Some Basic Facts About New Delhi

New Delhi, the capital of India, is part of the larger territory of Delhi and is sometimes referred to as Lutyen’s Delhi to signify one of the primary architects of the new city – Sir Edwin Lutyen. It is the seat of the Indian parliament, the administrative houses, the residence of the President of India with it’s adjoining buildings that form a part of the entire structure of governance in the capital. It is also the seat of the local government of Delhi which is headed by the Chief Minister.

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New Delhi and the larger area of Delhi has always occupied a place of importance in the history of the nation. Delhi was designated as the new capital of the Mughal Empire when Emperor Shah Jahan moved his seat here.

Kolkata, for a brief period, served as the capital of the undivided nation before it was pronounced at the Delhi Durbar that the capital was once again being shifted to Delhi.
But even before all that, Delhi was around under different names and always assumed a place of importance in the history of the nation. Like the legendary city of Troy, evidence has been found of no less than seven old settlements below the current city.

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Delhi has been occupied, lost, reoccupied and bitterly fought over for hundreds of years, till the independence of the country in 1947. Delhi is sometimes referred to as the National Capital Region which extends over to a much larger area and transgresses even some nearby towns. Today Delhi NCT (National Capital Territory) accommodates over 25 million people, making it the second most populous city in the country.

How To Reach New Delhi

Delhi, being the national capital, is well connected with the rest of the world. The Indira Gandhi International Airport is one of the busiest in the world with more than 10 million passengers travelling through. It is well connected by direct flights from major national capitals elsewhere in the globe. If you are flying in to any other airports in the country, simply take a domestic transfer. There is a popular saying in India, “All roads lead to Delhi.”

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Places To Stay In New Delhi

Delhi has a wide variety of accommodations available. The best places to stay would be close to the major business districts such as Connaught Place or Carol Bagh.

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The latter is ideal for street shopping and the first one is for branded items. There are choices galore. Typically a good bed & breakfast accommodation in one of the above locations will cost $100 to $125 a night. For something more decent try the Hyatt Regency costing around $200 a night. For luxury accommodations try the ITC Grand Bharat at Gurgaon around $450 a night or the Jaypee Vasant Continental at a little less than $1000 a night.

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There is plenty of cheap accommodation available in Delhi, but choose wisely.  For example Pahar Ganj is backpacker central but check out the accommodation available in the quieter side streets off the beaten track. It might be much the same price as on the main drag, but usually of much better quality.

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New Delhi – Places To See

Delhi, though is widely considered as a junction sitting right between the golden triangle (Agra-Delhi-Jaipur), the majestic Himalayas to the North (Uttaranchal-Ladakh-Himachal), the destinations towards central India (Khajuraho-Kanha-Varanasi) and numerous other destinations across the central lands of the country, it itself is steeped in history and architecture and warrants a stay of at least two nights.

Bahai Temple

Or the Lotus Temple as it has become known was completed in 1986 in the shape of a Lotus flower,  specifically chosen as it is a common symbol in Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and Islam.  

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The temple is set in lush gardens and looks stunning floodlit in the evening.  It is made from pure white marble.

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It’s interior is also spectacular.  For more info

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Humayun’s Tomb

Humayun was the second in a long line of Mughal emperors that ruled the sub-continent for several centuries. Humayun was the father of Akbar the Great. His rule was cut short when he lost his throne to Sher Shah Suri.

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He however regained control of the dominion 15 years later. The tomb was commissioned by Bega Begum and designed by the Persian architect Mirza Ghiyas. It is an imposing construction that used liberal quantities of red sandstone, Persian style gardens and embellishments.

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The Qutub Minar

Delhi has been continually occupied for more than a millennia. Evidence has been found that dates back to the 6th century BC. It even has a presence in Indian mythology as to be the site of the fabled city of Indraprastha from the Mahabharata. Thus there are innumerable places strewn all across the NCT that are steeped in history. The Qutub Minar is one such place.

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Built-in honor of a Sufi saint, by the then sultan of Delhi Qutb-ud-din Aibak, this magnificent red minar is the second highest in the country standing at 74 meters. Made out of red sandstone and white marble, the minar took three generations to complete.

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The complex also housed the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque which probably means that the minar was used for prayers. The foundation of an old fort has been found under the structure and it is believed that this is the legendary Lal Kot (or Red Citadel) which formed the capital of the Chauhan dynasty.

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The Red Fort

How can you miss this if you are in Delhi? Built by Emperor Shah Jahan as the center of his vast empire, the magnificent 17th century construction in red sandstone was what gave his capital of Shahajanabad the necessary muscle.

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A UNESCO world heritage site the fort has two distinct areas, one accessible to the general public and the other that is under the control of the army.

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It is from the ramparts of this fort that the Prime Minister of India addresses the nation on the 15th of August (Independence Day).

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Jama Masjid

Built during the tenure of Emperor Shah Jahan the majestic Jama Masjid is a sight to see.

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A magnificent design constructed out of red sandstone and white marble it was designed so that more than 25,000 devotees could sit and offer prayers. It is one of the largest mosques in the country.

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Khari Baoli

The largest and one of the oldest spice markets in Asia, Khari Baoli is slightly off the main tourist circuit. However, if you are going to be walking through the Old Delhi region this is one place you shouldn’t miss.

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The sight, the sounds, the intoxicating smell and the overall experience can be overwhelming, that is if you have the appetite for something off-beat.

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The market was established well over 500 years ago and though much of the older construction has been destroyed over the course of history, the traditions remain.

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Our Golden Triangle – New Delhi – by Rajib Mukherjee
Cover Image ‘Jama Masjid by Rajarshi MITRA and all Flickr images are licensed under CC BY 2.0

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This concludes our Golden Triangle – New Delhi. We hope you find this information useful. If you are looking for a specific piece of information, please do comment below as we may have just forgotten to mention it.

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Agra, the city of love, the home of the Taj Mahal, and part of our Golden Triangle Tour Agra India is not to be missed. Everything that has ever been conceived has probably been said or written about the Taj Mahal. The epitome of love, the passion of a grief-stricken emperor, the legacy of a nation to the whole world. It is said that experienced travelers, those who have already seen the Taj before, envy those who see it for the first time, because it is a feeling that they cannot savor again. The initial moments of your first encounter with this magnificent 17th century specimen of Muslim architecture in India will be more of disbelief and awe than anything else.

Golden Triangle Tour Agra India

Agra forms a part of the legendary golden triangle of India which also includes Jaipur and New Delhi. But Agra is not only about the Taj. It is also about the whole experience of being there in the moment and savoring every bit of it. In this second part of the three part series on India’s golden triangle, we come to visit Agra.

Golden Triangle Tour Agra India – Some basic facts

Agra was once the capital of the mighty Mughal Empire and remained so for several decades before Shahjanabad (modern Delhi) assumed that position briefly and then finally with the control of the nation passing to the British, New Delhi became the capital of the sub-continent. It was from Agra that Mughals controlled their vast empire which at the height of their power, stretched from Afghanistan to Bangladesh, had control over 1/4th of humanity and 1.2 million square miles of territory.

Golden Triangle Tour Agra India

The city of Agra, today, is part of the Agra constituency and is in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Agra experiences a semi-arid climate, it can be very humid in the summers and enjoys a mild winter. Rainfall is less than the national average. The best time to visit Agra, if you are not a photographer, is in the winter – from December to February. If you are a photographer try coming a little later so that you can enjoy clearer views of the Taj.

Golden Triangle Tour Agra India – Places to see

Golden Triangle Tour Agra India

The 17th century mausoleum of Shah Jahan’s favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal apart, there are a number other archeological places of interest. Having played an integral part during the Mughal period, the city bears witness to a number of architectural exploits some of which still awes visitors.

The Agra Fort

As the empire’s capital you would expect the presence of a highly fortified and intimidating defensive structure and the Agra Fort is just what you would be looking for. Also known as the Red Fort of Agra, because of the Red Sandstone used to build it, it was built on an older fortified structure. Agra is commonly associated with the Lodi dynasty that preceded the Mughals in North India, and of course the Mughals after them. But the fact is that it has a much older presence. The city was known for more than a 1000 years and flourished even before the arrival of the Mughals.

Golden Triangle Tour Agra India

The present fort was built by Emperor Akbar under whose patronage Agra became the seat of power. The red sandstone used was classic to the building style of Akbar while the later additions in white marble were in line to Shah Jahan’s love affair with that rock. It is this fort which housed the legendary peacock throne of Emperor Shah Jahan. It used to be adorned with precious jewels, chief among them being a certain Koh-I-Noor diamond. His seat of power and administration was also his final place of incarceration as the aging emperor was imprisoned for eight years by his own son, before finally breathing his last. An entire afternoon spent walking the alleyways, steps and courtyards of the fort is like taking a step back in time. Don’t forget to see the Taj Mahal from the parapets of the fort in late afternoon light.

Sikandra

Golden Triangle Tour Agra India

The mortal remains of Akbar the great, widely considered the greatest of all Mughal rulers, rests at Sikandra. It is a pity, not too many visitors actually come here. But the ones who do experience a stunning example of Mughal architecture. Commissioned by Akbar himself during his lifetime, in keeping with the traditions, the structure is surrounded by acres of parks, a paved walkthrough leading up to the main mausoleum. The south gate is the largest and most ornamental and the usual point of entry to the complex. This gate is adorned with four minarets in white marble which are reminiscent of the minarets at the Taj Mahal. As a matter of fact local guides vouch that the idea for the Taj’s minarets had been taken from Akbar’s tomb.

Golden Triangle Tour Agra India – How to reach

Agra is well connected with the rest of the nation. Though the only problem is direct flights to and from connecting major cities. The newly constructed Yamuna Expressway is a six-lane access-controlled highway that connects New Delhi with Agra (a distance of 200Km) in just under 2.5 hours. If you prefer the relative comfort of train travel then the Bhopal Shatabdi leaves NDLS at 06:00 hrs and reaches Agra Cant (a distance of 195 KM) in 2 hrs. It gives you enough time to see the Taj Mahal the same day and also explore the Agra Fort later in the afternoon, before retiring for the night at Agra. A minimum of one night stay in Agra is recommended.

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Golden Triangle Tour Agra India – Places to stay

Resplendent with such magnificent architectural examples from the Mughal period, it is no wonder that Agra is the most visited tourist destination in India both by local and foreign visitors. As such the city offers accommodation for all budgets. Right from the Oberoi Amarvilas (US$450 a night) to a homestay which you can book for less than US$30 a night.

Golden Triangle Tour Agra India
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For a more intimate look at day to day life in Agra, check out the video below.

The Golden Triangle Tour Agra India – By Rajib Mukherjee

Golden Triangle Tour Agra India
You are sure to run into a few of these little guys along the way – via

This concludes our Golden Triangle Tour Agra India. We hope you find this information useful. If you are looking for a specific piece of information, please do comment below as we may have just forgotten to mention it.

Golden Triangle Tour Agra India
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Explore the Golden Triangle – Jaipur

The first time I heard about Jaipur was when I was like 7 or 8. I was watching Oscar winning director Satyajit Ray’s the ‘Golden Fort’ and in it, one of the main protagonists referred to a Fort in Jaipur – the Nahargarh Fort. It’s that moment I came to be familiar with the name Jaipur and of course about its magnificent Rajput Forts. Three decades later I am still wide-eyed about the city’s many architectural specimens and the fantastic stories of her kings and queens.

Some basic facts of Jaipur

Jaipur
Amber Fort

But Jaipur, part of the famed golden triangle of India, isn’t some isolated beacon in the middle of a vast desert. The erstwhile princely states of Udaipur, Mewar, Jaisalmer and Jodhpur are all littered with powerful examples of architecture, finest collection of art and a legacy that still fills the hearts and minds of the people who live there. These were the lands of some of the mightiest kings and queens of India. The land brims with stories of their valiant struggle against a then emerging power, the Mughals and their ultimate surrender to the colonial rule in the sub-continent.

Jaipur, however, deserves a special mention. Widely recognized as the Pink city, Jaipur is the home of the Kachwaha clan of Rajputs. King Sawai Jai Singh II was deeply intrigued with mathematics and the science of structural designing. His ambition to build a stronger and more defendable city / capital led to a design that resulted in the construction of the first planned city of India. Jaipur is a remarkable city in its own rights.

Jaipur places to see

Jaipur, today, is a congregation of the old and the modern. Increasing population and the growing demands of urbanization has meant that the new city has outgrew the old design. Thus the original planned city housing the royal residence, the old market in Jaipur and some of the popular architectural attractions now form the core of the city. The modern city encircles that core area and extends beyond.

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Within the massive fortified walls of the old city lies such tourist attractions as the Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) and the City Palace (residence of the erstwhile ruling family of Jaipur), which has an excellent museum. The Hawa Mahal is an intricate design that served as a looking balcony for the queens and womenfolk of the palace. They peeped through one of the 953 honeycomb styled windows and observed the commoners, the festivities and processions that went past. The Hawa Mahal, designed out of red and pink sandstone is situated at the farthest corner of the royal palace and had connections leading to the women’s chambers.

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Another notable attraction of the city is the magnificent Jal Mahal, a marvel of 18th century structural design and a brainchild of the then king of Jaipur Sawai Madho Singh I. The palace served as a royal retreat for the ruling family, though the original idea of the water reservoir was to hold water for the dry months during which it served the purpose of irrigation.

Jaipur

The Amber fort is probably the best known of all the structural attractions of the city. The Amber Fort (the first picture above) or popularly known as Amer Fort in local dialect is an imposing structure sitting high on a hill that overlooks the old city and an adjacent Lake (the Maota Lake). The Amber Fort is dominated by the Jaigarh Fort which towers above and is built on the Aravalli hills. The two forts served as a formidable defense for the city and had underground passages that connected the two. The best way to reach the amber fort is on an elephant in typical Jaipur tradition.

How to reach Jaipur

Jaipur is well connected with major cities in Rajasthan as well as the Indian capital which is 260 KM away via an excellent road network. It takes about 6-7 hours depending on the traffic to reach Jaipur by road from New Delhi. By air it is a short hop from New Delhi and there are a large number of flights from the national capital as well as from other major metros of the country. By far the flight route is more comfortable, but if you want to see rural Rajasthan then you’ve got to take the cab. For less than $200 you can get a cab from New Delhi, which will take you through all the sights in Jaipur and then drop you back to New Delhi as a part of the Delhi Jaipur golden triangle tour. Trains can get a bit noisy and jam-packed, especially if you are traveling during the season, which is November to February.

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Places to stay in Jaipur

Jaipur has a good mix of luxury, family and budget bread & breakfast type accommodations. For as low as $20 a night to more than $1500+ a night the choices are simply vast. If you want a more authentic Rajput style of accommodation, then look for a higher budget. For a homely accommodation look for one of the many homestay accommodations around Bani Park.

The golden triangle – Jaipur – By Rajib Mukherjee

Thus concludes our Golden Triangle – Jaipur. We hope you find this information useful. If you are looking for a specific piece of information, please do comment below as we may have just forgotten to mention it.

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