The quintessential Indian-ness cannot be described in words.

Visiting this dizzying , creative burst of culture allows one to appreciate the raw beauty of this country. It is said this is a land of happiness, love, freedom that all go hand in hand – a paradox. A country filled with vibrant colours, abundant with various religions that all flourish here from temples, Mosques, churches, palaces , forts and many more architectural varieties that marks the epitome of India’s heritage, this was an experience like no other.

The country has about 60 languages, 29 states and a movie industry that is ranked as having the largest ticket sales and number or releases in a year. To explore the land of India from one end to the other with its biodiversity and geo diversity could easily take a life time.

So we decided to embark on our own tour that would cover most of the Golden Triangle. Our first city was Delhi, the unprecedented migraine inducing sounds of cars that never stop hooting crept into our heads and never left. Overcrowded streets, bursting at the seems with homeless people flanked by luxury hotels, cows that lay in the middle of the road causing traffic jams, extreme heat , people who can squat when they want to rest instead of sitting, where just some of the memorable moments that made Delhi – Delhi.

Gardens of Select Citywalk mall

Delirious Delhi

Stay at The Claridges Hotel. One of the best luxury 5 star hotels in New Delhi, this mid 20th century retreat offers old world service , sophisticated dining and a location that makes it favourable.
Madame Tussaud’s where a person gets to rub shoulders with the stars. The world renowned wax museum is located in Regal Theatre. One can see American celebrities as well as Indian
Have Henna done at the market outside Hanuman Mandir temple. This temple is dedicated to the monkey god. The henna designer didn’t speak english but she was skilled at her job.
There are approximately 10 shops outside Hanuman Mandir that showcase a plethora of colourful bangles. Made of 3 base materials, glass , metal & lac they are styled in many ways. Avoid Tuesdays, this is the busiest day at the temple, carry cash & remember to bargain.
Street food , this really captures the essence of Delhi. The tempting fragrances and sheer variety will make your mouth water and eyes pop out as you try and decide which delicacy to try.
Pop into Starbucks located in the posh Connaught Place constructed in the 1930’s for some comfort coffee in a cozy setup. Bustling with people the neighbour cafe brand first opened its doors in 2013
Stay at The Metropolitan and Spa Hotel located in the heart of the business and commercial hub. This 5 star deluxe hotel offered one of the best breakfast spreads i had while travelling around.
Eat at Taco Bell if you enjoy global chain food. Bright coloured graffiti walls adds to the atmosphere of a daring , urban vibe that dishes up tasty Mexican inspired foods.
Take a night visit at Gurudwara Bangla Sahib that is open 24 hours. It is one of the most prominent Sikh houses of worship in Delhi and is known for the pool inside the complex. First built in1664 as a bungalow, rebuilt in 1783 then the current structure was mostly built post 1947.
Catch the Gatiman Express, India’s first semi-high speed train that runs between Delhi and Jhansi. Currently the fastest train in India it departs Delhi around 08:10am and arrives in Agra at 9:50am. First class includes breakfast and air con.

Henna hands

Agra- City of the emperors

Take an Uber from the Train station. Its the easiest and least stressful way. As one exits the station there is a barricade of sorts where policeman armed with sticks keep taxi drivers under control. If a person walks through this imaginary line of separation be prepared for the influx of taxi drivers who will harass you. A little further out is where all the tuk – tuks line up.
Stay at The Taj Hotel and Convention Centre. The 5 star hotels lies a short walk away from the Eastern Gate of the Taj Mahal. The rooftop infinity pool with breathtaking views will rejuvenate a guest after a hot day out exploring the town.
Shopping at the bazaar outside the Taj Mahal offers everything from hand crafted leather shoes, bright parasols which come in handy when taking photos at the Taj Mahal to hand carved elephants and more. Remember to bargain, if you want a price that suites your pocket.
Go for a ride on a scooter with a local. Its a hair raising experience as the driver navigates between all sorts of vehicles on dusty roads. The air and noise population is indescribable, with the wind blowing through your hair and local people staring with jaws gapping you cant help but have a silent giggle.
Eat at Sheroes Hangout this is a cafe managed by brave acid attack survivors. The women working here are happy to share their stories after having received a debilitating blow to their appearance. Food is served with a flavour of love so the menu has no pricing, patrons pay what they feel is suitable.
Wander around Agra Fort, this historical building was the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal Dynasty until 1638. It became a UNESCO World heritage site in 1983. Better described as a walled city, its recommend to visit here first before the Taj Mahal.
Feed the Indian palm squirrels at the fort. Handlers will sell you some food to encourage the squirrels to sit on your hand and hastily nibble away . They have become very tame & enjoy the limelight.
Be at the Taj Mahal at 5am for the beautiful sunrise. Built by Emperor Shah Jahan in 1632 out of marble for his beloved queen almost 4 centuries ago, bestowing ever lasting fame on the town of Agra. Look out for the bench that Princess Diana sat on when she visited in February 1992.
Take the train from Agra. Probably not one of our best moments as we waited for our train that was delayed for over 3 hours, surround by people lying all over the floors swatting at the constant nuisance of flies buzzing around their heads and watching a pick pocketer operate in broad daylight. However when 4 “ queens “ gracefully glided past us with broad smiles in their bright saris they added immediate warmth to crazy environment.

Taj Mahal

Ranthambhore ( Sawai Madhopur )

Arrive at Sawai Madhopur station , the gateway to the national park. Here the walls have murals painted in black and white of tigers by a team of artists from Ranthambore School of Arts in 2015, reminding you that you have arrived in the land of tigers
Stay at Raj Palace resort with lush gardens and a big pool . As we enjoyed our evening swim the sound of croaking frogs filled the air. We even managed to hold one or two of them. Palace style accommodation appears to be the norm of this town, however service doesn’t always match the structure.
Stay at the 5 star Anuraga Palace hotel ,one of the most exquisite Palace resorts in the area, definitely a winner for us. With the calming music that plays throughout the building, it feels like time stands still. Decorated in the pristine white architectural style of a traditional Rajasthani haveli, the sprawling hotel over looks verdant green gardens .
Take a taxi to Ranthambhore fort, its cheap and the easiest way to get to see the evocative ruins of a 1000 year old hill fort that lies within the popular tiger reserve. This colossal citadel was founded in 944. Early morning we enjoyed a climb of about 200 steps up to the temples with the religious pilgrims.The majestic fort is set dramatically on a sheer cliff and surrounded by a verdant forest dotted with decaying pavilions, palaces, lakes and ponds.
Look out for the one humped camels on the road they are plentiful here. They are native to Rajasthan and Gujarat where they are best suited to a dry desert climate. India’s camel culture is globally unique, its taboo to slaughter or use camels for meat, sell their milk, sell their wool, or sell any female camels. Tradition only allowed male camels to be sold once a year at a fair, however male working camels have dwindled so camel numbers are decreasing rapidly in the country.
Tiger spotting at Ranthambhore Tiger reserve.It is a former royal hunting ground and home to tigers, leopards and marsh crocodiles. Visitors can only enter this beautiful landscape by participating in a guided drive, which is informative. There is no guarantee you will see tigers but spotting an indistinctive paw print pressed into the dirt is just as exciting.
Photograph the vibrant colours and local people they give new meaning to the word “ colourful “

Ranthambore National Park

Jaipur ( The Pink City )

Share a car trip with new found friends, this is the best road trip you can do. We realised that the British couple we met at a hotel in Ranthambhore we had also seen at our hotel in Agra . So after chatting on the tiger tour we drove with them to Jaipur. Its amazing how small the world really is.
Stay at the 4 star Nirbana Heritage Hotel and Spa. Situated in the heart of the pink city. Retaining its elaborate splendour , extravagantly decorated with hand-carved stones and painting. Aesthetically pleasing in public areas, rooms were bland & smaller than other hotels we stayed in.
Drive through the pink city, one of India’s architectural wonders. Largely built in the 1700s a romantic dusty pink hue defined the city since 1876 after it was painted pink to welcome Queen Victoria’d husband , Prince Albert. The Hawa Mahal palace made with red and pink sandstone is an extraordinary, delicately honeycombed hive that rises a dizzying 5 storeys. The 365 windows allowed royal women to observe street life without appearing in public.
Walk around Amer Fort . This nostalgic fort is one of the most well-known and most – visited forts in India. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2013.The Diwan-e-Khas ( Hall of private audiences ) is the most exquisite part, walls are covered in intricate mirror work using glass imported from Belgium.
Souvenir shopping as you exist the fort, many people says its expensive but we found we were not pressurised as much as the other places, could bargain and received great service. We were also able to send some postcards from the shop that sold stamps.
Eat at the stylish 1135 AD restaurant for an opulent regal ambiance. Serving authentic, tasty Indian cuisine on candles tables. We toured the private dinning room upstairs with its silver backed chairs under chandeliers and a ceiling embellished with mirror fragments
Get some ice cream at Baskin Robbins because in the persistent heat you can never have enough. However the local frozen treat of milk, crushed almonds and cashews, sugar and cinnamon that are frozen in metal cylinders and look like little rockets are addictive.
Take a train back to Delhi when all the fun is over or you have run out of time to explore this beautiful city

Amer Fort – Jaipur

Delirious Delhi

Birds nests of wires around the city is something I would stop and look at continuously. Walking in narrow streets with large tangled nests above me, I wondered how electricians even knew where to begin
Ride in a tuk – tuk ( auto rickshaw ), they are a common means of transport. Make sure you confirm the price before getting inside. The name tuk – tuk comes from its engine sound which is designed in a scooter style, the maximum speed is 50km to 60km. A fun and cost effective way to get around
Visit Sacred Heart Cathedral, one of the oldest church buildings in New Delhi. It opened in 1930 and has been visited by Pope John Paul II twice, once on 1 February 1986 and a second time on 6 November 1999
Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib near Parliament House was built in 1783 and took 12 years to complete. Its located at the exact spot where Dhan Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur’s headless body was cremated after the Mughal executioner beheaded the 9th Guru of the Sikhs on 11 November 1675.
Take an Uber to the Saket District to shop at Select Citywalk mall. The vibrant , upscale shopping centre has eye catching decor, beautiful gardens with fountains, international brand – name stores and a food court. Further down the road in another complex we discovered the Hard Rock Cafe, a bit of a disappointment we were glad we had experienced the mall.
Visit ISKCON temple, a well known Lord Krishna Temple.
Shri Lakshmi Narain Temple built in 1938 , it took 6 years to complete and was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi, but Mahatama Gandhi inaugurated with the condition that the Delhi Laxmi Narain Temple should allow people from all castes, especially untouchables.
Great street shopping in Pahar Ganj, the budget tourist district. Main Bazaar is an enclave full of budget guest houses, small hotels, tiny shops selling everything from clothes to jewellery to beautiful saris. There is a mix of bakeries, rooftop restaurants and classic street food.
Stay at the Treebo Yes Please hotel close to the station. A modern 2 star hotel that promises quality and comfort, its only 14km away from the International airport. We found it clean and refreshing.
Eat at Cafe Festa, a vegetarian restaurant. They have a diverse menu catering for types of clientele. Well priced , they offer a comfortable seating area with air con. All their meals are prepared freshly.
Last night in Delhi stay at the Radisson Blu hotel new Delhi Dwarka . The outdoor pool was the best place to experience a magnificent sunset in the city that never sleeps. This tranquil location takes one away from the bustling city.

Gita Mandir Mathura in New Delhi

There is so much to see in India that one holiday cannot possibly cover it all. Little things that stuck out for us were the beautiful flower displays in the hotels, so much effort was put into these daily arrangements.
We also learnt quickly don’t check out until you are finished using the WIFI, as soon as your key card is handed in, you are removed from the system and the Wifi cuts out. This can be tricky if you are still arranging transport.
Uber everywhere !!! it is incredibly cheap and they have air con in the cars, something you quickly realise is a necessity.
Cash payments are the easiest method, hotels will even tell you that their card machines are not working, so to avoid the hassle carry enough cash at all times.
Always book a hotel with a swimming pool, its the perfect way to end a busy day and cool down of course.
Delhi Belly is real, you can try your best to avoid it but you just cant hide from it.

This crowded and chaotic county is a land of every form of contrast – a clash of colour and a cacophony of sounds . Once you have traveled here once you will want to return time and time again.