This is a travelogue about staycation at this hotel, activities & food that we had here.
In a Nutshell:
A post lockdown enjoyable weekend break amidst pure nature, so unbelievably near from the city, no city noise, not too many vehicles, a beautiful drive around the villages in the morning, intense in-house pottery & qawalli sessions, loosening of the mind with a game of carrom, pretty much just walking around listening to chirping of birds & seeing the aravallis. Warm staff. Average to good food.
Address & other details: lalit mangar
Disclaimer: All restaurants / eateries / Hotels reviewed by YUMMRAJ were visited by YUMMRAJ himself & he has paid for the full Bill & tips also. http://www.yummraj.com does not have even one featured / sponsored reviews. YUMMRAJ believes in going to a restaurant in anonymity, as a normal guest, experience everything & give a honest account of the same to you.
Each section of this post has headers, so that you can skip a section if that does not interest you. Here is a jist of all the sections:
1. The drive to lalit mangar from gurgaon
2. About Mangar
3. Our experience at the hotel – lalit mangar
4. Activities in & around the hotel
5. Food at the hotel – lalit mangar
The drive to lalit mangar from gurgaon
We heard mention of lalit mangar after spending 13 years in delhi NCR from prashant singh, who runs a organic food farm Khetu (among other things that he does) on the Gurgaon faridabad road.
He mentioned that many of his friends have started organic farming in mangar, where many farms have the aravallis as the backdrop.
A quick Internet search & browsing pics, we decided to do a stay at lalit over a weekend.
On the day of travel, when I put the location on google map, I was surprised. It showed 33 minutes from our home in gurugram!!!
Most part is the drive is thru the highway that connects gurugram & faridabad (taxi drivers refer it to pahadi wala rasta). After crossing the toll gate, we had to turn right & then started that last 4-5 minutes of the drive.
Suddenly it felt as if we were few hundred kilometers from the big city. Quiet curvy road with an occasional vehicle passing by. Sound of birds. Lush green trees & shrubs on both side. At most of the stretch, the branches were covering the top & forming a ceiling.
This beautiful drive however lasted very less as we reached the hotel soon.
Mangar is located at the foothills of aravallis. The aravallis in this region, as most of you know, are low in height & has dense vegetation. As a result it’s rich in flora & fauna.
The village mangar is located between 4 hills, which folklore says, guarded the place from attacks by outsiders over the centuries & also gave a natural advantage to the people living there.
The village looked like a modern day village with the visuals being a mix of brick & mortar, greenery, domestic animals, farm vehicles, charpoys, hukka, etc.
The drive from the hotel to the village included a drive thru the fairly steep & curvy hill road, adequately walled in the periphery.
Quite a few people from delhi NCR have left their corporate jobs / other businesses & are running organic farms here – close to the city & pure nature, a great combination.
Our experience at the hotel – lalit mangar
Booking & check in
Booking was seemless & online. Payment was to be done during departure. I was surprised that they refused to accept Amex as a payment option. Usually small establishments do such things – not star hotels.
At arrival we were told about ‘mandatory’ valet parking as they need to adjust parking slots based on size of vehicle.
The interaction at the reception was very short & efficient. We got our keys really soon.
The gentleman gave us a list of suggested activities in & around the hotel.
We were transported to our room in a golf cart.
It was during this ride that we noticed the architecture of this hotel – rammed earth technology used to build everything so that it visually also goes well with the look & feel of the village & forest around.
There were different kinds of rooms. We booked the ones with hill view. Yes, the aravallis were visible while sitting on the bed as well as most part of our room.
Loved the 3 sides open balcony with lattice-work look fence. It was a very good place to sit & spend some time.
The room we stayed in was large, nice & most importantly had a high ceiling.
At 4 pm we went to the chai area. Chai was being served from a cart below a tree. Quite insta friendly set up I shud say.
Two of the savouries served at high tea were baked in-house. Excellent.
The chai itself was watery & bad – like in most places in delhi NCR (no comparison to the strong good tea that is served on roadsides of kolkata or mumbai). I regretted wasting a cup of tea – cud not have more than a sip.
A gentleman from the nearby village had set up a pottery making classes next to the tea cart. There were village charpoys kept in front of that set up.
We picked up our tea & snacks, sat on the charpoy & watched him skilfully make earthen vessels. He explained why he was using mud from a particular place in the village – how the mud had great binding properties.
We also tried to learn from him. He patiently taught us & guided us in this fun journey. Here is what I made with his guidance. He offered to correct the imbalances & make it perfect but I wanted it to be how I made it – imperfect. Later at home I fired it on a gas stove. Partially worked. Have to do properly in a pit.
He also gave us the final product we made.
In one of the rooms near the lobby there was set up for playing indoor games. We enjoyed few games of carrom after a long while.
The extra large chess set was occupied by a large family. So we were unable to access it.
There was a pool table & also option to play badminton.
Walking in the campus during sunset
We walked around in loops inside the wall campus of the hotel & clicked pictures. The aravallis were seen on two sides while we were walking.
There was constant chirping of different kinds of birds as we walked.
Live Qawalli & folk music
Singers from the nearby village had come to sing folk music & qawalli in the evening . The rustic voice of the singers, the raw sound of (non electronically adjusted) musical instruments, the sudden highs & lows – all that was magical. In today’s day it’s rare to find a real music session in the open, with jot much of sound engineering.
We really enjoyed the songs
This was interesting – on one of the highest common area spots in the campus, equipment for star gazing was set up. A gentleman was present there to guide guests.
Unfortunately the sky was cloudy in all directions on that particular evening. So it was not possible to see anything till the set up was there – 10 pm.
Activities in & around the hotel
There was an option of Camel ride in the village (starting from hotel). We did not go for it. The camel was beautifully decked up.
It’s a great place to cycle around – less traffic, greenery on both sides, roads with moderate slope (to test one’s own limits) etc.
Visit to jewellery museum
In the main village there is a home stay which also has a jewellery museum. We drove till there but it was shut.
About 5 km of driving thru village roads & greenery on both sides, often with the aravallis as the background, we reached the rock climbing spot. It being a Sunday morning , many people were taking rock climbing classes.
random driving around the village
We drove past it & randomly drove around in the village at low speed, letting local vehicles overtake us.
We stopped at places to click pictures.
We noticed some kind of a movement in a tree & drove near the tree. We pulled down the glass & we heard a chorus of bird chirping & then we spotted may be a hundred Weaver birds busy in miscellaneous activities, who had built nests on the tree.
Food at the hotel – lalit mangar
In the evening, we asked for Fruit platter – it had a wide choice of good quality fruits. Rate it 4/5
We ordered chicken tikka as a starter.
Green Chutney was potent, no nonsense, had strong flavors of pudina & green chillies. It was Slightly hot.
Excellent, in one word. Rate it 4.5/5
Papad was also served as we waited for the tikka. The papad was super thin & relatively neutral so that taste of food that comes after papad does not get disturbed due to aftertaste.
As we waited, we were offered some salads from the buffet. Both were very good. Rate them 4/5.
The Chicken tikka was outstanding – super soft , juicy, just the right balance of sour & salt , the tikkas were charred in the corners & had crisp edges. rate it 4.5/5
Papad ki subzi was less on salt. When we added salt, the subzi turned out to be very good. It was very smooth. Slightly less smooth wud have given a texture that wud have been fun. The dish had methi saag & Palak mashed & cooked with papad. The papad was almost lost with the flavors of the saag. Methi made the dish a tiny bit bitter (enjoyable). rate the dish 4/5 after salt & ‘as it is’ rate it 3.5/5
Chowke wali daal (arhar) was excellent. The texture of daal was very enjoyable & flavors of the daal was very good (jeera & sliced green chillys added to flavor & texture). Rate it 4.5/5
We ordered Gulab jamun for dessert. It was fluffier than what the dough shud hv been – so more ras entered thru the extra pores & made the gulab jamun ‘over-sweet’. The usual balancing of gulab jamun (sweet with a tinge of salt) did not happen in this case. The sweet this turned out to be average. Rate it 2/5.
A reasonably large buffet was laid out – but filed with very average tasting food
We tried little bit of many things. They were mostly bad to average.
Highlighting 3 items from the long list below –
Idli sambar Chutney
Vada was good to taste & crisp. Rate it 3/5
The Chutney did not have any good flavor or taste. It was bland. Rate it 2/5
The idli was hard & wud make a sound it it were to fall from the hand to the ground (exaggeration, pun intended). Rate it 1/5
Sambar was average – made probably with packed masalas. Rate it 2/5
Masala omelet was neither chatpata like indians like, nor was it soft, runny & juicy like non Indian guests like. The masala omelet was bland, hard (over cooked) & just a stomach filler. Rate it 2/5
Plain omelet made with butter (with repeated requests to keep the center soft) was slightly better but still the omelet was firm. Rate it 2.5/5
Chholay bhature – it was a good, crisp poori I wud say but not a bhatura. No fermented flavors that a good bhature shud have. The chholay was a bad recipe – so bland & so over cooked chholay that it was fit for children & firangs. Not adult indians. If Sita team Dewan chand chholey bhature is 4.5/5, this one was 2/5.
Overall rating of food at lalit mangar averages out to 3.3/5
Must say that the a la carte was way better than buffet. North Indian food was better in general. Either South Indian chef was on leave or they don’t have a good South Indian chef.
Overall – recommended by YUMMRAJ for a short weekend trip when u get bored of hardcore city life & want to travel but do not have much time in hand.
Good for small parties with friends, corporate events.