The Golden Triangle, India

birds flying over the lake during daytime

TransIndus Educational “The Golden Triangle, India” 

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What an amazing, in fact almost life-changing, trip this was!
I feel India is somewhere everyone should have on their bucket ; I will try to explain why.
16th September – we took an overnight flight with Virgin arriving in Delhi the next morning where we met our TransIndus rep, Emily. It’s a good idea to have a couple of nights in Delhi to get some sightseeing there.
17th/18th September – we experienced the hustle and bustle of street life in both Old and New Delhi.  The driving is crazy, but the tour drivers are extremely careful and I always felt secure.  Just as well, as the odd cow or elephant would wander across the street!  I learnt that there are 5 sacred animals in India – the elephant, cow, dog, snake and monkey.  At every corner there is a photographic opportunity to whet any amateur or professional’s appetite.  There are vibrant market lanes and colourful neighbourhoods and beautiful women dressed in their stunning saris.  It is true that young children can be seen sleeping underneath the motorway inter-section, which breaks your heart, but I rarely saw a face that wasn’t beaming.  I didn’t expect this.

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We explored Chandni Chok in a rickshaw, visited Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India, and Qutb Minar, a Unesco World Heritage site.  We went to the first garden tomb built by the Mughals in India; the Humayun’s tomb.
Monday 19th September – we transferred from Delhi to Agra, a 5 hour drive by coach.  The journey can be done by train, and would be a good idea for the experience. We stayed at The Taj Gateway Hotel, and my room had a view of the Taj Mahal which was built in memory of Mumtaz Mahal, Mughal emperor Shah Jehan’s beloved wife.  The mausoleum, built entirely of white marble is decorated with elaborate geometric forms and inlay work.
The Taj Mahal was a highlight of my trip.  An iconic building, it provokes an emotional atmosphere, and is every bit as special as you might have heard.  Naturally, we took a group photo on ‘Princess Diana’s’ bench, as it is now known.  Something I hadn’t realised before my trip is that the locals always wanted to photograph us!  Visiting this wonderful place is an experience I will never forget and it was particularly splendid at sunset.

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We also visited the Agra Fort and the tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah – this two-storied tomb bearing mosaics in inlaid semi-precious stones is considered the inspiration for the Taj Mahal.
We enjoyed a delicious dinner at The ITC Mughal in Agra.  I would highly recommend this hotel as it has a wonderful spa, and the dining experience in the Peshwari Restaurant, where we ate without cutlery, was amazing.
Tuesday 20th September – Agra to Samode via Fatehpur Sikri, a drive of approximately 6 hours.
This journey was long, but interesting. Our arrival at The Samode Palace, after a somewhat rickety approach road, was jaw dropping.  I cannot think of a better way to put it as the hotel was lit with fairy lights and we walked on a red carpet to the entrance.  We were made so welcome and this property is unique.  Every room is different.  There are 2 swimming pools, one being an infinity pool.  The spa is excellent and the décor, from the days the property was a palace, is stunning.  It is peaceful and tranquil and nothing is too much trouble for the staff.  We stayed here for 3 nights, and during this time we took a camel ride to the Samode Palace hotel where we had a swim and lunch.  We also walked through the local village of Samode where my lasting memory will be the radiant school children’s faces.

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In Jaipur, the pink city, we visited stunning hilltop forts and glorious palaces.  Amber Fort is in a particularly beautiful setting.  We ascended the fort on an elephant, and this was the only time that I felt I was doing something against my principles.  The elephants did not appear to be happy and I would have preferred to have travelled by jeep.  Nevertheless, this is a beautiful place.  The glistening Hall of Mirrors and Maharaja’s apartments decorated with murals and mosaic are a must see.  We also visited the Royal Observatory or Jantar Mantar as it is known locally, and then the City Palace where we saw rare manuscripts, armoury and costumes.  We enjoyed a traditional lunch at the Samode Haveli followed by a tour of the ITC Rajputana.  We also spent a most enjoyable half hour at a traditional colourful bazaar.

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Friday 23rd September – a 5 hour transfer from The Samode Palace to Delhi. We had a superbly delicious meal at The Imperial Hotel, Delhi.  The Imperial Restaurant – The Spice Route – was a delight for the taste buds.  It is in the top ten of the Conde Nast list.  A fusion of different style food from India, Thailand, and Indonesia cooked by a famous Thai chef called Veene.   I was extremely impressed with the food in India.  We experienced so many wonderful flavours. The rooms we saw during our site visit at the Imperial were immaculate.

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People do worry about Delhi Belly, but my experience is that if you are careful, then all is well. I am happy to impart various tips on this subject.
On 23rd September we stayed at The Grand Hotel for our last night, 30 minutes from the airport. We returned to the UK with Virgin on 24th September on a daytime flight.
India is certainly a land of contrasts well worth discovering for yourself. Our guides were very knowledgeable throughout the trip, and we always felt safe and in good hands.
I will be very happy to welcome you at the Select World Travel office to discuss your India options.
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Judy Gibb
Senior Travel Consultant

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