Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Follow me to Anant Rasa: a travelogue

Off late I have been quite besotted with writing about my travels and ensuring that I develop the right language to be able to best share my travel experiences with my readers. In the past I have written extensively about my trip to Paris here, about Netherlands here and even Bali right here, amongst other travelogues. My biggest hit from within the country was a piece I wrote about Banaras right here. For a decade now, I have not taken a holiday to the hills and when this opportunity to experience the lap of luxury right from within the Himalayas knocked at that metaphorical door, I seized it with all that metaphorical zest. Anant Rasa markets itself as a hideaway and while I had no idea that it could really be a thing en route to the hills, on reaching there I was convinced that it did full justice to the term. Somewhere between the towns of Ranikhet and Almora, spiralling upwards lies the Shahi Devi Estate where the little magical stretch of Anant Rasa finds itself. If you left me to my own strengths, I would probably spiral into madness looking this little Narnia up but therein lies the basic idea of a holiday there: it's where you go to find solitude, hear the winds whisper all night and bask in the lap of nature. 
Let's do it in the style that I know most of you enjoy the most. A travelogue in the form of a listicle. TEN things that make Anant Rasa the perfect hideaway in the hills:

  • The hospitality: You know how they say, you never forget how a person makes you feel. At Anant Rasa, every member of the staff, from the driver to the people serving you your feed exude a kind of warmth that almost makes you feel like you were at a holiday with your family (and not in a creepy, infringe on your space kind of way!). They have a team of highly trained staff that takes care of everything efficiently from your food needs to experts who help you undertake adventure sports in the hills.
With Siddharth and Aditi, the most congenial people and the founders of Anant Rasa

  • The food: I take a lot of pride in the fact that I genuinely enjoy my food and derive a lot of pleasure from scoping out different cuisines, the freshness of the produce, the veritable flavours etc. Anant Rasa believes in a 'farm to table' concept wherein everything that is brought to the table for all your meals is from the gardenscapes and farmed at the resort itself. Imagine eating a focaccia bread that came straight out of the oven served to you, with a tomato soup with rosemary and thyme, all plucked straight from the farms of the resort. Every meal is accompanied with every possible kind of green and as I write about it, the sinfully fresh flavour of each herb still lingers fresh in my mouth. The diverse menu will ensure that you not just eat well, but eat healthy all through your holiday. 
  • The views: You cannot holiday in the hills without choosing a hotel or a resort that allows you the luxury to wake up to the views. I could step out of my room into a balcony which afforded me the views of large oak and cedar trees for as far as the eye could see, only to be topped with a layer of fog hanging on the mountain peaks. The views from every angle of the property propel into the mountain figurines or dense jungles full of pine and cedar trees. 

  • The orchards and the blooms: Anant Rasa is brimming with all of nature's wonders. While that sounds like an advertorial for a natural honey or some such (I am certain they make their own honey too! ), it is not an exaggeration by any stretch. The resort is colours galore with a wide variety of flowers all through the year. The orchards, in the right season also offer a variety of colour and fruits and the opportunity to go fruit picking, much like your favourite Enid Blyton characters! 

  • Trekking and hiking: Fact: the longer ones are the treks and the shorter ones are the hikes. Even our 3 km trip into the jungles at the crack of dawn when the forest was covered with a damp layer of mist, only qualified as a hike. Never mind my lazy girl issues, the place offers guided treks and hikes into different parts of the erstwhile British colonies and the jungles suitable for people of different age groups, stamina and of course depending upon the weather conditions. We spotted a whole variety of wild mushrooms, rhododendron trees and a pack of red faced langurs.

  • Bird watching: I never prided myself in being much of a keen nature observer but if my getaway gives me the opportunity to discover a bevy of beautiful fluttery creatures in their natural habitat, even I know better than to refuse it. Under the aegis of a certain Mr. Lokesh, we set forth early in the morning to explore a whole world of magpies (and other exotic birds) but mostly magpies because we spotted a lot of those!

  • Adventure sports like the Tyrolean traverse: I love the idea of plunging into new experiences headfirst, even if I sustain a few head injuries along the plunge. Seriously bad jokes aside, the tyrolean traverse comes from the Tyrolean Alps where people possibly used the idea of zipping things across a fixed line to carry them faster. In this particular activity, you are slipped into a harness and clipped to the fixed line of rope that stretches from Point A to B and you have to pull yourself through your upper body strength from A to B. The rush comes from realising that if not for the harness, you could be dangling quite a few feet off the ground in the midst of a thick jungle. 

  • The rooms: Immaculately clean and minimally chic rooms are not just spacious but also tastefully done. Every room has an adjoining balcony overlooking the mountains and it is interesting to note that the resort also has an absolutely fantastic 'No plastic' policy which means that they use waste paper baskets made of cane and the toiletries come in large glass dispensers as opposed to the tiny plastic ones we commonly see.

  • The resort design: Credit where credit is due. I was quite enamoured by the space utilisation and the design of the entire resort. Not only are there winding paths with flower belts on either side, the rooms have been spaced out and constructed in a way that they are not too closely constructed and give each guest an exclusive experience of the resort. The club house bears a wonderful old vintage charm with hints of cerulean blue all through the upholstery. Makes it almost impossible to miss the tea hour.

  • One large photo op: I get it. I should be propagating internet free and photo free holidays but really, what is the meaning of such life when you cannot rub it in other people's faces. Never mind that new age, satirical pearl of wisdom. Anant Rasa is by and large one large photography opportunity. We could not turn into a corner without the urge to take out our cameras and photograph. For once, I did not even care so much about being in the photos. The glistening mist on the leaves, the myriad shades of nature, the spikes fallen off a porcupine that we found in the jungles, the gentle giant Himalayas, the fog hanging low over the green and beautiful resort, that and more. Okay I might have lied about the ' I didn't even care about being in the photos myself' part.

A good time to visit Anant Rasa is towards the end of September and for the month of October. The rains finally call it quits and the weather is chilly and lovely, just in the right amounts. 
Find them on Facebook too and if you do visit, make sure to blow a kiss to the hills for me. 


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