Possibly the most popular introductory journey to India is the Golden Triangle – covering the heart of central India and its bustling cultural and historical hotspots like Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur. Apart from the usual sightseeing and marvelling at the incredible monuments steeped in history – to deep dive into the true cultures, cuisines and the local way of life we recommend the top 5 must-do experiences while you transverse the Golden Triangle:
1. Forage for food in the Shadow of History in Delhi
Discover the historical Lodhi Gardens in an “Out of Ordinary” way — go foraging for edibles with an expert on Delhi’s ecology and flora: discover, learn, and pick wild herbs and other edibles that grow in the wild and their connection with the evolution of Delhi. This two-part experience is an exploration of the “garden-to-table” concept. In the first part, the walk offers a foraging experience at Lodhi Garden in the heart of Delhi. You will learn about the variety of edible produce available within the garden. In the nursery, where you can forage, there is a plethora of herbs and vegetables, tended to by dedicated and experienced gardeners. In the second part, we travel to a nearby wine bar — Perch Khan Market — where the chef will prepare a family-style meal for us using our freshly harvested ingredients.
2.The Rural Rumble near Delhi
We know Delhi and the adjoining NCR region as urban megapolis, which are more concrete than anything else. However, there are a few unique yet lesser-known organic farms around Delhi NCR which give the visitors a taste of rural, and in many ways, the ‘Real India’.
In a short drive from Gurgaon (30 Minutes or so), you could give your guests the unique experience of the life in rural India. Be it a hands-on experience of milking a cow or getting involved in the kitchen to pluck organic vegetables from the farm and feasting on some local delicacies for lunch made out of 100% organic produce majorly sourced from the farm itself or indulging in an exciting tractor ride, this experience is sure to give a different perspective to the guests who visit Delhi.
3. Excursion to Bateshwar – where time stands stills from Agra
Bateshwar is a village on the banks of the river Yamuna (72 kms/ 1 ½ hours) from the city of Taj Mahal. It is an important spiritual and cultural centre for Hindus and Jains. It is known for the 101 Shiva temples built by Raja Badan Singh Bhadauria on a dam on the banks of the Yamuna. Shaouripur, near Bateshwar, is the birthplace of the 22nd Tirthankar of the Jain faith, Lord Neminath. Each year, the region hosts a cattle fair in October and November. The commercial livestock event is also of significance to Hindus, who make a pilgrimage to the river Yamuna in honour of Shiva. Those tourists who are not going to Varanasi would love Bateshwar Dham.
4. Leopard in the City – Jaipur
Jhalana Forest Reserve in Jaipur—yes, right inside the city, not near, not next to, but in Jaipur. The place is somewhat of a local wildlife sensation. With an area of just 24 square kilometres, it is home to over 20 leopards. Leopards are not endangered like tigers, but are rarer to spot because they are stealthier and shy. Conventionally, leopards have huge territories (on an average – 70 square kilometres) and are solitary animals. To have just one in the park would have been exciting, but 20 is just incredible.
How much goodness can a city pack in? As if palaces, forts, hills, great shopping areas, delicious cuisine, and being the gateway city to one of the most popular touristy states in the country were not enough, Jaipur is also an exciting wildlife destination now. It was only in March last year that Jhalana was declared a protected area and plans to have safaris were initiated. Now, 10 jeeps each are allowed in two shifts in the morning and evening. It is small, but that does not take away from Jhalana’s charm, as it is blessed with diverse topography, with the rocky Aravalis bordering it on one side and a forest of evergreen and deciduous trees stretching through its boundary. Jhalana is also home to chital, nilgai, and many snake species. It is, however, the over 100-odd species of birds, including raptors like shikras and white-eyed buzzards, that are its major attractions.
5. The Elephantastic Experience – Jaipur
The experience of meeting elephants in their natural habitat is a worthwhile opportunity. We offer a responsible way to spend quality time with these beautiful giants rather than troubling them for rides. Take a subtle walk around the village surrounded by the Aravali Mountains and a water body for elephant bathing in between.
Explore the elephant shelter and share smiles with their keepers and family. We have plenty of bananas for you to be friends with them. It is a unique opportunity to learn gesture language used by their keepers and dry scrub them to strengthen your friendship.
Got time? Why not cook a loaf of bread or two and feed them fresh? A day out with elephants is a memorable experience for wildlife enthusiasts who want to get up close with elephants and be part of responsible tourism.
So go ahead and experience the ‘Real India’ revealed to you in a unique way!