Deep Forest
Outlook Traveller|December 2020
Vana is a wellness retreat like no other. Amit Dixit undergoes a metamorphosis of sorts—of the good kind
Amit Dixit

ON A SHOWAROUND OF VANA, a super-exclusive wellness retreat bordering a forest in Dehradun, I stepped into the balcony of a suite and was shocked to find a massive cobweb, its house-proud owner giving me a nonchalant stare. “We believe in co-existence,” explained Prasoon Kumar Pandey, the property’s general manager.

It’s gestures such as these—and there are several— that define Vana’s off beat approach, charting a unique course in the world of wellness. For one, rather than succumb to a single system of healing, Vana promotes several—Ayurveda, Sowa Rigpa (Tibetan) and yoga among them—taking the best of each with an open mind. That sort of thing takes a rare passion to pull off. In Vana’s case, its guiding light is its founder, Veer Singh, whose enthusiasm for wellness led him to create this retreat and steer it to a very high standard.

My room—which I fancied as a ‘monastic cell’—was spacious, stylishly subdued in décor, and tech-friendly. There were beautiful views of the mountains under a deep-blue Dehradun sky, but I had to keep the balcony door shut owing to our tailed relatives who love Vana nearly as much as us. Imagined as a forest, guests are referred to as Vanavasis or forest dwellers here. Certainly, we all looked the same, clad in our white Abraham & Thakore kurta-pajamas that are compulsory in the public spaces.

I was welcomed with a Tibetan Kunye massage. Vana is one of the few dedicated centres of Tibetan wellness in the world. The Dalai Lama blessed it at its opening. The therapies, I soon figured, are of the ‘serious’ kind, less ‘indulgent spa’, more ‘healing medicine’.

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