They include the well-known traditional Indian wellness regimes of ayurveda and yoga, combined with the best of international well-being experiences, to bring about the union of mind, body and soul. When living is but part of the echo of nature, then style and elegance blend discreetly to enhance each nuance of serenity. These are the two best spa, yoga and ayurvedic retreats in the country and as such, one must expect to pay accordingly. However, for the quality and benefits, they represent extraordinarily good value for money!
At Shreyas, the guest rooms make a statement with colours that echo nature, and some have a semi-open bathroom. There is a yoga pavilion with some expert teachers, and they offer meditation and weight-loss packages as well as well being and yoga packages. This is five-star at its best. There is a vegetable garden where visitors can assist or see what is being cooked for them, and all meals are tailored to your own tastes.
All this pampering can be enjoyed high in the Himalayas at Ananda, a fashionable spot in which to unwind and literally get high. This wellness sanctuary situated in a restored royal palace in the Himalayan foothills offers a blend of therapeutic treatments based on traditional ayurveda, yoga and meditation. There is also a heated swimming pool, so one can stay here throughout the year. Again, they have specially-devised yoga and beauty packages from a week to two weeks, or more, and there is a dedicated spa, too.
Here, pine-scented mountain air and nature take charge of your senses. While your muscles are rubbed, allow your ears also to tingle to the therapeutic sound of singing bowls in the “Journey to Tibet” treatment. Or have your body smothered in Indian spices during a “Himalayan Romance” treatment, which also includes a relaxing bath with views of the awe-inspiring mountains themselves
A recent addition is a gorgeous retreat in the northern state of Uttarakhand, in the Himalayan foothills, where Hindus flock to worship on the banks of the Ganges and where yoga fans – including the Beatles – have traditionally come to practise their art. With these spiritual connections, what better location than Vana, a wellness retreat that offers Ayurvedic and other treatments in a contemporary setting.
Set on the gentle slopes of a lychee and mango plantation, Vana’s latte-coloured Modernist buildings house separate centres for Tibetan, Ayurvedic, spa and water treatments. All of them are airy, wood-lined spaces hung with works by the Indian artist Siraj Saxena. There are two slate-lined pools – one of them on a rooftop with views of the Himalayas – a gym, three yoga areas, a well-stocked library and soon, a tennis court and golf nets.
Vana is not a spa but a wellness centre with a five-night minimum stay, Ayurvedic doctors plan and monitor each patient’s regime, whether it is a strict Panchakarma detox or a yoga programme. Yoga classes are offered morning and evening and are scheduled around body-invigorating treatments such as Kum Nye, a Tibetan massage followed by a pounding with herbal poultices.
The food alone is worth the visit, comprising beautifully presented organic and calorie-controlled dishes, from oat risotto with morelles to chocolate and banana pudding. Rooms are luxurious and the staff are extremely cheerful.
Given that it is only an hour’s flight from Delhi, followed by an interesting 40-minute drive, Vana is a relaxing place at which to end a colour-filled trip to India and to reflect on life a little.