• Ambica Gulati

Fascination for history, love for preservation, we just can’t have enough of it and also love sharing it. Now a touch of Australia can also be seen at the Pink City of Jaipur. Blending the historical, royal and traditional flavours in Jaipur is the recently launched Leisure Inn Grand Chanakya hotel by Staywell Hospitality group. The décor, a far cry from the Rajasthani pink stone, is all a shiny cream and brown. But the location is the heart of the town, MI Road, so you are not far from the local shopping centres, the heritage sites of City Place or Ram Bagh and quite near the road leading to the forts—Amber, Jaigarh and Nahar. On the way up, do take a picture of the Jal Mahal.

The claim to fame and attraction lies in the revamped Grand Chanakya which has been the city’s most dined eating spot for Marwari thali since decades. A legend built by a business professional Lekhraj Odhrani, the restaurant was the city’s iconic landmark. A grand painting of the kingmaker, better known as the Indian Machiavelli, Chanakya, graces the wall.

The décor is now suited for the modern Rajasthani but the food retains the same traditional flavours. A must-try is the traditional thali laden with ker sangria, gatta curry, raita, atta and besan choormas, and bajra roti. Down it with the dhongri chach. Even today, the food is made in desi gheebut not the huge quantities of yesteryears. The chach and bajre ki rotiis certainly a must try and I fell in love with the atta choorma. The restaurant even offers dishes for the Jains sans onion and garlic. All made under the eagle eyes of Executive Chef Abhishek Mathur and Chef Shriniwas Thakre. If you plan to go a la carte, try the Navratna Korma or Moong Dal ka Halwa.

Rajasthani thali
Dongri Chach
Non-vegetarian food is a strict no-no as is alcohol. Even the utensils used for cooking here are sacred.
The 52-room hotel, priced at around Rs 2,200 for a room, suits the business traveller and the tourist who look for a smart, clean and good place to stay. The city being the hub of tourism for various reasons, the hotel also has a restaurant catering to the European palette—Café Viva. The buffet breakfast is an amalgam of breads, eggs, dosas, fruits, juices, shakes and more.

And nights are best enjoyed on the rooftop Arya Bar & Grill. Your poison in your hands, some friends, music and a soft breeze, this makes for the perfect relaxed end after a hard day’s drive to Amber, Bapu Bazaar and City Palace.

The hotel also houses a banquet hall, Kautilya, and Chakrapani spa for those wanting relaxation indoors.

All in all it was two days of comfort, Rajasthani flavours and a recap of the city’s royal roots.