I met Ashok Khanna some 15 years ago when he just opened his resort in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas. There was an immediate connection between us as we not only shared a professional interest – that of healing – but also a common understanding about the holistic philosophy of Vedanta and the practice of yoga and meditation.
This was before me and my partner founded the global brand HEALING HOTELS OF THE WORLD. Visiting the Ananda immediately after we met Ashok for the first time in Berlin, we where overwhelmed with what we experienced there. Someone had actually built what had been dreaming of ourselves for many years. The Awe-moment was so distinctively different from the awe-some we are used to. Here was someone who had put the dream into reality and built a resort in a next to impossible place on this planet earth. And it was divine. It was and still is a momentum of yoga!
Mr. Khanna’s vision was a moonshot at the time he created it because in the late 90ties meditation and yoga was taught in alternative places. But his vision was different! Ashok is a descendant of the legendary Oberoi family. He was raised and trained in luxury hospitality but there was something more he wanted to achieve!
He met his mediation master in the late sixties when his Grandmother sent him to an Ashram in India, a common practice those days for young men from the upper class to get acquainted with the ancient Indian spiritual tradition. The time he spent there made some a huge imprint and still today he caries a photo of his master with him.
He often talks about the teachings he heard in his youth and loves to talk about the deep meaning of life. His master used to say, “ life has no boundaries. Act the way you like keeping in mind that the universe is one and good and bad deeds and thoughts will rebound on to you in this lifetime.”
At the Ananda, we were diving deeply into the ancient wisdom of India while experience the beauty of a heightened state of mind in the luxurious, beautiful and thoughtful surroundings. Mr. Khanna says: “We do not expect our guests to become hermits. This stage of yogic practice is achieved through many years of self-sacrifice and penance. What we teach our guests at Ananda is to be a good human being by looking within and practicing what you preach. You should follow what you expect of others.“
Ananda is located at a height of 1000 meters above sea level. It has mild winters and summers. The monsoons are especially breathtaking (June to September) with clouds at eye level. These cloud enter your room if your window is left open. It is extremely romantic. The Palace of the Maharaja of Tehri Garhwal where Ananda is located was built in the early 19th century. A part of the palace is still used by the Maharaja when he is in residence. Ananda overlooks the holy city of Rishikesh and the river Ganges which flows right through India providing water for irrigation and drinking to millions of people. It starts in Gangotri, which is in the extreme north of India and joins the sea in Bengal. The water of the Ganges river is very high in mineral content and therefore can stay for many years without developing any smell or getting spoilt. It is for this reason that it is stored and used all over India for religious purposes such as washing of statues of our gods and for prayers in our homes and temples.
All of this has created an atmosphere that is truly healing. Mr.Khanna’s master said, “If all the positive energies in this world were to come together we would be 1000 years ahead. It is the competition that leads to destruction and hatred. Yoga can solve many of the world’s problems “
These are some of Mr. Khanna’s intentions for the Ananada:
“Looking within and strengthening your intellect is achieved when you are at Ananda. This is done through the practice of yoga and by attending lectures on Vedanta every morning and evening. It is important to live in the present and to look within. This cannot be done when you are going through your daily life in the places of your work. We teach you how to accomplish this at Ananda.”
“The decor of Ananda is timeless and peaceful. Clutter is avoided at all costs as it is important for the mind to be at peace and not cluttered. A strong intellect also helps one to think clearly with an uncluttered mind.”
“The staff are one of our greatest assets. Many years of training goes into making them believe in and practice the philosophy of Ananda. They have to bite into this philosophy to be able to impart the same to the guests.”
Ananda in the Himalayas is the first and only member of the prestigious global brand HEALING HOTELS OF THE WORLD that has been honored the „Legacy“ Level which is the highest to achieve.