India: Ananda in the Himalayas: A Transformational Sanctuary

Ananda, India’s most complete and beautiful spa and retreat, is a transformational sanctuary.



Connect with your 40-minute flight from New Delhi to Dehradun, the capital of Uttarakhand State in Northern India. You will be met and transferred in a comfortable 4-wheel drive car an additional 40-minutes through lush forest, across the great River Ganga, and ever upwards on a winding road to Ananda spa. Located on the property that was once the Viceregal Palace of the Maharajah of Tehri-Garhwal, it is a vast property of lawns, thick Sal forests and bamboo groves, dotted with outdoor pavilions, an amphitheatre, the old palace building and a new, state-of-the-art facility that encompasses India’s most serene retreat. After checking in, you will meet with your Ayurvedic doctor for a 30-minute consultation, and then settle in to your room.



The published daily schedule at Ananda begins with an hour’s yoga practice for beginners either outside in the Music Pavilion or in the Viceregal Hall. Open to all, wake up your body with a gentle hour of Hatha yoga or wait for the intermediate session that follows directly after. If you prefer, have breakfast and then join the full moon stretch class in the gym.

There are many scheduled classes and excursions at Ananda, aside from morning yoga, that are included in the rate. Different forms of meditation are offered each afternoon at 5:30PM. There is an hour-long Vedanta teaching every morning at 10:30 and, again, at 6:30 in the evening. And there are many excursions that range from rafting on the Ganges and treks or drives to various monasteries and temples, to a safari, at certain times of the year, to Rajaji National Park where you can find Asiatic Elephants, Leopards, Blue Bulls, Barking Deer and more.

Each off-property excursion has an additional, very reasonable cost associated with it.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner can be ordered through room service and had on your balcony, or join the other guests in the spacious restaurant or on its deck overlooking the forest and the holy city of Rishikesh on the valley floor below. Your choices can be drawn off an extensive international menu or from the wellness menu that offers dishes that are calorie-counted and tailored to your dosha, your body type.



If today is Saturday, begin your morning with a fresh juice in the company of Mr. Datta, the resident biologist from the valley, who will take you out on a leisurely walk through cool forest trails to enjoy the tranquility of nature. A passionate naturalist, his extensive knowledge of wildlife and birdlife will bring this most lush and diverse environment, with over 300 species of birds and two types of monkeys, to life. The walk ends with a fresh ginger/lemon tea.

Return to Ananda and enjoy any one of your wellness treatments or a swim in the pool. Included in the Wellness Package are various treatments and private sessions that can be scheduled according to your day’s plans.



You may wish to join the l4 km trek this morning to Kanjapuri Temple. The 3 to 4 hour hike takes you through some of the most scenic and sacred locations known to the sages who have inhabited these foothills for centuries. Enjoy incredible vistas of snowcapped Himalayan peaks as you climb higher.

Return in time for a late lunch, ravenously hungry for a delicious meal. After a swim, a sauna or a treatment, you may wish to join the cooking class at 4:30PM held in the charming demonstration kitchen.

End your day with Yoga Nidra, an especially relaxing form of meditation, or meditate on your own in Ma Anandamayi Abode, the charming room that was built by the Maharaja for the world-renowned Ma Anandamayi, a highly spiritual figure who blessed the Palace with her presence. There is a great stillness in her room, kept just as it was during her life, that can only enhance your meditation practice.



As today is your last day, take advantage of any treatments that are remaining in your package or check back in with your Ayurvedic doctor to fine-tune the routines you will take home with you. You will also want to do some retail therapy in the terrific shop that offers everything from the white kurta pyjama you will wear while at Ananda, to tapes, cookbooks, lovely jewelry, embroidery and original art.

Meet your escort up at the Palace door this afternoon at 4PM for a journey down to Rishikesh, a town famous for being the gateway to four famous pilgrim centers and containing ashrams that offer philosophical studies, yoga and meditation. Rishikesh gained international recognition in the 1960’s when the Beatles came to stay with their guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The Ganges flows through town and is worshipped here. Tonight you will participate in the Aarti ritual, the ceremony of lights. The Aarti is normally sung at the conclusion of any religious ceremony each morning and evening as a joyous celebration to the Supreme within us and without. The lighting of the ghee or camphor lamps has manifold significance. On the one hand it denotes the light of spiritual knowledge, the illumination of truth. On the other hand, when camphor is used as the fuel to light the lamps, the camphor eventually burns out and disappears without a trace. This signifies the total destruction of the ego in the light of true knowledge. A very moving ceremony, this is a perfect way to end your stay in the Himalayan foothills.



Depart this morning in a private transfer back to Dehradun to connect with your flight to New Delhi and onwards to your next Willing Foot adventure.


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