Gulf Insider Travel & Lifestyle editor Christine Warren-White finds inner peace in the foothills of the Himalayas
As I step, refreshed from my Jet Airways flight from Mumbai, into the tiny Dehradun airport I’m greeted by my lovely personal driver and a stunning view of the Himalayas. Having never been to India, I’ve no expectations, I’m already captivated by the wonderful sights, sounds and colours as we wind our way up into the mountains in a luxury 4×4. Happy smiling faces, painted in bright powder colours for Holi day walk alongside cows—who always have right of way. Monkeys scamper up and down trees, and goats watch inquisitively as we wind our way up the mountain. The higher we climb the more breathtaking the view, I’m amazed at how green it is and beautiful the trees are. I’m also amazed I’m not freaking-out as the roads are organized chaos; like a choreographed driving dance that’s at once utter madness, yet polite and calm. Not one for liking heights, or manic motoring, nevertheless I find myself smiling along with everyone else, completely mesmerised by this wondrous place.
Climbing around 4500 feet, we arrive at Ananda nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas. A majestic Maharaja’s Palace resplendent before me, I can hardly contain my excitement at the overwhelming beauty surrounding me.
Located on a 100 acre former Maharaja’s Palace Estate, Ananda is encased by graceful Sal forests and overlooks the spiritual town of Rishikesh home to International Yoga Festivals, famous Ashrams and the Ganges river valley. Welcomed by a spiritual cleansing ritual from the warm and friendly staff, a sense of serenity pervades me and I know this will be a transformative experience.
Designed in the colonial hill architectural style, Ananda’s 78 rooms, suites and villas blend seamlessly into the lush landscape. Before being taken to my deluxe Garden View room, I’m warned to lock my balcony door as the intelligent monkey population is waiting to steal apples. My room is stunning. Serene, luxurious with a gorgeous view overlooking Rishikesh and the river Ganges. My perfectly appointed bathtub means I can take a sumptuous soak whilst taking in the picturesque panorama.
First up, an appointment with one of Ananda’s doctors who checks my blood pressure before I eagerly fill out a questionnaire to see which dosha I am—Pitta, Vata or Kapha. Ayurveda states the body is made from fire, water, earth and space; understanding this helps with balance. I’m Kapha and my spa treatments and diet is tailored accordingly. My goal is to detox body, mind and reconnect to myself. My bespoke plan includes two detox spa treatments a day, yoga classes and the state of the art gym, outdoor temperature-controlled swimming pool and luxurious hydrotherapy facilities are at my disposal.
Forgoing yoga and gym for meditation, breathing, chakra cleansing, cranial sacral therapy and reiki it’s time for my meal plan.
As Kapha, I need to incorporate warm foods, eat three meals a day, no snacks. I’ve chosen to become teetotal, so a new eating plan will compliment. I meet Ananda’s executive chef who promises a mix of Kapha elements, detox and weight-loss plates, big on flavour, low on calories. Spoilt with Michelin-starred feasts, I hope he delivers. He does. Amuse bouche, for every meal, is watermelon juice and detox tea. Baked asparagus wrapped in filo pastry with almond, apricot and rosemary relish (23 calories) bursts with flavour; followed by hearty and rich, steel cut oat and vegetable soup (70 calories). Main course is whole wheat spaghetti, soy bolognaise, tomato essence and grilled aubergine tasting of Italian summers (223 calories). The food is sensational. Perhaps chef is a wizard with a brigade of magicians as pudding is pannacotta, defying its 90 calories. Detoxing never tasted so good!
Ananda isn’t leaving me as I take its spirit with me, carried in my heart. Namaste.
I enter the spa for my first treatment and instantly see why Ananda’s received numerous accolades and global recognition for health and wellness. With 24 treatment rooms, spread across 25000 sq. ft. and more than 80 body, beauty and wellness experiences, I’m delighted I have a bespoke plan. Abhyanga, a four-handed detox massage begins with a spiritual prayer is both relaxing and exhilarating. Next up, mediation and chakra cleansing clearing my mind giving me a wonderfully calm energy. A Himalayan Honey and Rose Facial is simply the best I’ve ever had. My skin is radiant and glowing.
After five gloriously uplifting and joyous days of embracing and enjoying all my treatments; learning about Ayurvedic concepts; discovering detox foods can taste good, it’s having the guidance to connect with my self that has affected me most. Being in Ananda is spiritual in itself. Friendly with attentive and discreet, staff in wonderfully tranquil surroundings. I’m told that Ananda means peace and whilst I’m leaving Ananda lighter, brighter, rejuvenated and reconnected, Ananda isn’t leaving me as I take its spirit with me, carried in my heart. Namaste.
Ananda in the Himalayas
With ten years of operations from the Gulf, Jet Airways is India’s premier international airline which operates flights to 64 destinations, including India and overseas.
Jet Airways operates 4 weekly flights from Bahrain to Dehradun via Mumbai and daily flights during peak season
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