Wild Junket » India http://www.wildjunket.com An adventure travel blog that brings you on a rollercoaster ride around the world Wed, 29 Oct 2014 14:30:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Sri Lanka: Ancient Past, New Peace http://www.wildjunket.com/2012/04/13/sri-lanka-ancient-past-new-peace/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2012/04/13/sri-lanka-ancient-past-new-peace/#comments Fri, 13 Apr 2012 05:12:20 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/?p=8567 After decades of intense civil war and a devastating tsunami, peace has finally returned to Sri Lanka, an island of millennia-old temples and timeless ruins. By: Candace Rose Rardon | Originally published in WildJunket Magazine April/May 2012 e isn’t blinking. My eyes stay fixed in this impossible staring contest, willing the figure in front of [...]

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After decades of intense civil war and a devastating tsunami, peace has finally returned to Sri Lanka, an island of millennia-old temples and timeless ruins.

By: Candace Rose Rardon | Originally published in WildJunket Magazine April/May 2012

H e isn’t blinking. My eyes stay fixed in this impossible staring contest, willing the figure in front of me to defy the odds and give me a wink.

But then again, at over 2,000 years old, this guy probably has had a little practice.

With his perfect golden skin and impeccable posture, he’s one of 153 Buddha statues lining the walls of the cave temples in Dambulla, Sri Lanka. Built into a 160-meter rock, the Golden Temple of Dambulla began as a Buddhist monastery in the 3rd century BC – a truly unfathomable amount since my own country is barely 400 years old.

Although they differ in size and shape, each cave temple is a marvel of shrines, boldly-painted murals, and Buddhas in a variety of poses: sitting, standing and even reclining – one such statue in the first temple measures 14 meters long. Inside, the air is fragrant with the smell of incense, still sweet from the pink and white lotus blossoms brought by pilgrims. As I move from cave to cave, rain begins to fall outside. The gentle trickle against the rock only adds to the peaceful atmosphere surrounding the site.

Outside the temples, I pause for a moment at the edge of a cliff – the landscape parting like stage curtains to reveal the world below. Only the giant crown of the golden Buddha’s head is visible amidst the trees. I spot the road I’d just traveled on from Kandy, now a thin black ribbon winding in and out of the forest. The expansive flatlands are ringed by dark, jagged hills and just in the distance, the unmistakable mound of Sigiriya Rock.

“You want tea?” It’s one of the guides I’d spotted walking around the complex earlier, a man named Pramatissa. He’s sitting beneath a tree with a few other guides and inviting me to join them.

I soon learn one of the men isn’t a guide but has come from the town below. Every day twice a day, Anantu makes the trek up the hill bearing samosas, egg patties and a thermos of black tea, providing breakfast and lunch for the guides.

“Anantu is from Trincomalee,” Pramatissa tells me. “He moved here twenty years ago because of the war.” Located on the northeast coast of the country, Trinco (it’s often shortened), was severely affected by the civil war and the 2004 tsunami.

I head back down the hill with a belly full of two cups of warm tea and I take this mention of the war as a sign that I’m on the right path. As fascinated as I am by Sri Lanka’s millennia of history, it is the chance to learn about the country’s more recent past that intrigues me most.

Sri Lanka lies just 20 miles south of India in the Indian Ocean – a mere dollop of an island, yet it is steeped in a history far greater than its geographical size.

Ceylon’s Ancient Past

Sri Lanka lies just 20 miles south of India in the Indian Ocean – a mere dollop of an island, yet it is steeped in a history far greater than its geographical size. The first settlers are said to have arrived in the 5th century B.C, and throughout time, the country has been known as Taprobane by the Greeks, Serendib by the Arabs (where we get the word ‘serendipity’) and as Ceylon during British rule – that itself an iteration of the Portuguese Ceilão. All these names reflect the country’s rich, cultural heritage and the important role it has played in the region over the last few centuries.

Just as Sri Lanka gained independence from the British in 1948, the country began to turn against itself. Years of ethnic tension simmering below the surface finally came to a boil. From 1983 to 2009, a civil war raged between the Sinhalese government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as the latter group battled for an independent Tamil state. Peace talks and ceasefires were attempted several times throughout the two decades of conflict, but it wasn’t until May of 2009 that the Tamil Tigers finally agreed to lay down their arms.

This being my first visit to a post-conflict zone, I’ve arrived with a desire to see how such a status affects the country; both what remains of the war and how the nation is re-building. But before I get to Trinco, I have more ground to cover – ground even more ancient than Dambulla. It’s as though I have to learn about Sri Lanka’s past before I can understand its present.


This is a preview of the 10-page feature on WildJunket Magazine. If you enjoyed this preview, you can read the full article in WildJunket Magazine April/May 2012.

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Daily Travel Snapshot: Agra, India http://www.wildjunket.com/2011/08/13/daily-travel-snapshot-agra-india/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2011/08/13/daily-travel-snapshot-agra-india/#comments Sat, 13 Aug 2011 01:30:57 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/?p=6932 Children along the streets of Agra, India.

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Children along the streets of Agra, India.

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Daily Travel Snapshot: Amritsar, India http://www.wildjunket.com/2011/08/08/daily-travel-snapshot-amritsar-india/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2011/08/08/daily-travel-snapshot-amritsar-india/#comments Mon, 08 Aug 2011 01:30:36 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/?p=6807 The Golden Temple of Amritsar, India.

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The Golden Temple of Amritsar, India.

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Daily Travel Snapshot: Dharamsala, India http://www.wildjunket.com/2011/08/04/daily-travel-snapshot-dharamsala-india/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2011/08/04/daily-travel-snapshot-dharamsala-india/#comments Thu, 04 Aug 2011 01:30:42 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/?p=6811 Tibetan prayer wheels in Dharamsala, India. Dubbed Little Tibet, Dharamsala is home to thousands of Tibetan refugees including the Dalai Lama. It’s an intriguing place that has drawn me deep into the Tibetan world and stirred my soul.

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Tibetan prayer wheels in Dharamsala, India. Dubbed Little Tibet, Dharamsala is home to thousands of Tibetan refugees including the Dalai Lama. It’s an intriguing place that has drawn me deep into the Tibetan world and stirred my soul.

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Daily Travel Snapshot: Panorama of the Red Fort in Agra, India http://www.wildjunket.com/2011/07/29/daily-travel-snapshot-panorama-of-the-red-fort-in-agra-india/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2011/07/29/daily-travel-snapshot-panorama-of-the-red-fort-in-agra-india/#comments Fri, 29 Jul 2011 01:30:46 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/?p=6594 A panoramic view of the Red Fort in Agra, India.

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A panoramic view of the Red Fort in Agra, India.

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Daily Travel Snapshot: Fatehpur Sikri, India http://www.wildjunket.com/2011/06/29/daily-travel-snapshot-fatehpur-sikri-india/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2011/06/29/daily-travel-snapshot-fatehpur-sikri-india/#comments Wed, 29 Jun 2011 01:30:28 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/?p=6568 Fatehpur Sikri, AgraA colorful religious ceremony taking place in the mosque of Fatehpur Sikri, India.

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Fatehpur Sikri, AgraA colorful religious ceremony taking place in the mosque of Fatehpur Sikri, India.

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Culinary Travel: Delhi’s Finest Trio http://www.wildjunket.com/2010/09/10/culinary-travel-delhis-finest-trio/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2010/09/10/culinary-travel-delhis-finest-trio/#comments Thu, 09 Sep 2010 17:08:18 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/2010/09/10/culinary-travel-delhis-finest-trio/ A table at Bukhara, Northwest frontier restaurantOn the last leg of our month-long India sojourn, we were treated to the finest cuisine Delhi had on offer. Bursting with vigor, flavors and smells, Delhi has in many ways imparted its character to its diverse and internationally-influenced cuisine. Unlike most small towns and cities in India, the major metropolis gyrates with a new-found [...]

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On the last leg of our month-long India sojourn, we were treated to the finest cuisine Delhi had on offer. Bursting with vigor, flavors and smells, Delhi has in many ways imparted its character to its diverse and internationally-influenced cuisine. Unlike most small towns and cities in India, the major metropolis gyrates with a new-found energy injected by international cultures and ethnicities.

The past decade has seen a flow of expatriate workers streaming in to the country, with many of them landing in the capital, New Delhi. As a result of that, European fine-dining restaurants and Chinese chains are popping up all over the city. At ITC Maurya, Delhi’s finest trio of restaurants, headed by the city’s top chefs, dish out exquisite platters from the Indian, Chinese and Western culinary worlds.

Bukhara

A table at Bukhara, Northwest frontier restaurant

ITC-Welcomgroup’s well-established Bukhara brand has a ringing fame in both India and abroad. Its inception as a specialty Tandoor restaurant has started a legacy throughout the world. And the legacy started here at ITC Maurya.

Over the years, Bukhara has emerged as one of India’s most popular restaurant brands. Although the menu hasn’t changed in the last twenty years, those who have eaten here just always seem to come back again and again, each experience different from the other. That is exactly the restaurant’s aim : to defeat convention and win its customers over with its unchanging consistency in food quality and service.  

The head chef of Bukhara at ITC Maurya, J.P.Singh, has a prominent role to play: he was the mastermind behind this specialty Tandoor restaurant concept, and still is the restaurant’s supporting pillar today. We were fortunate enough to have the master himself pick out the best dishes in the restaurant and serve them up one by one.

Bukhara’s menu is heavy on meats that are marinated and grilled in a tandoor. I’d been told by many not to miss out on the murgh malai kebab (boneless chicken marinated with cream cheese and green coriander) and it didn’t disappoint. Another centerpiece that the head chef specially dished out for us was the tender sikandari raan (leg of lamb marinated in herbs) – crispy on the outside, tender red meat on the inside. Bukhara’s dal (black lentils simmered overnight with tomatoes, ginger, and garlic) is its trademark dish, so famous it’s now sold in grocery stores.

Food at Bukhara, New Delhi

West View

tn_IMG_9501 Stepping foot into the hotel’s European fine-dining restaurant, it’s easy to fall for the rustic charm of establishment’s exquisite decor. The air is rich with country-style cottage charm: parquet flooring, teak furnishing and a giant burner lamp as the centerpiece. Porcelain plates hang on the walls, while brass ornaments hang from the fireplace. It’s hard to imagine you’re still in India.

But what really blew our minds away was the sumptuous, authentic Continental cuisine the restaurant dished out. Chef Akshay hit the right spot and achieved perfection with his stone-grilled lamb chop, high-fire sizzling ribeye steak and simple yet delectable caviar. Alberto felt like home here, and was equally impressed by their selection of European cheese and cured meat – jamon, chorizo and German sausages.

Speaking to Chef Akshay, I could evidently tell the charming culinary expert had spent years perfecting his skills in European cooking. Having spent the last 11 years working as a chef in Florida, he’s mastered Western culinary techniques and secrets and now has returned to his homeland in the hope of spreading his knowledge.

I couldn’t have asked for a better gastronomic experience than this one at West View – one that offered a voyage into European gastronomy right in the heat of Delhi.

 

Stone-grilled lamb chops

My Humble House

An atmospheric booth at My Humble House Both restaurants above stood out for their outstanding cuisine, but this particular one at ITC Maurya definitely tucked at my heart strings. Serving up modern fusion Oriental cuisine, My Humble House is a contemporary Chinese fine-dining enclave that has got every single bit of detail perfect.

The restaurant is the masterpiece of a fellow-Singaporean chef who’s had years of experience heading the kitchens of several renown Chinese restaurants in Singapore. He tells me, “Chinese cuisine is getting very envogue here in India, and we’re pulling in more crowd than before with our creative dishes.”

One dish in particular that caught my attention was the wasabi prawns: fat, juicy prawns drenched in a light wasabi sauce and fried to crispy perfection. For someone who doesn’t have an inkling for wasabi, I devoured the prawns whole-heartedly, tearing it apart inside out just because it was the best prawn I’d ever tasted. Next came the fried vermicelli wrapped in a thin layer of omelet – for such a simple dish like that, it exceeded any sort of expectations I’d had. The highlight was definitely the braised pigs’ trotters, a traditional home-cooked food that I’d fantasized about everyday since I’d left home –and the head chef made my dream come true.

 

Fried wasabi prawns at My Humble House

Disclaimer: My experience was sponsored by ITC-Welcomgroup, but all the opinions above are my own.

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Tibet in Exile: Dharamsala, India http://www.wildjunket.com/2010/08/31/tibet-in-exile-dharamsala-india/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2010/08/31/tibet-in-exile-dharamsala-india/#comments Mon, 30 Aug 2010 20:30:49 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/2010/08/31/tibet-in-exile-dharamsala-india/ town of Dhramsala, IndiaAs our bus crawled into the misty highlands of Dharamsala, we felt like we had left India behind. The humid heat and raucous chaos were all gone, only to be replaced by cool mountain air and calm serenity. Tibetan monks stroll languidly through the town’s narrow alleys. Since China claimed Tibetan territories, the Tibet government [...]

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As our bus crawled into the misty highlands of Dharamsala, we felt like we had left India behind. The humid heat and raucous chaos were all gone, only to be replaced by cool mountain air and calm serenity. Tibetan monks stroll languidly through the town’s narrow alleys. Since China claimed Tibetan territories, the Tibet government including His Holiness the Dalai Lamai have been in exile here in Dharamsala, India. Tucked in the highlands of the Indian Himalayas, Dharamsala has a mystic air for both its heavenly location and its spiritual residents.

town of Dhramsala, India

Little Tibet

Poised above the main city center of Dharamsala is McLeod Ganj, the main base for Tibetans refugees and these days, hordes of tourists. The mountain station was set up by British Officer McLeod who was stationed here when the British ruled India. Today, it’s home to the largest Tibetan community outside of Tibet – naturally, you can expect to see evidence of Tibetan existence in every corner of the town.

Tibetan colors in Dharamsala, India

A bright red Tibetan temple stands in the heart of McLeod Ganj, flanked by two main streets. The temple is decorated with intricate Buddhist carvings, shimmering golden figurines and praying wheels. Climbing to the rooftop of the temple, we were treated to a view of the bustling town – misty clouds hung mid-air backdropped by a shade of obscure greenery.

Tibetan temple in McLeod Ganj 

Praying wheels of Tibetan temple in DharamsalaTibetan praying wheels – turn it in a clockwise direction and send your prayers out.

Golden Buddhist  figurine

Tushita Meditation Center

Curious to learn more about the town’s relation with Tibetan Buddhism, we hiked up to the surrounding forest to visit the Tushita Meditation Center. The center organizes intensive meditation courses conducted by both Tibetan and Western teachers. Besides these month-long retreats, you can also sign up for short meditation classes that gives you an introduction to all forms of meditation. Non-Buddhists are welcomed to attend. His Holiness Dalai Lama even gives teachings here whenever he’s in town. Be sure to check out Tushita’s website for the schedule.

Tushita Meditation Center

Tushita Meditation Center hall

The People of Tibet

One of the most interesting places in McLeod Ganj was the Tibet Museum. It told the story of the Tibetans – how their resilience have brought them here. They’d traversed miles and overcome difficulties like frost bites and extreme weather and find home here. In their eyes, I could see determination and strength.

ATibetan in Dharamsala An old lady in traditional Tibetan costume.

Tibetan monks in Dharamsala, India Tibetan monks strolling along the streets of Dharamsala, India.

A lady selling typical Tibetan street food, momos. A lady selling typical Tibetan street food, momos.

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World’s 7 Most Scenic Drives http://www.wildjunket.com/2010/08/27/worlds-7-most-scenic-drives/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2010/08/27/worlds-7-most-scenic-drives/#comments Fri, 27 Aug 2010 10:49:09 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/2010/08/27/worlds-7-most-scenic-drives/ Twelve Apostles along the Great Ocean Road in MelboAs much as I enjoy taking local buses and trains, one of my favorite ways of enjoying a country leisurely is driving through the countryside, soaking in the landscape and scenery. Especially in massive countries like Australia, driving from one region to another gives a real sense of he back country. A recent driving trip [...]

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As much as I enjoy taking local buses and trains, one of my favorite ways of enjoying a country leisurely is driving through the countryside, soaking in the landscape and scenery. Especially in massive countries like Australia, driving from one region to another gives a real sense of he back country. A recent driving trip in Ireland allowed me to reacquaint with that love. I’d previously written about ideal driving tour destinations, now I’m going deeper to dig out the world’s 7 most scenic drives.

1. Great Ocean Road, Australia

Weaving through the Southern Ocean coastline in Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road offers sights of the scrubby landscape, craggy coastal rock formations and the surrounding Otways rainforest. The scenic drive starts from the picnic-heaven Torquay, passing through the surfers’ paradise, Bell’s Beach, and culminates at the Twelve Apostles (pictured below) – an impressive display of limestone rock stacks rising from the tumultuous waves. If you’re planning to spend your holidays in Australia, be sure to rent a car to cruise through this incredible scenic route.

Twelve Apostles along the Great Ocean Road in Melbo Flickr photo by [mapu]

2. Milford Road, New Zealand

An essential part of NZ holiday includes the jaw-dropping scenic drive in South West New Zealand, journeying through valleys, lakes and waterfalls. Running alongside a 14-mile fjord, the drive offers views of the Tasman Sea, and the surrounding snow-peaked mountains. The route takes you through Fiordland National Park and portions of the Te Wāhipounamu World Heritage Area, one of the great wilderness areas of the southern hemisphere.

Milford Road, New Zealand  Flickr photo by jdegenhardt

3. M8, Scotland

The mountainous and craggy landscape of Scotland is often overlooked by travelers, but the country’s diverse geography is definitely worth checking out. Mountain passes that mark the transitions between the highlands and lowlands snake past steep slopes and hilltop castles. M8 is the main motorway – its secondary roads lead to interesting spots and some have bends so sharp that will send you screaming.

View along M8 in Scotland Photo by Stuart Pinfold

4. Pacific Highway, California

Perhaps one of the world’s most photographed route, the Pacific Highway that cuts through California meanders languidly along the shoreline. Starting from San Luis Obispo, the route brings you through hairpin bends, cliffs and oak woodlands and ends at Monterey. Some of the essential stops include Morro Bay – where a volcanic rock stands 536 feet above the bay, the Hearst Castle and the Point Lobos State Reserve to catch gray whales migrating past (December through April).

Pacific Highway in California Photo by nancydowd

5. Leh-Manali Highway, India

Those who have been to the Indian Himalayas would have passed through this hugely famous route – fame for its unworldly beauty and notorious for the dangers and harshness of the terrain. The Leh-Manali Highway is a highway in India connecting the Kashmir region to the Himalayas. It crosses some of the highest mountain passes in the world and is open only for 2 months in a year (between June and mid-September) when snow does not pose too much of a threat. Travelers who have done this by bus vouch that this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience – nowhere else offers such raw beauty.

Leh-Manali highway in India Photo by Wilson Loo

6. Seward Highway, Alaska

The Seward Highway is a major highway in Alaska that extends 127 miles (204 km) from Seward to Anchorage. Backdropped by majestic snow-capped mountains, the highway snakes through plundering waterfalls, verdant forests and calm lakes. Watch for the rare Beluga Whales, or mooses and bears near rapids and creeks. Wildlife and nature are abundant here, so take your time to explore the area and you’ll be generously rewarded.

Seward Highway in Alaska

7. Grossglockner High Alpine Road, Austria

The single most breathtaking drive in Europe is the Grossglockner High Alpine Road that winds around the highest mountain in the Alps (at 3,798metres above sea level). The 4,000km journey to the Arctic passes through all types of vegetation – from green meadows to dry cornfields and the eternal ice. The highlight of the route is definitely the Hohe Tauern National Park: the highest mountain and the largest glacier in Austria.

Grossglockner mountain in Austria Photo by daneen_vol

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A Grand View of the Taj Mahal http://www.wildjunket.com/2010/08/26/a-grand-view-of-the-taj-mahal/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2010/08/26/a-grand-view-of-the-taj-mahal/#comments Thu, 26 Aug 2010 11:18:29 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/2010/08/26/a-grand-view-of-the-taj-mahal/ The Taj MahalHome to the world-famous Taj Mahal, Agra has gained worldwide fame for its impressive works of architecture. As the second corner of India’s popular Golden Triangle along with Delhi and Jaipur, the city is rightfully an essential stop for visitors to India. But aside from the Taj Mahal, few people know about the gardens of [...]

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Home to the world-famous Taj Mahal, Agra has gained worldwide fame for its impressive works of architecture. As the second corner of India’s popular Golden Triangle along with Delhi and Jaipur, the city is rightfully an essential stop for visitors to India. But aside from the Taj Mahal, few people know about the gardens of Agra. The first Mughal Emperor, Babar, had brought into India the concept of gardens: fountains, fruit-bearing trees, fragrant flowers and water channels. Today the garden city of Agra is splashed in emerald green, with luscious greenery lining its streets.

The Taj Mahal

Blending beautifully into the city’s landscape is the ITC Mughal Agra, a Luxury Collection hotel set in 35 acres of luxurious gardens. Drawing inspiration from Agra’s garden flair, the plush hotel softens up its imposing redbrick exterior with emerald green grass, lotus ponds and blossoming lilies. Even the building’s red facade is inspired by the architectural marvels of the Mughal empire: resembling the Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri.

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The Taj in the Distance

  Taj Mahal, India 

From our suite at ITC Mughal Agra, we were treated to a view of the ivory-white marble dome of the majestic Taj Mahal. Although the view was slightly obstructed by a series of corrugated roofs and sky soaring trees, it was clear that the Taj was just within a stone’s throw away.

Earlier that day, we had arrived to the humidity and heat of Agra only to be whisked right into the cushy comfort of our hospitable host, ITC-Welcomgroup. We were warmly welcomed by its staff and presented with beautiful jasmine flowers and a refreshing glass of coconut juice.

Back in our fifth-floor suite, we drank in the view from our cushy divan seating conveniently designed to sit right by the bay window. The Mughal inspired interior design is evident from the lavish furnishing: a elaborate Persian carpet, velvet upholstery, ancient traditional paintings and exotic teak furniture. A high-powered massage chair sits by our bedroom window, adding an element of relaxation to our suite.

 
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Mughal Splendour  A swing in the Tansen Suite

“We have heard stories of how prosperous the Mughal empire was, with their lavish palaces, banquets and extravagant lifestyles. The only way to fully understand it, is to actually live it. Our hotel aims to give guests that  experience.” Jyoti Chitkara, the hotel’s marketing manager explained.

It’s no wonder the entire hotel is tuned to such refined perfection. As the winner of the first Aga Khan Award for Architectural Excellence to be won in India, ITC Mughal Agra definitely lives up to its reputation.

Jyoti brought us on a tour around the compound, starting from the resplendent lobby to its swimming pool and royal spa.

The hotel’s two Presidential suites have hosted a string of VIPs and celebrities including Nelson Mandela. The Raja Mansingh Suite, named after Emperor Akbar’s main advisor, offers a regal combination of royal ambiance and modern luxury. The suite is equipped with two rooms, massive marble-floored bathrooms and a sprawling living area decorated with antique chests and paintings. The Tansen Suite, named after Akbar’s favorite musician, is starkly contrasting with a romantic flair: a traditional swing looks out into the gardens, while a four-poster bed invites you to a cushy sleep. This suite is especially catered to honeymooners or couples looking for a tinge of romance.

Fur poster bed in Tansen Suite 

Royal Gourmet

Tandoor food at Peshawri restaurant in Agra Every meal at ITC Mughal was a royal feast, each one better than before. The hotel’s specialty restaurant, Peshawri, is a unique Tandoor restaurant that serves up North West Frontier cuisine in the traditional way.

Since its opening a few decades ago, the restaurant has yet to change its menu. Its head chef explained that they want to give their guests the classic, traditional style. Guests who have eaten here seem to come back again and again, with each visit springing a different surprise on them.

At Peshawri, we were encouraged to eat with our fingers. They believe that silverware when in contact with food produces a chemical reaction, thus affecting the original taste of the food. We devoured one slice of dish after another, savoring the richness and flavor of the barbequed meats.

Of the myriad of meats and vegetables dished out from the open kitchen, I particularly enjoyed the fried paneer (cottage cheese) stuffed with mint chutney. The roast leg of lamb when topped with the refreshing yogurt dip created an explosion of flavors in my mouth.

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The hotel wins its guests over with its impressive culinary offerings. The Bagh-E-Bahaar multi-cuisine restaurant had an amazing array of foods on its menu – ranging from Western/European-style cuisine to traditional South Indian food. I was blown away by the South Indian feast that the head chef had specially designed for us.

Aouth Indian cuisine

Hedonistic Pleasures

Kaya Kalp spa in ITC Mughal Agra The latest addition to ITC Mughal Agra is the in-house spa. The Kaya Kalp Royal Spa, just inaugurated two years ago, has already bagged several awards including the Best City Spa of the World in 2008 by UK’s Tatler Magazine, as well as Asia Spa’s Best new Spa of the Year award.

In honor of Mughal Emperor Babar, the pomegranate fruit has been used as the theme of the spa. Combined with the extensive use of greenery and water, the spa gives an exotic, refreshing feel to the hotel. The mood is heightened at the lap pool, reserved only for spa guests.

Exhausted from weeks of traveling, I was treated to a Pomegranate Journey – the spa’s specialty treatment that included a pomegranate scrub, a bath that used pomegranate liquid and a full body massage. It was like knocking on the doors of heaven, indulging in the sensation and then returning back to Earth.

Kayak Kap spa swimming pool

Disclaimer: My stay was sponsored by the hotel, but all opinions are my own.

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