It goes without saying that stars of a wedding are the bride and the groom. But what are stars without the backdrop? So it was then at the glamorous wedding of Saurabh Jindal, son of Vijay Kumar Jindal, Chairman of realty major SVP, with Richa Singla, held at Aamby Valley, just 23 km from Lonavala, last month.
Let’s go back to the beginning
The destination was chosen after more than a month of deliberation. This, after tossing away popular wedding destinations like Udaipur, Goa, Rishikesh, and even South Asia. In the middle of the discussion, the groom’s brother Sunil suddenly came up with the idea: Why not Aamby Valley!
During his student days in Pune, he had been to Aamby Valley, 87 km away, and was spellbound by its scenic beauty. The place looks all the more enticing during the monsoons. Since the wedding was scheduled during the peak of monsoon in July, no other destination is better than Aamby Valley. “The weather around this period is not humid. The entire place is covered in clouds so much so that you are practically walking through the clouds. And when the cloud is gone, it is covered in a lusciously green cover,” says Jayanta Barua, SVP’s head of Corporate Communication who was very much a part of the wedding planning. Combine this with towering hill peaks, waterscapes and unending gardens, and what you have is a typical Bollywood fantasy. The family members went for a recce and the first impression was enough to get the grand patriarch’s seal of approval.
Wedding guests (numbering 330) were accommodated in a variety of rooms, villas, cottages and suits scattered within the Valley, each with its own character. Town Plaza cottages were small, but cute. Aussie Suite, created out of Australian pinewood, comes with a private Jacuzzi. The Spanish Cottage, meanwhile, offers views of the Koraigarh Fort and the majestic hills around. The Burmese Chalet, amidst spectacular mountains, is best suited for the one who seeks quiet. Then you have the Hermitage, located on a hilltop, designed out of timber and glass with rustic and wooden decor. “We booked Hermitages for the immediate families,” says Barua. And finally, you have the Cabana, next to the shimmering Great Lake, built on stilts with an open deck and a plunge pool. No prize for guessing, that was for the newlyweds.
The idea was not just to have a wedding, but also a family get-together and a holiday,” says Sunil. Most guests preferred to fly from Delhi to Mumbai, as the Delhi-Pune route doesn’t have too many direct flights. Few others landed directly in Pune. People were hired to receive and transport the guests in Volvo busses to Aamby Valley – a four-hour ride from the Maximum City.
Guests had their fill of adventure and indulgences
The great thing about Aamby Valley is that it has lot of scope for outdoor activities and a day was reserved for it. At the Aamby Waterfront, wedding guests were in for a range of water sports that included rides in jet skis, speed boats, pontoon boats. They also took part in wake boarding/knee boarding and went for a waterfall safari (open only in monsoons). “There is a Skydiving Centre there too,” says Barua.
Other guests took the land route to adventure by going for ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) rides, zorbing, jungle safari, rappelling, paint balling, rock climbing and zip-lining. Those looking for softer indulgences headed to the Spa Centre.
By night, it’s time for high-voltage entertainment. The multimedia musical fountain provided a splendid backdrop for some of the wedding functions. The dynamic fountain right on a 70,000 sqm pond, is propelled by 259 jets, 1256 underwater lights, 24 strobe lights, and was beautifully choreographed to 12,000 watt of music with water jets shooting up to 328 ft.
With such a mesmerising backdrop, Indian Idol singer Rahul Vaid and Dilbag Singh enthralled the audience. One of the functions had a Moroccan and Pakeezah theme. Sangeet had jazz as its theme, while the actual wedding was Vedic by nature.
Since it was a Punjabi wedding, “alcohol was a must” says Barua. Drinks came in test tubes, water guns, spray guns and injection syringes. Champagne ladies went about distributing Champagne Flutes. An ice bar counter was also made. Drinks also included Cointreau chuski made by specialists flown in from Amritsar. “We made sure that everyone had their fair share of drinks,” laughs Sunil.
As for food, they decided to fly in chefs from Delhi. “We went on a food trail in the restaurants and kitchens in and around Aamby Valley, but felt that the food didn’t quite match the authentic Punjabi taste. The quality of paneer was not the same as we find in Punjab or North India. For a wedding, food is everything and we didn’t want to take chance. So we took ingredients and chefs along from Delhi and Punjab,” says Barua.
Variety in venues
The 10,000 acre Aamby Valley has enough facilities for a mega wedding: E.A.S.T. Deck overlooks the majestic Sail Bridge; Benaras Ghat resembles the original sacred waterfront by the Ganges; the 80,000 sqft Golf Lawns is surrounded by the mountains and lush green turf; and the Aamby Valley Auditorium, that looks like a butterfly emerging out of a caterpillar, can cater upto 3000 people.
While you can take your pick, the Jindals had their mehendi function at the Town Plaza, a 12,000 sqft shopping village that sells everything from handicrafts and artefacts to branded items. A disco was created in a restaurant for the young and the young-at-heart.
Marriages are made in heaven
Aamby Valley is a favourite venue for weddings with people from Kolkatta and Mumbai. But it was for the first time, the Jindals claim, that a North Indian wedding took place there bang in the middle of monsoon. With a wedding as lavish as the rains, an ecstatic father of the groom says, “Why go abroad when you have such splendid destinations in India itself. It’s better than Thailand.” Chips in Sunil, the groom’s brother: “The main idea was to enjoy a vacation and a party. Marriage was bonus!”
“It was simply out of the world,” Saurabh, the groom, has the last word. Well, marriages are supposed to be made in heaven, aren’t they?