India is a charming country for a multitude of reasons. Home to the second-largest population in the world reaching to about 1.35 billion people; it is a melting pot of different religions, cultures and traditions. From magnificent natural landscapes, exquisite architectures to mouth-watering cuisines, a trip to India will definitely leave you in awe even long after you’ve left the place! Interested to explore India but don’t know where to start? This itinerary to the Golden Triangle India will take you through the country’s most popular destinations including Delhi, Agra, Jaipur as well as Kashmir in just under 7D6N!
Getting to India
If you are flying from Malaysia, the flight journey to Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi will take about 5.5 hours. Try to always be on the lookout for the latest airlines promotions and book your tickets as early as possible in order to get the best price. This way you can save a little more money to spend during your trip instead!
With three different seasons throughout the year, winter, spring and monsoon; the best time to visit India is between October to March. The weather is the coolest and driest at this time, making it the perfect condition for travelling.
For Malaysians, you need to apply for a tourist visa from the High Commission of India before visiting. You can find further information regarding this on their official website. The fees charged for Tourist Visa application can be viewed below and is depending on the length of the visa’s validity:
Day 1 | Arrival
Since you are more likely to arrive in New Delhi from Kuala Lumpur at night, we would recommend you to check-in directly into a hotel or accommodation nearest to the airport upon touch down. Doing this will make your trip back to the airport much easier as you will be taking a 1.5-hour long domestic flight first thing in the morning on the next day to Srinagar, Kashmir.
Before you start exploring the three popular destinations in the Golden Triangle India, this itinerary will also take you to two other beautiful locations; Srinagar and Gulmarg. Located in the Jammu and Kashmir region which is known for its unparalleled beauty and dubbed by many as the ‘Paradise on Earth’, there are heaps of stunning locations waiting for you to visit. Some might even take you back to certain scenes from many Bollywood movies filmed there.
Day 2 | To the Houseboat, Srinagar
When in Srinagar, you must not miss out on the unforgettable experience of spending the night on their traditional houseboat. These majestic looking constructions, built from hand-crafted and intricately carved woods can be found along the interconnecting Nigeen and Dal lakes with the latter being the more popular spot amongst tourists.
It will take about 50 minutes to reach Dal Lake from Srinagar airport by car. Once at the lakeside, you can hire one of the many Shikaras (longboats) available there. It will take you to the houseboat that you have rented. Sometimes, the charge for Shikara rides to and from your houseboat has already been included in your booking. Make sure to check that to avoid paying double! Once checked in, you can have your lunch there before proceeding to sightsee the rest of Srinagar.
For starters, you can rent the Shikara for a relaxing ride at the lake. This is a popular activity among photography lovers and newlyweds as it will take you around to enjoy the beauty of the floras and faunas that can be found there. Conveniently there are also plenty of attractions to visit that is accessible via Shikara as well!
The Mughal Gardens of Srinagar
Among many local attractions in Srinagar, there are beautiful Mughal gardens you can visit including the Shalimar and Nishat Garden. Both are accessible via a Shikara ride. Mughal gardens are characteristically known for their Persian style architecture influence brought in when Islam started to spread in the 14th century.
“From historical references, it seems like these gardens followed a similar pattern of Persian Paradise gardens, with terraces arranged around a central water channel, lined with fountains and planted with a variety of flowers and trees that grew in abundance within the valley.”UNESCO.org
Additionally, you can also choose to visit the Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden. It is the largest tulip garden in Asia spreading over 30 hectares of land and is located on the foothills of Zabarwan Range overlooking the Dal Lake. These pristine gardens are so beautiful, there are plenty of scenic corners waiting for your camera lens to spot them!
Old City Srinagar
If you have the time, try to make your way to the old city of Srinagar that emanates almost a medieval vibe as a whole, often leaving its visitors mesmerized. There you will encounter the Jhelum river flowing calmly through the area.
With nine bridges or ‘kadal’ built across to connect the locals, this river has been an integral part of the city for centuries. Sadly, a lot of them has deteriorated over the years, becoming unsafe to use including some of the oldest bridges like Zor Kadal and Fateh Kadal. As a precaution, newer and sturdier concrete bridges are available now for the people there to use instead; some of them by dismantling the older version and replacing them with a safer one.
On top of the charming atmosphere, there is a number of ancient mosques waiting for you to visit as well. For instance, the Khanqah-e-moula or also known as the Shah-e-Hamdan Mosque located at the banks of Jhelum. It was named after Shah-e-Hamdan, a Muslim scholar from Persia who was responsible for the spreading of Islam in Kashmir during the 13th century.
Try to drop by at the Hazratbal Shrine and Jamia Mosque too. Hazratbal Shrine, for example, is the only mosque there built with a dome while others have a distinctly different pagoda-like roof. This beautiful white mosque was also featured in popular Bollywood film Fanaa!
A Cup of Tea, A Sip of Coffee
For book lovers out there, set some time aside to visit Gulshan Books that is located on a small island in Dal Lake. According to bbc.com, this book store slash cafe has over 80,000 titles available for visitors. Furthermore, around 1,500 of them are available to read free of charges! Praised for its beautiful view, you can have a nice break here sipping coffee while reading at the balcony overlooking the lake.
More of a tea fan? Fret not, the tea culture in Kashmir is deep-rooted in the society, you’ll have fun sampling the local treat! We also found this cute tea room called ‘Chai Jaai‘ for a quick stop of tea and bread!
Day 3 | Exploring Gulmarg
On the third day, set out to spend a one-day return trip to Gulmarg!
Gulmarg or the ‘meadow of flowers’ is known for its wondrous beauty from beautiful ravines to stunning valleys as well as for its winter activities. A favourite vacation spot among Mughal royalties from the past, it is now an incredibly popular shooting spot for Bollywood film-making too!
There are plenty of activities to do there such as sledge riding, pony riding and skiing. On top of that, you can choose to take the Gulmarg gondola ride which is one of the longest in the world. This gondola ride could take you straight to the Apharwat Peak (second phase) at the height of 4,390 meters above sea level.
Not a fan of the freezing cold? Wait until spring and autumn come and this place will transform into a paradise filled with blooming flowers as far as your eyes could see!
Day 4 | The Last Day in Srinagar
Before leaving your houseboat in Srinagar to take the flight back to Delhi and make your way to Agra, be sure to not miss out on seeing the local trade selling vegetables and fruits at the lake. Just remember to plan well and wake up early as most of the happenings occur early in the morning!
The Golden Triangle
Now it’s time to head to three most iconic cities in India; Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. Dubbed as the Golden Triangle India not only due to the geographical locations, they are also rich in culture, history and beauty. If you are visiting India for the first time and has a pretty tight schedule, these are the three gems that you need to include in your itinerary first!
Day 5 | Witnessing a Grand Love
Agra is the first city in the Golden Triangle India you should visit after coming back from Kashmir. Most synonymous to the Taj Mahal and the grand love story of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal, it is definitely a popular choice amongst travellers all over the world. Proudly located on the banks of the Yamuna River in northern India’s Uttar Pradesh state, this city is the home of wondrous stories of the past, being the capital city of Mughal’s Empire once upon a time.
Taj Mahal: A Masterpiece
With a love story comparable to the Romeo and Juliet, Taj Mahal is India’s architectural pride that took 22 years to be completed. Also listed as one of the 7 New Wonders of The World due to its fascinating design, the complexity and beauty of this iconic building will definitely leave you breathless!
To immortalise the memory of his most beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, Mughal’s emperor Shah Jahan ordered his subject to build the Taj Mahal. The walls are decorated with intricately written calligraphy containing verses from the Quran and some parts of them even inlaid with precious gems! It is also said that the sunrise view from Taj Mahal is something you shouldn’t ever miss if you’re there.
Exploring Mughal-Era Buildings in Agra
On top of Taj Mahal, there are more variety of Mughal-era buildings in Agra that should be in your list to visit. This includes the Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri, and Akbar’s Tomb. The general characteristic of Mughal-style architecture can be seen from its bulbous dome, halls that are supported by pillars, and delicate decorations. Mughal-era buildings at that time were also influenced by both Muslim and Hindu religions. A lot of the constructions made use of white marbles and red sandstones too.
Interestingly, the personal taste of different Mughal rulers was also influencing the style of the buildings throughout the different period of time in Agra. For example, Babur wasn’t really into the Indian architecture. While his son, Humayun albeit described as being pretty artistic was too preoccupied with the problematic condition of the state to give his full attention to it.
The beauty of Agra’s architecture started to fully bloom during the reign of Babur’s grandson, Akbar. There were up to 500 buildings erected around Agra Fort during his time. Unfortunately, only a few of them survive the passage of time.
Finally, the ‘Golden Age of Mughal Architecture’ in Agra came during Shah Jahan’s period. He also carries the nickname ‘Engineer King’ which we all can agree is well-deserved by just looking at the majesticness of the Taj Mahal alone.
Day 6 | The Pink City of Rajasthan
It is now time to discover the charm of the Pink City! Jaipur is the capital of India’s Rajasthan state with a population of more than 3 million people. Known for beautifully painted ‘dusty pink’ buildings, this city has definitely been one of the travellers favourite Instagramable destination in recent years. It is without a doubt, a must-have in your India travel itinerary!
When the Prince of Wales and Queen Victoria visited Jaipur in 1876, Maharaja Ram Singh ordered the city to be decorated with the shade. Representing the message of hospitality, it was to hopefully show the visiting royal pair the kindness of Jaipur. On top of that, the colour, in particular, is also his queen’s favourite. Due to this, the Maharaja even passed a law in 1877 that requires all of the buildings in Jaipur to be painted with the same shade. Most fascinatingly, the law is actually still effective and practised up until today.
The Palace of The Wind
Besides being the most iconic spot in Jaipur, Hawa Mahal also carries one of the most interesting background stories. The construction began under the instruction of Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799. With a beautiful honeycomb-like structure, this five storeys building was used by the ladies in the royal households to enjoy the street view of the city.
This is especially useful during festivals and celebrations, as they can enjoy the time without worrying about strangers prying eyes. Hawa Mahal also works a vantage point for you to enjoy the view of the area. Across the street from the building, there is also a popular 70 years old lassi place which you can stop by to quench your thirst afterwards!
To The Home of Rajput’s Ruler
Next, make your way to Amer Fort. You can save more money if you choose to take a bus near Hawa Mahal instead of the more pricey auto-rickshaw or taxi. But always bear in mind that it could get a tad too crowded in there!
Located on the top of the Aravali Hill, about 20 minutes from the city centre, lay this UNESCO World Heritage site that used to be the home of Rajput rulers up until the 18th century. Its architecture is a result of the fusion between Muslim’s Mughal and Hindu’s Rajput style. Clad in sandstones in the shades of honey and rose, it is also well-known for its extensive complex, huge courtyard, long flight of stairs and the exquisite Maota Lake view.
The Hall of Mirrors
The regal ambience of the fort alone will make your trip there worth it but make sure to take a look at the dazzlingly beautiful Sheesh Mahal, the Hall of Mirrors there as well! Covered in shards of mirror and colourful Belgian glasses, this room allows the Maharani (queen) to enjoy the beauty of the stars at night without having to sleep in the open. Once the day turns dark, candles will be lit in the room, and the reflections of light on the mirrors will make it look there are thousands of stars shining all around!
There are so many things to see in the fort, you could actually spend hours there just to admire the place. Many visitors also tend to stay until the evening to witness the sound and light show as well as night viewing, all while enjoying a fine dining course featuring authentic Indian cuisine. Definitely one of the best ways to experience the lives of Indian royalties in the past!
Day 7 | Where Old Meets New
Being the capital city of India, New Delhi is a little hectic. With the constant sound of transportations especially motorbikes and auto-rickshaws bustling through their jam-packed road, it can be overwhelming at times. But if you keep your mind open, we are sure that you’ll be able to see the charm of this city in the midst of all the chaos!
Colourful Sea of People
For Bollywood movies fans, the busy street of India should be a pretty familiar sight. Everywhere you go, the crowd will always be with you. It might be a little shocking to some but you shouldn’t worry too much about this. The daily lives of the locals are one of the most interesting parts about travelling, so make sure to embrace it while you are there!
There are many places you can go for people-watching in New Delhi, but one of the best spots to be at is definitely Chandni Chowk. A mix of chaos, character and charm, it is one of the most crowded places in India where you can do some shopping, food-hopping and sight-seeing in one go. Carrying the meaning of Moonlight Square, Chandni Chowk was the promenade and the main route for royal processions during Shahjahanabad era. Nowadays, despite being congested on a daily basis, this part of Old Delhi is mostly known as a crumbling and overcrowded commercial space in dire need of redevelopment.
364 Years Old Mosque
While in Chandni Chowk, make sure to also explore the beautiful Jama Masjid nearby! This mosque is another example of Shah Jahan’s genius work, and sadly his last one before getting imprisoned by his own son. The construction ends in 1656 with the hard work of more than 5,000 labourers. It has massive entrances from all sides except the west as it faces Mecca, the direction which Muslim prays towards. The mosque was taken over by the British to set up an army post during their rule in India, but was returned back as a place of worship in 1862 after receiving petitions from the Muslim citizens.
Lāl Qila: The Red Fort
During Shah Jahan’s reign, one of the most prominent moves in his administration was the transfer of the Mughal dynasty capital from Agra to Delhi. As a result, The Red Fort was built and used as the main resident of the emperors for 200 years before falling into the hands of the British afterwards. Iconic for its red sandstone walls, this building combines the characteristics of Islamic, Persian, Timurid and Hindu architecture.
Declared as UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007, this fort witnessed some of the most notable events in India history. This includes the invasion by Persia which cost them the world-famous jewelled Peacock Throne as well as the public celebration site for India Independence Day on 15th August 1947. Due to multiple battles that it faced throughout the years, only some notable parts of the original structure survived. The others were only restored to its former state in recent years.
To The Gate of India
If the Statue of Liberty of America is the iconic monument that greets visitors coming towards the New York Harbour, in India, the first thing you’ll see while entering the country from the sea would be The Gate of India. Facing the Arabian Sea, this landmark was built to commemorate the landing of British in December 1911 at the Apollo Blunder.
Situated right opposite is the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, which is known for its beautiful and regal design. Regarded as one of the best hotels in the world, this hotel was also one of the venues where the infamous Mumbai Attack happened in November 2008. It was under siege for 2 nights and 3 days; 31 people lost their lives and 28 were hurt during that time. As unfortunate as it was, the hotel staffs later received high praises for their actions during the attack. They went above and beyond the job-scope, protecting the guests during the emergency situation, showing the highest level of servitude and selflessness.
Why You Should Visit India?
To sum it up, India is truly a country rich with culture and people. With dazzling views, charming history and a wide array of delectable cuisines, there are so much more you can see and discover there than what you’ve read here. But for the first-timers, this guide is definitely helpful as we have narrowed it down, highlighting the most popular spots amongst the tourist all over the world.
Prefer to have everything in your India itinerary all planned out for you? Visit Tripfez website or contact us to make your booking! Tripfez provides Muslim-friendly travel packages which allow you to travel at ease without having to worry about finding halal foods, prayer spots and many more!