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North India: Most luxurious wellness retreats

By Manasee Joshi 12 November 2020

Header image courtesy of Eneko Uruñuela (via Unsplash)

There is a reason why every bit of northern India is considered as the epitome of paradise on earth. Maybe the most beautiful places on earth aren’t filled with palm trees and sunshine, but instead with snow-clad cliffs and cloud encircled valleys with waterfalls tumbling into teal seas. Rewarded with an absurdly pristine natural paradise, which consists of eminent mountain ranges that offer ample refuge for those hoping to disconnect from the chaos of everyday life, undulating water bodies that make for a perfect backdrop, and some of the gorgeous glacial lakes worth visiting a thousand times, there’s something about north India’s organic architectures makes you want to put your life on pause.

What has become incredibly apparent over the last few months is that there’s probably never been a more critical time for all of us to stay healthy, robust, and resilient—and to take this opportunity to expand our consciousness and wellbeing. This explains why millions of us are warming up to the world of wellness retreats, and India, being the birthplace of Yoga and Ayurveda, is home to some of top luxury wellness spas in the world.

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Ananda in the Himalayas, Uttarakhand

What was once known as the official residence of the Maharaja of Tehri-Garhwal is now an opulent wellness spa nestled amidst the tranquil foothills of Himalayas. Located very close to two of the holiest religious pilgrimages in India—Rishikesh and Haridwar and about eight hour’s scenic drive from Delhi, Ananda commandingly perches atop a mountain ridge and makes for the most stunning natural setting. The rooms and suites are like giant cocoons of modern luxury, with plush interiors and private patios offering jaw-dropping views of surrounding forests and the ever so spiritual Ganges river valley.

Ananda in the Himalayas combines the time-honoured traditional sciences of Yoga and Ayurveda with international wellness regimes to bring you personalized therapy and activity programs. Choose from a myriad of all-inclusive packages, such as Mind and Body Detox, Strength and Flexibility, or Immunity Enhancement, and work your way towards a vitaminized, enriched lifestyle.

Ananda in the Himalayas, The Palace Estate, Narendra Nagar, Uttarakhand 249175, India | (+91) 1378 227 901

Moksha Himalaya Spa Resort, Himachal Pradesh

Located at an altitude of 5,000 feet, accessible only via cable car from Kalka Shimla highway, this is a place of natural harmony to release, refocus, and recalibrate the self. There is very little to disturb your inner explorations apart from the occasional whiffs of refreshing mountain air and the meditative hum of birdsong. Since the outdoor swimming pool is heated, you can take a dip and indulge in endless mountain views all year round.

Moksha offers an idyllic setting for couples to indulge in treatments and therapies from around the world. Highlights include the spa, which uses local products alongside indigenous therapies and modern techniques to help guests unwind, and a stunning hot tub to embrace the elements whilst enjoying an invigorating jet-stream massage. The calming environment of the spa makes for the perfect setup for rejuvenating your body, mind, and soul. And just when you’ve had enough of luxurious therapy rooms, reinvigorating fitness regimes, state-of-the-art rooms with mesmerizing views, a host of opportunities for outdoor adventure activities like trekking, hiking, and nature walks will certainly help redirect the flow of your life’s energies towards healing.

Moksha Himalaya Spa Resort, C/o Timber Trail Resort, NH 22, Near Village Banasar, Parwanoo, 173220, India | (+99) 9971 669 992

Tree of Life Resort and Spa, Rajasthan

Tree of Life is arguably one of the most special wellness spas in Rajasthan. It is a luxurious yoga retreat tucked away in the lap of lush Aravalli hills, making it a perfect getaway for some holistic rejuvenation. The spa’s tranquil setting and sublime treatments encourage guests to embark on a personalised journey towards optimum wellbeing and relaxation. Surrounded by vast fields with a setting sun peeking from the hillock, this retreat seems like a painting on a rustic canvas.

What makes this stunning wellness retreat stand out amongst the innumerable boutique resorts in the region is the experiences it offers. Have you ever dined with some cheeky elephants in the background, waiting to snatch that piece of pie from your hand? Or to inculcate values and wisdom in the village kids through centuries-old teaching methods of sitting under a banyan tree instead of classrooms, using chalks and slates in place of laptops? Or taken a village ride on a tractor and dirtied your hands with planting and digging up organic vegetables? While some people assume that getting back to nature simply means trading luxury for bare-bones log cabins, what it really is is connecting travellers with locals to create life-changing experiences.

Tree of Life Resort and Spa, Kacherwala, Kukas, Rajasthan 302028, India | (+99) 9015 242 000

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By Scott Dunn 16 October 2020
By Nanda Haensel 26 August 2020

RAAS Devigarh, Rajasthan

From gleaming wooden floors to open courtyard gardens, luxurious afternoon tea sets to spacious suites, this wellness resort has long been associated with old-world comforts. It is so rooted in India’s history that the palace-fortress has witnessed the bravery and loyalty of its ancestral benefactors since 1760. The property occupies an 18th-century palace on top of the Aravalli hills range overlooking the village of Delwara, located just 37 kilometres off Udaipur where vast crowds of tourists and locals almost always throng through the city.

Hailed as one of the oldest and most well-kept luxury spas in India, you can tell you are experiencing a piece of history as soon as you walk into its palatial lobby that opens into a majestic courtyard and the 47-acre grounds where princely peacocks roam free all day. Expect high ceilings ornated with grand chandeliers, teak antiques, afternoon tea,  leisurely lunches with white-gloved service, and marble staircases oozing the Victorian era feel—there’s royalty written all over it. Around the property, old-world charm graciously meets an avant-garde atmosphere. While the guestrooms and restaurants do have a modern feel, certain corners still feel like they’ve been locked in time.

A partnership with Britain’s renowned spa brand Ila has now made it home to one of the country’s most acclaimed spas. Picture these holistic habits in your everyday life—indulging in body scrubs made with 200-year-old Himalayan salt that is known to soothe even the deepest vulnerabilities, meditating to the healing sounds of sound bowls and rhythmic chants hummed by Tibetan and Bhutanese therapists who have been trained for years in heart and brain consciousness, or relaxing to a profoundly moving cabana massage that is as subdued as it is devotional. 

RAAS Devigarh, NH8, Near Eklingji Temple, Delwara, Udaipur, Rajasthan 313202, India | (+99) 2912 636 455

Khyber Himalayan Resort and Spa, Jammu and Kashmir

Here in the world’s highest ski lift at Gulmarg, every year there comes a time when the great cold is the master and with it comes, in a somewhat rough way, the unforgiving freezing temperatures and snow. While in the city, this can turn into significant inconvenience very often and very soon, at Khyber Himalayan Resort and Spa it makes for a glamourous setting for a spa in the mountains with fresh air, great food, and a variety of beauty and wellness treatments.

It took over seven years to build this 85-room property, making the most of the gorgeous views of the Apharwat range in the distance as downright chilly winters often put a damper on the construction. Today, as you soak in the refreshing views of the undulating pine-covered, snowy hills, and dense forests of pines and chinar trees from your balcony, take a dip into the glass-encased, temperature-controlled, glacial-like sapphire blue swimming pool, or embark on a journey of sensory delights with a range of Swedish, Balinese, and Hawaiian spas—it’d seem like it was most definitely seven years well spent.

Khyber Himalayan Resort and Spa, Hotel Khyber Road, Forest Block, Jammu and Kashmir 193403 | (+99) 9906 603 272

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By Apple Mandy 9 October 2020
By Fashila Kanakka 28 August 2020

Kaya Kalp The Royal Spa, Uttar Pradesh

Kaya Kalp at the ITC Mughal, Agra (city of India’s beloved Taj Mahal) offers a rare glimpse into the royal lifestyle of one of India’s greatest empires—The Mughals, who loved to live life king-sized and were quite known for their wealth, opulence, splendid architecture, cross-cultural interactions, and delicious food. The massive 99,000 square-feet award-winning wellness resort is designed as a tribute to the excellence and grandeur of Mughal architecture, graciously channelling the charm of a bygone age into the modern-day resort. Today, it is inarguably India’s largest and most luxurious spa resorts. This is where rejuvenation comes through an experience of unmatched luxury and total wellbeing.

Making a bold statement with detailed murals placed behind the intricately carved reception desks, a dazzling chandelier lighting a massive marble-floor lobby and a spiral staircase, and an amber-toned lounge area housing two large royal blue statement sofas along with a regal swing—Kaya Kalp is an odyssey of royal colour palettes and intricately designed furnishings.

These luxury abodes offer guests a personal plunge pool and a private spa room with one’s own masseuse, who also happens to be an expert in results-oriented treatments for a complete holistic experience. With state-of-the-art body treatments, perfect pedicures, and a dry sauna, Kaya Kalp undoubtedly puts relaxation and rest at the forefront of the experience and ensures an indulgent pampering for every single guest.

Kaya Kalp The Royal Spa, Itc Mughal, Fatehabad Rd, Tajganj, Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282001, India | (+99) 5624 021 700

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Manasee Joshi


Manasee is a Hong Kong-based freelance writer by profession and lover of fascinating cultures, lip-smacking cuisines, and a vibrant social life. Having worked as a travel guide all across APAC, Manasee has dug deep into historical fun facts, architectural styles, and the best places to eat and drink in the places she visited. As a travel writer, Manasee aspires to inspire readers to follow in her footsteps. After a long day of work, you can find her binge-watching Netflix shows with a glass of crisp wine.