All-weather wilderness

Malvika Nanda heads for a weekend getaway to the Ahaana Resorts at the Jim Corbett National Park, to discover an all weather destination. Wellness in the day and wilderness by the night, seems like a all-weather option at Aahana.

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What’s Corbett without a trip to the wild? Many would ask, considering that’s the motive of heading to the vicinity of the Jim Corbett National Park. Let’s say, it’s a not such a bad drive (though the highway potholes are menacing no doubts in the monsoons).

Within 6-7 hours of drive time from Delhi, the most obvious choices are mostly hill stations which for a person like me, spells mountain sickness. It didn’t take too much convincing to make a dash for this trip to the beautiful Ahaana – The Corbett Wilderness, with the possibility of being surrounded by wildness without having to deal with climbing up and down the hills.

Bordering on the Bijrani Zone of Corbett, Aahana is an eco-friendly luxury resort with promises of not just a good getaway but enough means of complete rejuvenation.

The makers have indeed paid heed to small details that make the experience endearing right from the time you step in. Worn and waned a bit from the long drive we drove into a serene campus- not too far from the Khara Gate of the Jhirna range (that remains open throughout the year) – post sunset. The mellifluous strains of the Kumaoni Bagpipe and a local favourite drink made from flowers of the Rhododendron (Buransh) tree.

As we walked through the reception (typical of a forest resort/ lodge make) towards our rooms, two closed iron gates adjacent a go around ramp to gave us a moment to ponder and take in some fresh forest breeze.

In keeping with their resolve to maintain the eco-system of the area and respect to the locals, the resort has allocated the space between the gates for village folk to pass through the day and for big cats to stroll should they feel, in the night.

The ramp also makes for a decent vantage point to witness the expanse of the property, its cottage style blocks of rooms, dinner and leisure areas along with the organic garden. The dreamy stone and wood rich architecture is reminiscent of the British Era and in complete tandem with theme expected of a foresty resort. The decor and architecture, in fact throughout the resort is impeccable, locally sourced (mostly) and a in lovely continuance with the theme.

Tall ceilings, flora or fauna making their presence felt through the paintings in each room, take the theme further as you go on to look at the fireplace in desperate wait of the winter. Not that a place like this would want you to watch much of television, they do have satellite TV, just in case. The washrooms keep up with the colonial sentiment, with wood, large spaces and a beautiful tiled bathtub.

One of the things that really got my attention was the small flower and leaves based presentations that Aahana employs, be it room service or the spa decor and all of it sourced in-house from the resort gardens.

Aahana houses a warm bar and restaurant with large windows on either sides overlooking different sides of the property. One such side includes a pool with a little man-made waterfall, flowing into the pool and a poolside patio- a chosen favourite for Bar-be-ques and evening meals. On to our meals, the food at Aahana was to our surprise, mildly favoured and delicious, unlike most resorts and hotels where spicy and rich are focus points. Whether it was the precarious personal touch or vision of the owners or the magic of freshly grown in-house ingredients, we loved the food. My recommendation would be to stick to the Indian and basic Chinese though. Our good experience with the set menu only became better when the staff enthusiastically whipped up some local flavours on our request.

Given that as a resort this property scored well on the hospitality scheme of things, right in the 1st few hours of reaching there, day 2 was waiting with rejuvenation on agenda. Aahana also is home to an artistically constructed and decorated Arogyam Holistic Health Spa- where the winding down and de-stressing begins as you set your foot in. A little outside the entrance and office lies a beautiful lotus pond, leading to steam and therapy rooms that offer Indian, western and other therapies, Nature Cures and wholesome wellness sessions.

The path to each room is through little walkways surrounded by shrubs, on to a flight of steps and a nicely convivial set up. The therapists are well-trained and swift, taking time slowly only to lull you in the wind down mode with a calming rose water feet dip at the beginning of the therapy. They not mildly scented essential oils that they used for therapies, worked for me and my skin. They could do with a slightly better choice of spa music though. Aahana also offers a host of special packages for ‘wellness vacations’, to help one combat individual health problems.

For the recently refreshed and rejuvenated, there is an option for a morning/ evening nature walk to walk about amongst some flora and fauna and engage in some spotting of some bird or if you’re lucky some other species wandering about.

The late evenings too made for a good walk around the property with a light breeze and clear skies. So whatever be the time for 4 zones of Corbett to be operational, wellness in the day and wilderness by the night, seems like an all-weather option at Aahana.

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