Our Mogul-full stay at ITC Mughal in the City of Love- Agra!

 Our Mogul-full stay at ITC Mughal in the City of Love- Agra!

It was nonflexible to resist travelling over the last 8 months. Finally, we thought of taking the plunge, packed our bags, picked the car keys and headed to Agra for a royal stay at ITC Mughal.

This time our trip was uneaten special as it was our first trip post lockdown without a gap of 8-9 months. The old and heritage municipality Agra known as the ‘city of Love’ not only has the marvelous Taj Mahal but moreover has the splendid ITC Mughal. ITC’s luxury hodgepodge hotel is situated in tropical proximity to Taj Mahal and is a tribute to the Mughal builders of the past as this hotel is historic and is inspired by the heritage Mughal monuments like Fatehpur Sikri and Agra Fort.

The originative hotel is surrounded by luxurious gardens, courtyards, waterbodies which add to the beauty. As we entered through the gate we were greeted warmly by the hotel staff. We went through thermal scanning and not only our hands were sanitized, our tons were sanitized too (sani-tagged). This is their #WeAssure initiative to ensure total safety in the pandemic.  Sprawled over 23 acres of luxurious gardens, and in tropical proximity to Taj Mahal, ITC Mughal Resort & Spa in Agra is a fitting tribute to the unconfined Mughal builders of the past. What we were impressed with was not only the tracery of this place but moreover the precautions they were taking to alimony COVID-19 at bay. Elevated hygiene protocols, state of the art technology, and wide disinfectants as recommended by World Health Organization (WHO) and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare wideness all touch points for the safety and well-being are inculcated as part of the We Reassure programme launched towards Health, Hygiene and Safety.

The hotel lobby is stunning with a chandelier in between subtracting its charm. We passed through Humayun Bridge and were taken to the check-in lounge (the people staying in suites are checked-in exclusively here) where we were greeted by the ever-smiling staff of ITC Hotels– Jyoti Chitkara, Asst Sales Manager at ITC Mughal, Samir Jilani, General Manager at ITC Mughal and Chef Kavita Unni who were masked for their protection as well as the protection of the guests and other staff members. ITC Hotels are an nonpareil of warmth, despite unscratched distancing, the associated hotels have delivered service par excellence. With #ITCWarmth, the staff faces were masked but not the smiles. This was a special suite where only Suite guests are allowed. We were handed over our respective welcome stoles and our hot welcome drinks which was moreover an immunity booster.  Interestingly, the cushions at the lounge had the message of we assure.

To reach the suite we passed through Jodhabai Bridge from where we gazed trappy palm trees and pool through the glass windows on our left and right. The sight itself was so refreshing post the long drive. All the bridges which one sees at the lobby are named without Akbar’s wives. The hotel was built in 1976 by the ITC management. Originally, the total number of rooms in the hotel older were 289 which have been reduced to 233 rooms including 17 suites for a largest wits of its guests. With 233 rooms and suites, it’s a paradise for the trendy Mogul-full stay. For COVID-19 precautions, there are footprint stickers on the floor everywhere to remind guests of social distancing.

Next to the big Golden Darbar were some of the accolades the hotel has received. The renowned Aga Khan Award- ITC Mughal has the stardom of stuff the winner of the First Aga Khan Award for Architectural Excellence, in Asia, and till date, the only Indian Hotel to have won this prestigious International recognition. ITC Mughal has moreover been the proud recipient of the “Sword of Honour” from the British Safety Council towards its transferral on safety practices. Towards the ethos of the Responsible Luxury, ITC Hotels have been awarded with Platinum certification under the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) (Existing  Building) by the U.S. Untried Building Council. LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability victory and leadership.

We stayed in the Royal Mughal Suite and our suite interestingly had a sticker seal on the room door saying ‘sanitized and sealed for your safety’ which was to be opened by the guest when they arrive. The room was a real stimulating eyeful with Mughal architecture, opulent carving, exotic lampshades, marble flooring and Mughal paintings, big sofas and chairs, well-appointed couch, red flowers, lots of mirrors and a cosy double bed with a massage chair to relax plus a poolside view from my window. On our private dining table, we found Taj Mahal made of white chocolate withal with red velvet pastries and mithai. To add on to the magic, there was a warm welcome note kept on the table for me and my family.

I found my perfect hovel from where I could see the wondrous pool side view when I drew the curtain. Flipside welter was when I entered the bedroom, I found the cosy double bed and we had our names crafted on the pillows on it. That was indeed very sweet! In the bedroom was moreover a remote operated massage chair facing the television. We veritably enjoyed the massage chair in the elapsing of our stay. Physical service directories have been bid goodbye as technology takes over for safety with QR codes which can be scanned. From suavities to repletion to luxury, everything is there and it is luxury with warranty {#WeAssure} and Responsibility {#ResponsibleLuxury} with the strict safety measures stuff taken.

The washroom was flipside feather in the hat. Wow, I could not stop doting the Royal Mughal Suite. The massive dressing zone with mirrors and a luxurious bathtub on one side with Essenza di Wills range kept to pamper and relax our senses. The other side of the dressing zone had a shower panel and toilet. The spacious setting was so soothing and well-appointed with interiors- just so perfect for a getaway. There was moreover a weighing scale kept to alimony your target going zippy all the time.

We got fresh and we headed for lunch at Taj Bano Restaurant. Crossing the indoor zone of the trappy restaurant, we chose to sit in the outside zone to enjoy the pleasant weather. Taj Bano is an elegant and spacious storeroom restaurant with a view of the courtyard. It offers Indian, Western and Oriental cuisines in trendy settings with Mughal tracery with traditional Mughal ‘allas’ and an image of ‘Fatehpur Sikri’. Precautions are taken at various restaurants too with sanitisation of not only the seating and surroundings but moreover the plates and cutlery which are sanitized, covered and wrapped with the #WeAssure assurance.

It was time for zaika of ‘Agra ka swaad’ menu expressly prepared by Doughboy Kavitha Unni for us. The Agra ka Swaad menu at ITC Mughal was at flipside level of taste. Methi ke Kabab and Matar Makhane ka Shorba were very comforting. Khurmi Paneer was stuffed with cheese and was very unique, Dal Dhungari was slow cooked in whole spices and soot which had an wondrous flavor. The non-veg variety included Bhuna Gosht which was meat latpat cooked in spices and was simply yum. We moreover tasted Agre ka Gosht Pulao which was remarkable. For, desserts we had a platter with Hot Jalebis with Rabri and Pethe ka Halwa which reminded us of the flavours and the taste of Agra. The rich and pure Agre ka zaika was out of the world as we had a wonderful Agre ka zaikedaar meal.

With ITC Hotels WeAssure initiative there is warranty of unscratched dining experience. The management is ensuring less or minimal contact between the staff and guests, Savlon hand sanitizer kept on all tables, all the crockery & cutlery are sanitized and prepacked so that there is no touchpoint between 2 people. Also, you cannot miss their water bottle Sunya Aqua provided in reusable glass bottles as part of their #ResponsibleLuxury initiative which stands for 0 mile bottled water which is bottled inhouse, infused with ethnic ‘Good for You’ herbs to enhance the wellness quotient of drinking water.

While we were having an wondrous meal, we could see a set up happening in the ground. Excitedly, we checked with the staff of ITC Mughal and we got to know of the worriedness which could excite and cheer up any kid. It was a cupcake worriedness wherein children were invited to make cupcakes and decorate them too. It was a fun filled and interesting worriedness where kids were seen enjoying. They plan and do such activities regularly.

Post a hearty meal, we headed for hotel tour. We checked out Mumtaz Presidential Suite which was so luxurious and plane had a private pool. With artefacts, a spectacular ceiling, it is one of the most luxurious workplace one could think of. We moreover checked out Man Singh Suite. The royal door opened up to a majestic suite which was astounding. The living room was well-nigh fascinating seating options within the luxurious set up with a mythological view from the curtains. Special highlight was the Indian jhoola crafted by Gujrati craftsman. The bed room had opulent taps tying to the bed which had big red cushions. The suite was equipped with all modern facilities.

Ollie’s Club is a recreation hub for kids where they can play virtually in sand or can play indoor games like carrom board. There were moreover toy buses, trucks to hop and jump on moreover cots for children to rest when they are tired.

We passed by the pool and saw a romantic set up stuff washed-up tropical to the pool. ITC Mughal loves to proffer such trappy experiences and memories for its guests and creates these experiences as per request. Dining under the stars tropical to the pool in nature’s lab in originative setting would surely undeniability for an wits of a lifetime. Infact, there is moreover a separate pool for ITC Royal Mughal Suite guests which is sectional for them.

We spent some time at Maikhana, the Lobby Bar which offers a tony surroundings to its guests. A place where you can have a coffee or a drink in the lively environment of ITC Mughal. Chandeliers dropping down, well-appointed couches add to the atmosphere.

Kaya Kalp Spa and Salon follows the We Reassure initiative and not only has proper sanitization but plane glass shields in pedicure zone to ensure safety and social distancing. The staff wears gloves for hygiene, sanitization and safety. Infact we were asked to fill a form for which we could pick sanitized pens.

The spa is royal, holistic and harmonizing and offers treatments for the body, mind and soul. It is spread wideness 9200 sq. mtrs and has won various awards.

With a theme of Ruby Red pomegranate, it has an wondrous diamond as well as therapies. I got a relaxing foot massage washed-up at the spa with Forest Essential products and I enjoyed every bit of it. My tired soul was completely rejuvenated.

Over the weekends live classical recital is moreover organized in the Lobby zone and we moreover got to hear it.

It was time for dinner at Peshawri. Whoever has dined in at the renowned Bukhara at ITC Maurya in Delhi would not need any introduction to Peshawri. Peshawari has exactly the same concept as Bukhara- from the cuisine to interiors. Peshawri showcases the supplies resembling the traditional style of the Indian North-West Frontier region where soil ovens or tandoors were used. Everything in Peshawri is made in house and the thaumaturgy associated with it is simple: high-quality and locally-sourced ingredients to encompass only the finest.

A unique thing well-nigh Peshawri is that they don’t requite you cutlery and encourage you to eat with hand but to ensure your dress doesn’t get dirty they requite you an apron.

To alimony COVID-19 away, all precautions were taken superintendency of under their #WeAssure programme. From sanitisation of the hovel and table to sanitisation of crockery and cutlery which is then wrapped in the WeAssure assurance. Servers were seen wearing mask and shield and dishes were stuff served on wooden planks to stave any contact. Digital menu replaced laminated tree menus and wooden tongs were used instead of other tongs.

We tried the iconic Naan Bukhara- a 4 ft huge which is unquestionably worthier than a victual wrap and was so soft, velvety and yummy. Yes, Naan Bukhara is so large that it is often tabbed a victual blanket.

It was a welter stuff served by the senior most Doughboy Surat Singh who is the star doughboy in the buzzing kitchen of ITC Mughal and Chef Kavitha Unni. People wideness the world know the nimbus of Dal Bukhara and a true Delhiite like me is no wayfarer to it. We witnessed Dal Bukhara in the making while it was stuff cooked on soot for 24 hours for the pure taste, consistency and flavour. Other dishes we had included Paneer Tikka, Tandoori Aloo, Bharwan Aloo, Reshmi Kebabs, Mutton Burra and Murgh Makhani. In desserts, we tried sweet dishes like Phirni which was served in a mitti bartan, Gulab Jamun and Rasmalai. 

It was a heavenly treat altogether. The incredible experience, talking to the doughboy and seeing the dishes stuff made live which widow increasingly to the satiety value. The finger of the place was earthy and old. It was fully packed with people of all month – young as well as old. It was a unconfined wits perfectly to dine in Peshawri, the most exquisite restaurant at ITC Mughal. We truly relished the robust flavors of the North-West frontier made in soil ovens or tandoors with simple, high-quality and locally-sourced ingredients.  The restaurant’s real skill lies in its deceptively lean composition. Instead of the heavy oil and butter wiring you’d expect from kebabs, Peshawri’s cooking is all light-touch, the selection of kebabs is not accompanied by any sauce or gravy, but only pre-marinated and cooked surpassing serving.

We went when to our trappy suite and crashed for the night. Obviously, we didn’t sleep in the normal way we usually sleep. ITC follows ‘Sleep like a baby’ and guests can enjoy from a wide range of pillows as per their sleeping pattern and moreover pampered with sleep goodies which include pillow mist and much more. We woke up to new surprises making use of the luxurious bathtub, getting dressed in the big well-lit zone was a trappy experience.

It was time for breakfast and we headed to Mughal Pavilion for #ZestyMorningsAtPavilion. At the fine dining multi-cuisine restaurant, we could spot servers wearing gloves and masks. With WeAssure, all precautions were stuff taken superintendency of. What was plane increasingly interesting was that there was a glass shield versus every supplies item and no guest was unliable to take the supplies themselves at the storeroom counter. Supplies was stuff served by servers wearing gloves and mask.

The wide-stretching menu included vada, idli, upma, parathas (paneer, matar and aloo) and much more. There was moreover a live counter for dosa wherein hot Dosas and Uttapams were stuff made fresh and served with all the 3 chutneys- peanut, tomato, mint & coriander. ITC Hotels have a concept known as ‘Local Love’ under which local dishes from the municipality is served everyday. We tried Bedmi Puri from the Local Love menu and veritably enjoyed it.

The variety of beverages included fruit juice, milk, coffee, chai etc. We met Doughboy Philip who specializes in South Indian cuisine. One counter which I unchangingly trammels out while at a breakfast storeroom is Omlettes and to my welter there were fresh and live omlettes in the making and were served with a nomination of white and brown bread. For desserts, there were muffins in many varieties, waffles, pancakes, cinnamon Danish pastry and many more. We enjoyed our breakfast and the lovely spread of desserts too.

It was time for sightseeing. How can one leave Agra without visiting Taj Mahal. This was my second visit to Agra but without a gap of many years. I think my last visit to Agra was when I was in school so I have vague memories of witnessing the trappy structure. ITC Mughal had serried for a guide as well as a car for our visit. Considering of COVID-19, tickets need to be purchased online in whop as only 5000 people per day are unliable to visit the monument now. No tickets are sold at counters now.

Our knowledgeable guide Mr. Ved Prakash witting us to the municipality as well as Taj Mahal during the momentum and within minutes we reached our destination. Taj Mahal is a eyeful and was plane increasingly trappy than my expectations. It was lovely to see the Taj Mahal from so tropical and inward it was like a dream, indeed a very trappy dream. The white beauty, naqashi, urdu words are written on monument, made with love, for love, by love and in memory of love. It was such a trappy wits and a memory of a lifetime. I clicked a lot of pictures and loved the peace there and every moment spent in the monument was amazing.

We then came when to the hotel. For lunch, it was Express Wok which is a proper meal in box known as bento-box which comes in both veg and non veg versions. Let us decode the box for you. The Vegetarian Box had Olive Fried Rice, Asian Spring Rolls (made of rice sheets and glass noodles), Stir fried Asian Greens, Okra Chilli Bean (so unique!) and Stage Pancake while the Non-Vegetarian box had Kung Pao Chicken, Governors Chicken, Soy Ginger Fish, Veg Hakka Noodles and Stage Pancakes. All the dishes were so yum! We loved the concept of the Bento Box which had everything from starters to main undertow to desserts.

The raw material used in cooking is grown in hotel. They use local resources and products of the region and most of it is produced within the hotel. ITC has been supporting Vocal for Local plane surpassing the Government announced. ITC supports the society promising the weightier of the region in the most hygienic way. Meal in a box is a unconfined concept considering there is no wastage and moreover it is pocket friendly.

We went to our room to relax and then headed to Bagh-e-Bahar lounge for flipside succulent treat. Who can resist yummy chaats while in Agra but with the pandemic we were not sure of stepping on to the streets. Guess what! ITC Mughal ensured we don’t go when without tasting the yummiest Agra ki Chaat. So over the evening they organized a special chaat time and treated us with not just one or two specialities but with 5 yummiest chaats made in house which we relished in the confines of ITC Mughal.

It was a chatpata chaat encounter we had with masalas, dahi, sev, anaar and papdi. From Jalebi Chaat to Pakodi Chaat, Papdi Chaat, Dahi Bhalla Chaat, Motia Makai Chaat…we enjoyed our lip smacking chatpata time with these yummiest chaats. Thank you so much Chef Kavitha Unni for this.

We headed for a walk in the big lush untried garden which was full of untried plantations and flowers. We moreover checked out the Mughal Express which stands there as a memory of the nostalgic era. The manicured garden is perfect for morning as well as evening walks and is moreover unconfined for photo opps

For dinner we went to Taj Bano for a special Awadhi treat. We tried variegated delicacies like Hara Bhara Kebab, Murgh Kali Mirch Kebab, Subz Zafrani Shorba, Subz Miloni, Jannat-e-Numa, Dal Makhani, Maki Sarson, Gosht Awadhi Biryani and more. For desserts we had Shahi Tukda and Shahed-e-Jam. The meal was rich, pure and flavourful and we all enjoyed it a lot. The menu was expressly curated for us by Doughboy Ashmit Bhattacharya and Doughboy Kavitha Unni. A perfect meal and a perfect end!

ITC Mughal is moreover a renowned destination for weddings and special precautions are followed at the refection owing to COVID 19. The refection hall is sanitized each time surpassing and without the event with all safety protocols taken. All crockery is sanitized and paper wrapped under the WeAssure initiative. PPE kits are worn by the staff members. With varied options from lawn to refection hall, guests are delighted and can host every function be it wedding or cocktail or a reception. The 15000 sq. ft. garden opens into 2 ballrooms with a royal structure with Mughal tracery and a very trappy sheesh mahal made of mirrors. Deewan-e- khaas is where meetings take place which has glimpses of Mughal tracery everywhere – chandeliers, doors, paintings, pillars all are very Mughal-istic. Plane the reception counter has been given Mughal touches to it.

Lady Diana, Prince Charles, Tony Blair, the family of Amitabh Bachchan are some of the celebrities who have stayed in this prestigious property. Infact, the hotel is a heritage property and the shooting of Dilip Kumar’s yesteryear’s glorious mucosa ‘Vidhaata’ took place here. Recently Bollywood actress Sara Ali Khan moreover stayed at ITC Mughal.

Our morning tea was at Jharokha-e-Taj, which is a perfect place to enjoy a marvelous view of Taj Mahal. It was simply mesmerizing and breathtaking. What an enjoyable start of the day!

It was time to throne when to Delhi but not without lunch. The last lunch we had was at the private dining table of our Royal Mughal suite.  Everything is no-go when it comes to the impeccable hospitality of ITC Mughal. We wanted to do a quick lunch surpassing heading out to Delhi and ordered for Mezze Platter, Veg Pizzas, Sliders and Tiramisu. How it came was simply artistic. It was a meal to relish.

Even for room service the servers came with shield, mask and gloves and we relished it all in the private dining space of our Royal Mughal Suite. Veritably loved the royalty and the continental cuisine.

Since we were driving when home and ITC Mughal was concerned well-nigh our safety, they ensured we don’t stop on the way and were given packed supplies for the way when home. We were moreover gifted an refreshing marble elephant, a memory of the place we stayed in which we could unchangingly treasure as a memoir. Loved such small gestures!

ITC Mughal is indeed one of the weightier hotels in terms of hospitality. ITC warmth and their signature namaste (Atithi Devo Bhavo) is unchangingly seen despite social distancing. Thank You Team ITC Mughal, Jyoti, Richa, Doughboy Kavitha, Doughboy Ashmit, Mr. Jilani for the wondrous stay and the warm hospitality which we still cherish.

With inputs from Shilpa Arora
Photos shot & edited by Shubham Arora

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