Four hours flat to reach Alwar, down roads fairly decent, through tolerable traffic — a fairly decent time lapse to leave behind the rushed and mostly vertical cityscapes of Noida, Delhi and Gurgaon, to move from gravity-defying concrete to the earthy countryside of Rajasthan, a terrain where brilliant, low-lying swathes of colour swathes emerge at regular intervals only in the vibrant garb of the locals. Their chosen pairings never cease to amaze me — in fact, I start to challenge myself to collect more and more vibrant combinations (fuchsia with yellow and blue is the current favourite) every time I visit this fascinating state.
The comfortable and short drive to Alwar Bagh, now managed by Aamod, definitely brings home the area’s viability as an easy, impromptu weekend getaway for travellers from the NCR, including those who fly into Indira Gandhi airport from other parts of the country. It seems to be a hit with corporate groups too: as I wait to check in, sipping a chilled glass of juice, I meet a large group from an embassy in Delhi, which is preparing to leave after digging into an early lunch and spending two days in work-fun bonhomie at the resort.
Arriving in our room, the first impression is...vast. The room is as big as a studio flat, maybe even bigger. And thankfully not filled up with furniture. The sheer spaciousness, innocent of excess, is a luxury as we stretch out and catch our breath. At lunch, though, the restaurant feels rather too basic in design — in fact, it looks a bit unfinished. Otherwise, all through the rest of the five acres that the resort spans, the spaces of residence as well as recreation are all rather nicely done up.
Three buildings house a total of 38 rooms, some suites and the rest deluxe rooms, some with their own private sitouts and some with bathtubs in the bathroom. All showcase a ‘heritage style’ elegance and employ local architectural features. The stolid brown façade is framed by the riotous green of the Aravalli hills right behind. I spend the afternoon exploring the premises, peep into some of the unoccupied rooms, including two which have swinging beds suspended for newlyweds, and the well-appointed banquet hall that served the departing embassy group for a conference space, now serving as an indoor games parlour (table tennis, billiards, carrom board, chess and the like). The rectangular swimming pool, with a small kiddie pool next to it, looks alluring, but the day is too hot for an afternoon dip.
Instead, after a cup of masala tea and some piping hot bhajias, I hotfoot it to the small, pretty Buddha Mantra spa (only two treatment rooms) perched atop the quaint reception. It is not fully functional yet, as all their products are not yet on hand, but they eagerly offer a deep-tissue massage, which is extremely well administered. In fact, Zurin, the therapist, has such magical fingers that the kneading with olive oil not only rids me of laptop-induced knots, but also lulls me into a semi-comatose stage. She advises me to relax a bit and take a shower only half an hour later, and I am glad to pay heed. After the shower, much to everyone’s surprise, I am so invigorated as to plunge straight into the pool and make waves in the calm waters. Until I came out ravenously hungry for my simple dinner of dal-roti-subzi—accompanied by an even more invigorating delicacy, fried green.
I sleep well that night.
Next day after breakfast, we go out to look around the city centre, which is just 20 minutes away. Entry to the Alwar fort is denied due to the Navratri celebrations and we only get to look up at the imposing fort from ground level. So we go on to explore the City Palace and the museum, wrapping up the excursion with a visit to Siliserh lake, seven kilometres from the resort. We pass up the boating, though, for more adventurous exploits.
The afternoon is spent at Sariska Tiger Reserve. The wildlife sanctuary is just 19 kilometres from the resort — indeed, we almost drove through it on the way in — and we spot many sambar, wild boar, nilgai and birds. But the tiger eludes us. After darshan at the Hanuman temple located deep in the jungle instead, we return to the resort and wash away our day’s disappointments with another splash into the pool — and an extra splurge at the spa. This time, I get a fabulous head massage, an unusual eye massage — and a life lesson from therapist Ben: “Your eyes need some TLC, too. After all, we use them to see all through our waking hours,” she intones. Noted Ben. For life. Then another few laps and a friendly game of carrom, some reading and, a tweet later, dinner. We choose Chinese this time, and while we are at noodles, stretch ourselves to pasta. Both pass muster. Food choices are streamlined, but the cooking efficient. Not one complaint over two days.
One grouse I do have — they don’t have their wi-fi sorted out yet. It works only in the reception area, and lugging the laptop there is a killjoy. But maybe it’s a good thing — helps keep me offline and plugged into this alternate reality all through this break almost.
Location Alwar Bagh Sariska By Aamod, Jaipur Road, Village Dhawala, Alwar; 13km from Alwar town and 170km from Delhi
Accommodation 23 deluxe rooms and 15 deluxe suites
Tariff Rs 8,000 (rooms) and Rs 12,000 (suites)
Contact +91-124-4908602, http://aamod.in