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Top Tips for visiting India’s Golden Triangle

If I could offer potential travellers to India (or anywhere else for that matter) one tip, it would be this: Try not to slip over on the marble entrance of your hotel with a twenty three kilogram rucksack strapped to your back whilst embarking on a six night road and rail trip from Delhi to Goa. Having a badly sprained foot will make carrying the aforementioned rucksack somewhat difficult you see, not to mention walking miles to visit famous monuments.

As I flew through the air, arms and legs akimbo, it crossed my mind this wasn’t the best start to my trip in India, though the long drive ahead to Jaipur became instantly more appealing since it would at least give me a chance to rest my foot. Fortunately my best friends had just arrived from home and were able to assist their crippled friend into the waiting vehicle which had been procured, complete with driver and at great expense, the previous evening.

We reached Jaipur before nightfall and checked into our beautifully decorated (if rather dusty) hotel fifteen kilometres outside of the city. After hobbling up the stairs to my room I admitted defeat and waved my friends off as they went to visit a bazaar, but soon rejoiced in my decision when I found the delightful rooftop area that overlooked the stunning Amber Fort. Once the sun had gone down a light show began, illuminating the Fort in a myriad of colours.

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The stunning view from our hotel outside Jaipur

Whilst the centre of Jaipur is fairly charmless and the Amber Fort – with its swarms of tourists taking elephant rides to the summit of the hill (Tip Two: Don’t bother doing this unless you can live with funding the exploitation of unhappy animals. We did it and I felt sad for some time afterwards for just this reason) – could prove too much for even the hardiest of travellers, the ‘Floating Palace’ is truly a sight to behold, sitting majestically as it does in a vast swathe of water set against a backdrop of mountains.

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The ‘floating palace’ of Jaipur

After two nights in Jaipur we climbed back into our car and drove to Ranthambore, where we would the following day visit the famous National Park. Delighted to find a swimming pool at our hotel, we donned our bikinis and cracked open some beers to aid our cooling off process. Tip Three, incidentally, would be not to get carried away on the booze the night before a 5.30am safari, as it will almost certainly impede your enjoyment of the experience. What will impede it even more is if your tour guide turns up almost two hours late only to tell you that you will not, in fact, be visiting zones one to five (where the leopards and tigers are) but zone eight (where, as we soon discovered, there is precious little besides vegetation). As it transpired only those who forward plan and book their trip months in advance stand any chance of actually seeing big cats (Tip Four: Book ahead).

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Nice view, shame about the total absence of wildlife…

After the disappointment that was our Ranthambore safari we drove for the best part of a day to reach Agra, where we would grab a few hours’ sleep in our barely built hotel (more on that later) before rising with the lark to visit the jewel in India’s crown: The Taj Mahal. My fifth tip would be to not, under any circumstances (and I really do mean any), allow the driver to stop off en route at a temple and a fort. After hours of bouncing around on tedious potholed roads, trust me when I tell you that the last thing you will want to do is fend off thousands of ‘tour guides’ who refuse point blank to leave your side unless you pay them off. Exhausting really isn’t the word.

If the centre of Jaipur was charmless, the centre of Agra was utterly devoid of soul. Our hotel looked like it had been erected in haste only hours before our arrival, with walls so flimsy a minor gust of wind would likely have blown it down. After a fitful sleep we were jolted awake by our alarms to make our way to the fabled Taj Mahal, which would mark the culmination of this leg of our travels before two sleeper trains took us to Goa via Mumbai. We arrived bleary eyed and nervous after the horrendous tour guide experience of the previous afternoon, but fortunately this time everything was far more civilised, thanks to us having pre-booked a tour guide on arrival. The walk to the Taj Mahal is not easy for someone with a sprained foot, but the sight of the monkeys lining the route is enough to buoy anyone’s spirits (Tip Six: If you value your fingers do not feed the monkeys). When we eventually arrived and approached through the large archway leading to the Taj the sun was just starting its ascent from the horizon.

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See Tip Six (only for the brave)

I wasn’t expecting to be bowled over but as I emerged through the arch to see the huge white marble mausoleum in front of me it literally took my breath away. Construction of the 171 metre monument began in 1632, a year after emperor Shah Jahan lost his third wife during the birth of their 14th child. It took over twenty years to be completed and, as I stood before it, untroubled by the hordes of other visitors around me, I was lost in the romance of the gesture that it represented (Tip Seven: Go to the Taj Mahal. It’s epic).

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Token cheesy Taj Mahal pose, but the mausoleum itself is breathtaking.

Later that day, when we boarded the first of the sleeper trains that would take us closer to the beaches of Goa for the relaxation phase of our trip, we all agreed that despite the highs and lows things had got off to a pretty excellent start.

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About Belle365

Hi, I’m Belle. Thanks for stopping by. Here's a list of ten things about me: 1. I want to write, but rarely do it. This tortures me daily, and, unless I seek to remedy it by writing more often, will continue to torture me until my dying day. 2. I worry: about hate, about greed, about selfishness, about the state of the world my (God willing) children will inherit. I worry about what people think of me. I worry that this makes me shallow. I worry about things happening to my loved ones. I worry how I would cope. I worry that this makes me selfish. I worry that worrying will send me to an early grave. But I'm so good at worrying that I also wonder what I would do if I wasn't worrying. Probably more writing (see point 1)....Oh. 3. I see myself as two people (though, as far as I am aware, I am not technically schizophrenic): a) the fancy dress loving party girl, who loves nothing more than having fun with her friends, because she has seen through her own experiences that life is short, so why not enjoy the ride? b) the more serious and reflective person who wants to learn and to help people and to find her higher purpose (I suspect it is also she who really, really wants to write). Sometimes these sides are conflicting. Fortunately they are in total agreement when it comes to chocolate, red wine and travel. 4. I don't see myself as an ardent feminist, but the older I get the more frustrated I feel by the societal view of women and ageing. Having just hit the metabolically displeasing age of 35 (now officially past it according to the massive wankflap that is Donald Trump, as well as virtually every media outlet on the planet, whether they overtly state it or not) I hate the fact I am made (and have let myself be manipulated) to feel that my fertility is now teetering on the edge of a clifftop free fall, and that even if I do negotiate this rocky march towards infertility and manage a miracle procreation, my usefulness as a financially solvent career woman will be over, seeing as having a baby in your mid to late thirties is pretty much akin to career suicide. It's enough to make you want to drown yourself in a vat of wine (hence why I often don a wig and do just that - see point 3a). 5. The older I get, the more I realise that you are never too old to love drum and bass (whether you are ever too old to publicly dance to drum and bass is an issue I am currently grappling with). Ditto UK garage. I will never be ashamed of these two great loves. Never. 6. Speaking of great loves, I have two: my husband, who (sickening as it is) completes me, and Leonardo DiCaprio, whom I have loved since I first laid eyes on him as Romeo to Kate Winslet's Juliet, and will love until my dying day (likewise the husband, all being well). As much as I like Kate Winslet, I will never forgive her for leaving him on that door. There was definitely room for two. 7. I am riddled with self doubt, and have a serious case of imposter syndrome, particularly in relation to my fourteen year communications career. I have never understood how anyone could deem me capable of running their campaigns. The lack of complaints would suggest I haven't made a total balls up of it so far. But there's still time. 8. Infinity and death frighten me senseless. I can't even talk about the universe without breaking into a sweat. I need to believe in life after death because death CANNOT be the end. I should probably have some (more) counselling to address these issues. 9. If procrastination were an Olympic sport, I would win Gold, Silver and Bronze (to give an example, I sat down an hour ago to work on my new novel, and instead have been updating this bio. I refer you to point 1. Sigh). 10. I make more lists than Buzzfeed. When I die, besides having Oasis's Champagne Supernova played at my funeral (deep breaths - see point 8), I should probably have a To Do list inscribed on my headstone for when I reach the other side...

3 comments on “Top Tips for visiting India’s Golden Triangle

  1. --Rick
    November 30, 2012

    Thanks for the story. Now I have something new to plan for.

    • belleagain
      January 5, 2013

      Glad you liked it! (sorry for the late response!)

  2. belleagain
    November 30, 2012

    No problem! There’s plenty more where that came from too 🙂

Comments are closed.

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This entry was posted on November 29, 2012 by in Bea Adventurous and tagged , , .
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