Imagine exchanging marriage vows with your life partner with a backdrop of snow-capped mountains or lush green hills with a serene river flowing adjacent to the woods and thousands of flowers blooming. It might feel like a fairy-tale setting. The good news? It is very much possible for you to have your dream mountain wedding.
Picturesque mountain towns in India are increasingly attracting many prospective brides and grooms who want to make their wedding an unforgettable affair, not only for themselves but even for the guests.
With its diverse topography, India offers numerous destinations. This week, we look at where you should be planning your wedding – up North among the snow-capped mountains of Manali, Gulmarg, Dharamshala, Nainital and Mussoorie or down south in quaint Munnar and Ooty.
To affix additional charm, several hotels have jumped into the bandwagon to ensure that a simple wedding is transformed into a complete fun-filled and comfortable retreat for both family and friends. From an austere ceremony to grand extravaganza, the hotels are launching special residential wedding packages to suit every level of sophistication and budget.
Jaypee Residency Manor in Mussourie
A friend recently attended a wedding in Mussourie at the grand Jaypee Residency Manor and came back completely enthralled. The hotel is built on an individual hilltop and is spread over nine acres of lush green gardens. Apart from the grandeur, he was impressed with the warmth and hospitality being reflected in the personalised wedding management by the hotel staff, which ensured that every little detail was taken care of.
Now, he is planning his own wedding in a similar property at another serene and beautiful hill station with selected family members and close friends. Given the wide range of options in terms of destinations and hotels, he is spoilt for choice.
Since most of these hill stations used to be the summer capitals of their erstwhile rulers, the good hotels are generally heritage properties, which combine the old ‘Raj’ charm with luxury, comfort and spectacular views.
Manu Maharani in Nainital
Soaring peaks, breathtaking valleys, abundant lush green flora and cool, crisp mountain air characterise the spirit of the northern hill stations and add a fabulous touch to the wedding ceremonies in most hotels here.
Nainital has the Welcomheritage-controlled Belvedere Palace, which was the summer palace of the Rajas of Awagarh and was built in 1897. The palace is an embodiment of royal living and the family history still echoes in every aspect of this heritage hotel. The Manu Maharani hotel has a grandeur and elegance of its own. Both these hotels offer a panoramic view of the magnificent Naini Lake and hosting a wedding at any of these locations would ensure that memories are cherished for life.
Wildflower Hall in Mashobra, near Shimla
Situated 1000 feet above Shimla, the Oberoi-owned Wildflower Hall at Mashobra is a fairytale luxury resort set amidst 22 acres of virgin pine and cedar woods. It was among the favourite country escapes for various Viceroys and Commanders in the British era and combines the age-old charm with modern day comforts.
Manu Allaya in Manali
Even The Oberoi Cecil at Shimla is a heritage hotel that has been restored to its original grandeur with wood floors, period furniture and crackling fires. These hotels offer spectacular views of mountains, cedar forests and ancient monasteries which provide a splendid backdrop to the weddings.
Aptly called the Valley of Gods because of its pristine beauty, Manali is bordered by the Rohtang Pass, which is the gateway to Ladakh – the mighty mountain desert. Covered with pine woods and apple orchards, Manali has some beautiful hotels like the Span Resort – which is located on the banks of the majestic River Beas – and the Ambassador Resorts-owned Manu Allaya hotels. While the banquet at Manu Allaya can host about 250 guests, the sprawling lawns accommodate almost 1500 guests and are perfect for an outdoor wedding.
Club Mahindra’s Lake View in Munnar
South India too boasts of some placid and picturesque hill stations like Munnar and Ooty, which can serve as perfect wedding locations. Munnar was the summer hideout of the colonials during the British rule and still retains the Indo-British charm in the architecture of most of the good hotels. The Mountain Club here, owned by the EVM Group, prides itself for its service standards. Even the Lakeview Resort of Club Mahindra, which is available to non-members in off peak season, and the Fort Munnar are beautiful properties with their Indo-British architecture and offer verdant view of the tea estates and the mountain peaks. Both these hotels are suitable for close family weddings with around 120 people.
Fernhill Royale Palace in Ooty
The Fernnhills Royale Palace in Ooty was the summer palace of the Maharajas of Mysore. While it was built in 1844 by British Captain F Cotton, the 40-acre property was bought by a 12-year old prince – Chamarajendra Wadiyar X – in 1873 for just Rs 10,000. He became the first Indian royal to buy an English holding in Ooty. Though its grand ballroom, which has a grand ornamental papiermache ceiling, can accommodate about 200 people, the palace has sprawling gardens and lawns which can host outdoor weddings of about 1000 people. The backdrop of dense forests overlooking lush green valleys and tea gardens provide a superb backdrop to the nuptials.
Next week, we take you to idyllic mountain towns in the East – Shillong, Darjeeling; West – Matheran, Lonavala, Mahabaleshwar, Panchgani and even Central India – Pachmarhi and Mandu.
Photos credit: Expedia.co.in, Fernhills Royale Palace, Ooty