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My Whirlwind Tour of India’s Golden Triangle and the Highlights of Rajasthan

This month, we’ll be introducing you to Tailor Made India trips, born from our vast knowledge of India itself and the understanding that, while an adventure here is without a doubt one of the best travel experiences you could ever wish to have, putting a trip together, can be hard work and pretty confusing.

That’s why we’ve spent that past few months training 3 of our best Travel Experts in all things India. It’s safe to say, Alyce, Thomas and Nick were all completely India obsessed before and are now ready for the challenge of helping you create a specific and completely personal trip to India that ticks every single one of your boxes.

This week on the blog, Alyce is here to share the experience of one of her trips there, and explain why she has fallen completely under it’s spell.

Alyce (L) at the Amber Fort, Jaipur.

Alyce Shares her Story of her Incredible Indian Adventure.

India has always been high on my list of destinations to visit because of how amazingly diverse the country is, from the bustling cities to the relaxing beaches, from mountain peaks to backwaters, there is just so much to experience! So when I found out that STA were taking me to there as part of my training to become an India specialist, I was overwhelmed!

I had heard so much about India from friends that had travelled, but everyone has such different experiences depending where they visit that I wasn’t sure what to expect, but one thing is for sure, it didn’t disappoint! Before I knew it, I was on the plane to Delhi, I knew the following week in Northern India would bring me some amazing experiences and I couldn’t wait.

We had a private tour arranged for us, so our guide, Atul, was at Delhi airport to greet us off the plane and escort us to our private car (our chariot for the next week). If you have never been to Northern India before, the roads are an experience in themselves. There are lanes marked on the road, though they are used more for their aesthetic appeal rather than functionality. The roads are crazy, but they work! Everyone driving knows to look out for every other car and use your horn liberally, always with the nicest of intentions behind it of course. Those first few moments seem to set the tone for Delhi, it’s organised chaos.

Normally, I would recommend at least one full day of site seeing in Delhi so that you can see both New and Old Delhi. As we had a very packed itinerary our sightseeing was focused on New Delhi only, with the Qutb Minar being a high point. There is a mosque that has been built from dismantled Hindu temples that has stunning detail throughout and makes for some great photos! Our day finished with an amazing feast of curry, daal and naan, washed down with a Kingfisher beer or two. We finished our first day in Delhi very satisfied and moving a little slower than at the start.

The following morning we were off to Agra for a visit to the majestic Taj Mahal. I’ve seen plenty of photo’s before, however as with most big sites in the world, photo’s just don’t quite do it justice – it’s beautiful! The colours of the building change throughout the day because of the marble, so you will get a different view no matter what time you are there.

We had a local guide with us to explain the romantic history behind this remarkable building, and to help us out with little tips along the way, such as, when you are in the ground of the Taj, go off the main path and into the gardens off to the side, you’ll get much better photo’s and they won’t have too many people in them. We were in Agra in time for a major Hindu holiday, so it was rather busy, however, you will have smaller crowds if you get up early and go for a sunrise viewing.

The magestic Taj Mahal, Agra.

It was time for a change of pace next as we drove across state to Ranthambore National Park. The park is famous as a tiger reserve, however it’s also home to crocodiles, wild boar, spotted deer, peacocks, monkeys, leopards and a lot more animals. After a drive around the jungle, coming home to a heritage hotel is a bit of a treat, very nice and relaxing.

Train travel in India is such an iconic experience and a definite must do. We had a brief, but nice, train ride from Ranthambore to Jaipur. It was air-conditioned with nice seats, there was even a lovely man walking up and down the aisles selling delicious Chai tea. On my next journey to India I’d really like to do an overnight journey, however, this was still a great way to see a lot of scenery and travel in comfort.

Jaipur often gets a little bit of reputation for itself as being too busy and crowded, but it was one of my favourite cities that I visited in India. The famous Amber Fort is an absolute must see, the design and history behind it blew my mind. We also had the best local guide that I’ve ever had sightseeing, really knowledgeable and passionate which really made the experience. Jaipur is also famous for shopping – but be prepared to haggle, the store owners are expecting it so bump up the price! Watching Rajasthani dancers over dinner was another great Jaipur experience and a great way to spend the evening.

Next up was Udaipur, such a beautiful city, that I wish that I had more time here. It’s lovely and you’re surrounded by water so it’s really relaxing in comparison. It’s a great experience to sit by the lake over lunch and watch the world pass you by. You can also take small day trips out to the lake as well, so a nice alternative to the car and walking tours that you have elsewhere.

Udaipur's Lake Palace.

Udaipur was the prefect place to end a 7 day tour of just a few of the highlights of northern India. It was beautiful and chaotic, the seemingly endless stream of religious celebrations and weddings made the long drives exciting and the cities spoke for themselves. I would definitely return, and I hope to soon.

Alyce’s 5 Big Tips for North India:

AGRA . The Taj Mahal is closed on Friday. If you are arriving into Agra on a Friday, it would be best to do a sunrise viewing of the Taj on Saturday morning before continuing your journey.

NATIONAL PARKS. One thing to remember if you are going to any of the national parks in India, is that you are going to be seeing wild animals, so viewings cannot be guaranteed. If you just want to see some animals, and are not particular of what you want to see, then one drive will be fine, you will see a variety of animals. However, you’re travelling to India to see a particular animal, especially shy Tigers or Leopards, then it will be best for you to do a few different game drives, at different times of day, so your chances of seeing them will be greatly increased.

JAIPUR. Included in your ticket to the Amber Fort is a ride up to the fort on an elephant. It is a legal requirement that each elephant is only allowed to do 5 journeys up to the fort per day. So this experience is only available until approximately 10-10.30am. After this, the elephants retire for the day and you will be driven up to the fort instead. If you particularly want to ride an elephant to the fort, be there first thing in the morning.

UDAIPUR. If you’ve seen it already, watch the film The Best Majestic Marigold Hotel, this will help you get excited for Udaipur, and you can stay in the same hotel as well!

EATING OUT. Where possible, go for regional specialties when ordering food, they do them the best! Recommendations from the waiter or chef are normally a good bet too.

If you feel inspired by Alyce’s amazing experience in Northern India, why not take a look at our brand new Tailor Made India adventure options on the website and consider how we could help you create your perfect trip.
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Showing 5 Comments

  1. Pingback: Cruising the winding backwaters of Kerala, Southern India | STA Travel

  2. Thanks a lot Lisa for sharing such a nice information about your Tour to India & hope you would be enjoy this trip and hope you will come soon in India to enjoy the Tour of Incredible India

    Thanks a lot

    1251 days ago
  3. peeter

    I have so many fond memories attached to these places… I visited Agra, Delhi and Jaipur with a luxury train last October (was told that it’s the best time to visit Northern India) and went to World heritage sites such as The Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikiri, Amber Fort, Jantar Mantar as well as to Ranthambore National Park. It was a great experience.

    1066 days ago
  4. Glenicewill wilson

    This is what I would really like to do this trip is it possible to travel in a group as I am 67 and have no friends who are interested in India

    934 days ago
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    324 days ago