From the low divan seating at the large window at the Mughal Sheraton Hotel in Agra, I could see the Taj Mahal only 2 km away.
My butler, Trevor pointed this out to me as I swooned with delight at this somewhat dated but so well decorated suite (although in the hotel’s heyday it was one of only 12 countries to win the first Aga Khan Award in 1980). This deluxe suite along with Trevor, came with the most wonderful massage chair. Finding the perfect speed and pressure was the only difficulty I encountered. Trevor adjusted it to my liking. My immediate thought was that every hotel room should have one. Since Trevor made sure that my wishes were his job to fulfill, he suggested that very early next morning, not long after dawn, we travel the short distance, about 1 mile, to the Taj Mahal, by horse and carriage. The morning light on the white marble and inlaid semi precious gem stones was excruciatingly exquisite. And the love story of Shah Jahan is still a bitter- sweet romantic episode. His love for his deceased wife, Mumttaz, was the reason for this building which is India’s and the world’s number one sight.
His own finale was imposed solitary confinement by his son. And this love story still leaves me teary eyes.
Getting back to the 16th century architecturally inspired hotel was always awesome seeing the huge chandelier hanging 15 meters down from the ceiling.
Their signature restaurant, Peshawri, where I was given an apron and encouraged to eat with my fingers, was the height of well prepared Indian cuisine. But certainly the attraction- getter at The Mughal Hotel is the newly opened 99,000 square foot (yes, it’s actually that size) Kaya Kalp- the Royal Spa. If ever I wanted to know what it was like to feel like to be a Maharani, this was it. Designed so beautifully, it was the only winner from India to be tapped by London’s snob appeal glossy magazine, Tatler Spa Guide. The colour scheme and theme for Kaya Kalp is the pomegranate. And inlaid in the terrazzo flooring on the exterior and interior are bursts of the ruby red fruit design also seen on the deeply carved wood walls and ceilings Although huge, much of the space includes outdoor walkways over smartly designed pools featuring fountains and flowering bushes while jasmine scent permeates the air.
Head and foot massages suggested by sage Trevor who knows about the drying effects of long distance flights and the facial and body massage were as good as they get given by extremely well trained aestethians. Treatments included Ayurvedic hot herbal poultice massage and Shirodhara Therapy. I had the Kaya Kalp facial but had to decide between that an Absolute Pearl Gem Stone Facial which sounded like the jewel in the crown. Revitalising Body Treatments, Chakra Balancing Gem Stone Massage and a category called Spa Journey were only part of the menu. Pomegranate Journey and Passage to India would have needed a week for me to get through all the choices.
The big disappointment was the astrologer who sits in an area of the hotel’s lobby, waiting for ‘suckers’ like me. “Ah you have three children”. No only two. “Ah, you’ve been married three times”. No, to the same husband for decades. “Ah, you love travelling.” Yes, that’s why I’m in India. So after the 3000 rubee payment (approx. CDN $85, about US $75), I couldn’t believe that I had been seduced. But as they say, there’s a sucker born every minute. I know,I know, I should have bargained or perhaps not bothered at all.