Driving to Rishikesh in a Mercedes-Benz B-Class
We all look forward to a vacation. For some it means checking in to a beach resort or a rejuvenating spa, or going on a pilgrimage, but for me it's a trip to the hills that wins the vote. My next adventure took me driving 250km from Delhi to reach one of the most picturesque locales in India Rishikesh, located in the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India.
The Ganges winds through the Rishikesh Valley
Our journey to Rishikesh began with travelling on the roads leading up to Ananda where we were set to spend the next few days soaking in nature's beauty. The roads were winding beautifully within the heart of the valley and the B-Class proved to be an excellent handling car for the circumstances.
The roads were winding beautifully within the heart of the valley and the B-Class proved to be an excellent handling car for the circumstances
Located in the tranquil Himalayan foothills close to Haridwar and Rishikesh, surrounded by graceful Sal forests and overlooking the peaceful Ganga as it winds into the distance, Ananda, the destination spa, is situated amid 100 acres of the virgin forest above the town of Narendranagar, the palace town in the Tehri Garhwal district. It came into existence in 1919, when Maharaja Narendra Shah of Tehri decided to shift his capital to a more picturesque location.
The B-Class against the backdrop of the gorgeous resort
Ananda renders every experience perfectly and in its purest form. Quiet, cobblestone pathways, exquisite views of the neighbouring Rishikesh and the sound of the gushing Ganga make the retreat much more than just a relaxing experience. It's perfect for people who want a break from the everyday city struggle.
The swimming pool at the Ananda resort
We had heard of its hospitality and were lucky to now experience it too. After being greeted warmly at the reception by courteous staff, we made our way to our room. Now we have travelled to several locations across the country and lived in rooms with great views, but it was evident that none could match what Ananda had to offer. It was a clear indication that the next few days would be filled with peace and tranquility.
Overlooking the Palace and Rishikesh Valley, my room's balcony offered a breathtaking view. The interior of the room doesn't disappoint either a combination of a natural spacious environment and modern top-of-the-line amenities.
The interior of the room is a combination of natural, spacious environment and modern top-of-the line amenities
Coming to Ananda and not experiencing their world class spa would be criminal. We ended our day there, a glorious breathing space that offers numerous treatments and services with a focus on natural habitat and techniques. The Ayurvedic treatments here still use herbal powders and brass vessels.
The spa treatment at Ananda
From the wide range of International and Ayurvedic spa treatments we opted for Abhaynga, a traditional synchronised full body massage given by two qualified Ayurveda therapist using infused sesame oil. It's meant to improve physical consistency, sleep patterns, eyesight and regulate blood circulation. I must confess that after this luxurious spa treatment, I do feel a bit spoilt and would want to keep visiting just for this experience.
The Ayurvedic treatments here still use herbal powders and brass vessels
The next morning was particularly difficult having to leave the serene environment of the resort and drive to Rishikesh, but the temptation of getting behind the wheel for a luxurious drive in the B-Class through the valley was something we could not resist. Nonetheless, the majestic Ganges proved to be a worthy companion driving through the valley towards the city a welcome change from having to drive a car through the bustling city of Mumbai every day.
The Majestic Ganges proved to be a worthy companion driving through the valley towards the city
Despite the recent floods that wreaked havoc over this beautiful town, Rishikesh has since made a remarkable recovery to restore its settlement to its original form. The town of Rishikesh lies in the foothills of the Garhwal region. It is the gateway to the upper Garhwal region and the starting point to the Char Dham four famous pilgrim centers namely Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamnotri. The Ganga flows through the town and is worshipped here. Rishikesh has long been a spiritual centre. It has numerous ashrams, some of which are internationally recognised as places for philosophical studies, yoga and meditation.
The evening Ganga Aarti at Rishikesh
The famous Laxman Jhula made over the Ganges to cross the river in Rishikesh
To me, being among the hills and the fresh air will always be the most beautiful feeling ever. I came to Rishikesh few months ago, and after my second visit, I still feel like I haven't had enough. And given a chance, I would return for a quick rejuvenating visit without a second thought.
Things to do at Rishikesh :
Rishikesh is becoming a popular spot for white water rafting enthusiasts, both from India and abroad, as the Ganges offers medium to rough rapids rated class 3 and class 4. It is also a center for hiking and backpacking. Recently, bungee jumping has also been introduced in Rishikesh, the first and only bungee jumping camp in India.
White water rafting at Rishikesh is a famous sport with both tourists and locals
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