NEW DELHI — An Ayurvedic vacation may not be the first thing that comes to mind when making your summer or winter travel plans, but travel to India for a week of Ayurvedic wellness living may be just what the doctor ordered.
Travel to India is spectacular enough with tours through India’s ancient cultures born out in wild cave carvings, intricate textile arts, glittering jewels and seductive repasts.
Mix that with a healthful yoga or ayurvedic retreat in the foothills of the Himalayas and you have a pivotal vacation that can literally change your life.
Ananda in the Himalayas is a good place to start for anchoring a trip to India with a powerful immersion in self, health and the beauty of spirit. Ananda may be considered civilization’s antidote for stress (the American Psychological Association notes that 88% of women and 78% of men report the toll stress takes in their daily lives on their health and well being). But it does not stop there – weight loss, tune-ups, yoga retreats and detoxification are only a few of the reasons American travelers come this way.
Travel to India can easily be arranged through any number of well known tour companies. Abercrombie & Kent, Cox & Kings, Sita World Travel, among many others, offer customized itineraries for the worldly traveler. But a trip to Ananda in the Himalayas is more personal and will not be a stop listed in the brochure. A few days, a week or longer at Ananda is a more adventurous journey that requires a commitment to slowing down, getting quiet, eating well, sleeping well, exercising body and mind, and getting pampered – a lot. As a trip in itself or the perfect punctuation to a larger tour of India, time spent at Ananda in the Himalayas is perhaps beyond time.
Getting to Ananda in the Himalayas
This is an easy journey: four hours by train from New Delhi to Haridwar (followed by an hour’s drive to Ananda – pick-ups arranged through the resort in advance). By Air, find frequent flights from New Delhi and Mumbai to Jolly Grant Airport, Dehradun, where car transfers to Ananda are met. Speeding it up are helicopters that fly the short scenic journey from New Delhi to land at Ananda’s own private helipad. Those arrangements can be made through Ananda as well.
Fit for a Raj
Once there, find a palace, literally a Raj’s lair (much of the site was the official summer palace for state dignitaries over the past century). Today those dignitaries come in the form of celebrity power: Oprah Winfrey, Jerry Hall, Bill Gates and Melinda Gates, Kate Winslet, Frederick Forsyth, Deepak Chopra, Uma Thurman and Jeremy Piven are among the pilgrims who have visited Ananda for wellness tune-ups. Nearby, the mountain village of Rishikesh earned eminence as the epicenter of meditation when the Beatles studied the practice there in the 1960s.
Some 70 rooms and suites spread about Ananda’s 100 acres of gardens (bedecked with roaming peacocks and monkeys, of course). To each room a wide balcony overlooking the grounds and ample enough to enjoy private patio meals. Otherwise, meals are offered in the restaurant, the tea lounge or by the pool, all fashioned according to each guest’s personal body type and the laws of ayurveda. With ayurveda everything is made out of the five elements of air, space, fire, water and earth. And this includes our bodies. The three body types are a combination of these: Vata constitutes air and space; Pitta is made up of fire and water; and Kapha is water and earth. Food, too, follows these principles toward a result in better health, lighter weight, balance and inner harmony.
Staying at Ananda necessarily means booking a meaningful package. No one comes all this way just to stay for a night. Ananda in the Himalayas is an experience of wellness, not a hotel. But it is possible to stay as little as three nights and get a full throttle sense of just what this place can do.
Take the Himalayan Bliss package, for instance. The three nights include room, meals (breakfast & dinner), and spa experiences in what could be considered an introduction to an intensive Ananda retreat. A guest will get a Wild Rose Salt Scrub, a Swedish massage, a Himalayan Honey & Rose Facial, and a yoga session in a room package rate that starts at $520 per night.
Ananda runs Couples Connect spa programs, weight management intensives, Yoga Detox programs, Ayurvedic Rejuvenation programs, stress management and active adventure packages in flexible five-day to three-week bundles that can serve as a purposeful vacation destination plan or a perfect add-on.
All around Ananda is India, in full splendor. Yoga classes happen outside in the garden amid period fountains and gazebos. Nearby, there are mountain hiking trails, white water river adventures, ancient villages and markets, and the sacred River Ganges, which can be viewed from your guestroom.
India is not for everyone. Its crowded and dusty city streets are a vexation in the best of times. But the culture of this region, older and richer than the Bible, presents a perspective worth understanding and integrating. Wisdom comes in myriad ways and sometimes with a pampering and purifying week amid rolling hills near the roof of the world.
Lark Gould is an author of eight books on travel and a journalist who has been covering the travel industry for more than two decades.
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