WORDS: RADHIKA LALLA
PHOTOGRAPHS: HIMANSHU PANDYA
GREAT FROM: New Delhi
GREAT FOR: A romantic, do-nothing getaway
The call of peacocks reverberates through the valley, chiming clear through the wide, open spaces all around you. The Aravallis have donned their monsoon greens, adding splashes of bright colour to the otherwise brown countryside. Beyond your little oasis, there’s no sign of human life, no buildings marring the picture-perfect landscape that embraces you.
Your little oasis is The LaLit Mangar, the newest offering from the luxury hotel and resort chain. Just over an hour outside New Delhi, this property, which opened its gates this past May, has found a perfect bubble of calm to be nestled within. It’s a cluster of 30-odd suites, each with a glass front that ensures that nature is always within your gaze, and a bed so plush you won’t want to move.
And, honestly, you aren’t here to move around (or well, not too much). You only need to get out of your room for meals at the in-house restaurant, pampering at the spa, or – should you feel the need to actually do something – for activities organised by the hotel.
You can ask the staff manning the front desk to help you plan your time, here, if that’s the case – perhaps you’d like to choose from the menu of massages at the quiet spa, either a deux or solo. Then, after a nap (to best absorb the oil you’ve been slathered in, of course), you could stroll across to the restaurant – choose from the alfresco space or the dining room – for a leisurely lunch. The kitchen here prides itself on the use of organic ingredients grown at their farm, and options range from North Indian to Italian, with some Continental thrown in.
One of The LaLit Mangar’s signature offerings is the Tapri Chai experience, where you can drink a few cups of cutting chai with rusks or other snacks to go with it, perched on a charpoi. You can unleash your artistic side with a spin or two of a traditional potting wheel with a pottery session. It’s run by a potter from Mangar Village nearby, and you might spend more time watching his rapid-fire pot-making abilities than actually making a pot of your own.
But, if there’s one thing you leave your room for, let it be to look skywards. If you’re blessed with a clear night sky, you can, with the help of a high-powered telescope, lay your eyes on the stars. The astronomer, in his gentle voice, explains how the stars are aligned, and what exactly it is that you’re looking at.
If, for some reason, you’re feeling the beginnings of cabin fever, you can ask the concierge to organise an early-morning visit to the Mangar Lake. Accompanied by members of staff from the village, you’ll tramp through foliage, laden with dew, towards the serene waterbody where all you’ll have for company is the occasional bird. Then, you can head to the Banni Temple, if only for the views from the top (women are not permitted into the upper levels). Mangar Village has an intriguing Jewel Museum, dedicated to, well, jewellery – tribal jewellery – from across the country. It’s an unusual and well-curated collection that’s worth browsing through.
But you know what? Even these stray forays are non-essential, and there’s nothing wrong with going full minimalist with your time and energy, expending only what is absolutely required. You’re on holiday, after all, and that can mean whatever you want it to.