At the outset, the one thing about Aahana Resort that got me excited was its location – bang in the middle of tiger territory – surrounded by Jim Corbett National Park. And when I reached the resort well into the night, I was welcomed by the distant moaning of a tiger. I slept with expectation of seeing the kind of the jungle face to face, but as I woke up the next morning, the smell of fresh air (so rare in a city), the greenery all around me and the luxury of the property made me want to forget all about it. As I set about exploring the 11-acre property, I realised it wasn’t only about the environment, but also luxury and wellness – a rare combination.
The name Aahana means ‘first rays of the sun’ and the laughing thrushes, mynahs and koels that visit the numerous trees on this 11-acre property will certainly beckon you to the visual treat that a morning sunrise is – a far cry from the dull greyness of a cityscape.
Situated at Sawaldeh village in the Semalkhaliya district of Ramnagar, Uttarakhand, Aahana resort is an eco-friendly property, wholly managed by people who belong to the region – they have persevered to protect their own. They recycle 100% of sewer and bath water back to the property through root-zone treatment, using numerous Canna plants that rid the water of the sludge and solid waste. This water is used to nurture the flora and fauna that engulf Aahana. Each room is specially provided with the water from their own oxygenated underground spring.
Despite the prominence accorded to environmental conservation, luxury reigns supreme at this elegant resort which features a unique collection of 40 individually decorated rooms located in different clusters. My room in Billy Arjan Singh Block was bang opposite the restaurant and the fragrant aroma of freshly fried pakoras and tawa rotis kept me more than well fed.
The entire property has been landscaped with forest species and grasses to provide extended space to wildlife. This is apart from the nearly 100 species of birds that visit the 4000 plants dotting the estate. The restaurant and swimming pool decks offer excellent sightings of wild elephants, jackals and deer, besides the occasional wild boar.
As though punished for ignoring his calls, the mighty king of the jungle did not grant me an audience when I went for the safari, but as soon as I entered the spa, Aarogyam I forgot all about my woes. Aarogyam is a Sanskrit word which means “Free from Illness” which is also called a state of complete health and wellness. The resident naturopaths at Aarogyam Spa at Aahana promise a transformational experience to the body, mind and soul through the five elements of Nature — the holistic earth, soothing water, fiery fire, invigorating air and energizing space.
The spa has been designed to provide an environment that allows guests to relax, rejuvenate and pamper themselves. I opted for the Aahana signature massage which is a blend of therapies including elements of Aromatherapy, Swedish massage, Deep tissue Massage, gentle connective tissue massage, detoxifying manual lymphatic drainage or balancing reflexology, all coupled with a personal blend of aromatic oils. This ideal holistic therapy, I was told, interrupts stress patterns, remedies aches and pains, strengthens the immune system, strengthens your organs and creates an intensely deepened state of relaxation followed by a renewed sense of vitality. About two hours later, I was reborn, and realised they walk their talk too!
Though it was too cold for me to try it, but if you happen to visit Aahana post March do try the Mud Bath therapy – for which mineral-enriched mud is dug from five feet below ground level from the nearby forest area and infused with herbs grown in-house.
The picturesque surroundings of the region and recreational facilities offered at the resort suit the requirements of travellers. Along its entire length on the north-eastern boundary lies the famed Corbett Tiger Reserve. Tourist spots like Naveen Mandi Samiti (approx. 7km) and Mansa Devi Temple (approx. 11km) are close to the resort. Other interesting places that can be explored during the stay are Garjia Temple, Ramganga River and Corbett Museum.
Aahana Resort is a veritable haven of wellness and rejuvenation for those seeking a luxury resort experience with the added advantage of a wildlife holiday.
How to reach this wellness haven:
By Road: The resort is very well-connected with the roads from Delhi. The drive from Delhi to Aahana Resort (about 250kms) takes about 7 hours.
By Rail: Ramnagar railway station is 15 minutes drive from the resort and is very well-connected with the rail line from Old Delhi and from other cities of India. When boarding from Delhi, do take care to ensure the train goes via Ramnagar.
By Air: The closest airport for Corbett is at Pantanagar, while the 250km drive from Indira Gandhi International Airport takes approximately 7 hours.
Review by Aarti Kapur Singh