Rooms with a River View in Rishikesh
She writhed and swayed as the notes of the bhajan wafted off the Ganga like a divine benediction. Like the woman, others in the audience, too, had been transported to a divine plane. On our first evening in Rishikesh, we attended the Parmarth Ashram’s Ganga aarti, gazing at the jade-green river chortle along its periphery. The deep-timbre chanting was heady, as were the flashes of colour… marigold offerings, flaming lamps, priests garbed in red and gold.
After the stirring aarti, we drove to our own haven for the mind, body and soul, the Roseate Ganges located near the quiet neighbourhood of Shivpuri, the launch site for river rafting, . A luxury boutique resort that offers instant relaxation, the Roseate Ganges is in a sense the newest ashram of wellness in a town that has for many years been a magnet for alternative visitors seeking enlightenment and inner peace. The Beatles famously stayed here in the sixties. Rishikesh hasn’t looked back since.
During our three-day stay, we would rise at the crack of dawn and run down the stone steps hewn into a hill slope, which led to a lovely a white sand beach by the Ganga. Clad in kurta pyjamas, given to us by the resort, we did our asanas on the beach, albeit clumsily, led by agile Susmita Rakshit, wellness manager and a graduate of the Bihar School of Yoga.
That was the most precious part of our day, for we communed with nature, listened to our bodies and tracked our breath in the most serene setting imaginable. After our work out, we preferred to pad up to the resort for an organic breakfast of either an Ayurvedic breakfast bowl of stone-mill-ground Himalayan barley porridge with stewed fruits; or our favourite, poached Turkish eggs wobbling in a mini lake of yogurt spiced with garlic, salt and pepper,
and tempered with local lakhori chillies sautéed in butter. The sweet finale was the masala chai poured from a coppery tea pot, which, like all crockery here, is sourced from a minimalist Japanese brand.
Roseate Ganges itself is a minimalist complex of 16 deep-grey chalets, snuggling in a secret forest of banyans, stands of bamboo and other gangly trees, with the Ganga flowing swiftly in the gorge below. So discrete is the resort, spread over 1.5 acres, with villas placed at different levels, that it seems to virtually tiptoe out of the planet. Italian marble flooring, rough-finish walls, cosy fireplaces and balconies embracing the Himalayan outdoors are designed for idyllic noontime siestas or meditation. The rooms and public areas are done in natural colours, leavened with touches of gold.
Our favourite spot to hang out was by the temperature-controlled infinity pool in the main complex of concrete, glass and wood, awash in the gentle half-light of a setting sun. Overlooking the infinity pool is Roasted by Roseate, an open-fronted café with sweeping views of the woods.
Above it is the glass-enclosed bar and restaurant Chidya Ghar whose display kitchen showcases the chefs’ culinary sleights of hand. The menu is wellness-focussed, based on Uttarakhand cuisine, with some nouvelle twists on international dishes. Thanks to executive chef Chetan Rana, we dined on local cuisine inspired by Kumaoni and Garhwali home chefs—kathal (baby jackfruit) biryani concocted with Dehradun basmati rice; ; Garhwali bhuna gosht, tender chunks of Himalayan mountain goat slow-cooked in a subtle gravy and simmered in a copper vessel. All ingredients are sourced from within a 15-kilometre radius and spiked with Himalayan forest herbs and exotica like wild mustard seeds, hemp seeds and wild onions.
We made a couple of sorties to the spa, too, and emerged limbered up and rested as much from the pummelling as from the verdant forest views outside.
On our last evening, we climbed up to the rooftop to revel in the stunning views, of terraced hillsides, of the silver skein of the Ganga. She is indeed a beneficent presence in these parts, murmuring ancient secrets to those who care to listen.