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Where to Go 

India: History and heritage itinerary

Taj Mahal. Image: Getty

Mark Eveleigh explores the historical wealth of India’s ‘golden triangle’ and the Ganges

 

Delhi is a logical starting point, taking in the Red Fort and surrounds before heading to the Taj Mahal at Agra, and onwards to the desert capital of Jaipur. The trip is usually made by rail or coach but a private car allows flexibility.

Delhi
The magnificent Red Fort appears like an ancient rusting battleship above the banks of the Yamuna River. Three centuries ago the Mughal king would ride his great elephant out into the bustle of the bazaars and, even today, the backstreets and bazaars are a living museum in their own right. Chandni Chowk bazaar can be mind-bogglingly frantic but take time to just sit and watch (or dodge into the peaceful seclusion of the neighbouring Great Mosque).

Agra
The Taj Mahal has become a household name as the world’s greatest monument. Every day queues form to photograph the instantly recognisable view. Despite the crowds the Taj Mahal remains worthy of all the hype — but take time to explore the surroundings and to capture Taj snapshots from more original angles: from the battlements of Agra Fort and from the far banks of the Yamuna River.

In stark contrast to the bustling crowds in the Taj Mahal, the palace at Fatehpur Sikri is almost deserted. The city, an hour from Agra by taxi or train, was capital of the Mughal empire from 1571 to 1585 — yet is almost completely overlooked.

Jaipur
Known as the Pink City, old Jaipur has enough historical riches to keep visitors intrigued for weeks. Hawa Mahal — the Palace of the Wind — is the most famous icon but the Nahargarh Fort and the City Palace take days to explore and the Jantar Mantar observatory is a reminder of just how scientifically advanced India was in the 18th century. It would be a mistake to visit Jaipur and not make the trip to the Amber Fort. The immense fort and palace was built around 1592 but was only declared a World Heritage Site in 2013.

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