In India's capital Delhi, you can see an intriguing mix of old-world charm and modern world sophistication.
Distinctively different, yet co-existing perfectly, Old Delhi and New Delhi each has its unique appeal.
The Taj Mahal, with its intricate marble work
The first thing you notice has to be the impossibly chaotic traffic. Imagine buses, cars, auto-rickshaws, cycles and handcarts, all coming from different directions on the road, contending sometimes with cows and pigs.
You have no idea where the traffic is heading. And you will probably be too deafened by the constant honking to care.
But do not let the traffic put you off visiting the city. How often do you see a cow resting right in the middle of the road, amidst cars and buses? It is a totally unique experience!
Once accustomed to the traffic, you will likely be eager to start exploring the bustling streets of Delhi. From the crowded, lively Old Delhi, to the modern Connaught Place in New Delhi, it makes for an interesting contrast.
The impressive City Palace
Connaught Place looks uncannily British, with its wide avenues and modern buildings, and it is instantaneously recognisable by its huge roundabout, vibrant shopping complex and modern commercial buildings.
Other attractions not to be missed in Delhi include the Lotus Temple, which is made of pure white marble; the India Gate, which is a war memorial that commemorates 90,000 Indians who lost their lives during the Afghan war and World War I; Humayun's tomb, which has similar architecture with the Taj Mahal and the Qutb Minar, with its beautifully inscribed verses from the holy Quran.
A trip to Delhi would not be complete without a visit to the Red Fort, a formidable structure built in 1638 by Mughal emperor Shahjahan. Just opposite the fort is Chandni Chowk, the oldest and busiest market in the area, with its narrow streets, Indian food, and quaint little shops selling clothing, books, leather goods and other consumer goods.
If the crowd proves too much for you, head for the nearby Jama Masjid, one of the biggest mosques in India. The red sandstone structure has a courtyard that can hold up to 25,000 worshippers.
The vast Fatehpur Sikri
Shopping in Delhi is bound to get anyone excited because there is so much to buy. Apart from Connaught Place, shopping hubs like Lajpat Nagar, Sarojini Nagar and South Extension offer an array of goods. For fuss-free shopping, the government owned handicraft emporia are great places to shop for ethnic Indian handicrafts.
The food you can get your hands on in Delhi can only be described with one word: satisfying. Tuck in to yummy pratas with every stuffing imaginable, served with all kinds of curry and acar (pickle), and the optional tandoori dishes to satisfy your love for all things spicy. Of course, there are the wide selections of fine cuisines in the hotels or restaurants, and for those with strong stomachs, the roadside eateries. Vegetarian dishes are common and tasty too!
Jaipur, the Pink City
Jaipur may not be as familiar to most people as Delhi is, but that does not really matter. You will be completely charmed. Jaipur, endearingly known as the Pink City, is the capital of the Rajasthan State in north-western India.
The pink sandstone used in the buildings of the walled city gives it a beautiful shade of luminous soft crimson. The streets are wide and well structured, and it is not too difficult to spot the first attraction of your visit: the Hawa Mahal (The Palace of Wind).
Built of pink stucco in imitation of sandstone, Hawa Mahal forms part of the City Palace, and was built for women of the royalty to observe everyday life in the streets from behind the screened balconies.
Go ahead and get lost in the many winding passageways and pillars leading to the top storey and be rewarded with a view of the streets below, just the way the royalty did. Another must-visit is Amber Fort, located high on the hills that surround the city of Jaipur.
You may need several hours to explore the fort?s magnificent gateways, sprawling courtyards, exquisite pavilions, and the shimmering mirrors encrusted in the walls of the Sheesh Mahal.
The City Palace, home of the present maharajah, holds an impressive museum within the palace, with galleries of rare paintings, fine miniatures, manuscripts and artifacts. The collection of guns and swords on display is arguably one of the best in India.
The magnificient Hawa Mahal
Those who intend to shop in Jaipur should most likely already have an agenda or at least a good idea of what they want to buy. Renowned for its precious and semi-precious gems, the array of rubies, emeralds and sapphires are dazzling and beautiful, but are likely to cost you a small fortune.
Apart from the fine jewellery, Jaipur is also famous for its gorgeous hand-knotted carpets.
Agra: City of The Taj Mahal
The main highlight of the Golden Triangle route is indisputably The Taj Mahal. Listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site, it is a masterpiece of immense beauty and a nostalgic reminder of the romantic, bitter-sweet story behind it.
Commonly regarded as the eternal symbol of love, The Taj Mahal was built by the heartbroken and inconsolable Mughal Emperor Shahjahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal after she died giving birth to their 14th child.
Completed in 1643, the massive marble mausoleum still looks immaculately untouched. The marble is spotlessly white, and the inlay work still dazzling, even though many of the precious stones that were part of the inlays had been stolen.
Apart from the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort is another site worth visiting in Agra, where Shahjahan was imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb. The Agra Fort is noted for its interesting mix of Hindu and Islamic architecture. If you have not had enough of Taj Mahal, you can catch a glimpse of it from the Agra Fort.
Another must-see in Agra is Fatehpur Sikri. It was the political capital of India's Mughal Empire for about 10 years, but was later abandoned due to the lack of water. It spreads over vast open spaces with palaces, courtyards, soldiers, barracks, gardens and halls.
The silent and deserted city seems to be waiting for its King's return, while pining for its once glorious past.
The awe-inspiring sites of India are sure to leave fond memories long after your visit. Start planning for your trip to the astonishing Golden Triangle and be charmed by the incredible beauty of India.