The Golden Triangle of India by trains and tuk-tuks
Exactly ten years ago in 2008 we were in India for the first time. The route we took was standard and classic Delhi-Jaipur-Agra-Deli-Goa. Not the most expensive group tour, by happy coincidence, turned into a purely individual – for the four of us was provided by a cool jeep with a driver and personal guides along the entire route. To say that we liked it, nothing to say! Shock and delight – the main sensations after the tour. However, I had a strong idea to repeat the trip to the Golden Triangle on my own. It took me 9 years to do it on my own within the framework of Goa-Bombay-Nepal-Central India-Goa mega-trip.
We flew to Delhi from Amritsar, the capital of all Sikhs. We had big plans to wander around Delhi in the evening and hop off to Agra in the morning. Only our Napoleonic plans were ruined by the treacherous Jet air: the flight was a transit one and our suitcase didn’t show up on the belt. The situation became disastrous: tomorrow was Agra, in 4 days we were to take off for Goa, and where would the luggage be and what would we do without it? After a couple of hours of swearing and nerves the luggage was magically found, joy was immense, but not complete.
Precious time was lost, the departure from Delhi had to be postponed for a day. From the airport to the city center to get incredibly easy, there is a direct subway line directly to New Delhi, 20 minutes for a symbolic price of 60 rupees – here he is, capitalism with a human face in Indian style! Compare it to Moscow, where the express train costs 500 rubles! We stayed at the TG Taskent hotel, which has a strange name: Delhi or Tashkent. The neighborhood is comfortable, but horrible – the famous Main Bazaar, which everyone knows and swears about.
Cramped, dirty, crowds of Hindus, rickshaws, cars, fussy motorcycles, black, dirty and smelly beggars, cow pats on the roads, disorderly klaxons and dust. Yes, yes – that’s India, baby! Basically, it’s all like that, and Main Bazaar is a slightly tweaked quintessential Indian mess. We were lucky – the hotel itself is located in a quiet side street and was very nice (even my wife liked it!). It’s hard to believe, but guests in hotels in India are still registered in a huge book-conduit.
The plan was perfect: take a bus tour to Jaipur with an excursion and stay there. Alas, the young men’s hopes are nurtured, but the old men are bummed out. All seats are sold out, we can go to Agra, but tomorrow we do not need to go there – the weather will be crappy, and so want to see the Taj Mahal in the glow of sunlight. I had to make a compromise: I bought the train tickets from an agent on the Delhi-Jaipur-Agra-Delhi route. Sat at the agent for a long time – try to buy three pairs of tickets. There are a lot of trains, but there are even more Hindus, and they’re all going somewhere in a single rush all the time.
I’ve seen a lot of crap in India, but here again I was shocked – masala tea was brought in a cellophane bag! In the evening, I sat on the roof of the hotel and chatted with a German guy for a beer, he works in Chennai (Madras), and at the weekend he rushed to Delhi. He likes it here: the beer is cheap (200 rubles per bottle, and they have 600 rubles there), yes, yes, Carl – 600 rupees, which is almost equal to our rubles. When I told him that in Goa beer in a restaurant costs 90-100 rupees, he was incredibly surprised!
We took the hotel with breakfast, and we were right – a decent Indian breakfast was served on the roof, which gave us a great view of the poverty and ugliness of Main Bazaar. The houses are so close that if you look down, it looks like you’re looking into a ravine. An unscheduled day in Delhi we decided to devote to Kutub Minar (Victory Tower), the famous minaret, the tallest in the world, built of brick! We took the subway, which is similar to our MCC trains. There’s special control at the entrance – people are afraid of terrorist acts, the fare depends on the distance, tell the cashier the stop and he’ll give you a ticket.
From the metro Qutub Minar Minaret not far, but no time, so we take a tuker, they’re breaking prices mercilessly, while trying to dilute, promising to show the two interesting places, it’s clear that the first will be his store. At the ticket office and at the entrance there are giant lines, but don’t be frightened. For the white man has its own window, well, yes, the ticket is 25 times more expensive than for the Indians, but no queue. In general, tickets for foreigners in India is fucking expensive – 500-1000r! This time we were lucky with the weather, not like 9 years ago. The place is very interesting, but there are a lot of people.
Not far from the minaret stands not less famous, but iron, like not rusting column. According to legend, if you lean on the iron column with your back and wrap your arms around it, you will be happy. Only the way to happiness blocked by a strong grid, not come close to the column. It is believed that it is made of meteoritic iron, so it does not rust, but I do not know, it strongly beaten by rust, and I am afraid to imagine what’s going on there in the underground part. There is another unfinished minaret nearby, the Ala-e Minar. Local ruler Alauddin Khilji, jealous of other people’s laurels, decided to build his own tower, twice as high as the Minara. However, he died untimely and the construction of the century remained unfinished. Here is the oldest mosque in northern India – Kuwwat-ul-Islam, the gate of Ala-i-Darwaza and the tomb of Imam Zamin – the monuments of the period of Muslim rule.
Early in the morning we left our suitcase at the hotel, put some laundry in the laundry and rushed on a sleepy tuker through the foggy streets to the train station. At first the tuker wanted to triple-check us, but he caught a bird of obolomingo. Everyone thinks it’s always hot in India, however, this is not entirely true – at night in the central part of the country is quite cool, no place without a jacket. An Indian railway station is always filthy, smelly, crowds of Indians with suitcases, water points, and on the floor there are hundreds of bodies wrapped in plaids.
No, no, not corpses, although they happen, just Hindus waiting for trains all day long and sleeping right on the floor. You quickly get used to it, but here it was shocking to see an old black turkey who had arranged to wash himself right at the faucet in the center of the train station. It seemed as if we had entered the underworld, where unsentient sinners wandered in a sticky fog. We were desperate to get out of that awful place, only we had forgotten the old truth: He who enters do not weep, he who leaves do not rejoice!
When the train arrived, it was quite sad: it looked like it hadn’t been washed since the colonization, and the agent tricked us into buying 2nd Sleeper class non AC, assuring us that it was normal for whites, and that was a colossal mistake. The compartment looks like our second-class cabin, only there are not two but three sleeping shelves, and on the ceiling there is a big radiator of fans. There’s no conductor in the car, but there’s a passenger list at the entrance, the compartments are not cleaned, so it’s incredibly dirty. Any “hare” can enter the carriage and sit anywhere, including on your shelf, other people’s personal space for the Hindu – it’s an empty word. Paks from other carriages do that: he comes and sits in someone else’s seat until the controller drives him away.
The windows have glass + wooden bars + iron bars. Though the carriage is a slipper, it doesn’t have any bedding. In the adjoining compartment a family piggybacked the entire floor with nutshells. Some intellectuals were travelling with us – they ate, collected the garbage in a bag and, without a doubt, threw it out the window. From Delhi to Jaipur is about 280 km, scheduled five hours, in reality seven! Maps me in India is often stupid, sometimes by 300m, and on the railway and 60km missed. We would have to take the AC 3 Tier Code 3A – cabins with air conditioning, it’s more civilized, it goes to the middle class Hindus, but the agent was not told.
Jaipur was met by dozens of pushy tukers, who do not give us a pass. Our gest was very close to the station, but the tukers immediately broke the price of 200 rubles. We negotiated a cheaper price with one of them, but when we got to the station it turned out that he was taking us to the store first and then to the hostel. So we found another one, friendly-looking and helpful, and promised to drive us around town for a reasonable price. In the end, sent my nephew with the old song: first the store, then the city. The rascal began to lie that all the museums are closed, for which he was sent on an erotic walking tour.
We settled quickly, Nanus hostel was booked for one night, based on the proximity to the station, price, and a nice photo on Bookings. Walking distance was not a plus, but a minus, because the Pink City and the main places from here to go and go on a deer, ie, on tuk-tuks! With the crazy local traffic, the ride is long and not cheap. By the way, there’s even a subway here, only we didn’t have time to ride it. When we went to the cheerful reception, happy as children, when we got to the room, my wife with horror wanted to escape immediately.
Pitiful interiors, walls that have not known repair, dirty and worn out linens that have not been changed for a long time, dirt in all corners. We were forced to change the linen, but we decided to sleep in our clothes – it is safer that way. We were told to pay 40 rupees extra when we asked for t/paper, I’ve never seen anything like this. Of course, experienced travelers immediately say – at fault, poorly prepared, and they would be right. But, we must take into account that the tour was still a budget in price, and spontaneous in execution))))
India’s Golden Triangle
India’s Golden Triangle is India’s most intense in terms of visits to historic sites, the itinerary includes: Jaipur, Delhi, Agra.
Everyone knows that India has a ton of attractions. It is the oldest civilization in the world, a wealth of natural resources and an amazing culture that has come down to this day. India is one of the most mysterious countries, which is rapidly changing, while preserving its traditions.
If this is your first time here and you don’t have a lot of time to appreciate the palaces of the Maharajas, it’s time to explore the attractions of the Golden Triangle. This is a sightseeing program that showcases some of Rajasthan’s most “must-see” attractions.
These are the three cities where you can see India’s impressive historical legacy: huge and bustling New Delhi, famous Agra headed by “postcard” views of the Taj Mahal and the “pink city” Jaipur.
The capital of India. A huge metropolis with numerous suburbs that managed to merge into one. The mixture of traditions, cultures and architectural eclecticism makes the city the most colorful capital in the world.
The architecture of the Old City is in perfect harmony with the buildings of the British colonial heritage.
The Tibetan market with its colorful realm of busy trinkets best describes the life of simple, everyday India.
New Delhi Attractions
Gateway of India . This is a relatively modern symbol of the capital (and the entire country), located in the modern part of Old Town. They were designed by British architect Edwin Lutyens to honor the soldiers who fought for British India in World War I. The monument and the beautiful park are a pleasant place for locals to picnic, walk, and meet.
Lakshmi Naroyan Mandir is a Hindu temple. It is dedicated to the god Lakshmi, who is responsible for wealth and well-being and Naroyan, who guards the universe. From the outside the temple looks like a giant cake, but inside it is a real sultan’s palace. Lakshmi Naroyan Mandir is recognized as the most beautiful temple in India.
Akshardham is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest temple in the world (similar in size to Versailles). It was built very recently (in 2005) with funds from private donations. Both the temple and the park around it require thoughtful visits. It is advisable to go there on your own without tour groups.
A large and romantic city that exists around one of the wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal memorial complex. On its southern side is the famous bazaar, where in the XVII century European traders came for silk, tea, and spices.
The most famous structure of the complex, the Taj Mahal Mausoleum, is dedicated to Shah Jahan’s beloved wife, who died in childbirth. It is the main mausoleum, the calling card of the country.
But in the memorial complex itself there is a lot to see: scenic gardens, picturesque embankments and rivers, giant fountains. On certain days of the year you can get here at night, but you have to stand in a huge line before you buy an entrance ticket.
This city is the end point of the Golden Triangle journey. It is quite small, but very beautiful.
The picturesque center of the city is built according to all the canons of ancient Indian architecture, and the houses are built of pink sandstone. Hence the name – “Pink City”.
Hawa Mahal or “Palace of the Winds” is an unimaginably beautiful architectural masterpiece with a landmark facade. This place was built for the sheikh’s harem so that the court ladies could observe the city life while remaining invisible to outsiders.
The palace has recently been restored. A tour inside is also interesting and worth seeing.