Nestled between green farms and seasonal waterbodies, in the fold of lush hills, Amanbagh is one with its surroundings. The entrance is discreet, down a dirt track leading off the tarred road. Once you’re past the gates, you have to pinch yourself to make sure you’re not dreaming. Set in stately lawns under the shade of old-growth trees are classical havelis and villas with rose-hued cupolas typical of this part of Rajasthan. Yet, it’s all completely modern. That’s the thing about Aman Resorts: there’s an unmistakable sense of place, yet there’s a distinct, international idiom that instantly identifies it as an Aman.
Amanbagh, the ‘garden of peace’, was designed by the legendary architect Ed Tuttle, who passed away in June 2020 in Paris. Tuttle also designed the first Aman property—Amanpuri in Phuket—which opened in 1988 and signalled a paradigm shift in how high-end resorts were conceived and what they thought fit to offer to their clientele. The dramatic central pool around which Amanbagh is arranged is a signature Tuttle touch. Using local materials like sandstone and marble, the property features a lot of local elements and embellishments. It’s difficult to imagine this is the work of an American architect.
Surrounded by fruit trees and flowering shrubs—which require a lot of industrious tending by a devoted army of gardeners—Amanbagh’s Pavilions and Suites create a cool and welcoming contrast to the stark, arid beauty of the Aravalis. Some feature private pools, terraces and courtyards while all have a grand palatial feel, reflecting their royal past as a former hunting ground for the Maharaja of Alwar. The top accommodation on offer, the 203 square metre Pool Pavilion offers guests their own spacious garden courtyard and a private swimming pool within the resort’s verdant setting. The 9m by 3m pool is temperature-controlled and you’ll have a hard time getting out of it.
Inside, a king-sized bed, living area with large daybed, writing desk and armchairs, and a spacious dressing area with twin-walk-in wardrobes come together to create a haven fit for royalty. The en suite bathroom is filled with natural light, bringing the outside in, and a bathtub carved from Udaipur green marble sitting in the centre adds an opulent feel. Everywhere, there is a sense of space, space and more space.
The General Manager
Hemendra Singh, who hails from the royal family of Kushalgarh, is a son of the soil in more ways than one. An old Aman hand, he understands the ethos of the chain intuitively and is implementing interesting new initiatives to take the brand story forward.
Happy to have exchanged the big city life for this sleepy corner of rural Rajasthan, he is busy working on Aman’s sustainability efforts, engaging the local community, supporting the village school, and taking farming on the resort’s extensive grounds to a whole new high. An Ayurshala is also in the works, where medicated massage oils will be made in house for use in the spa.
The menu at Amanbagh is simple, healthy and superlative. It’s also pretty extensive, particularly the wine list, which features some of the best wines in the world. It doesn’t get healthier than the chia seed pudding at breakfast or the famous dal moth salad of lentil sprouts at lunchtime. Both Western and Indian dishes are well represented but you have to at least once during your stay ask for the Rajasthani thali, best had by candlelight. The sophisticated desserts feel straight out of a Parisian café.
It gets even more lavish, should you desire, right up to a quail degustation menu or a whole leg of baby goat. Yes, straight out of the royal kitchens of Rajputana.
But, to be honest, when it comes to food at Amanbagh, it’s all about location, location, location. From the Library Terrace to the Off-Site Chhatri and the Pool Pavilion to the Jhilmil Baada’s jungle setting, they’ll make every effort to make your meal a memorable one. And, of course, they offer breakfast and yoga just about anywhere.
Everything from a safari in Sariska National Park to a trip into the past at the haunted ruins of Bhangarh is on the cards. Activities closer include a moderately challenging trek to the 17th-century Pratapgarh Fort or the easier one to the Mughal-era Somsagar Lake, a watering hole popular with wildlife which was built for Emperor Akbar so he could rest on his way onwards into Rajasthan. There’s a jeep tour at the cow-dust hour of dusk. There are numerous treks in the surrounding hills and birding and botanical walks. You can visit the village school to see how the kids are doing or a village home for a simple meal.
Aman Resorts has built something enduring in Amanbagh, something timeless. A classic in other words. The loud cawing of peacocks rings in the evening here. The frantic call of monkeys occasionally signals the presence of an apex predator. Even a short bout of rain converts the dhauk trees lining the hills into a sea of green. It’s all lovely, lovely, lovely.
Everyone’s got their favourite Aman aspect. Ours, we must sheepishly admit, is that little gift they tuck into your sheets each evening at turndown.