Ananda Spa, India: Bliss in the Himalayas – Pt 2


At Ananda Spa, each season comes with its share of beauties – spring bursts forth with colors, summer features glorious days and balmy nights, monsoons transform it into a dreamscape, autumns are splendid, and winters clear and pure. And the natural beauty of the place is augmented by the smiles and warmth of everyone around. Ananda has revived the age-old tradition of the ‘namaskar’ – the quintessential Indian greeting with folded hands – and every guest is treated with the same reverence, exemplary of the idea of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ (guests should be treated like God).

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Wellness at the Ananda is about you, as I discovered. A personalized itinerary of activities, considering the consultation results and your preferences is presented to you. Mine began with a signature Ananda treatment – Ananda Fusion. This place is known for its unique blend of age-old Ayurvedic tradition and westernized techniques, and this therapy was a lovely union of the two.

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After a few minutes in the sauna and steam room, the masseuse initiated me to the treatment room. Interestingly, it started with the traditional aarti and a soothing stone foot bath, which I learnt was the norm here. Combining an array of massage techniques, this treatment makes use of the blended essential oils (ginger, cardamom, and pepper in my case) to induce a therapeutic effect on the body; hot Tibetan poultices applied to specific points aid the effects produced. It felt as if a decade of fatigue was leaving my body, leaving it refreshed.

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Wandering around for some time, it was time for lunch. At the restaurant, I faced the crucial choice – do I order from the luscious a la carte menu or opt for the wellness menu specified for me? It was a risk, but I decided to go the healthy way. And it was delicious, especially the figs parfait, soft, buttery, melt-in-the-mouth! Now, it was time for the next treatment, the Himalayan Honey and Rose Facial.

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Even when facials occupy a place in your regular beauty regime, it’s not the same here. It’s an hour of sheer bliss. Using the restorative powers of natural elements, such as wild rose extract, sandalwood, aloe vera, and pure honey, the skin is cleansed, scrubbed, massaged, and then applied with a layer of cool cucumber. While it revitalizes, you enjoy the luxury of a hand or foot massage. Feeling fresh to the core, I am invited to unwind at the Hydrotherapy area with an aromatic cup of tea.

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Mornings at the Ananda start off with Yoga classes at the stunningly beautiful pavilion. Be a beginner or a pro, the backdrop itself will draw you to join. Next, I attend the Vedanta class, albeit with a little hesitation. But, again, Ananda won me over. What followed was not a boring lecture about good, but a lively discussion on how little steps can change your life in a big way. It was simple, practicable, and rational.

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It was time to experience Abhyanga, a traditional Ayurvedic treatment. Also termed as the four-handed massage, this involves two masseuses performing a synchronized massage using herbal infused sesame oil. A relaxation inducer, this massage also rids the body of toxins, improves physical health, and aids anti-aging. It felt like music coursing through your body, when you have no more cares about the world, about the past, present or future. It was absolute luxury.

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Another signature treatment, the Wild Rose Salt Scrub, was next on the cards. Essential oil infused with wild rose extract and combined with sea salt is used as a scrub to exfoliate, invigorate and balance the body, mind, and soul. After a vigorous scrubbing by the expert hands – it’s time for a shower. And you leave the treatment room as if on wings; the effect sure is magical!

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Feeling delicious inside and out, we proceeded to high-tea. What attracted me most was the way Ananda treated its guests, as loved friends who have come for a visit. It was more like a family get-together, where every one of the team was chatting up with some guest or another. And there was the spread of yummy goodies to keep you company as well. Soon, it was time for us to leave for the Ganga Aarti, a regular ritual complete with religious songs and prayers, on the ghats of Rishikesh. A drive of about 45 minutes took us to the picturesque setting, where you get a glimpse of India in its entire religious splendor.

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As it was our last night at the Ananda, I decided to throw caution to the winds, and order up delectable fare from the a la carte menu. Fluffy kulchas, lip-smacking kebabs, scrumptious roganjosh, and a heavenly dessert satiated our appetite, and our souls. A good night’s sleep and it was time for us to bid adieu to this blissful bit of paradise. On arrival, I thought that the best thing about Ananda Spa was its location, but on my way home, I understood – it was not the place, but the people that make it such a wonderful destination.

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Mahasweta Bhattacharyya

Mahasweta Bhattacharyya is a contributing writer as well as Social Media Storyteller for LuxeInACity. After completing her Masters in English, she took up content creation as a career. An interest in haute horlogerie and fine jewelry led her to discover the diverse aspects of the luxury industry. Based in India, she is an avid traveler and writer whose posts have been published in various esteemed luxury blogs.