Luxury Hotels in India

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The luxury hotels of India are no secret to the world, swarm of indigenous and international chains offer many hotel options, all geared to provide the ultimate in service. Luxuriate, rejoice and rejuvenate in some of the most exquisite resorts at popular destinations of this vast country that rightfully enjoys the status of a subcontinent. The luxury hotel segment has seen a boom in the last decade leading to many new ones, up-gradation of old ones and restoration of the ancient palaces to bring on platter the finest properties where one can indulge in extravagant experiences forming a lifetime memory!!

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Each of the Vilas properties by the Oberoi Group is renowned for the correct combination of breathtaking beauty, luxury and excellent facilities. ‘Vilas’ translated in English means sheer bliss – true to the definition, Udaivilas in Udaipur, Rajvilas in Jaipur, Amarvilas in Agra and Vanyavilas in Ranthambore, are four of the most stunning options in India that have epitomized the concept of hospitality and luxury. These resorts have won several accolades for their world-famous hospitality, unmatched luxury and highest service standards. Complete with lavish rooms, well trained staff, pleasure-seeking swimming pools, indulgent SPAs, magnificent gardens, extravagant fountains, well appointed bars and opulent restaurants serving sumptuous cuisine, they are startling in appearance and unbeatable in their setting. A blissful experience!!

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Ananda in the Himalayas is situated in the serene foothills of the mighty Himalayas, surrounded by forests and overlooking the majestic Ganges. It used to be the Vice Regal Palace during the reign of the Maharaja, which has, in the past hosted some of the country’s renowned heads of the state. Now, one can redefine their lifestyle in this SPA resort with traditional wellness techniques and ancient alternative therapies like Ayurveda, Vedanta & Yoga – that heal the mind, soul and spirit. A rejuvenating experience!!

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Today’s hotel, The Imperial, New Delhi, is one of the most excellent monuments of Edwin Lutyens’ visualization of the city’s unique grand plan. It is a premium combination of several styles of architecture famous in the Colonial Era like Art Deco and Victorian architecture, making it stand out among the best luxury hotels of the capital and the country. It combines the unsurpassed elegant accommodation and great cuisine to provide an enriching experience!!

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There are many business and leisure hotels in and around the Delhi. ITC Maurya in New Delhi is a luxury hotel whose interiors are inspired by the Mauryan dynasty, their art & architecture. It makes available the level of expertise and service in hospitality, needed for an ultimate experience in the capital. Trident in Gurgaon with its opulent interiors, well maintained gardens, courtyards and swimming pool presents a resort-like atmosphere that impresses its patrons. The Oberoi in Gurgaon is the best recent addition, eminent for its customized architecture adding in the element of space, light and greens that provide an exclusive atmosphere to unwind appropriately.

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The Leela, Goa offers idyllic charm – Portuguese legacy of Southern Goa, pristine beaches, natural vistas, well-designed interiors and exuding luxury, making it a perfect getaway. The Leela Palace, Delhi, located in the most prominent Diplomatic Enclave of the city, is an illustrious palace-like hotel, breathtaking in terms of its grandeur, lavishly appointed rooms, hospitable staff and delectable cuisine. The Leela Palace, Udaipur is a beautiful property in the city of lakes with an opulent presence on Lake Pichola. Situated on a cliff and overlooking the immaculate beaches, The Leela, Kovalam provides breathtaking views of its natural surroundings and a popular choice for luxury travelers while in South India. The more recently added The Leela Palace, Chennai is a crown jewel of the South. A luxurious experience!!

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Tree of Life SPA and Resort nestled in the Aravalli hills in Jaipur, is perfect escape from the outside world. The resort is built with indigenous material using local techniques and ornamental styles, and yet it offers the best in modern comforts to date. It is an ideal spot for nature lovers who want to indulge in SPA therapies and want the very best in personal service that the flawless team at the resort is geared to offer. A multitude of activities are yours to pick as you get ready for a memorable experience at the Tree of Life!! The immaculate Villas with private pools, gardens and massage beds present a unique opportunity to rejuvenate or indulge in romance!!

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Kerala – often called the God’s own country – is a popular tourist destination housing some of the most unique hotels and resorts set around virgin beaches, heritage surroundings and abundant wildlife, allowing an opportunity to immerse in the essence of India with nature. Brunton Boatyard in Fort Cochin used to be a shipbuilding yard with Victorian architecture, which now verbalizes the old tales with modern amenities. Spice Village in Periyar introduces its visitors to an abode of green surroundings with elaborate flora and fauna to entice the patrons. Kumarakom Lake Resort on the banks of Lake Vembanad in Kottayam is gorgeously set around the backwaters offering luxury amenities in a fine heritage property. Yet another distinguished luxury resort & SPA on the same lake is The Zuri Kumarakom, with Indian-style rooms, private gardens & pools. A stirring experience!!

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Vivanta by Taj in Bekal, inspired by the nature, myths, traditions and culture of its land, is ideal to get respite from the world outside. Niraamaya – Surya Samudra, Kovalam is a luxury heritage resort with a difference, where the lush greens and the blues of the ocean blend effortlessly with the interiors. The conventional Kerala-styled cottages put forward the old world charm with modern comforts. Devonshire Greens is a colonial-styled property, celebrating the essence of Munnar with its background of tea gardens, waterfalls, wildlife sanctuaries and mountain mist. House Boat Experience of Kerala is as exotic as the land itself – it is the talk of the luxury travel circuits across the world. The Kettuvallam (traditional name for the houseboat) is the best way to explore the emerald green backwaters and the many unique ways of life in the God’s own country! An unforgettable experience!!

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There are many more hotels to experience in India. The Taj Mahal Palace of Mumbai overlooks the legendary Gateway of India and speaks for its warm hospitality and rich history of the city. The Windflower, Pondicherry, is a beach resort with lavish French windows and majestic settings. ITC Gardenia is a luxury hotel in Bangalore, embodying the grandeur of nature. ITC Maratha in Mumbai is complete with Maharastrian hospitality, all the modern day amenities and rich history. ITC Kakatiya in Hyderabad signifies the opulence of the Telugu grandeur, overlooking the magnificent Hussain Sagar Lake. The Oberoi Grand at Kolkata is over a 100 year old luxury property with architecture inspired by the colonial Bengal. Raas in Jodhpur is a fine example of the Rajput architecture and their legendary hospitality. The Serai in Jaisalmer is one of the finest luxury desert camps which offer the perfect opportunity for guests to explore the golden surroundings as they chill out in the lap of luxury. Devi Garh by Lebua in Udaipur is a majestic heritage hotel, housed in an 18th century palace on a hill-top. Many experiences in one land!!

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The country boast of some of the finest wildlife resorts. Mahua Kothi, Banjara Tola and Bhagvan, of Taj Safaries, all in Madhya Pradesh in central India, are distinct jungle lodges with a balance of land’s rural architecture and modern day facilities merging to lure its guests. Orange County resort in Kabini in Karnataka, is where one can discover the ways of life of the local tribes, wildlife and nature. The Serai in Kabini is an awe-inspiring jungle lodge offering luxurious cottages abundant with greenery. A rustic experience!!

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Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur is the definite answer to the luxury travellers, seeking the Perfect Romantic Getaway. Set amidst Lake Pichola – a glimpse of its breathtaking sight is enough to make you desire it.  The Palace is accessible only by private boats and it trails of heritage, royal lifestyle and traditions hidden behind its majestic appearance. Taj Falaknuma Palace in Hyderabad is indescribable in its beauty and beyond imagination in its European décor. This luxury palace-hotel has won appreciation from the guests all over the world for its grandeur and the royal experience it presents in this former residence of the Nizam of Hyderabad. Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur is a great example of a mix of styles in architecture and is the essence of the royal palaces of Rajasthan. A lifetime experience!!

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Disclaimer: The photographs used in this blog post have been taken from different online sources. We do not take credit for any one of them.

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Visiting Jaipur – Sightseeing, Shopping and, Eating – Suggestions and Options

Hawa Mahal

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Visiting Jaipur

Jaipur city was founded in 1727 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II of Amber who ruled from 1699–1744. The construction of the city started in 1727. It took around four years to complete the major palaces, roads and square. The city was built following the principles of Shilpa Shastra, the science of Indian Architecture. The city was divided into nine blocks based on the anatomy of the human body, two of which contain the state buildings and palaces, with the remaining seven allotted to the public. Huge fortification walls were built along with seven strong gates. During the regime of Sawai Ram Singh, the whole city was painted pink to welcome Prince Edward of Wales (who later became King Edward VII). Today, avenues remain painted in pink, giving this famed city its distinctive appearance – a pink hue that is resplendent of their hospitality.

The city is remarkable among pre-modern Indian cities for the width and regularity of its streets which are laid out into six sectors separated by an elaborate road structure. The urban quarters are further divided by networks of gridded streets. Five quarters wrap around the east, south, and west sides of a central palace, with a sixth quarter immediately to the east. The Palace quarter encloses the sprawling Hawa Mahal palace complex, formal gardens, and a small lake. Nahargarh Fort, which was the residence of the King Sawai Jai Singh II, crowns the hill in the northwest corner of the old city. The observatory, Jantar Mantar, is one of the World Heritage Sites. Included on the Golden Triangle tourist circuit of the North, along with Delhi and Agra, Jaipur is an extremely popular tourist destination in Rajasthan and India.

Sightseeing, Shopping and Eating in Jaipur — Suggestions and Options

Go sightseeing in Jaipur. Start with the old part of the city which tells the tales of great wars, the stories of royal romances and the intricately etched yester years in its every corner. From Panch Batti circle and the old world Raj Mandir cinema, head along M.I. Road, the main thoroughfare. Continue along M.I. Road, and you’ll come across the pink walls of the Jaipur Old City on your left. There are three gates, spaced around 500 meters apart, which provide entry into the Old City. The first one is Ajmeri Gate, followed by New Gate, and lastly Sanganeri Gate.

The Old City is surprisingly well laid out, with its wide, straight streets running in a grid which forms a series of bazaars. Make a photo-stop at Hawa Mahal, which was constructed for ventilation for the women who used to watch the royal march through the screens of this building. This was built by the poet-king Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799.

Visit the Amber Fort, which is known as one of the most fascinating of the Indian forts which includes an amazing set of palaces, temples, gardens and halls. The Shila Mata temple has a great religious importance. If you want to tread up the fort on elephant back, rather suggest you start here early in the morning. Other attractions include Diwan-e-Aam, Sukh Niwas, Jas Mandir and Sheesh Mahal, all of which gives a glimpse into the majesty of days gone by. Do stop at Artchill – showcasing Indian art.

Amber Fort

Enjoy a photo-stop at Jal Mahal, the monsoon palace of the Jaipur Maharajas, located in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake. Proceed to City Palace, where several courtyards and gardens provide wonderful contrast to its many palatial structures including Mubarak Mahal, Chandra Mahal, Badal Mahal and the Sri Govind Dev temple. Also visit Jantar Mantar- the Observatory, a world heritage site. This wonderful astronomical observatory is famous throughout the world and bears the hallmark of exceptional astronomical development of the medieval period.

Other sights worth seeing in Jaipur include:

  • Albert Museum
  • BM Birla Planetarium
  • Galtaji
  • Laxmi Narayan Temple
  • Sisodia Rani Ka Bagh
  • Nahargarh Fort (spectacular sunset)
  • Jaigarh Fort
  • Gaitore

Shopping experience in Jaipur can give you an insight in the contrast of old bazaars and modern high end shops of the city. The local ‘Kundan jewelry’ is famous for the intricate work as much as the ‘Navratan jewelry’ (9 stones) that is believed to bring good luck to the users. The exotic blue pottery, the batik work and block printed textiles of Sanganer and Bagru, tie & dye fabrics, Mojaris (the local shoes), sandal wood carving items, beautiful stone carvings etc. An entire street and several city sectors were earmarked for artisans and traders in the past, and they continue to display their rich heritage to this day.

Near the Hawa Mahal are many shops dealing in pseudo-antiques and souvenirs. Some shops opposite Hawa Mahal stock the famous Jaipuri quilts, weighing from a few hundred grams to some kilograms. Nehru Bazaar, situated on the road between Ajmeri Gate and New Gate, is a favorite with the women of Jaipur. Many shops here are selling bright colored fabrics, shoes, trinkets and local perfumes. Bapu Bazaar lies on the road between New Gate and Sanganeri Gate, many shops here sell ethnic and modern clothes, copper utensils and patch-work bags that are famous with locals and tourists alike. Keep an eye out for the marvelously huge banyan tree on the right of this bazaar with its massive intertwined branches.

Stroll along and browse through the shops at Johari Bazaar. If the jewels at the high-end stores were a little out of your taste, you might find other options here that are more pocket-suitable. Johari Bazaar and the lanes that run off it are known for gold and silver jewelery, as well as inexpensive costume jewelry and bangles.

For an unforgettable shopping experience:

  • Ramganj Bazar for shoes or jootis (local styled shoes)
  • Kishanpol Bazar for tie and dye textiles
  • Maniharon Ka Rasta (Tripolia Bazar) for bangles and other items
  • Emporiums for hand-made rugs and carpets
  • Khajano Ka Rasta for marble carving
  • Sanganer village for block printing and hand-made paper
  • Blue pottery manufacturing units

Eating out in Jaipur can leave your heart & stomach filled with the unforgettable aroma of the delicacies of the Rajasthani cuisine and the local flavoring spices. The capital of Rajput kings had an impressive array of mouth-watering delights, kept closely guarded by the royal chefs. Legends tell tales of cooks trying to impress their guests by presenting at least one unforgettable item on the menu. The royal guests were served savory dishes made from stuffed camels, goats, pigs and peacocks. The food was served in gold and silver utensils, with a display of heartwarming hospitality that surpasses every imagination. Jaipur is famous for its Dal-Batti Churma, Mawa Kachori, Mirchi Bada, Rajasthani Subjis, Ghewar, Feeni, Gajak, Chauguni ke laddu and different kinds of Rajasthani breads.

You can visit Laxmi Mishtan Bhandar, a very popular food joint as it is easily affordable and serves famous local snacks and sweet dishes – such as mouth watering Raj Kachori and Rasmalai. It is situated in the busy market of Johari Bazaar and serves other authentic Rajasthani specialties too.

Chokhi Dhani is one of the most popular places to sample traditional food, and of course, a slice of true Rajasthani culture. Enjoy camel rides and traditional performances or splurge in the in-house flea-market. This village-style restaurant serves authentic Rajasthani cuisine in an authentic ambiance with is several course fixed menu.

Elephant ride

Pamper your taste buds at Handi Restaurant, on M.I. Road, which specializes in Non-vegetarian biryanis, curries and tandoori items. The atmosphere is great aligned by traditional interiors and a matching decor. Nearby Copper Chimney restaurant is a chic, elegant place with a friendly waiters’ army and a rollicking horse mural to compliment the decor. It offers vegetarian and non-vegetarian Indian food as well as a small selection of Continental and Chinese food. Indian wines are available to accompany the exquisite food, flattering the taste and the aromas.

Spice Court is a relaxed clubhouse restaurant, with a blue-tiled roof and a splendid evening courtyard, the food is fresh, the kitchen spotless, and the kebab platters are a serious business. Folk dancers play perfect companions to the tasteful display of dishes that leave gastronomes asking for more. Choose to order as per your preferences rather than opting for the buffet.

Last but not the least, there are several houses and havelis offering you a flavour of royalty, by giving you an opportunity to dine with a royal family, witnessing the authentic royal hospitality, listen to their tales and savor culinary specialties that have traveled several generations. Not a difficult possibility is to a cooking demo.