From birdwatching to river-rafting to yoga, Rishikesh has a diverse array of activities for the weary traveller. I check into a new wellness resort for a customised route to nirvana. By Aindrila Mitra
I’m on a mission to find my Ikigai, the ‘Japanese secret to a long and happy life’. My latest read by the same name, written by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles, has clearly left a mark on me. The concept of mens sana in corpore sana (‘a sound mind in a sound body’) has always inspired me to find ways to reboot my high-stress lifestyle. And like The Secret executing its law of attraction, I stumble upon an invite from Roseate Ganges, which recently opened its doors to guests on the foothills of the Garhwal Himalayas—in a lesser frequented part of Rishikesh. The universe is listening, I realise. For one, Rishikesh is the yoga capital of the world. And secondly, Roseate Ganges—with its 16-villa luxury accommodations—promises to be a wellness resort. So, I embark on a road trip to Rishikesh in the hope of finding a place that can bring some calm into my nomadic routine.
Rishikesh is a seven-hour drive from my Gurugram home, and the route is mostly smooth, except certain pockets of Ghaziabad, Meerut, and Haridwar, where traffic jams can slow you down. I leave home at dawn to escape the masses, and touch the property well in time for a late lunch. I am famished, yet I’m taken in by the seamless landscape of the Garhwal Himalayas that Roseate Ganges overlooks. Aparna Purohit, the front-office manager, tells me it’s Mount Shivalaya that I’m staring at while I sip on a rhododendron drink sitting by the infinity pool. I take a long, deep breath, and I can feel my lungs heave a sigh of relief from the polluted air I usually consume in the National Capital Region. My wellness journey of 72 hours starts here.
Designed by architect Saurabh Dakshini, Roseate Ganges comprises well-appointed cottages, each opening to a private balcony. This also turns out to be the place where I spend most of my time, for it grants me unhindered mountain views and infinite quietude, interrupted only by sounds of the holy Ganges that runs its course 500 metres below. The rustic-looking cottages come equipped with all the modern amenities you might require, with luxuries like a wireless charging deck and a fireplace thrown in.
I instantly feel at home. At Chidiya Ghar, the contemporary dining space with an open-kitchen setup, Sous Chef Chetan Singh Rana takes pride in the health menu that he and his team have whipped up. “We source all our ingredients from villagers in Garhwal and Kumaon,” the affable chef tells me. Here, ghee is used instead of butter, sugar is replaced by jaggery, and every morsel of food is packed with health benefits—whether it’s the grain and bean salad, the raw mango puffed bhel, or the chicken and barley that I gorge on for lunch.
People who live in the hills seem to wield special skills of hospitality. They are happy and that pervades the atmosphere—something so utterly rare in the chaos of city life. I am weary from the road journey, and Susmita Rakshit, the wellness manager, instantly recognises the signs and books a slot for me at the Aheli Spa. Tashi, my masseur from Bhutan, indulges me with a 90-minute Balinese massage using lavender oil for the body and tulsi oil for the hair. The knots in my shoulder and lower back open up, as does my posture. I could do with this pampering every day, I think to myself, and head to the 18-metre-long infinity pool.
Roseate Ganges has several experiences on offer—an adrenaline pumping afternoon of river-rafting on the Ganges, bungee-jumping from India’s highest fixed platform at 83 metres, wildlife spotting at Rajaji National Park, a visit to organic farms, experiencing the renowned Ganga Arti near Ram Jhula, and yoga and meditation sessions. I choose to flex my muscles on a river-rafting expedition with Red Chilli Adventure.
After a hearty breakfast of Turkish eggs (poached eggs in a yoghurt base with a dash of chilli oil) and chia seed pudding, I’m on my way to the start point at Marina Beach.
We are a group of six, led by Rishikesh-based Pawan Rana, and our agenda is to navigate the rapids, take a dip in the river, and enjoy a roller-coaster ride to the finish line at Nim Beach. During the expedition, we encounter as many as 10 rapids, a raft capsises behind us, we rescue a team member from the water, and I end up learning the importance of rules in adventure sports. For instance, when the leader asks you to “sit down”, you do so, otherwise you end up in the river (hopefully, not in a whirlpool) trying to swim against the current. The 26-kilometre stretch takes us close to four hours, with a stop at Shivri, where we recharge with some food (read fizzy drinks and chips).
Back at the hotel, Chef Rana has prepared makke ki saag for dinner, and I ask for a second helping, tempted by the freshness of the vegetable (and probably because the day-long exercise has put my metabolism in shock mode). The next morning starts with a yoga session led by Rakshit, a graduate of the Bihar Yoga University. A session of hatha yoga does wonders to your mind, body, and soul. After a breakfast of homemade granola, poha, and porridge, I head out for yet another experience from the stable of Roseate Ganges. Spread over 820 square kilometres, Rajaji National Park is situated across three districts of Uttarakhand. While I don’t spot any tigers or leopards, I recommend the park for its avian biodiversity and population of wild elephants.
A trip to Rishikesh is incomplete without experiencing the Ganga aarti at Parmarth Niketan Ashram. The sunset ritual draws thousands of visitors every day, and as you wade through the crowd to get a glimpse of the aarti, an ethereal sense of peace emerges from the chaos. It is an apt end to my Rishikesh journey in that it sums up my takeaway—a sense of bliss and spiritual connection.
Rishikesh is located approximately 240 kilometres away from Delhi; it takes six hours to get there by road. The closest airport is in Dehradun, from where Roseate Ganges is a 45-minute drive.
Roseate Ganges comes with 16 well-appointed villas, each with a private balcony. The property provides a comprehensive menu of spa and yoga services along with signature dining options based on local cuisine. There are three villa categories available: Deluxe (from INR 27,000 per night), Premium (from INR 30,000), and Executive (from INR 35,000), rates include breakfast and exclude tax.