The Golden Triangle

India’s top attractions await

By: Judy Koutsky

The Jacuzzi at the Hilton Los Cabos overlooks the ocean.
Delhi’s Qutab Minar is
especially beautiful at sunset.
One of the most visited regions in India is the famed Golden Triangle consisting of the cities of Jaipur, Agra and Delhi. India can be an overwhelming destination, so it’s best to book a tour through an operator. One operator to try is Texas-based Ker & Downey (K&D). Once in India, K&D handles all arrangements for a Golden Triangle tour, including transport, guides, a concierge-style tour leader, hotel accommodations, dining and sightseeing arrangements.

K&D, however, also allows for free time on their tours, so travelers can experience India on their own. I found the locals extremely friendly and always willing to help a lost traveler. I had a hard time navigating the streets, but always found my way back to the hotel after asking for directions. I also talked to many Indians about their families and how quickly their lives are changing due to major shifts in industry and technology.

One of the best ways to get a real insider’s view of India is by hitting the road. Car rides allow a glimpse of Indian life: It’s not uncommon to see camels, elephants, cows and vehicles share the road. Women, dressed in their brightly colored saris, look majestic against the backdrop of village life. I made our driver stop often to get photos of elephants and cows crossing the road.

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Agra is home to one of the Seven Wonders
of the World, the Taj Mahal.
Historic and Beautiful
A trip to the Golden Triangle often begins and ends in Delhi. (British Airways flies from the U.S. to Delhi via London.) Delhi is a city of contrasts, embracing the modern while still keeping a foot firmly in its past (cows and rickshaws can be seen in the streets). English is spoken everywhere and the food is truly amazing. The pulse of Delhi is not unlike New York or Paris; it’s always alive and happening. Late at night or early in the morning, there are throngs of people eating, drinking, working and socializing. In Delhi, two excellent hotel options include the Taj Mahal Hotel New Delhi and the Imperial.

The Taj Mahal Hotel New Delhi offers amazing views of the India Gate, a war memorial and symbol of freedom, and one of Delhi’s top attractions. The hotel also has an excellent spa that should not be missed. This hotel is perfect for those looking for a heritage hotel, steeped in history.

For those looking for a more modern stay, the Imperial is a great choice. Make sure to tell clients to eat at the Spice Route, voted one of the top 10 restaurants in the world by Conde Nast Traveler.

In Delhi, a good tour combines the top sights of a city with some leisure time to soak up the atmosphere. I visited the Qutab Minar, one of Delhi’s oldest monuments, dating back to the 1190s. I recommend clients visit this site at sunset when the colors are really beautiful.

Also, visitors should spend time walking around, getting coffee at a local cafe or visiting one of the city’s beautiful parks. People-watching, I always find, is the best way to get to know a city’s real flavor. Women could be seen in saris or dressed in modern garb, men in jeans or suits, and there are children everywhere a testament to the strong family unit in India.

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The locals are very friendly in places
such as Jaipur.
From Delhi, many guests will transfer to Jaipur and one of the favorite regions for many travelers to India. I loved Jaipur, the “Pink City,” so named for the hue of its buildings. Shopping here is arguably the best in India. I found a great selection of clothes, spices and a variety of hand-made goods. For anyone interested in bringing back authentic gifts, Jaipur is the place to explore.

The luxury Oberoi Rajvilas, in Jaipur, was built less than five years ago, and it shares the Oberoi properties’ tendency toward beauty and top-notch service. In fact, as much as I enjoyed exploring Jaipur, I also spent a full day at the hotel, taking in their spa and simply relaxing.

Another day, I visited the Naila Fort a beautiful sight well worth the time. Make sure to tell your clients to arrive early and take an elephant ride up to the fort. Sure, it’s a bit touristy, but how often can one enjoy an elephant ride in an ancient city?

My next stop was Agra, which is famous for mainly one thing one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the glorious Taj Mahal.

Built by Emperor Shah Jehan as a tribute to his favorite wife, Mumatz Mahal, this is the ultimate tribute to love ever transcribed into architecture. This monument, completed in 1653, took almost 22 years and 20,000 workers to build.

To be honest, I didn’t think the Taj could measure up to the hype. I find in travel that the lesser-known things are the ones that usually deliver the ultimate “wow” factor; however, the Taj is truly magnificent. I recommend viewing it at sunrise and sunset, when the marble changes from pink to pure white. Also be sure to tell clients to leave the tour group and wander solo around the grounds to take in the beauty. Many local Indian families also visit the Taj, so it’s also a great way to enjoy the ambience.

In Agra, a good option is the Oberoi Amarvilas. Upon arrival, guests are greeted by traditionally dressed Indian women who perform an aarti ritual, bestowing a blessing on the guests. For those seeking a romantic setting, dine under the stars at the poolside pavilion; guests design their own three- or five- course meals and eat to the sounds of the nearby waterfall and melodies of classical Indian music. Another possibility is a special candle-lit dinner on the guests’ own balcony, where they can watch the sun set over the Taj Mahal as they dine.

India is truly a magical place and a Golden Triangle visit will not soon be forgotten.

CONTACT

British Airways
800-247-9297
www.ba.com

India Tourism
800-953-9399
www.incredibleindia.org

Ker & Downey
800-423-4236
www.kerdowney.com
Commission: 10 percent

WHERE TO STAY

The Imperial
800-323-7500
www.theimperialindia.com
Commission: 10 percent

Oberoi Hotels
800-562-3764
www.oberoihotels.com
Commission: 10 percent

Taj Hotels
866-969-1825
www.tajhotels.com
Commission: 10 percent

RESTAURANTS

Olives , located in New Delhi, can be found at Haveli 6-8, One Style Mile, Kalka Dass Marg.
Phone: 00 91 11 2664 2552

Bukhara, located at the Maurya Sheraton in New Delhi, can be found at Sardal Patel Marg, Diplomatic Enclave.
Phone 00 91 11 2611 223.

Niro’s, in Jaipur, is on Mirza Ismail Road and the phone is
00 91 14 1237 4493.
They also have a website: www.nirosindia.com

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