Delhi, Agra, Jaipur... welcome to India's Golden Triangle! Here, no opium, but the gems of Mughal art and added as a hard drug. Beware, just one take is enough to make you want to come back. Once you get past the noise and frenzy, the dust and pollution that take over any Indian city, you can only succumb to the bewitching charm of this country. Here you are embarked on a journey that will awaken all your senses. Your eyes will be opened to the majestic grace of the Taj Mahal, the soothing delicacy of Humayun's mausoleum or the imposing strength of Amber Fort. Ears open to the sound of Sufi chants chanted over Nizzamudin's tomb or the water running from the temple of Galta. Nostrils quiver as one passes through Gali Parenthe Wali or the spice market of Old Delhi. Taste buds are awestruck by the new taste of the chaat pecked in the street or the fragrant curries savoured in restaurants. Hands dance to the touch of silk or multicoloured cottons in the bazaars of the cities. Amazement and wonder are distilled at every street corner to better remember that this country is not like the others: women in mutlicoloured sari with singing ankles, elephants wearing make-up, cows wandering quietly in the middle of traffic or camels pulling heavy carts loaded with straw or bricks...
This idyllic presentation does not obscure a harsh reality that is spread out on the sidewalks. Entire families build makeshift shelters in the streets of Delhi, almost making the slums look like residential areas. Heaps of rubbish pile up on the edges of Agra's dusty, stoned streets. Abandoned widows of all kinds beg on the railway platforms or in the ghats of Vrindavan. Air pollution casts a greyish veil over the cities almost permanently. And the omnipresent noise sharpens the nerves more finely than a gun or a knife blade. Delhi, the capital, concentrates all these contradictions in one place. From the dusty, bustling maze of Old Delhi to the vast, tranquil gardens of New Delhi, it's only a turn of a rickshaw wheel. To avoid getting carried away by the flood of emotions, there is only one solution: do as the Indians do. Welcome reality and keep your heart open to joy, however tenuous it may be.
The editorial team
Acknowledgements: to Sachin Mahesh, Pawan Singh, Romey Singh and Tuhin for helping us to chart the course. Many thanks to Patrick Maringe and Hector Baron for their trust.