The humble city of Rishikesh is a heavyweight champion when it comes to spirituality, theology, and the upended pendulum of life and death. And when none of these interest its visitors, then adventure in the hills does. For me, Rishikesh comes in new packaging, which is rightly done by heritage connoisseurs Neemrana Hotels and called The Glasshouse on the Ganges.
It’s been 53 years since The Beatles visited Rishikesh for their spiritual peregrination to practice transcendental meditation. Biographies prove that during their seven-week-long stay in the yoga capital of the world, the Fab Four wrote the biggest hits of their career that placed them on the apex of a pop-culture pedestal. That’s one way of experiencing Rishikesh — the beating heart of meditation where the holy Ganges flow. Fast-forward it to 2021, and you have the same Rishikesh with new offerings and translations.
Located on the banks of the Ganges, 23 kms away from the city, The Glasshouse on the Ganges is the answer to one thing and one thing only — a soul-salving, feel-good getaway. The hotel is built around the premises of a house owned by Forest Essentials founder Mira Kulkarni, which is almost 22 years old, but the hotel’s renovation is recent and done keeping in mind the essence of the holy city and modern amenities to cater discerning travellers of today.
The property, erected in all-white, blends beautifully with the bright green and brown hues of Rishikesh. The landscape dotted with bamboo trees, shrubs, and mango and lychee orchards further amplify its beauty. It also complements the exquisite cobblestoned pathway transported from Chittorgarh, Rajasthan laid to form the entrance, including the Himalayan slate that surrounds the property. A substantial attraction that makes it ten-times prettier is the up-close view of the mighty Ganges, which runs clean with silvery rapids and karmic vibrations. The spellbinding view can be enjoyed from all of its 20 exclusive rooms and suites spread across five unique blocks.
Block I and II packs six stylish and well-appointed rooms with modern bathrooms, overlooking the lawn and the infinity pool, respectively. Block III opens to manicured lawns and a yoga pavilion where you can opt for an early morning class. Block IV comprises the ultimate luxury suites on the river with large private terraces, and Block V holds an emblematic position in the middle with two luxury tensile tents.
The interiors are an extension of the outdoors at The Glasshouse on the Ganges. The minimalist beige-blue foyer and lobby are adorned with paintings of hermits, fakirs, and yogis, along with an oil-based indoors fireplace. You can also find decorative hard copies by Aman Nath, the co-founder of Neemrana Hotels. The pastel colours and contemporary furniture are a common denominator in all the rooms. Interestingly, they have divided the themes into three: Forest Herb (featuring green, beige, grey); Mountain Vibe (featuring abstract patterns with pink tones); River (featuring floral design with blue hints).
The meticulous detailing with which the whole place has been put together comes full circle with food. Moving away from the local cuisine (Rishikesh, by law, is vegetarian and alcohol-free), they have a different fare for guests from all walks of life. You can opt from North Indian, Italian, South Indian (try Ragi Idlis for breakfast), Thai, and Rajasthani. Irrespective of the number of days you plan to stay, must-try is the Laal Maans (made with utmost love by Neemrana’s OG chef Rajendra Prasad). Another must-try a generous serving of the Pesto Mushroom Stir Fry paired with an Orange with Basil and Mint Booster Drink. Currently, the resort doesn’t have an alcohol licence, but they have opted for it as they’d want to serve it at their upcoming restaurant.
Should you experience itchy feet during your stay, explore regular hits such as the Beatles Ashram, river rafting and bungee-jumping, or even local treks that can be arranged by the hotel staff. The one that I opted for was till village Sirasu, almost two kms from the hotel. And another one takes you around the river traversing through different villages and back to the hotel, after an eight kms walk. I consciously chose to steer clear of the Laxman Jhula (suspension bridge towards the main centre of the city), or other crowded locations due to COVID-19 reasons. Though what I did choose was the Forest Essentials spa for rejuvenation overload. The tangerine and eucalyptus steam followed by an hour-long full-body massage using Forest Essentials blend of essentials were good enough to put me to sleep.
That’s the beauty of The Glasshouse on the Ganges. Who wants to drive around on a lazy afternoon when you have a private riverfront view at your disposal? Unlike an itinerary-packed experience, The Glasshouse on the Ganges promises a holistic, feel-good affair with plenty to do on the property, or rather do nothing. And this affair only ends when the Ganges does — which is never.
All images: Courtesy Neemrana Hotels