Helmed by the Taj Group under its IHCL SeleQtions brand, newly-opened heritage boutique hotel Pilibhit House is located in the heart of the bustling city of Haridwar in Uttarakhand.
Hit with seemingly endless waves of the coronavirus, how is one to find mental peace and equilibrium? By escaping to a place that offers luxurious respite. Newly-opened heritage boutique hotel Pilibhit House in Haridwar promised the ideal escape and I took them up on the offer last month. Helmed by the Taj Group under its IHCL SeleQtions brand, this 35-room property is located in the heart of the bustling city of Haridwar in Uttarakhand. Don’t be fooled by its location though, because once you traverse their imposing emerald gate, you are transported eons away from the rush of city life.
Converted to a hotel from a century old aristocratic mansion by the Ganges, this property is described as Haridwar’s most luxurious address. The claim is not a tall one. “Pilibhit House is a living heirloom that belongs to Pilibhit’s first family since 1913. This noble house has been meticulously restored and is now a part of the IHCL SeleQtions portfolio,” says Amit Kumar, the General Manager of the hotel.
Good hospitality is often reflective of the surroundings it is set in and this is certainly true of Pilibhit House. The city of Haridwar bears a rich legacy, and the hotel reflects it ably while maintaining its modern luxe feel. Considered one of the oldest cities in the world, legend ascribes its creation to a drop of nectar spilled over from a pitcher being carried by the celestial bird Garuda after the mythical Samudra Manthan or churning of the ocean. It is the place from where the holy river Ganges emerges from the mountains onto the plains, and therefore has been the hub of religious tourism for centuries. Boasting a host of historic sites, this holy town has a distinctive character. The milling crowds on the ghats, beautiful temples, old-school ashrams and unceasing performance of sacred rituals, add a peculiar flavour unlikely to be found elsewhere. As a centre of spirituality and mysticism, Haridwar draws millions of pilgrims from around the world.
However, its spiritual identity is not Haridwar’s only claim to fame. Travellers have the option of indulging in adventure sports, culinary delights, as well as shopping and cultural excursions. Dedicated to providing the best possible experience, the hotel organises every aspect of your itinerary – no matter how frugal or exhaustive you prefer it to be. Nature walks on the banks of the river, guided tours of the nearby Rajaji National Park for a chance to spot leopards or tigers, VIP treatment for temple visits to the famed Mansa Devi and Chandi Devi temples on the hilltops – everything is arranged by the team at Pilibhit House. Even a visit to the famed Moti Bazaar can be simplified with the hotel’s personal e-rickshaw and guide.
One can also try other curated experiences, such as a visit to the Vindhyavasini Temple followed by a picnic. This temple is located on the edge of the Rajaji national park, and one reaches it through an uncharted off-road path. A city heritage tour, the Kumeria village and forest mountain drive, Rajaji riverbed dining experience, nomadic village tours, Rishikesh tours, and a trip to the famed Beatles Ashram, are other activities one can add to their itineraries if they so wish.
Those who prefer to simply take a break from the hustle and bustle of life, can enjoy a vacation within the hotel’s premises. They can participate in guided yoga and meditation on the deck, which overlooks the Ganges canal with the beautiful Shivalik range in the distance. Or they can revel in the infinity pool located under the shade of a magnificent mango tree, which makes for the perfect viewing spot. The Taj Group’s signature Jiva Spa offers a number of relaxing therapies and Indian healing techniques to choose from and delivers an enriching experience from start to finish, with freshly brewed Ayurvedic welcome drinks and saunas afterwards. Guests can also trace decades of their ancestry with a private session of genealogy, and learn their future through a palm reading by the in-house astrologer. The Navgraha Pooja at the hotel and live music performances at the Ganges deck every morning and evening are other unique experiences to look forward to.
Another unique in-hotel experience is the hallowed Ganga Arti at their private ghat, which one can enjoy without being jostled by crowds. Their spacious and tastefully decorated rooms and suites across three levels either face an open courtyard or offer gorgeous views of the Ganges, and are great to unwind in. The Dining Room will not disappoint with its selection of delicious Sattvik cuisine and attentive service. One can choose from a range of international foods as well as local fare. The entire menu is vegetarian and inspired by recipes from the royal kitchens of the ancestral family. One can also request for a private dining experience by the River Deck, Pool Deck by the Mango Tree, or the Terrace.
“This century old noble house has been meticulously restored and we aim to present unique experiences and rituals that evoke the Purusharthas – the four spiritual stages of life namely Dharma, Aartha, Kaama, Moksha. This is where we encourage you to take a step back from your hectic schedule and savour a slower life, taking time to reflect with a pause at Pilibhit House,” says Kumar with a smile.
Pilibhit House is one of the luxury properties of the Prasad Heritage Group, which was founded more than a century ago by Sahu Har Prasad. Over the years, the Prasad Heritage Group has made a name for its bespoke, heritage hotels in Uttarakhand, especially in the state’s twin heritage cities, Rishikesh and Haridwar. Pilibhit House is the group’s fourth property, and it houses the largest private bathing ghat in the region. The SeleQtions brand of The Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) helmed by Taj Hospitality group, is a collection of named and distinctive hotels. This made them the perfect partners for the Prasad Heritage Group for their Pilibhit House venture.
If you are planning a trip to Haridwar, a stay at the Pilibhit House is your best bet. Well-equipped for senior citizens and children, spiritual and regular tourists, quick visits and long-term luxurious getaways; this hotel will not disappoint. Its prices are steep because it offers a premium experience unlike anything else in the surrounding area. The location – a short walk from Har Ki Pauri and on the banks of the Ganges – is unbeatable. With only one vegetarian restaurant on the property, in keeping with local customs, one might expect to feel short-changed. However, the vast selection on offer does not disappoint. In fact, it is a culinary experience that you will remember for years to come. Having enjoyed my stay at Pilibhit House Haridwar, I will certainly return. I recommend you do the same. The hotel is currently running a number of attractive offers on its website seleqtionshotels.com/en-in/pilibhit-house-haridwar.
The writer pens lifestyle articles for various publications and her blog www.nooranandchawla.com. She can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org.