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 Travel and Leisure

March 2010
Spa in the Mountains
Nutan Sehgal
The Ananda Resort and Spa is counted among the World’s best Destination Spas by the prestigious Condé Nast Traveller

If ever there was a sylvan repose this is it! Ananda must be one of the most scenic spas in the whole world. Located near Rishikesh in Uttrakhand, it is a retreat for those with jaded nerves and loads of moolah.

When you take the road that winds its way through the hills to Narendra Nagar from Rishikesh, you come face to face with this magical destination. The erstwhile summer retreat of the British gentry and the palace of a local Maharaja, the Ananda Resort was voted as the World’s No. 1 Destination Spa by the prestigious Condé Nast Traveller in 2005.

Built atop a hill, the double windows open to a wide view of the Himalayas. Completing the picture postcard view are lush green lawns and neatly laid out walking trails into the parks and forest all around.

A visit to this spa is surely an experience worth cherishing. The soothing ambience – enriched by the smell of aroma oils, soft music, dim lighting and warm towels – makes one feel completely at ease. The spa also offers a health cuisine where most of the food has to pass the strict muster of a trained dietician.

Fit for a Maharaja
If you feel like a Maharaja then you can head for Ananda – as here you do not get a hotel ambience. As one enters the iron gates of the spa, down the greenery-lined drive, one comes to the Maharaja’s palace built in 1910 to house the Viceroy on his visits to the Garhwal region.

Besides the usual trapping of luxury, the resort has restored the Viceroy’s Palace with breathtaking views of the Ganges River and mountainside. The palace is the main centre, where among the relics of a regal past, one can unwind to Ayurvedic massages and yogic exercises.

And this is just a curtain raiser to what follows. The whole complex holds treatment rooms, gym, relaxation rooms, sauna and hydrotherapy rooms and what one would presume, are miles of quiet hills, greenery and silence.

First things first, the guests are introduced to the regimen they are supposed to follow during their stay. A consultant doctor first notes down a guest’s history, habits and other such details to get to know the sort of treatment or regimen that should be applied.

Blissful Massage
Foot reflexology - a technique where the feet are massaged to invigorate or activate various nerves that control the body - is a starter and is followed by a massage with a lot of pummeling and kneading that really turns the body to putty in the masseur’s hands. Facials, oil baths and hot aromatic oil fumigations usually put people into blissful sleep.

As the stars twinkle over a rich clean dark sky, one is held spellbound by the sheer beauty that darkness offers to the eye, in an environment of such squeaky clean nature. One can stargaze the night away through the large window even as the glow of the lights in Rishikesh filter down in the valley as you laze in your room.

The kitchen at the resort serves health food. It comes as a pleasant surprise that food can be healthy and yet be so fat free and tasty. All the ingredients are grown organically in the resort’s own herb gardens. The guests can even walk into the kitchen and participate in the cooking process to experience first hand the making of a healthy diet.

From each of the 75 rooms at the resort one can see the wonderful sweep of the majestic Himalayan valley and mountains. As the sound of crickets, birds and the wind rustling through the leaves in the forest assail one’s ears at night while one sips a healthy brew, it seems unbelievable that one is merely five hours away from the smoke and grime of Delhi. Paradise is so near. Well, almost!


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