The Golden Triangle – a mystical moniker for a land shrouded in history and tradition. But in recent years, concerns have sparked that the pilgrimage of note has not been one steeped in a spiritual quest, but rather, habitual touristic undertakings; point-to-point sight-seeing and box ticking through India’s northerly states. While such undertakings are rife, this is by no means the only channel to experience India.
“You can’t compare India with anything. It is known for its extremes; the people, the faces, the languages, dresses, culture, traditions, faith, religion and many other things make it so very special”. These are the words of Mr. Raju India, a travel consultant, enthusiast and advocate of India’s diverse offerings. Raju is a proponent of real India.
He shares a quote by Mark Twain, from the seminal Following the Equator, “This is indeed India; the land of dreams and romance, of fabulous wealth and fabulous poverty, of splendour and rags, of palaces and hovels, of famine and pestilence, of genii and giants and Aladdin lamps, of tigers and elephants, the cobra and the jungle, the country of a thousand nations and a hundred tongues, of a thousand religions and two million gods, cradle of the human race, birthplace of human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, great-grandmother of tradition, whose yesterdays bear date with the moldering antiquities of the rest of the nations […] the one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for the shows of all the rest of the globe combined.” Truer words have perhaps never been shared.
Wheeling through the sights and sounds of Chandni Chowk by rickshaw through to the endless specialist markets selling spices, books, textiles and wedding attire, this palpable excess is precisely what Delhi is known to hold, and the liberation that comes with it is what travellers from near and far come in search of. Delhi holds vivid reminders of pinnacle moments in history – from the Mughal Empire to the Islamic Dynasty, and the constant cues of today’s burgeoning democratic city. Delhi alone, Raju tells, “can be a cultural shock for anybody”. But it is only one point within this triangular cultural heartland.
“The capital city of Rajasthan, Jaipur, is a very traditional and fascinating city, with so many beautiful and historical places to visit – from the amber fort and the camel safari to the City Palace, Wind Palace, and Observatory. Every monument makes it special.”
Joining the path well-travelled doesn’t need to equate reliving and repeating the experience of those before you; quite the contrary, according to Raju. Each person travels with a different lens, and as such their experiences stem from uniquely different starting points. “India’s Golden Triangle is one of the most visited routes around the country. The Taj Mahal is considered a symbol of love, and many come here with different feelings and emotions. I have seen people crying for their loved ones and partners, people who have lost in life. It’s been very touching and emotional for me to see this”, he shares.