India’s Golden Triangle is one of the most iconic travel journeys in the world. The classic tourist route takes you through some of the nation’s best destinations, as you travel from Delhi to Agra, to Jaipur and back to Delhi again.
The Golden Triangle India is a great way to see a diverse portion of the country, and for first-time travelers to India, it’s an easy and established route that will ease you into the somewhat chaotic Indian travel scene.
It’s accessible, it’s beautiful and it’s a great travel itinerary. Here’s our essential guide to the Golden Triangle of India, to inspire you to travel this classic route.
Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet India (Travel Guide)
Golden Triangle of India: Itinerary and Planning Tips
What is the Golden Triangle of India?
The Golden Triangle of India is one of the most popular and well-established tourist routes in the country. Traditionally, the triangular route between three of the most iconic Indian destinations begins in the capital Delhi, allowing travelers to fly in from almost anywhere in the world to begin their journey.
Next, the triangle takes visitors south-east to Agra, home of the world-renowned Taj Mahal, before heading west to Jaipur, the historic capital of the state of Rajasthan.
The total distance between each city averages out to be around 150 miles per leg, ensuring that travel time is quite low while also encompassing a wide range of sights and attractions.
Of course, the standard route has many excellent possibilities for extensions and additions, particularly in the western portion, where you can begin to explore more of Rajasthan than just Jaipur, before returning again to Delhi.
How to Travel the Golden Triangle
The Golden Triangle is one of the simplest itineraries to take on when visiting India.
Many tour companies have regular trips taking visitors to the highlights and if you are looking to enjoy a small piece of India without any of the hassles, then this is a great way to experience it.
Independent travelers will also find it easy to travel the route, and between each city, there are fast, comfortable buses and regular high-speed trains.
From Delhi to Agra, the fastest trains take only two hours, while trains from Agra to Jaipur take four hours, and from Jaipur onto Delhi, again four hours depending on the train.
The public transport is frequent and cost-effective and when in India, it’s all part of the experience.
Depending on any extra stops you want to add into the classic itinerary, most travelers will complete the three primary destinations in a minimum of a week.
Perfect for those with limited time to spend in the country. To slow down a little, 10 to 14 days of travel will give you the chance to take everything in and add in a few extra stops too.
When to Travel the Golden Triangle
This northern region of India enjoys warm weather all through the year, with particularly hot summers that can be overbearing. Rajasthan is arid and desert-like, and there’s little rainfall throughout most of the year.
The short monsoon arrives between June and September and you can expect humid weather and large downpours. Most of the route is still very much accessible during the monsoon though.
You will find prices are cheaper and the attractions are quieter too, so it can, in fact, be an interesting time to travel to the Golden Triangle India.
The busiest time of year to travel the Golden Triangle India route is from November through to March. During winter, the weather is at its best, with no rainfall and no humidity.
You will find prices are highest, transport will be busy and the most iconic sights, especially the Taj Mahal, are always crowded.
Best Stops Along the Golden Triangle of India
Delhi is the first stop for most travelers taking on the Golden Triangle India. The nation’s capital has fantastic air links to international destinations, making it a great place to fly in and out of, while the city itself can be an excellent start and endpoint for your adventure.
Delhi can be a shock to the senses if you have never been to India before, but once you are past the initial mayhem of the capital, there are are some great sights to see.
Start by taking a trip to the Red Fort, one of the nation’s most iconic attractions. The fort dates back to the 17th century when the Mughal dynasty shifted their power base from Agra to Delhi and built this impressive red, sandstone fortification to protect their empire.
Next, call in at the Qutab Minar, a towering minaret that dwarves all around it, before strolling through the beautiful, green Lodhi Gardens to escape the chaos.
Immerse yourself in the ramshackle streets of Old Delhi, and enjoy the start of your Golden Triangle India experience by jumping straight into the loud and bustling bazaars and markets of the capital.
Our top recommended tours of Delhi:
- Private Old and New Delhi Full-Day Combo Tour
- Experience Indian Food: Delhi Food Tour
- Private Walking Tour: South Delhi Heritage including Qutub Minar and Mehrauli Archaeological Park
- Private Delhi Tour: Lotus Temple, Qutub Minar, and Dilli Haat
Agra is well known as the home of the Taj Mahal, but the second stop on the Golden Triangle itinerary doesn’t just revolve around the iconic sight, there is a lot more to Agra than meets the eye.
This is one of the oldest cities in India and was for a long time the capital of the Mughal Empire that ruled much of the north. Start your first day in Agra by visiting the Taj Mahal (read our guide for insider tips! Plan the Perfect Taj Mahal Visit in 7 Steps).
Beat the crowds and get here early, because this opulent mausoleum is a reason in itself to travel to India. When it begins to get busier, head across the river to the gardens on the opposite bank.
Here you have one of the best views of the Taj Mahal, without any of the crowds.
Call in at the sprawling Agra Fort, explore more tombs, mausoleums and mosques and take a quick trip down the road to the ruined ancient capital of Fatehpur Sikri, to see the abandoned vestiges of a fallen empire.
Plan you trip to Agra: 9 Places to Visit in Agra Besides the Taj Mahal
Our top recommended tours of Agra:
- Viator Exclusive: Private Taj Mahal & Agra Fort Tour, Dine with a View
- Agra Day Tour: Sunrise and Sunset of Taj Mahal
- Sunrise Taj Mahal Agra Private City Tour
- Private Agra City Tour with Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, and Fatehpur Sikri
Jaipur is the third traditional component of the Golden Triangle. This is the capital of the state of Rajasthan and this historic city is known more colloquially by locals and travelers alike as the Pink City, because of the vibrant and colorful palaces, forts and buildings that are found here.
Jaipur is where the desert really begins and the endless, dusty, yet strangely enthralling landscapes you will see on your journey in from Agra are worth the journey in itself.
The city itself is known for its beautiful architecture, and the first place to visit when arriving in Jaipur is the dramatic Amer Fort. This castle stands atop the most prominent hill in the region, commanding views for mile after mile over both the city and the desert.
The Jal Mahal, a wonderful palace built on the lake seems to float effortlessly, and if you can pay this beautiful place a visit in the evening when the lights are lit up brilliantly.
Jaipur is a city of palaces, and you can next move onto the City Palace, a huge complex of lavish rooms and halls that truly must be seen to be believed. Plan your trip to Jaipur: 15 Cool Things to Do in Jaipur
Our top recommended tours of Jaipur:
- Private Full-Day Tour of Jaipur with Guide
- Full-Day Jaipur Tour including Amber Fort and City Palace with Lunch
- Night Tour of Jaipur City Monuments and Streets
- Small-Group Half-Day Food and Walking Tour of Jaipur
Detours on the Golden Triangle
The Golden Triangle opens up the opportunity for you to experience much, much more of northern Indian while you are in the region, provided you have the time of course.
Rajasthan is an endless desert full of surprisingly beautiful city’s. From Jaipur, instead of returning directly to Delhi, you can explore the dusty landscapes and rich oasis.
Travel to Pushkar, one of India’s holiest Hindu cities to see culture and religion in action.
Head further into the desert to visit Jodhpur, the Blue City, or carry on further north to the border with Pakistan, to see the Golden Temple of Amritsar in the state of Punjab and to learn more about Sikhism and the true diversity of the vast land of India.
Accommodation and Food Along the Golden Triangle
There will be a range of accommodation options suitable for any budget along the Golden Triangle route. Budget backpackers will find exceptionally cheap hotels, there are few hostels in India, as private rooms are great value.
However, it’s best to look carefully at reviews and other traveler’s comments before booking somewhere based purely on the price, as low-cost hotels in these touristy areas can be very much a mixed bag.
The best hotels can be sold out in advance, so if you are looking for particular comforts or a particular chain of hotels, book in advance. Midrange and luxury travelers will find excellent value, even in the busiest of destinations in the region.
Tap water should be avoided in the Golden Triangle of India, and when eating street food, it’s best to visit the busier places of course and try to be careful if you are unused to the cuisine, to avoid any unwanted illnesses when you travel.
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