh after it was flooded in 1652, and wrote to Shah Jahan that he found it "completely inundated and having lost its charm” but that it would “soon regain its verdant character as the octagonal pool and pavilion around it are in excellent condition."Read More
Bhangarh is the ghost capital of India. Located just north-west of Jaipur, this city is said to be haunted and no one is allowed to enter before sunrise or stay beyond sunset. With a current population of just over 1500, Bhangarh was established in 1573 by its ruler Bhagwant Das for his son Madho Singh, brother of Man Singh, Akbar’s favourite Rajput general. In the twilight of the Mughal Empire, the town was annexed by Jai Singh II into Jaipur. However, the town slowly went into decline and has been entirely uninhabited since 1783 when it was struck by a famine. Visitors today can still see the ruins of the towns temples, its original streets lined with shops and other structures.Read More