/Although I received a minor discount (media rates) for this stay, this does not influence my opinion of the experience. UPDATE: As of September 2018, the Lodge at Amer is no longer under the flagship of Lebua.
“Lebua ae Lebua. Lebua ae Lebua.” I won’t tell you which family member was singing that song as we drove up the dusty path to the Lebua Lodge at Amer. I’ll just tell you that this family member was a fan of R D Burman and his music.
We were on our way back from our tiger Safari in Ranthambore and had booked our stay at the lodge since it was well outside the city of Jaipur and potentially away from the noise and hustle bustle of daily life. As we approached the Delhi Gate, I asked our driver Kailash to stop so I could take pics. He says, ‘No, that’s not the Delhi gate! That’s just some old fort wall’.
Well, he stopped any way and I took this pic. Locals say this gate was the main gate used by the maharajas or kings when they travelled towards Delhi. I tried to verify with Google, but couldn’t. So let’s just believe what the locals say. A little bit of mystery mixed into the history. 😉
Reception of Lebua Lodge, Amer
So we pass through the gate and are greeted by the gate guard with imli goli’s. Yummy!! For anyone who hasn’t tasted imli goli, it’s my favorite candy, made from the fruit of the tamarind mixed with sugar. Simple, yet tasty.
When we get to the reception area, the first view is not that great, but once you go inside, it’s a symphony of architecture. Angles, squares, triangles, something aspiring architect’s would love.
After filling up forms and being greeted with garlands, tikkis, and a cumin flavored welcome drink, we headed down the long paths towards our tent rooms. We pass some peacocks that roam freely here, but figured we’ll come back and take pics of them later. Only, we didn’t see them the next day.
The path is green and brown filled with creepers and trees. I hear that in the monsoon. It’s greener. Would love to see it then.
And if you’re wondering why the creepers are all on one side, it’s because they were all grown to cover the bathrooms. 😉
Rooms at the Lebua Lodge! Or Futuristic Tents!
We got to the parents room first. Awesome! The rooms are very spacious and set far apart. There’s a welcoming platter of fruits, chocolates and biscuits on the table, as well as a picture of my parents in a frame by the bed. Almost like home. Lovely! Rakesh and Nikhil explain the amenities, the locking system and everything else to us. And my sis-in-law finds it hard to concentrate. She says she’s still looking at the pic of my parents on the bed side table. 🙂
Dad, as always moves to his technical and environmental discussions. We find out that the rooms are actually futuristic tents made of tensile fabric such as fibre reinforced plastic. The only bit that is actually constructed is the bathroom.
The bathroom is bigger than our kitchen. The pic above is just half of it. As you enter the washroom, you first find the open closet and safe, followed by the WC. And then comes the the bathtub. It’s a step in bath tub than can easily accommodate two people. Ahem!
(The only bit we’d need to be careful about is when travelling with seniors. Even though there is a railing to grip, they find it a bit difficult to step into and out of the bathtub.)
Nikhil and Rakesh tell dad that Lebua has been constructed on rescued forest land (isn’t that amazing?) and so construction is prohibited. But tents are allowed. So the Lebua Lodge at Amer was born. A luxury resort by Deepak Ohri surrounded by nature, the Aravali hills and the Amer fort walls. They tell us that everything here on the grounds is built keeping nature in mind, and we can see that just by looking around. From eco friendly wide open spaces to eco friendly furniture and amenities. Good!
(They also said that lions and other animals were being rehabilitated in the neighbouring forest zone. But we needed an entry pass to visit there.)
One thing though that we noticed later that night. We could hear our parents talking from two tents away! Maybe it was the wide open spaces that carried the sound, but it was something different. Back in Mumbai, it’s difficult to even hear what someone in the same room is saying sometimes, let alone the next room. 😉
The last room that we get to is my sis and mine. Twin beds in the last tent on the property. Rakesh tells us it’s the best tent on the property because of the privacy and because it’s right next to the Amer Fort walls. And it is!
It also has an undisturbed view of the Amer fort wall, plus a sitting area under the trees apart from the regular seating structures.
By the way the regular seating areas are pretty cool too. Plenty of space. And since all the tents are facing in one direction, you have perfect privacy.
Cycles, Camel and more
After checking in we went exploring. Even though the Lebua Lodge at Amer is far away from the city, there’s a lot to do. The camel Bubblu and his owner visit every evening for camel rides sponsored by Lebua. The ride was fun, although my sis didn’t like it so much because Bubblu kept turning his long neck around and trying to get to her. 😉
A short distance away from the Lodge, near the entrance to the restricted forest area we see two temples and the Manji ki Bawdi, an abandoned step well that might have once flowed with water. We walk down till the second level and see the deep and dry well than once filled it. It’s now the home for pigeons and some animals. The moon has already risen as we head back to the lodge.
There are bicycles that are parked around the lodge and freely available for use. That’s a good thing, because the forty futuristic tents here are sprawled over almost 5 acres of land. 😉
There’s also a large children’s play area, an amphitheater for events, ample space to play badminton, cricket, and more. We played carrom near the reception as well. There were more options that we didn’t have the time to enjoy, since we were touring Jaipur during the day, namely kite flying, croquet, volleyball, forest safaris, horse riding and more.
No time to go to the spa either, but Asane the spa manager did allow us to take a peek in.
There’s also an open air gym right next to the spa, perfect for the nature loving fitness aficionado. Me? No, too lazy. 😉
But we loved the huge pool and spent quite a bit of time in it.
If you were wondering, the hollow squares in the pool are for a luxurious sunken dining experience.
There is an outdoor dining area by the poolside on the right, but we didn’t get the chance to eat there.
That night we enjoyed dinner cooked by the chef in the traditions of the kitchen of King Bharmal of Rajasthan. After the sun has set, we are led to the diwans with the Amer Fort Wall in the background. We’re not used to sitting in this cross-legged style for dinner, and the parents take some time to get adjusted.
Vikram and Ajay from Bhavani Singh’s F & B team bring us pineapple mojitos. During the course of dinner, Vikram tells us about how he left a job in finance to work in F&B since it gives him a chance to interact with so many different types of people. We took a pic of the two of them in their smart green and beige outfits, but I can’t seem to find it now. Will have to take more pics the next time we visit.
The salt and pepper shakers are quite interesting too, and we spend some time taking pics of those while we wait for our starters in the super cool evening air. Because it’s located in the hills away from the city, the evenings are much more cooler here. Perfect for bonfire dinners!
A variety of starters before dinner
We enjoyed some Anjeer Akrot aur Rajma ki Shaami, Pili Mirch ka Paneer Tikka, Murgh Angara Tikka and Kasundi Machchi Tikka.
You’re probably wondering what these starters are. And in English? Okay, here goes.
Anjeer Akrot aur Rajma ki Shaami – Kebabs made of walnuts, figs and red kidney beans.
Pili Mirch ka Paneer Tikka – Spicy cottage cheese cooked in a sauce made with ginger, garlic and yellow chilli peppers
Murgh Angara Tikka – Spicy chicken grilled in a clay oven
Kasundi Machchi Tikka – Fish marinated with a Kasundi mustard sauce and yellow chillies before being marinated in a clay oven.
Yummy! Can’t wait to see what’s for dinner.
A dinner fit for a king : Rajasthani Style Thali
Once we’re stuffed with starters they try to get us more, but we decline, and gather around making chit chat.
Then comes the dinner, in the traditional Rajasthani thali. Yes, you eat a thali in a large steel plate called a thali. If you don’t get that, come do one of my local food walks one day and I’ll show you. The best things are learnt from experience, after all.
Anyways, Vikram and Ajay arrive with the dinner thalis. And we were all thinking, ‘This is going to take hours. How can we finish so much food?”
Luckily, at some places in India if you have not yet tasted your food, you can send it back and most probably the staff will get a chance to eat it. Thankfully this was one of those places; so we sent back quite a bit.
Dinner included dal, rogan josh, meen moilee, ker sangri, bati, dal bati churma, and gatte ki curry served with papad, fryams, salad, rice, and butter naans.
You’ve probably tasted some of these items in other parts of India, so let me just tell you about the ones that aren’t found elsewhere, or at least not found as much.
Ker sangri – A traditional spicy preparation made with desert beans and caper berries that are locally called ker berries.
Dal bati churma – Dumplings made from whole wheat and dal are deep fried and then crushed. The crushed mixture is then mixed with jaggery and served as a desert or meal.
The other items on the menu also had a distinct flavor and taste. Lovely! If you were wondering, this is what I managed to eat. Very slowly. The food is quite filling.
Dessert was warm elaichi ka jamun. The rich flavor of the cardamon and pista and kesar (pistachios and saffron) stuffing made sure that we went for seconds. 😉
My family enjoyed our traditional dinner at the Lebua Lodge in Jaipur very much. Can’t wait to go back sometime and stay in those futurisitic tents again.
The spread for the buffet breakfast is lovely, with everything from Indian to Continental, and juices, milk, coffee, croissants, cakes and more.
All of the staff at Lebua were very friendly and helpful. I hope I get to visit again, and maybe next time climb up to the top of this hill and see the area from on high.
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