Magnificent and mystifying – India bristles with an eclectic mix of natural wonders, cultures and people that defies belief. It’s a kaleidoscope of new experiences wherever you look, a destination that’s full of surprises – and one you’ll never forget…



​​​​​​​​​​​​​And that's exactly what Travel Directors Nicky Edwards and Sue McIndoe discovered on their own intriguing Indian initiation, visiting four of the country’s most famous cities last September.​

The Route


​Like us, most first-timers to India visit the Golden Triangle, starting with a couple of days in the capital Delhi (a city of two halves), continuing with an overnight visit to historic Agra and the white marble wonder of the Taj Mahal, and concluding with a few days in in the fabled Pink City of Jaipur. But after a LOT of exploration, those in the know (including us!) head off to utterly beguiling Udaipur – the surreal, soul-stirring ‘Venice of the East’: charming, romantic and a world away from the craziness of the capital.


​Much like two worlds colliding, Delhi is the old versus the new; and the old embracing the new. On one side is the walled city of Old Delhi. On the other is New Delhi, the Imperial capital built by the British, where life spits and splutters and carries city dwellers on its mighty shoulders. Its foot is firmly in the here and now with a multitude of modern diversions for Delhi’s inhabitants: hip coffee shops, bars and restaurants serving both local and international cuisine; vibrant shopping; and the country’s finest museums. In fact there’s everything you’d expect from a thoroughly modern capital, apart from the traffic which in just a few words we'd describe as chaos… and cows!

Travelling around on an auto-rickshaw really submerged us into the heart of the chaos: and weaving our way between the traffic while taking in all the scintillating sights, sounds and scents of the city (the best of which came from folks cooking at the roadside) was at times a bit like a rollercoaster ride. Even so, it was a brilliant experience: a fun and fabulous way to see much of the city. 

Marvellously mixed in with New Delhi’s modern architecture were all kinds of stunning historic monuments like India Gate – a 42-metre-high Arc-de-Triomphe-like archway commemorating the 70,000 Indian soldiers who lost their lives fighting for the British Army in World War I – where we were lucky enough to catch an official military event during our visit. We also loved Gandhi Smriti, an oasis in the city where Mahatma Gandhi spent the last 144 days of his life. The house and gardens now play host to a museum dedicated to his life and works, and gives an amazing insight into his final hours. Particularly moving were the small display of his minimal possessions, and the route of his final steps marked out. 

​Old Delhi on the other hand is like stepping back in time – when you walk up the steps from the train station, it’s hard to believe you are in the very same city you left 10 minutes ago by train. Hustle and bustle, noises and smells – it all comes at you from each and every angle – and although it was completely overwhelming at first, never at any point did we feel unsafe making our way through the narrow streets and crowds on a cycle rickshaw (how the riders do it we have no idea)!​

The Taj Mahal

A four-hour drive from New Delhi, the magnificent Taj Mahal is, in all honesty, the main reason to head to Agra. It's best visited at dawn, and to ensure you're inside the complex to watch the sun rise over the building, plan to arrive at the East Gate by 5.30am to avoid the line at the ticket counter which opens at 6am. Yes it's a very early start, but the pros far outweigh the cons.

What we loved about the Taj Mahal is that it's been designed in such a way that you don't see it until you've passed through the gates. Then it's right there before you in all its glory: sublime, simply stunning and completely breathtaking.

Even with all the crowds there's a real sense of serenity; and you can lose yourself for hours wandering through the gardens, watching the building change colour as the sun moves through the sky; the exterior's individually hand-placed jewels sparkling as they bask in the sunlight. And by the time you leave, the stores and merchants lining the streets beyond the gates will have become a hive of activity​. All in all an absolutely unmissible experience.


A bustling city, brimming with life, and alive with a world of  splendour and spectacle in India’s largest and most romantic state. 

The first thing you’ll notice is the colour: lots of it, and all made marvellous by the sun. The capital of Rajasthan – variously known as the Pink City or the City of Victory – is awash with pink (by law, all buildings in the old city must be painted a deep saffron-pink), so it glistens like candy floss. Grand hilltop forts and graceful palaces are stamped here and there: with a million vibrant saris, camel carts, cows, rickshaws, jewellery shops and bazaars providing the chaos in between.​

The people are friendly and full of character, so it's a great city to walk around, and the traffic comes in all shapes and sizes here: from cars, to camels... even the odd elephant. But once inside the palace area, it's amazing how quiet it gets (and the same can be said for the time spent at your chosen hotel).

​Learning about Jaipur's history through the centuries from the guides here was truly fascinating. Such a proud people, their stories bring everything to life so much so that you just don't want them to stop. We loved hearing how everything links back to our own royal family too, and how much that is celebrated here even to this day. Also not to be missed is the Amber Fort, again steeped in history, with amazing stories (and great views), and we couldn't help but imagine what it would have been like back in the days of the Maharajas – particuarly when it was home to Raja Man Singh and his 12 wives – each of whom had their own suite.​​ Fascinating.


A beautiful rural drive through the Aravalli Range (and a world away from the urban icons of the Golden Triangle), Udaipur is the prettiest of Rajasthan’s own cities. The sort of place where, on your arrival at gorgeous Lake Pichola, before taking the boat over to your hotel, you exhale deeply and just relax... it's just so beautiful.

Beyond the lake, Udaipur itself is super to stroll around, with some lovely shops and the amazing Palace of the King of Kings, which is incredible, having been added to by each successive Maharana (it opens at 9.30am but wait an hour or so to avoid the tour group crush).

And of course you absolutely don't want to miss an evening excursion out onto the lake itself: stunning and utterly romantic (less so though when you're travelling with a colleague and not your significant other!).

Our Stay

  • The Imperial New Delhi New Delhi

    Approaching The Imperial through its stately avenue of palms tells you everything: this truly is a landmark hotel. In fact, we’ve known museums that don’t display as much history as The Imperial!

    Call us on 01244 567 000 to start planning your next holiday.

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  • The Oberoi Amarvilas Agra

    Indulge with your own private view of the greatest monument of love at The Oberoi Amarvilas, the leading luxury hotel in Agra and a welcome sanctuary to retreat to at the end of a busy day.

    Call us on 01244 567 000 to start planning your next holiday.

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  • The Oberoi Rajvilas JAIPUR

    An oasis of luxury and comfort with exquisite rooms and suites clustered around private courtyards and nestled in 32 acres of landscaped gardens and reflection pools.

    Call us on 01244 567 000 to start planning your next holiday.

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  • Taj Lake Palace Udaipur

    This exquisite palace, set against the backdrop of the majestic Aravalli Range and dominated by exotic gardens, fountains and ornamental ponds, seemingly floats above Lake Pichola, and provides a truly unforgettable approach.

    Call us on 01244 567 000 to start planning your next holiday.

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