Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Delhi epitomises 10,000 years of Indian culture in all its breathtaking grandeur, beauty, wisdom and bliss. It brilliantly showcases the essence of India’s ancient architecture, traditions and timeless spiritual messages. The Akshardham experience is an enlightening journey through India’s glorious art, values and contributions for the progress, happiness and harmony of mankind.
Delhi 110003, India
Tel: 91 11 2463 2600
Run by the Taj group, the Ambassador, near Lodhi Gardens and Humayun's Tomb, is set on well-kept grounds. It lacks the colonial elegance of some of the grander hotels, but the service is excellent. The 88 rooms have modern furnishings. Ask for a "superior" rather than a "standard" guest room: The latter are small, but the "superior" rooms have balconies. Guests may use the health club and pool at the nearby Taj Mahal Hotel (owned by the same group). There is a bar, H20+, a Chinese restaurant, Larry's China, and the diner-like Yellow Brick Road, a sunny all-day coffee shop. The hotel has various small shops selling books, garments, and souvenirs.
See + Do
Delhi 110092, India
Tel: 91 11 2201 6688
One might be tempted to call it Hinduism's answer to Disney World. But the Akshardham temple, which opened in 2005 as a showcase for the celebration of Hindu culture, is without question one of the largest places of worship ever built. A 100-acre complex, it contains exhibition halls, boat rides, gift shops, an Imax Theater, and a massive central monument, constructed of white marble and red sandstone, that rests on a plinth of 148 stone elephants. Admission to the complex is free, but a fee is charged to visit some of the exhibitions. No mobile phones or cameras.
Delhi 110021, India
Tel: 91 11 2611 2233
Housed in the ITC Maurya Sheraton & Towers in southwest Delhi, Bukhara has Flintstones–style decor, with stone walls and mock log-top tables. You can watch chefs at work in the kitchen, where meat and vegetables are skewered on kebab spears. Good choices include the murg tandoori (a whole chicken marinated in yogurt, malt vinegar, ginger, garlic, lemon juice, chili, turmeric, and garam masala); the tandoori pomfret, a whole flatfish from the Indian Ocean roasted with spices; and bharvan kulcha, a baked bread stuffed with cottage cheese. In deference to the restaurant's northwest-frontier theme, there is no cutlery, nor finger bowls: Diners are expected to tear their chicken apart with their bare hands, with only an apron for protection.
The Manor, India
Delhi 110065, India
Tel: 91 11 2692 5151
Cloistered within the privileged Friends colony compound and set among verdant, geometric greenery, the Manor offers that rare Delhi luxury: serenity. Inside, the lobby has an Italian mosaic floor and rich wood paneling. There are ten rooms (in four sizes, including one suite), decorated in soothing caramel and beige. All accommodations have en suite bathrooms finished in emerald granite, each with a separate bathtub and shower room. The Manor is a no-smoking zone, except in the Onyx Bar and on the patios, where a crowd gathers day and night. The excellent restaurant, Restaurant 77, makes exquisite Masala Dosas (thin and crispy rice pancakes rolled with spicy potato and served with lentils, curried vegetables and coconut sauce). A refurb of the interior is planned for this year (and a spa and restaurant for 2008), so be prepared for a possible departure from the usual sedate atmosphere.