New Delhi: Two young girls attired in a
lehenga and a Bengali saree welcomed US First couple Barack
Obama and Michelle today to the ITC Maurya here where they
will be staying for the next two days.
The Obamas were a given a "nice, warm traditional"
welcome -- the trademark Maurya welcome termed `Brides of
India` -- as shehnai played in background.
"Two girls dressed in traditional bridal dress -- one
in a lehenga and the other in a Bengali saree -- welcomed the
dignitaries. They enjoyed the warm welcome," a senior hotel
The US President and First Lady were received at the
hotel, located in a 5.5 acre plot on Sardar Patel Marg, by ITC
Chairman Y C Deveshwar.
The lobby of the hotel has been decorated with flowers
while the premises have new saplings, flowering plants and a
green carpet of grass.
All the 440 rooms, including the 29 uniquely-designed
suites, of the hotel have been booked by the US authorities
for Obama`s delegation even as US Secret Services have secured
the facility for the stay of the President.
Obama is the third US President to stay in the ITC
Maurya in the past 10 years. Earlier in 2000, then US
President Bill Clinton stayed at the hotel, while six years
later, George W Bush also chose the same facility.
One of the reasons why the hotel is a favourite among
high profile dignitaries is its three accommodation wings
which make it more secure. Given the fact that all the three
wings have their own elevators, receptions and kitchens makes
it difficult to guess where the dignitary is actually staying.
The restaurants -- DumPhukt and Bukhara -- in the
hotel are also making arrangements for treating the US
This time around, the `Obama Platter` is expected to
have fish on it, besides `murgh khurchan` among other things.
Besides working on various delicacies for the US
delegation, the hotel is also preparing to treat them with
traditional Indian therapies at their exotic spa. "The spa
managers at Kaya Kalp are working on this," the official said.
Elaborate security arrangements have also been made at
the hotel. The ITC Maurya has been made out of bounds for the
public with Indian and US security agencies taking over the
building after sanitising the facility.
Around 2,000 police and paramilitary personnel will
guard the hotel and its surroundings. The Ridge area opposite
the hotel has been lit up while personnel from Indian and US
agencies have checked the manholes and sewer lines on the
routes Obama is taking.
Security concerns have forced authorities to disable
the "virtual tour" section from the hotel website.