Just back from: Agra, India

The capital of the Mughal Empire in the 16th and 17th centuries, Agra, India is home to three UNESCO world heritage sites: The ancient city of Fatehpur Sikri, Agra Fort, and world renowned, Taj Mahal.  Any trip to India is not complete without a stop in Agra.  CIRE’s award-winning luxury vacation and honeymoon planner, Melissa Chaquea, just got back from an incredible trip to India and shares a bit about her time there and her stay at the best hotel in Agra, the Oberoi Amarvilas.

First Impressions

“Upon arrival, you are greeted with warm smiles from the staff and two beautiful stone elephants that suggest the beauty to come. You are escorted along the fountained courtyard and approach the grand lobby, where the staff is lined up, candles in hand, receiving you with love.  An orange, marigold necklace is placed around your neck to celebrate your arrival. The next thing you see is a beautiful glass chandelier that hangs over the biggest vase of fresh lilies you’ve ever seen. In the background, you will hear their in-house musician playing modern songs on his traditional flute and right behind him, what we all came for – the Taj Mahal.”

The Rooms

“This is an example of where the picture speaks for itself. All the rooms at the Oberoi Amarvilas have a view of their romantic courtyard and the Taj Mahal. Thanks to our wonderful partners at Travel Scope India (Thank you, Mohan!), we got upgraded to the Lord Curzon Suite. Along with a breathtaking, front facing view of the Taj Mahal, we also had a balcony where we enjoyed our coffee in the morning and the moonlight silhouette of the Taj in the evening. Mughal inspired designs, a marble bathroom, and a comfortable plush king bed will have you not wanting to leave your room.”

The Spa

“If a hotel room with a Taj Mahal view isn’t enough for you, try a spa with that view! Start your spa day with a steam, change into your soft, Indian-printed robe, and head into your treatment room. The Oberoi Spa offers their “Oberoi Signature” massage, 90 minutes of pure bliss. I got six massages during my two weeks in India, and the Signature massage at the Oberoi was the absolute best massage. Their signature massage incorporates the use of kasa bowls which is rooted in ancient Indian healing – used for its therapeutic effects on body and mind as mentioned in Ayurveda. This is the massage you didn’t know you needed. The pitter-patter of the bowls on your skin, along with the smooth and deep pressure of the bowls coated in warm oil will have you booking a second treatment before leaving the room.”

Top Tip

“Opt for the 4am wakeup call. We booked a private guide for the Taj Mahal, but little did we know that it would be a private tour of the Taj Mahal…we were the only ones there!  We woke up before sunrise, grabbed some coffee at the bar and met our lovely guide, Aakash, in the lobby. Our transfer was waiting for us and in less than three minutes we were at the entrance of the Taj. After security, we walked through the west gate and there she was in all her glory. Naturally, the first thing we do is take pictures because a crowd-less Taj Mahal is nearly impossible with approximately 35,000 visitors daily and double that amount on weekends! After our close-ups (lucky us, our guide was a skilled photographer), we headed inside the main building. We walk in and with only the staff there, our guide cues silence and begins to whistle. A whistle in the empty Taj Mahal lasts over 20 seconds.  This is only possible to hear without a room full of tourists, so that the sound can bounce off the marble walls. After our guide whistles, he whispers to the tomb keepers and before we know it, he sings!  Our names are suddenly echoing throughout one of the Seven Wonders of the World. ‘Magic’ is the only word to describe what this felt like.”

Don’t Miss…

“The pool!  Lovely to look at, but even better to bathe in! The courtyard pool is the perfect place to cool down after your morning visit to the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort, or in the winters, to warm up since the pool is heated in cooler months. The pool is many things all at once. Find yourself a romantic nook, next to their Ganesha shrine in the shaded pool area or bring the family for fun in the sun. The gentle sound of the staircase’s waterfalls and the gentle winds blowing through the traditional, Indian umbrellas flow together gracefully and have you feeling like Mughal royalty.”

Ready to start planning your luxury vacation to incredible India?  Melissa is ready to help!  Drop us a line!

A special thanks to Mohan Narayanaswamy and our partners at Travel Scope India and Passages of Distinction for helping to curate this fabulous trip to Agra, New Delhi, and Rishikesh.

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