There is an abundance of gorgeous and breathtaking sights in India. As we travelled the “golden triangle” from Delhi to Agra to Jaipur and back we had the chance to visit a whole host of amazing locations. The architecture is beautiful and as you travel you start to learn about the slight differences in style, especially between the traits of Muslim versus Hindu architecture depending on the benefactor of the time.
We were travelling with a quite large tour group, so our visitation times at various sights was always pre-set and we only had so long to explore. I never felt too overwhelmed by the crowds at any one location, but you can definitely be strategic in when you arrive at certain places. Plus I would have loved to have gotten out earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon as the midday sun during April was absolutely exhausting!
Our experience only just scratched the surface of all there is to offer in India, and it’s definitely still on my list as a location to travel to; there is still so much more to see and experience beyond these locations. But starting off in the Golden Triangle gave us a great taste of India and has left us wanting more!
Delhi – Jama Masjid
Jama Masjid in Delhi is India’s largest mosque and can accommodate around 25,000 worshippers at its fullest. The mosque was built between 1644 and 1656 by emperor Shah Jahan, the same man who had the Red Fort in Delhi and the Taj Mahal in Agra constructed.
Tourists can enter the mosque but must remove their shoes beforehand and are given a robe to cover up as needed.
Agra – Itmad-ud-Daula – “Baby Taj Mahal”
The tomb of Itmad-ud-Daula is often referred to as a jewelry box, or called the Baby Taj Mahal, and some consider it a draft version of the iconic structure. It was built between 1622 and 1628 by Nur Jahan for her father, who was also the grandfather to the wife of emperor Shah Jahan. The mausoleum is made from white marble inset with semi-precious stones like onyx, topaz, and lapis.
It was a beautiful and serene location to visit, with surprisingly few other tourists but plenty of precocious monkeys running around! You must take off your shoes to explore the mausoleum itself, which was a bit of a hazard as the red stone was scorching hot from the sun! Once you enter the structure, however, the cool floors will sooth your feet and give you a break from the unrelenting Indian sun.
Agra – Agra Fort
Before the seat of the Mughal dynasty moved to Delhi in 1638, Agra and the Agra Fort was the ruling emperor’s main residence. The fort itself is like a walled city and changed hands many times during its history, under going a full 8-year renovation until 1573 by Emperor Akbar. Depending on the ruler at the time, different features and styles were added to the fort. For example, Shah Jahan (the grandson of Akbar) who constructed the Taj Mahal, favoured white marble and so destroyed some of the buildings to construct his own in his preferred style.
Agra – Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal must be the iconic structure of India for most foreigners, and seeing it in reality it’s not hard to understand why! Built by Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his favourite wife Mumtaz Mahal, its name means “Crown of the Palace”; a fitting name for the breathtaking structure.
We visited in the late afternoon as dusk was beginning to approach. It was definitely the most crowded sight we would visit, but even still you could move about as you wanted and it never felt like a hassle having so many other tourists around. We spent most of our time wandering the grounds and the perimeter of the Taj Mahal itself, but apparently if you go a bit more off the beaten path there are many lesser known locations for amazing photo opportunities, and maybe more peace and quiet to just bask in the beauty of this location! This is definitely a spot to take your time and enjoy it slowly.
Agra – Sikandra Fort
Sikandra Fort, located just outside Agra, is the home of Akbar’s tomb and was one of my favourite spots that we visited. The grounds were so tranquil, and when we arrived first thing in the morning there was hardly anyone else about. You walk through the gates onto the grounds and past lush green fields dotted with antelope and peacocks on your way towards the tomb. It was such a beautiful setting and I really enjoyed exploring the intricate architecture of the tomb as well as the gardens surrounding it.