A Perfect WEEKEND GETAWAY
Situated right on the banks of the Ganges River, Aalia Resort, is a sharp contrast to the busy and culturally rich Haridwar. Viraj Sawant recounts his short stay at the luxury boutique resort.
As I peep outside the little oval window of the plane, the dense forest below seems like a lush green carpet, waiting to welcome our flight in Dehradun. Jolly Grant Airport, situated at the foothills of the Himalayas, is the major airport serving Uttarakhand. It’s about 40kms from Haridwar and is famous for its role in the rescue operations during the tragic Uttarakhand floods last year. As I stepped out of the airport, the cold breeze reassured that I was away from the pandemonium of the city, and ready for an undisturbed vacation. It’s often said that the journey is more important
than the destination, and so it was, even if ever so slightly. The route from the airport to Aalia Resort was garnished with forest reserves, dams, stunning ghats and rivers. Every scene was absolutely picturesque.
Aalia Resort or as the General Manager, Dheeraj Chauhan called it, Aalia by the Ganges, is spread over an area of five acres with 12 villas. Each villa comprises two suites on the first floor and one on the ground floor. And they all open to a private balcony and a little garden. Moreover, each villa is equipped with a well- stocked library, a meeting room and a scenic terrace. Talk about luxury!
Hungry and tired from the travel, I was escorted to a plush restaurant with a wide view of the Chilla Range right before our window. The elaborate menu offered a choice of everything from Continental to Thai, Italian to Chinese, and of course Indian. Post a delightful lunch, I strolled through the premise and to my delight spotted two ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles). A little joyride post lunch wouldn’t hurt, I thought.
The most amazing thing about this resort is of course, its proximity to the most sacred river to Hindus. The Ganga literally flows about 20 steps away from the hotel premises making it that much easier for you to take a dip, whenever you wish. One can also take the ATV to the banks, and so I did. After the calming ride, I had an option to laze by the pool, play a round of badminton or to go for that soothing full body massage I read about in our itinerary. But me being me, I parked myself at the Cigar Lounge—a classy, vintage bar where you can spend your time watching sports, listening to music or just enjoying fancy liquors from around the world. A perfect end to the day.
The schedule for the next day was equally exciting—a massage and some games, followed by the famous Ganga Aarti in the evening. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it to the Rajaji National Park, which is open from November to June, but was non- operational due to bad weather. So, I tried my hand at archery and croquet instead. Engrossed in the games, I lost track of time and was reminded by the hotel staff about the Aarti. “Virajji, do you know why Haridwar is one of the holy places in India?” asked Dubeyji, the driver, as I sat in the car. Shaking my head in dissent, we started off on our journey to Har ki pauri. “Mythology says, when the Gods were trying to safeguard amrut (the drink which confers immortality upon the Gods) from the demons, a drop fell in Haridwar and six other places. Hence it’s considered holy and it is also a centre for the internationally renowned Kumbh Mela. You simply can’t imagine the number of people that come to Haridwar during Kumbh Mela.” The Kumbh Mela happens in Haridwar every 12 years. Thankfully, we reached in time to take a dip in the river. As I emerged from the freezing cold water, I could only imagine the chaos on the day of the mela, because there were already thousands of people praying in harmony on a regular day.
I returned to the hotel with the realisation that it was my last night at Aalia. As I sat by the pool gazing at the holy river shimmering in the moonlight, I was joined by Dheeraj. Explaining the concept of a villa resort, he said, “A villa is for families that wish to stay together on vacation. It is more of a home away from home.” And we absolutely agree. The resort headed by Aditya Paul and Arjun Paul Lakhanpal of the JLP group gives you the freedom and facilities to do whatever you wish. And did I mention that they have a private helipad too? Well, they do. It’s the perfect marriage between avant-garde facilities and the serenity of nature, working together to get you your private space.