Words by Priya Pathiyan
In today’s world, more than ever, luxury is all about seclusion, serenity and a deep sense of well-being. I was expecting to experience all this when I recently visited Viveda, the Wellness Village on invitation, as it’s been touted as the top wellness resort in Nashik – India’s acclaimed wine region. And yes, it checked all these boxes and then some.
Viveda’s a 40-acre property close to the sacred town of Trimbakeshwar. Nestled between the imposing Sahyadri mountains and beside the serene Beze lake, it makes full use of a fantastic location, which is not surprising, as it is owned by a savvy real estate organisation, Green Spaces, which is working to sustainably develop parts of Nashik.
Over cups of steaming hot wheat coffee and a traditional Indian herbal concoction called kadha (they don’t serve coffee and tea here so you can truly decaf and detox), managing director Tejas Chavan explained the vision behind the company. He said, “Co-existing with nature is the driving force behind our decisions. We integrate innovative and sustainable concepts into our real estate properties and try to bring individuals closer to nature through our hospitality ventures, Viveda as well as the eco-friendly Grape County nearby.”
The family-friendly Grape County is all about comfortable living, lavish meals and fun activities. You can not only stay in one of their 11 well-appointed skyrooms or seven luxury tents, but even invest in land and build your own home on the estate. It’s a tempting thought to buy a piece of this paradise, especially as it makes for an experience-rich weekend.
While we were there, I went on a birding walk, while my partner did a rather challenging trek to the top of the Anjaneri mountain fort a few kms away. We also enjoyed a pleasant evening of pedalos and kayaks on their little lake, watching the lapwings, cormorants and geese as the sun set. We spent time on their lovely little horse ranch, meeting some handsome equines, and once the sun set, we made our way to the open-air amphitheatre to catch a film under the stars. And whenever we sought company, the sprawling sun terrace and restaurant were buzzing through the day.
At the sister property just a few kms away – the brand new Viveda – on the other hand, I felt like I was lovingly wrapped in soft muslin. Right from when I stepped into the resort reception, its pervading sense of calm instantly uplifted my spirits and soothed my soul. Gurgles of water from a well-kept koi pond accompanied our seamless check in.
With 16 spacious cottages grouped into clusters of four, the adults-only resort promises a kind of peace few boutique hotels in India offer. Chavan shared the long and meticulous process that was involved in building the wall that snakes sinuously around various parts of the resort. Using local basalt stone and indigenous techniques, it blends well into the landscape. A rather splendid centrepiece adorns the main courtyard, its sturdy stone pillars resembling the deep-stambhs or lamp-lit pillars of ancient Hindu temples. The pool, although closed during the pandemic, is also reminiscent of temple baths. Overall, the Ayurveda-infused architecture sets the right tone for the therapies that one can indulge in here, but more on these later.
Croquet on the lawns, high tea in the al fresco pavilions and ample opportunity to commune with nature gives Viveda a lot of Insta-worthy moments, even if you aren’t really there to flaunt it on your social media.
But first, it was time to explore our gorgeous high-ceilinged contemporary cottage, with immaculate linen, hues of teal and burnt sienna on walls and upholstery and a private patio lush with tropical greens. The floor-to-ceiling wraparound windows and spacious walk-in closet made me sigh with joy. The bath area was exceptional, blending the rustic with luxe fittings and amenities perfectly. Plants, pebbles and a cleverly positioned window brought the outdoors in without sacrificing on privacy.
As the resort rightly believes, wellness is incomplete without wholesome nutrition. Viveda offers energy-giving Sattvik cuisine, all vegetarian, some vegan, all made from very seasonal, organic and largely locally sourced ingredients. The menu, which is curated by renowned chefs guided by experts in Naturopathy and Ayurveda, is far from boring and is rich in taste and texture. We were served everything from Middle Eastern dips to noodle salads and home-style Indian vegetarian meals and elaborate desserts but felt active and alert throughout our time there.
I was happy to hear that the smallish restaurant will soon be replaced by a larger and airier one. The breakfast, served in-room, was an eminently satisfying smorgasbord of healthy smoothies and fresh juices, Indian delicacies ranging from crisp dosas to flaky flattened-rice poha, muesli and more.
The rather grim stone exteriors of the spa area belie the sheer comforts within. The treatment rooms are, well, a real treat! As I had chosen a Kerala Ayurvedic Kizhi massage, I was led to a cosy chamber lit by oil lamps and onto a majestic massage table of polished teak. The accoutrements were up to global standards in terms of hygiene and quality. The softest muslin to preserve my modesty, a slathering of oil that felt truly luxurious on my skin and the ministrations of an expert masseuse, applying the heated potlis filled with aromatic ingredients to great effect.
Later, one of the spa managers gave me the grand tour of the network of well-planned rooms where they offer 26 Naturopathy therapies like Sujok Acupressure and Colon Hydrotherapy, 24 international ones such as Swedish and Thai massage, Shiatsu or Moxibustion, and 10 traditional Indian Ayurveda-led treatments. Apart from this, there’s an impressive dome under which you can undertake meditations and Yoga sessions. There’s even an outdoor acupressure walk area, where you can go on guided barefoot trails across water zones and polished stones of various sizes to unleash all sorts of things that are good for you!
If all this isn’t enough to keep you busy (hey, whatever happened to taking that chill pill?), you can do that trek I mentioned above, or indulge in a wine trail through the surrounding vineyards. The religiously-inclined could visit the Trimbakeshwar temple, one of the 12 Jyotirlangas. And if you don’t mind a bit of a climb, the Pandav Leni nearby are a collection of 23 rock-cut Jain caves dating back 2000 years.
In a nutshell
Whether you visit Viveda for a bit of pampering and socially distanced serenity as I did or go all in for the wholesome wellness experience, it’s affordable luxury and a break from frenetic city life that I would certainly recommend.
Viveda Wellness offers Garden Cottages from £186.57 per night for a double, and more for one with a Jacuzzi or Whirlpool. You can also book a package that includes the stay and programmes like a Complete Rejuvenation, an Intense Detox, a Natural Fitness or Quick Fit, a Pain or Stress or Weight Management, a Yoga Retreat, a pampering Spa Life or Recharge Your Soul.
Trimbakeshwar is easily accessible by road (only 178 kms from Mumbai and 240 kms from Pune). Nashik, the nearest airport and railhead, is a little more than 30 kms away.
Photography courtesy Viveda: The Wellness Village