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Want to experience the lifestyle of Julia Roberts in 'Eat, Pray, Love?' Guests—no matter how affluent, how accustomed to having the absolute best—are sure to have a memorable time at Ananda In The Himalayas. It's a bubble of exclusivity that leaves you speechless with its sheer beauty. Use the resort's natural ambience to trek and raft, undertake spa therapies overlooking the Himalayas or have an exotic meal on a tree deck. Though vacations can be as active or as mellow as you wish, the team is primed to kick it into high gear. So is it a wonder it continues to be patronised by luminaries like Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Nicole Kidman and Ricky Martin?


3,280 ft above sea level, in a 100-acre estate amid sal forests overlooking the river Ganges, all the action is centred around health and wellbeing. Daily wellness programmes include yoga, Vedanta, meditation and workshops by visiting masters but the nerve centre is its 21,000 sq ft spa. Ayurveda is the speciality and there are a variety of treatments culled from Eastern and Western philosophies including hydrotherapy, body and beauty treatments [besides a gym, squash court, jogging track, heated pool and six-hole golf course]. On arrival [by Shatabdi Express from New Delhi Haridwar and then an hour's drive], I was escorted to the Tea Lounge for check-in. Shortly, I participated in a 60-minute guided meditation and undertook consultation with an Ayurvedic doctor who appraised my body type and diet. I then opted for their signature therapy, Ananda Fusion. The therapist led me to a treatment overlooking dense foliage and got to work—after an aarti and prayer chant. I was spellbound. What followed was a 90-min deep tissue massage with reflexology which lulled me into deep relaxation. Instructed to let the oil seep into the skin overnight, I changed into the kurta pyjama given to me and headed to the alfresco restaurant for dinner with the Spa Director. Spoilt for choice by wellness and a la carte menus, I chose 'Grilled Sea Bass' while she had a vegetarian kebab platter. The sea bass was fresh and flavourful and the dining experience was embellished with live classical music.


Back in my room by 10 p.m., I lounged in the verandah overlooking the valley, and indulged in herbal tea and chocolate fondant. Bliss!! The next day I woke up at 6 a.m. and took a walk through the woods. The nip in the air and fragrant trees made it a beautiful experience. Soaking myself in the sunken tub overlooking the Himalayas an hour later, I was relaxed and ravenous for the breakfast of sunny side up eggs, mushroom and baked goods with goat cheese. There was just enough time to shop for body lotions, herbs and a jewelled scarf at the gift store and then I boarded the hotel car that would drop me to Dehradun airport—taking back with me the Ananda lifestyle. The two-day trip was short but the experience had a positive impact on mind, body and soul… I will be back for the week-long Wellness Programme!


In conclusion, there can be no better place to rejuvenate body, mind and spirit than Ananda In The Himalayas. Indulge in the weeklong Wellness Programme. Or a weekend getaway to a magical place away from the stress in our everyday lives. With each room and cottage built on different levels down a slope boasting a verandah or garden offering stunning views of the Ganges, it's a treat to enjoy warm ginger-honey lime water at dawn or take in the views of the twinkling lights in Rishikesh beyond and the stars above—curated with chants and floral fragrance. If Heaven were a place on Earth… this would be it.


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