There is a magic to ITC Grand Bharat. The kind that grants your grandest wishes, turns you into a princess, and inspires you to pursue brand new horizons. But most of all, it will leave you in awe—starting from the moment you turn into this 300-acre estate, India’s first all-suite offering nestled in the ancient Aravalli hills , where palatial structures flanked by mazes of verdant gardens and glistening lagoons call to mind Eastern kingdoms of yesteryear.
“Your soul brought you here”, says Leela Isani, the woman I have been invited to spend a long weekend with at this majestic resort, as part of its first Visiting Masters Wellness Retreat. She is a Reiki master, spiritual teacher and holistic healer; and despite my initial scepticism, something in me believes her—I was meant to be here. And not just because my ultra-plush accommodations come with personalised, monogrammed touches, and a sunset-facing pool with swaying palm trees overheard.
Such wellness itineraries typically begin with deep one-on-one conversations to uncover what guests need most out of the experience. And after an unexpectedly emotional session, the word “light” is what sets the purpose of my trip in motion—the desire to feel light again, to be relieved of the emotional weight piled on from a harried, high-pressure lifestyle, something many urbanites can relate to. Though hard to comprehend, what Leela feels through her healing touches across my body strikes a chord: “There’s a lot of untapped energy that’s being bogged down, and there’s a tension in your chest that’s causing you to take mainly quick, short breaths”, she deduces. “For this, we will be focusing on exercises to open up the heart, and awaken the Kundalini”, referring to the sleeping spiritual energy that lies at the base of one’s spine. From this, a range of sessions are planned, from morning yoga with long back stretches; dynamic afternoon meditations involving vigorous body shaking and blindfolded dancing; to slow breathing rituals before bedtime for a much deeper, rejuvenating sleep. These, of course, are interspersed with a series of pampering treatments at the royal Kaya Kalp spa, like the Prana Vitality Massage, where a therapist with “healing hands” employs ancient Indian techniques to encourage Prana (life force energy) to flow upwards, releasing toxins and restoring inner strength and harmony. Another relaxing treat is the 60-minute Abhyanga, a synchronised four-handed flowing massage lavished with heaps of coconut oil and healing Ayurvedic herbs.
Meals, too, are tailored to one’s needs, as identified by the in-house Ayurvedic expert, Doctor Shree. At the main dining restaurant, Aravali Pavilion, a section of the menu is devoted to Swasthya cuisine, which invokes time-honoured Indian culinary principles of promoting wellness, while an off-the-menu salad order will get you a selection of vegetables and fruits freshly picked from the hotel’s flourishing garden—request for a tour and expect the grand treatment from a trio of chefs who’ll walk you through and let you try the luscious, organic produce straight from the stem. Even teas are made with overnight infusions of herbs such as mint and moringa, perfect for savouring out on the veranda, framed by lofty heritage architecture that’s been built with ITC’s “rooted in the soil” philosophy in mind, in a tribute to the grandeur of India.
I am no Elizabeth Gilbert or Julia Roberts, but eat, pray and love I did—in luxurious fashion—at the ITC Grand Bharat.