India's Golden Triangle, the perfect first-time India tour
Many consider Rajasthan to be the most interesting part of India. Certainly, some of India's most important places are within this "Golden Triangle" between Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, the Taj Mahal, Fahtepur Sikri, the Ambur Fort, and centuries of historic grandeur. If you have more time you can add nights in an ancient fortress converted to a comfortable hotel, a nature preserve best known for its tiger population, Udaipur, the City of Lakes, or Khajuraho and Varanasi.
Day One: India's Most Visited Places
Arrive in Delhi. We meet you on arrival and see you to your hotel. Most international flights arrive late at night. If your flight arrives at a different time we will adjust the itinerary to accommodate you.
Day Two: The Best of Both Delhis
Today you see Delhi, both old and new.New Delhi was established in 1911 by King George V who felt Calcutta was too remote and wanted a new capital for the Indian Empire. You will see the impressive India Gate, with its eternal flame, the Presidential Palace and Parliament House, then stop to visit Qtab Minar, a 200-foot high minaret, and Humayun's Tomb, the first of the great Mughal Tomb complexes.
Later, you continue to Old Delhi, and drive past Raj Ghat, the monument to Mahatma Gandhi erected on the site of his funeral pyre and an important place of pilgrimage for People from all over the world. In Old Delhi see the Jama Masjid Mosque, built by the Emperor Shah Jahan, then continue past the bustling market place of Chandni Chowk, where silver merchants ply their trade.
Day Three: Drive to Jaipur
Delhi to Jaipur. Travel by road for Jaipur, about 260 kilometers and five hours away. On arrival, check into your hotel. In the afternoon, a sightseeing tour of Jaipur city visits the astonishing Mughal Observatory, equipped with mortar instruments of remarkable size, which for sheer accuracy are difficult to beat even today. Also visit the Maharaja's City Palace, the former royal residence and now a museum housing a vast amount of artifacts. Stop by at the beautiful Hawa Mahal (the Palace of Winds), a beautifully decorated facade of 953 windows in flushed pink.
Day Four: Awesome Ambur Fort
Jaipur, the Center of India's Golden Triangle. Early this morning you visit the Amber Fort, which for six centuries was the ancient capital of the state of Rajasthan. Travel to the top of the hill on which the fort is situated and visit the Jagmandir & the Sheesh Mahal (pavilion of mirrors) which reflects a single candle flame in a thousand flickering lights. We recommend that you spend the better part of the day here since the fort is immense and there is quite a lot to see. There is a terrific restaurant within the fort and we would be happy to reserve a table for you in advance.
Jaipur is the most colorful and vibrant city in India, so you might want to set aside some time for shopping late in the day. We recommend an evening walk down the main street of Jaipur, where shops on both sides are popular with the locals. Better still, visit the M. I. Road for a tall glass of Lassi or sweet buttermilk, with thick layers of cream! Since Jaipur was a major stop on the Silk Route for centuries, it is one of India's most colorful places for shopping. In particular, this is world center for colored gem stones, but you will also find beautiful carpets and handicraft items.
India's Golden Triangle includes India's three "must see" destinations--Delhi, Jaipur and Agra. This is the perfect program for first-time visitors to India. You can choose from many other optional destinations to turn this into your own Grand Tour of one of the world's most spectacular and colorful countries. Begin any day you like since our India's Golden Triangle tour uses a private car, driver and guide.
Day Five: Nobody's Home in Fahtepur Sikri
Jaipur to Agra. Depart this morning for Agra, approximately five hours drive from Jaipur. Enroute you visit Fatehpur Sikri, perched atop a rocky ridge, 37 km west of Agra. Fatehpur Sikri came into being four centuries ago when the young Emperor Akbar created the first planned city in Indo-Islamic architecture.
Unfortunately, the city had to be later abandoned due to the lack of water. Its fortifications, massive gateway and palaces remain in a wonderful state of preservation and include the Jamma Masjid, Panch Mahal & The Salim Chisti's Tomb, set like a jewel in a courtyard of pink sandstone and enclosed by delicately carved marble screens. Proceed to Agra and, on arrival, check into your hotel.
Day Six: The Monumental Taj Mahal
Early this morning (unless it's Friday) you visit the Taj Mahal, a breathtaking sight as you see its dome change colors as the sun ascends the horizon, from flushed pink to yellow white to blazing orange. A fitting tribute to love and romance as the monument was built as a tribute to the queen of Emperor Shah Jehan and today it is one of the wonders of the world.
The legendary monument to love is an architectural marvel perfectly proportioned and fashioned in white marble. It stands testimony to the skill of craftsmen brought in from Persia, Turkey, France and Italy and to the 20,000 workers who toiled for 17 years in its construction. The Taj has aptly been compared to "a drop of tear on the face of the universe," by the Indian Nobel Laureate Tagore.
This afternoon's itinerary also includes The Agra Fort where you see its palaces and the Hall of Public and Private Audience. From here, you get to see the Taj Mahal, in the distant - with the foreground of the River Yamuna. Legend has that during the period of Emperor Shah Jehan's imprisonment, he would see the Taj Mahal as a reflection in a mirror placed next to his bed. We will rearrange the order of places visited if Day Six falls on a Friday, when the Taj is closed to visitors.
In the afternoon you return to Delhi, where you arrive in time for your onward flight, or continue on your epic India adventure with a visit to Surajgarhor Ranthambore National Parkto have a look at their "friendly" tigers. We can also reverse this itinerary (by sending you to Agra before Jaipur), which would allow you to continue to Khajuraho and Varnasi.