As bonafide bon vivants, I’ll confess that neither R.R.M. nor I have ever been particularly inclined towards detox destinations for a weekend getaway. That said, life in Bombay is nothing if not brutal at times and a dose of R&R is often in order to clear one’s head (and lungs!). So with that in mind, we headed to the hills recently for a wellness retreat at Atmantan – a resort predicated on rejuvenating the Atma (soul), Tan (body) and Man (mind).
Set across 42 acres, the sprawling property overlooks the calming waters of Lake Mulshi near Pune. Legend has it that just the mineral-rich land of the surrounding crystalline mountains permeates a positive energy, with the crystals emitting frequencies shrouded by a sense of serenity. A larger-than-life Buddha statue – cushioned by a lotus pond, no less – is entirely consonant with the picture of hushed tranquility!
Founded by a tri-athlete, Nikhil Kapur, and his wife who happens to be a pranic (energy-based) healer, Atmantan is anchored by extensive facilities and dedicated programmes suited to specific objectives, from weight loss to stress management.
We meet couples who are here for no less than 5 nights, as well as foreign guests who have made the journey from further afield and are here for a longer stay. We’re visiting for just two days with no agenda other than to rest and recharge. The rocky (4.5 hour) drive over from Bombay means that we’re already in dire need of spa-time by the time we’ve checked in!
With close to 106 rooms and suites (including a palatial presidential villa), the accommodation is set across different levels of the hillside, with the added benefit of balconies or gardens to breathe in the lush landscape.
We’re staying in the Ashoka Grove. To level with you – it’s comfortable albeit simplistic and lacking in luxury. The discernible absence of amenities such as bathrobes and bedroom slippers is surprising for a resort of Atmantan’s stature. Our disappointment is echoed in the changing facilities of the wellness centre, which are basic at best and seem a bit out of sync with the state-of-the-art gym and more sophisticated spa offerings including a Vichy shower.
However if it’s the little things which make a big difference, we’re appreciative of thoughtful touches such as the extraordinarily-comfy beds (certified by the American Chiropractic Association), which lend themselves to restoratively-deep sleep, ensuring we are up bright and early for our morning yoga – followed by an action-packed day of activities!
Whether you’re here for just the weekend or an entire week, there’s plenty to keep you occupied and in a mandatory state of digital detox (connectivity is low, with limited network and wifi).
Wellness consultations run the gamut from body composition analysis to postural assessment; while fitness and leisure activities span pilates, laughter therapy, aqua jam sessions (in a therapeutic chlorine-free pool, purified with salt) and more. The spa menu is just as expansive, featuring both traditional treatments (in line with Ayurvedic philosophies) and Western spa rituals.
Highlights include a “dance for fitness” class, which is as exhilarating as it is invigorating; while an instructor-led meditation session succeeds in switching off my hyperactive mind and delving deeper into a subconscious realm. A deep tissue massage isn’t amiss in between, doing wonders to iron our those nasty knots which have tightening my upper back!
Unsurprisingly – breakfast, lunch & dinner emerge a highly-anticipated affair, constellating around ravishingly-prepared dishes, low on calories (each meal amounts to just 250-500 calories) yet big on unfettered, sharp-as-a-tack flavours.
The nuanced depth to each dish is driven by the fabulously-fresh produce, right from the veggies sourced from Atmantan’s 25-acre organic farm, to the herbs grown outside Vistara, the resort’s scenic dining pavilion. Needless to say, the ingredients check all the right boxes: unprocessed, unrefined, rich in antioxidants and micronutrients, etc. etc. etc.! Cooking techniques are another conduit to ensuring maximum nourishment, be it raw food preparations to maintain dietary fibre, or heating at low temperatures to maximise the vitamin and mineral intake.
Imaginatively-assembled salads and soups make for a steadying start to an impossibly-light four course lunch. Options include a wildly-beautiful medley of sliced raw okra tossed with picked onions and spinach in olive oil, or signature salads served with oven-roasted chicken or flaked steamed dish – much to the delight of R.R.M., who instantly perks at the mention of worthy non-vegetarian options.
Mains are loaded with the comfort of carbs albeit in meticulously apportioned servings to control your overall calorie intake. As I’m not here on a weight loss mission, I don’t hesitate to ask for a second helping of the homemade fettuccini draped with fresh pesto (so fresh that it permeates with the aromatic hint of basil leaves!). Naturally-sweetened desserts are a gratifying way to finish, with a raw cacao mousse (made with just raw cocoa powder, honey & nuts) offering legitimate proof that healthy can truly be delicious.
There are also Buddha bowls on the menu (in lieu of a four course meal), while Indian Thalis are substantive at dinner-time, striking the perfect balance of carbs, protein, starch and veggies.
All told, the weekend transpires to be just what the doctor ordered. A breath of fresh air, matched by an instruction in slow living & clean eating.
ATMANTAN Wellness Resort, Mulshi – Pune, India | https://www.atmantan.com/
This is not a sponsored post; we booked our stay at Atmantan independently and all our views are mine and mine only.
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