Amanbagh is part of the Aman hotel empire and its focus on all things wellness means it's the perfect, relaxing addition to any Indian itinerary. Just keep an eye out for the shampoo bottle-stealing monkeys, says Rupert Uloth.
After the colourful bustle of central Rajasthan, Amanbagh is an island of calm and peace enveloped within the wall of an old palace — each room (there are 37 in total, including 15 Pool Pavilions) a separate Mughal-style temple of relaxation set amongst wide sweeping lawns and flowering bougainvillea.
The sense of antiquity is reinforced by the view of ancient forts and temples along the valley and the Aravalli Range — a mountain range in north-western India, said to be the world’s oldest geological feature.
Early morning yoga is complemented by afternoon rooftop meditation. We are exhorted to ‘look after your emotions; no-one else will’ as we stare into the flickering flames of a specially prepared fire into which we throw petals and spices. Our sense of wellbeing is further enhanced by a long Ayurvedic massage treatment after consultation with the physician.
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Relaxation continues in the garden where there’s a 100ft sea-green swimming pool and separate wading pool. It’s open all year round — and the water kept cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The sun loungers that surround it and shaded by eucalyptus trees. For extra privacy, plump for Pool Pavilion 20 which has its own marble pool and river reviews.
Running a bath — all of the rooms have one (above) and they’re so gargantuan that they can take a good half-hour to — is another chance to reflect on the rich variety of wildlife we have seen on our early morning naturalist-guided walk: including starlings looking like Essex boys with slicked back hair, and a pied kingfisher swerving to avoid a cuckoo. The rickety looking wooden platforms dotted around the fields are a reminder of the need to protect your crops at night from marauding boar, leopards or deer.
While you’re there
- There’s an extensive cocktail list but try the Tajmopolitan in the magnificent bar. It’s a twist on the Cosmopolitan, but using the ubiquitous fresh pomegranate juice as a superior alternative to cranberry. Dangerously moreish
- Keep your room door shut and monkey stick ready to hand. The cheeky creatures have a strange predilection for shampoo and anything shiny and interesting left by your private pool
- Be sure to go on a late afternoon drive of the local villages for the ‘cow dust tour’. Bucolic scenes of women in bright saris working in the fields, boys tending goats and the occasional Brahmin cow wandering about form the timeless backdrop to rural life
- A visit to the local temple, Barakhambi, gives a fascinating insight into Hindu chants and devotional practices. A daily enthusiastic ringing of the bell at high decibel precedes various offerings to the local gods. Some young men had their new car blessed by the priest when we went
- I much enjoyed riding a Marwari horse around the surrounding area. His inward turning ears, looking for all the world like a pair of Chinese slippers, are mesmerising
Best time to go
In March or April, when it’s warm, but you won’t have to deal with the oppressive heat or monsoon rains. This is all the best time of year for tiger spotting and combining a stay here with one of the safari camps comes highly recommended.
How to do it
Scott Dunn offers a visit to Amanbagh, Alwar as part of a nine-night trip to India, with prices starting from £7,100 per person based on two adults sharing. The price includes two nights at The Oberoi New Delhi, on a bed-and-breakfast basis, four nights at SUJÁN Sher Bagh, Ranthambhore, on a full-board basis, three nights at Amanbagh, Alwar, on a full-board basis, and one night at The Oberoi, Gurgaon, on a bed-and-breakfast basis, return flights from the UK, six game drives at SUJÁN Sher Bagh and private transfers. Call 020 8682 5060 or visit www.scottdunn.com for more information.
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