Caroline brings us the next installment of her Indian adventure…
Escaping chaos, Delhi-style, was something that needed to be done before we could get going on the next leg of our journey to Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. Our driver was of course unperturbed by the challenge but what an eye opener it was for us: tiny children begging in six lanes of traffic, monkeys, camels, elephants, zebus and herds of water buffalo avoiding speeding trucks, inter-city buses literally held together by string, men standing gossiping whilst women carried huge loads on their heads and tiny auto-rickshaws carrying fifteen people whilst swanky cars took call centre staff to work in dedicated lanes.
This was the India that the Oberoi could not cushion us from!
Having stopped at the beautiful complex of Sikandra, tomb of Akbar the Great, we arrived at the Oberoi Amarvilas in Agra in the middle of the afternoon. What a stunning place; no wonder it is ranked as a seven star hotel.
Our room had the most superb view of the iconic Taj Mahal and the camera went into overdrive as we took photo after photo, not only of the Taj but also the hotel itself with its Mughal-inspired layout replete with fountains, arched passageways, pavilions, terraced lawns and golden frescoes.
After enjoying a swim in the pool (and a welcome tit-bit in the form of frozen fruit on a stick) we sat on our large balcony gazing at the Taj as darkness fell and enjoying a display of traditional folk dance and music.
There is a well-equipped gym as well as a spa at the hotel but we resisted the temptations of both!
A relaxing drink in the bar preceded dinner. Because many of the Oberoi guests do not drink alcohol there was a good selection of imaginative non-alcoholic drinks, including a very refreshing Aquarius, a blend of fresh lemon juice made from tiny Indian lemons, ginger, mint and soda.
Dinner was to die for: spiced poppadoms, an amuse-bouche of spicy tomato and coriander soup, tikka prawns and marinated chicken as starters and spring leg of lamb done in the tandoor as our main course.
The prawns quickly became our favourite starter in Agra, although we also sampled the rogan josht, the aubergines and the saag gosht during our stay. Dining by candlelight, with traditional musicians playing in the background whilst enjoying the Taj in the moonlight takes some beating!
All too soon, it was time to bid farewell to the charming and attentive staff at Amarvilas. Agra had been a fascinating place to visit and the hotel a most beautiful base from which to explore but we had a train to catch and the tigers of Ranthambhore to hunt down (metaphorically speaking of course).
Part three of this week’s India special will go live tomorrow morning, so stay tuned!
Categories: Hotel Reviews - Asia