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This blog is about my quick weekend break from New Delhi (India). Alwar Bagh, the luxurious property was my base to visit magnificent cenotaphs in Alwar, the haunted Bhangarh Fort and Siliserh Lake and periphery of Sariska National Park. New Delhi based Escape Route helped me plan the trip. Alwar Bagh is 14 kms away from Alwar City.
Pleasant breeze welcomed me as I stepped out of Alwar railway station early morning. Monsoon had reached the North of India in its full glory. Traveling during Indian monsoon has a romance of its own. The cab sent by Alwar Bagh picked us. As we passed by lush green pastures and mighty Aravali mountain ranges flush with monsoon grass, Rajasthan exposed a new side to us. My friend Jeetendra Sharma was surprised to see a green Rajasthan. He always associated Rajasthan with sand dunes and dry landscapes. It was Jeetendra’s idea to plan a quick weekend break from Delhi before he shifts his base to Mumbai. He enjoyed his experience so much, that much to my amusement; he visited Alwar Bagh again the next week with another friend.
Despite my extensive travel in rural and urban Rajasthan, I was surprised that just 3 hours away from New Delhi, Alwar offers you most of the quintessential Rajasthani experiences. It reminded me of offbeat trip to rural Rajasthan I did some years ago. Some of the typical Rajasthani features which marked my 2 day visit to Alwar – people wearing colorful clothes, women adorned with bangles on arms, cattle and camels usurping the roads, countless peacocks, shops overflowing with milk cakes and pyaz kachoris, abandoned havelis, ancient forts, tractors playing upbeat Rajasthani songs and local Rajasthani people extending their usual inimitable hospitality. Who would have imagined a completely different world just 3 hours away from Indian capital New Delhi?
ALWAR BAGH: MY FIRST IMPRESSIONS
The moment I stepped in Alwar Bagh, I was welcomed with a peacock call. The sprawling garden of the property attracts many birds. That explains the cute mud bird houses installed in the trees. The luxurious property is flush with greenery. Gooseberry, lemon and mulberry trees dot the landscaped gardens.
It is set in the backdrop of riotously green Aravali mountains near Sariska National Park. Its location, amongst other things makes it a winner. Farmlands and grazing cattle separate Alwar Bagh from the mountain ranges. It’s a silent place, making it an ideal escape from the whirligig of urban life. The earthy countryside lends Alwar Bagh an aura impossible to find in city resorts.
The architecture of all the buildings in Alwar Bagh is typical Rajasthani in style. Built in a heritage style typical of Rajsthani havelis (mansions), it gave me an idea of how the royals of Rajasthan must have lived once upon a time. Local architectural elements, local hospitality, local lifestyle and food are visible in every aspect of the Alwar Bagh.
As I enter Alwar Bagh, the al fresco dining area on the lawns on left and daily prayers at a temple on the right vie for my attention. Needless to say that Alwar Bagh is the perfect blend of tradition and modernity. Near the well (Yes, you read it right) a swimming pool area is surrounded by trees and recliners. There is pool for kids as well.
THE ROOMS OF ALWAR BAGH:
I have grown up in huge houses with large central courtyard. As a kid, courtyard and the rooftop used to be my favourite parts of the house. Unfortunately, most of my adult independent life I have stayed in apartments of Navi Mumbai (near Mumbai) and Ghaziabad (near New Delhi). I have missed reading books in a courtyard and chatting sweet nothings on the rooftops.
When I entered the building which housed my room, I was delighted to see that I have to pass through a corridor or courtyard to reach my room. It brought back vivid childhood memories. The house design of my grandparents’ house in Baansgaon, Gorakhpur was on the similar lines. No wonder, I repeated some of those experiences.
The first thing that struck me about my rooms at Alwar Bagh was its sheer size. The rooms of Alwar Bagh are huge, as big as a studio apartment if not more. The room I stayed in had windows with views of Aravali ranges. Everything about the room was about the size. The room, the bathroom, the dressing area and even the King size bed gave me a huge sense of space. Despite the size of room, the interiors were minimalistic. Thankfully they didn’t fill the rooms with unnecessary props and artefacts.
Alwar Bagh has a total of 37 rooms and suites spread across 4 buildings. Some of them have a private balcony and bathtubs. 2 of the rooms even have swinging beds suspended from the ceiling. The rooms are divided in different buildings named- Rawala (6 rooms), Jaigarh (19 rooms), Bhanwar Villa (6 rooms) and Gulab Villa (6 rooms). I stayed in Jaigarh. It was the most beautiful of all building. Room types are Deluxe and Super Deluxe.
VILLAGE WALK NEAR ALWAR BAGH:
The guide, appointed from the village behind Alwar Bagh took me to a village walk few minutes away from the property. We were passing craggy undergrowth when kids waved at us. They accompanied the shepherd who was grazing his goats. Even my guide pointed to his cow which grazed on a hill top. Peacocks played hide and seek with us. I was told that rocky terrain I was walking through was a bustling village centuries ago. On close inspection, I realized there was a pattern to rocks. It could have been someone’s house or a potter’s workshop.
I moved past buffaloes lazing in water (and eyeing me suspiciously) to arrive at a lone temple in the hills. The sweeping views from here silenced me. We moved on to the ground and passed a ruin. Turned out it was an old abandoned haveli. I entered the bat infested haveli and was impressed with its architecture. It transported me to a bygone era, of people who once populated it, of kitchen that once served delicious Rajasthani food. My guide told me that he grew up playing in the ruins. Nobody knows who the haveli belongs to. The haveli also has a Hindu temple, a well and separate residence for the guests.
TATSE AUTHENTIC RAJASTHANI FOOD AT ALWAR BAGH:
Alwar Bagh offers both buffet and a la carte menu. I preferred ordering the authentic Rajasthani meals. Dal Bati Churma seemed like was every one’s favourite. Dal Bati Churma is a combination of savoury and sweet flavours. Wheat balls are served with lentils and desi ghee (Indian clarified buetter). It is accompanied by churma, sweet in taste. My favourite was papad ki sabzi (Popaddum curry). I eat it every time I am in Rajasthan. Desert was the milk cake with ice cream, quite popular in Alwar. I wish I could also order my favourite Rajasthani delicacy, Gatte Ki Sabzi and Lahsun ki Chutney but I was full by then. The restaurant also serves North Indian, South Indian, Chinese and Continental.
ALWAR BAGH IS GREAT FOR EVENTS TOO
Some of the episodes of popular Indian TV show ROADIES were shot here. Alwar Bagh is equally popular amongst Indian and foreign guests. A mix of both were holidaying when I was there. Many corporate groups also book Alwar Bagh for offsites and team building exercises.
Alwar Bagh is also emerging as the popular wedding destination in North India. Judging by its serene location, comfortable silence, extraordinary architecture inimitable hospitality, I am not surprised! Who would not want to get married at a place like this. Easy and quick access from Delhi makes it perfect for vacation with family and friends, corporate events and weddings. It is a fab destination for both business and leisure.
ENTERTAINMENT GALORE AT ALWAR BAGH:
From carom to badminton and basketball, there is a lot you can play here. Paintball, shooting, rock climbing, rope course, remote car racing, pool are some of the other exciting activities you can indulge in at Alwar Bagh.
PLACES TO VISIT NEAR ALWAR BAGH
Bhangarh Fort: Touted as the most haunted place in India, I reached this ancient fort when it was raining. A day trip from Alwar Bagh is possible. Keep 8 hrs spare for a round trip. (2 to 3 hours one way)
Alwar City: There is so much to see in the city. I was amazed with Cenotaph of Musi Maharani (Entry free). The City palace, Museum and the fort will also amaze you.
Sariska National Park: Sambar deer, Nilgai (blue ox), Wild boar, spotted deer and many birds can be spotted here. If you get lucky, maybe even a tiger.
Siliserh Lake: A pristine lake on the road from Alwar Bagh to Alwar city. Do visit if time permits. Boating is allowed. Snacks and beverages are available. Washroom is available
DISTANCES FROM ALWAR BAGH:
Distance from Siliserh Lake- 7 kms
Distance from Alwar: 15 kms
Distance from Sariska National Park: 20 kms
Distance from Delhi – 180 kms
Distance from Gurgaon- 120 kms
Distance from Agra- 140 kms
HOW TO REACH ALWAR BAGH FROM NEW DELHI AND GURGAON:
By Road: it is just 3 hours away from New Delhi.
By Train: Ajmer Shatabdi starts from New Delhi at 6 a.m. It is air conditioned chair car. Fare is Rs. 625 and includes breakfast and newspaper. Reaches Alwar at 8:40 a.m.
The view from my #SoulWindow made me feel like a Royal!
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