A screeching car. An impatient driver leaning aggressively on his horn. An eager seller loudly declaring the lure of his wares. The din of a train. The incessant chatter of weary office travellers. Living in a city can be tremendously overwhelming for your senses. It’s loud, chaotic, unruly. And despite my resolute commitment to noise cancellation headphones, the world seems to seep in. I often tell myself that an escape to a quiet place, one that’s tucked away, would be just the salve I need. Six Senses Vana in Dehradun what exactly what I was seeking, and so much more.
After an uneventful flight to Dehradun, I was whisked away by a friendly chauffeur to the cooler confines of Six Senses Vana. The experience begins much earlier though. The ride is in a capacious car, and with the mountains passing by, I am lulled into a gentle sense of calmness. Of course, my stomach had other plans, expressing fierce protest at the topography and engaging in a offkey rumbling which prompted the chauffeur to offer me the candy to suck on to feel better.
Once inside, the outside world melts away. It’s very quiet here, and for city folks that can be unnerving. So I take a few minutes to gather my wits about myself. The staff is extremely clued in, so they know my name even before they ask for my ID and I am impressed. It is when you’re escorted from the reception area to the Kila, a cavernous but bright communal space with plenty of sunlight creating dappled shadows of the trees, that you become aware of how truly spacious the property of Six Senses Vana is. I have arrived somewhere around mid-afternoon so my health consultation is moved to the next day, but i am booked in for a massage, nonetheless. For guests not rushed as I am, the entire program is designed after the consultation, taking into account the guests’ wellness goals- these could range from having a detox, to hitting a number on the weighing scale.
Stay At Peace
I am escorted by a friendly staff member to the Forest Suite which is aptly named, because it overlooks the forest. The suite is expansive, featuring a living area, a bedroom, a luxurious bathroom and a changing area which has my white pyjama and kurta hanging there. The all white ensemble is the only thing you can wear on the property, and guests are required to stick to this dress code. And they are pretty strict about this. There was a sizing issue with my pyjama and my request to change was met with promptness. Six Senses Vana straddles the peace of ashram life and the luxury of a resort with ease. So while the birds chirping is the sound most often heard, the occasional horn of a truck passing by is a reminder that you’re not too far from the city.
My suite comes with almost every window offering a stunning view of the forest. I enjoyed spending a couple of my minutes in the morning on the balcony attached to the living room while the sun gently warmed my face. It took me a while to embrace the slow mornings- would I be able to wake up without an alarm? Should I risk it? And then it takes you a moment to realise, you’ve nothing to lose.
Relaxing Done Right
I wasn’t quite prepared for how relaxed I felt at Six Senses Vana. The entire experience is so centred around making you feel better, you can feel off kilter. Which makes you question everything you know and hold to be true. Have we truly forgotten to live without our phone and without the constant cacophony of information? The answers comes easily here. Yes. We don’t know how to exist without texts, and a visual overload. We don’t know what to do with ourselves without our phones. This realisation hits you like a ton of bricks. The property doesn’t allow the use of devices in the property except in certain areas. I just left it in the room, but did experience a slightly sort of separation anxiety, a chilling reminder of how addicted I am.
The wellness journey at Six Senses Vana starts with a consultation with their in-house doctor. Once it’s established what the pain points are- the therapies are recommended. The therapies at Six Senses range from massages, watsu, acupuncture, reflexology and more. The doctor pointed out that I am mentally stressed out, something I completely agreed with. So his suggestion was several massages, that I do sound healing sessions and a session of Watsu.
They have two centres – The Sowa Rigpa- the home to Tibetan therapies and where most of the massages and healing practises happen. The Ayurvedic centre is where the Ayurvedic treatments including Panchkarma take place. There are several spaces dedicated to unwinding- a reflection pond, the Bodhi tree and more. The therapies are carefully designed to suit your dosha- something that doctor tells you during your consultation.
Our of all the massages and therapies I had a chance to experience, the one that stood out was the Watsu session. A 40 minute session, this had the experienced therapist gently moving me around in water- you feel weightless, relaxed and almost reborn. I would strongly recommended pencilling in time for this one.
The other one I strongly recommend it the Reflexology session which felt like the most relaxing therapy, despite the work only happening on the feet. Ever the skeptic, I was putty in the hands of the trained therapist at Vana and this was by far one of the best sessions I’ve had.
Besides the recommended therapies, you can also try the sessions which including whipping up your own ubtan, sound healing sessions and more. I tried the sound healing session ( I am fan of these) and it was just what I needed.
Poetry on a plate
Contrary to what you might be led to believe when checking into an ashram, the food at Six Senses Vana is a visual and tasteful delight. It was interesting that they beautifully plated the food, given that guests could not click pictures of this and upload it on social media. Delicious and healthy, your meal comes in carefully chosen portions but you can choose to have seconds or thirds, depending on how hungry you are.
The food is fresh and delectable, each ingredient shines and each puree and paste is robust in its flavouring. You will find non-vegetarian options here as well. You also get desserts and those with a penchant for coffee and tea will not have to give this up as well.
There’s nothing quite like escaping to the beauty of a place like Six Senses Vana. And I strongly recommend checking in. That you won’t want to check out is a whole other story.