A Peaceful Offering  

From the 17th-century city of Bhangarh and Ajabgarh Fort, to the temple town of Neelkanth, the countryside surrounding Amanbagh reveals the ruins of an ancient empire.
Gul Panag at Amanbagh near Alwar.
Gul Panag at Amanbagh near Alwar.

A weekend getaway is like a pit stop. It helps you fuel up, fix things a little if needed and race ahead, full throttle. Over the years I have relied on short breaks to rejuvenate. When planning a weekend out, choosing the right destination is the first task. It needs to be close enough to get to, but far enough to feel like one has actually gotten away. For a short getaway, I like going to a place where there isn’t much to do. Because 

I don’t want to end up adding things to my itinerary, I feel compelled to complete. Some 260-odd km from Delhi, is the stunning Amanbagh near Alwar (in Rajasthan). And it ticks every box on my weekend getaway checklist. Nestled in a narrow valley in the Aravallis and in the buffer zone of the Sariska National Park, it is like a garden oasis, surrounded by ancient forts and tiger-inhabited wilds. Once the staging area for royal tiger hunts, today the rose-hued cupolas and vaulted entrances of the resort’s Mughal-inspired structures soar from the greenery—utterly peaceful and consummately private.

What makes it so attractive is that it offers relaxation on the menu, given its pools, the spa where one can get a massage with herb-infused oil, the beautifully laid out gardens with bougainvillaeas adorning the walls and a thriving vegetable garden. An added charm is the camel that visits for rides at tea time and two beautiful Marwari mares that one can ride if one fancies a horseback excursion.

From the 17th-century city of Bhangarh and Ajabgarh Fort, to the temple town of Neelkanth, the countryside surrounding Amanbagh reveals the ruins of an ancient empire embedded in a starkly beautiful landscape. Abandoned just a generation after its founding and rumoured to be haunted, Bhangarh is a national heritage site and home to remnants of palaces, temples, pools and bazaars, preserved amid green lawns and giant ficus trees.

Late-afternoon excursions are particularly scenic, with the dust kicked up by goats, cows and buffalo as they’re herded home from a day’s grazing, mingling with the sunset to cast a golden glow over the countryside.

The stars, the date palms and the silhouette of the Aravallis, make for a beautiful evening. We also played croquet and took a trip to the well-appointed vegetable and herb garden. I was happy to see the produce of fresh herbs like mint, different types of basil, dill, fennel, parsley, micro greens, sage, oregano, edible flowers such as cosmos, pansies, zucchini blossoms, camomile and seasonal veggies like different varieties of lettuce, broccoli, spinach, colourful beetroots and tomatoes from the garden on my dinner plate. But we know good things come to end. The drive back was quicker and we felt rejuvenated and ready to take on the week ahead with happy souls to boot.

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The New Indian Express