Leave the hustle of the city behind and embrace the slow life on a riverbank. On the outskirts of Rishikesh, The Glasshouse on the Ganges serves up a unique recipe of well-being. By Rashima Nagpal
It’s a little past 8 am. I sit cross-legged on a yoga mat, with my eyes closed and hands in gyan mudra. I try to focus on the rhythm of my breath but it’s almost impossible. The sound of the river running beside me is distinct, and it doesn’t help that I was given a fair warning about monkeys in the area. I am at The Glasshouse on the Ganges, a boutique nature retreat by Neemrana Hotels. It’s a cold January morning, and I wasn’t foresighted enough to wear socks—yet another reason for the lack of focus.
The Glasshouse on the Ganges is a riverside property with 20 accommodation units scattered on a manicured orchard of lychee and mango trees. No wonder the general manager, Makrand Bhardwaj, who was stuck here during the lockdown, barely missed home. Considering the space available, the owners could have easily expanded the property in the past two decades but they consciously chose not to, Bhardwaj tells me.
In its recently refurbished avatar, The Glasshouse on the Ganges is a pleasant combination of minimalistic design and a neutral colour palette. All of the stay options—including two state-of-the-art tents—feature river-facing glass windows. They are all named after rivers; mine is called Krishna.
Back at the property’s yoga pavillion, I ease in to the stretches and feel more present in my surroundings, but not enough to ignore the rumbling of my stomach. Soon, I’m dreaming of breakfast.
The resort’s multi-cuisine dining venue has become my go-to place, and not just for its culinary offerings. An extension of the beautiful central lobby, the restaurant—like the rest of the property—overlooks the turquoise water of the River Ganges. Over the course of my stay, I have sampled a dish from each of the cuisines they have on the menu: Asian, Continental, and traditional breakfast fare. Some dishes have won me over: the coal-roasted corn elote that comes with a generous dressing of parmesan and chipotle aioli, the gourmet pizza topped with crunchy, seasonal tandoori vegetables, and the Indian delicacies that are as comforting as home-cooked food. The gastronomic experience is further elevated by the choice of dining anywhere: breakfast in the private sit-out of my suite, luncheon by the river on the Ganga Deck, around a bonfire by the infinity pool, and dinner under the stars.
The yoga teacher seems to have read my mind and starts the final round of surya namaskar. As usual, my hamstrings struggle to perfect the downward dog. “Sometimes, to lean forward, you must take a step back,” he suggests, like a wise prophet. It works.
By now, the sun is shining brightly on the Ganges. To conclude the practice, we get into shavasana: back on the floor, muscles relaxed, and eyes closed once again. This time, my thoughts don’t wander, and the gushing river is less of a distraction and more like a lullaby. I wrap up my first yoga session of the year, and hopefully not the last one. The wellness journey then extends to the resort’s flagship Amrit Kashi Spa, where a 90-minute deep-tissue massage puts me into a state of relaxation. Spread over two floors, the spa has multiple treatment rooms, including a traditional Ayurveda suite, and saunas—and feels like a sanctuary.
Just when I think I cannot be more relaxed, I’m called to join the Ganga aarti, which is held every day—at sunrise and sunset—at the property’s exclusive little beach. As dusk falls and the last of the day’s fire burns in the river, I hear nothing but the mighty Ganges singing in perfect harmony with the night.
Take a flight to Dehradun’s Jolly Grant Airport; the property is 40 kilometres from there. Alternatively, the drive from Delhi to Rishikesh takes a little over six hours. The Glasshouse on the Ganges is 23 kilometers outside of Rishikesh.