Exploring India’s Golden Triangle Is So Hardcore

Friday, February 18, 2011

Exploring India is hardcore, and the most jaded of travelers will tell you so. The cacophonous sounds, pungent smells, melange of colors, and unnerving division between rich and poor screams chaos and curiosity. It’s that fusion of wonder and too much of everything that that makes a trip to this vibrant country so intriguing.

In this recent New Zealand Herald article, “Indian Odyssey,” the author writes about his second visit to India ( his first visit was cut short by a “mystery illness” that caused him “to collapse in the street and necessitated a week in the hospital”)  where he embraces the “hard work” of exploring the Golden Triangle, a tourist circuit which includes: Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur.

Reed’s first stop on the triangle is Agra where he visits the Taj Mahal and is bothered by “squads of crack guides marshalled besides the foreigner’s ticket office.” Still, after one glimpse of the great mausoleum, he is “rendered speechless” because he feels that “like many truly great sights, it’s even better than you had been led to believe: intricate and imposing, ornate and subtle.”

In Jaipur, the capital of Rjasthan, Reed goes palace hopping at the City and Amber Palaces, but warns that too many jaunts to the jewel-studded homes can be total palatial overkill. He then heads southwest to Ranthambore National Park, known as one of the few remaining places on Earth for tiger sightings, in hopes of getting up close and personal with the exotic cat. Unfortunately, Reed has no luck in meeting the majestic beast, but does run into a bear on his tour, which he notes as an even more rare sighting.

Moving on to Udaipur, Reed is calmed by the lack of crowds, cooler weather and “less persistent touts,” and so, he decides to get his haircut by an 82-year-old (man? . . . woman?) then finishes the visit off with a lovely cup of chai tea. Now how totally hardcore does that sound? OK, so maybe we’ll get to the hardcore part in Jodphur.

Nope. Here he visits the old city’s “web of criss-crossing streets and passages,” and notes how, “the people are friendly, and the touts keen to learn.”

Reed’s final stop is in Jaisalmer, located in the far west of the state. He describes the city as “dominated by its fort, a once-impregnable citadel rising from the sands of the Thar Desert.” It is here where Reed rides a camel into the blistering heat of the desert and camps out on the dunes under a sea of pulsating stars.

As you can see, and just as Reed’s article mentions: “India is hard work.” So where is the passage about the stomach-ripping smorgasbord of spicy  foods, or, the “maddening, startling cauldron of sights, sounds, tastes and smells,” or that political statement about the abject poverty? Sorry, I guess Reed was too involved in sipping his chai tea and going palace hopping to worry about all that hard work.

[Taj Mahal by Paul Swansen/Flickr]

By Maria Russo


About the Author

Maria Russo is a freelance writer who loves natural wonders, good eats, ethical travel, and boutique hotels. Her work has appeared on the Huffington Post, USA Today.com, People.com and A Luxury Travel Blog, among others.

When Maria is not writing for her all-time favorite site (that would be The Expeditioner), she spends her time blogging about foreign jaunts and delectable food experiences for her site: Memoirs of a Travel & Food Addict. She is also up to no good on Twitter (@traveladdictgrl, @expedmaria).

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