3.4.20 / New Delhi / India

A Train Journey Around the Golden Triangle of India with Caroline McKay

Capturing India’s unmistakable vibrance

by Caroline McKay

As the North American Communications Manager for Soho House, you might expect Caroline McKay get’s her travel fix by hopping around all of the different cities the increasingly ubiquitous members-only club has landed in. But McKay is always in search of a new adventure, one that takes her off the beaten path. Most recently that brought her to New Delhi for a friends wedding, but for such a long journey, she knew she had to take the long way around. “Before the festivities got started, we decided to take a four day trip to Agra and Jaipur and complete the Golden Triangle journey. We took the train from New Delhi to Agra, Agra to Jaipur and Jaipur to New Delhi. This cut down on the hassle of traffic from destination to destination but taking the train was not for the faint of heart, as each train station we encountered was a blur of crowds and confusion. But by the last leg of the journey, we felt like we mastered it.”

In New Delhi, we stayed in a hotel in South Delhi, an area that was recommended by a friend who grew up there. Our flight was an overnight flight from New York so, we landed in Delhi at the same time we left but almost 24 hrs later. That meant, straight to bed. The next day, was a quick blur including the tourist site, Qutub Minar, a delicious brunch in South Delhi and several unsuccessful attempts to navigate our way around.

The next morning started with an early train ride to Agra from Hazrat Nizamuddin Delhi, one of the major train stations in Delhi. After the 2.5 ride, we arrived in Agra and checked into our hotel, the ITC Mughal. From there we ventured out to see the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort. The guide brought us from place to place and provided information on the history of each site and the area. The most interesting (in my opinion) was that the Taj Mahal was commissioned as an act of love by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a tomb for his wife, and his only love marriage, who died during the childbirth of their 14th child. For context, the tombs of his other four wives are on the outskirts of the property and humble in comparison. Another fun fact, was that the Taj Mahal cost over a billion dollars to construct back in 1632 and that is not factoring in inflation.

Qutub Minar, Delhi

Hazrat Nizamuddin Delhi, train station. A lot of people crossed directly across the tracks with their luggage.

Monkeys waiting outside of Taj Mahal

The Arga Fort, Agra

Delicious meal at Peshawri, at ITC Mughal, Agra

ITC Mughal, Agra

After a day and night in Agra, it was time to go back to the train station and head to Jaipur, a city known for its handmade crafts and old town, aptly-named the “Pink City”. While in Jaipur we were staying at Hotel Narain Niwas, a former palace, now heritage hotel, known for ornate room décor and peacocks roaming around the property.

Jaipur was by far one of my favorite cities, but I think it would appeal to anyone who loves colorful buildings, stunning interiors and delicious food. While there, we started by seeing some of the well-known tourist sites such as the Amber Fort, Jal Mahal, Hawa Mahal (which looks like something out of a Wes Anderson film) and the City Palace but decided we wanted to explore within the old town “Pink City” some more. So, we headed to the craft market within the “Pink City” and spent time purchasing silk weaved scarves, block printed shirts, dresses and more. Many of the vendors sold similar items so, distinguishing which ones had the most unique products was abit of a welcome challenge.

Our hotel, Hotel Narain Niwas in Jaipur

Stepwell in Jaipur

The Amber Fort, Jaipur

The Amber Fort, Jaipur

The Amber Fort in Jaipur

Jal Mahal, the “Lake Palace”, Jaipur

Hawa Mahal, Jaipur

City Palace in Jaipur

One of my most memorable meals in Jaipur happened to be in the same complex as our hotel at the beautiful Bar Palladio, a restaurant known for its striking all blue decor. It was the perfect spot to wind-down after a long day of site-seeing and bartering at the market.

Our final leg of the trip and train journey was Jaipur back to New Delhi. Once we arrived back in New Delhi, we had one day left to explore before the wedding festivities were in full swing. We spent the day venturing; starting with the Lotus Temple and Parliament House and then to Old Delhi to experience some authentic street food. We ended the day with a Tuk Tuk ride back, weaving between thousands of cars, motorbikes and other Tuk Tuks. The rest of our time there, we stayed at Roseate House, a beautiful property in the Aerocity area close to the airport. While this was a little outside of the city, it was closer to our wedding festivities and made making our flight back to the states quick and easy.

Bar Palladio in Jaipur

A peacock found right outside my room in Jaipur

The colors of Old Delhi.

Old Delhi “street food” in the making

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