A visit to the Jiva Grande Spas in India’s Taj Palace hotels is sure to leave you feeling both physically and spiritually refreshed.
Take the culture of the royal palaces, add traditional healing therapies and mix with India’s aura of spirituality, and you have the founding principles of Jiva, the only Indian spa brand which offers treatments based on these unique concepts. These in turn work on how the balance of mind, body and spirit are inherent to good health — its jiva or life force — and this is what is on the menu at all the Jiva Spas. These centres of indulgence can be found in four of India’s grandest hotels in the Taj Palace collection of former royal homes. Live like a king, play like a queen and be pampered like a princess.
The latest to join this august collection is Hyderabad’s Taj Falaknuma Palace, once a guest house of the ruling Nizams, at the time the richest family in the world. High above the city, at 2,000 feet, it displays its beauty and grandeur while inside it live glorious frescoed ceilings, a vast collection of chandeliers and a library which is a copy of the one at Windsor Castle. To one side of the main building is the spa, where each of the treatment rooms has its own steam room and soak tub.
In Jaipur, its sister property the Rambagh Palace has one of the grandest gardens in Rajasthan, a place where musicians gather, dancers entertain, children play and the occasional pony or elephant strays. In a sheltered area, surrounded by flowers and palms, are the tented spa suites. Based on the Mughal royal tents, these are secret and seductive, resplendent with rugs and chandeliers and enchanted by the sounds of birdsong and fountains. Here treatments based on the traditions of the maharajahs for face and body are offered to travellers from all over the world.
On the edge of the Thar desert is the ancient city of Jodhpur with its blue-toned houses, magnificent fort and the last palace to be built in India before independence arrived. Last and the largest, it has a 105-foot high cupola, lavishly painted murals, its own private museum, squash courts, extensive grounds and a glamorous spa which surrounds the splendid circular indoor pool. One of the most famous sites in all of India is the Taj Lake Palace Hotel in Udaipur, a pretty pleasure palace (it was built for parties) seemingly floating on Lake Pichola, looking like a perfect wedding cake. It has a spa like a tiny jewel box but it also has its own Jiva Spa Boat, which is designed along the lines of a ceremonial Gangaur barge with a double spa suite, steam bath and shower and, on deck, a large relaxation and dining area. This is possibly the most romantic spa suite ever.
Travellers, tourists, art collectors, artists and writers along with families and of course honeymooners.
October through to April is best, although high season is December and January so bookings for both the hotels and the spas need to be made early.
At Taj Falaknuma Palace, try the signature Nawabe- Khaas. It means royal splendour and is based on one of the regal rituals, beginning with a foot bath, followed by a body scrub using almonds, rose petals, vetiver and saffron, finishing off with a gentle facial and a full-body massage. At Rambagh Palace, enjoy the Chandana skin soother, which uses sandalwood and aloe vera paste to soften and nourish the skin.
At Jodhpur, the Vishrama treatment involves a hot compress of therapeutic Indian herbs which works on your tired and sore muscles. Alternating palm and thumb strokes, skilled hands massage you with fragrant signature oil blends, stretching each muscle group and releasing knotted nerves. The invigorating treatment is wrapped up with gentle strokes to soothe muscles. Finally, on the Udaipur spa boat you can book the signature ritual, a steam, scrub, wrap, facial, massage and float. At sunset champagne is offered alongside a floral blessing.
Visit the cities with their history, architecture, temples, monuments and markets. Buy gems in Jaipur, the eponymous trousers in Jodhpur, exquisite miniature paintings in Udaipur and pearls in Hyderabad (the last Nizam was a noted collector, so many dealers moved here).
Relaxing in these majestic hotels with their turrets and pools, gardens and grandeur and pretending that you too can live like royalty — even if it is only for a day or two.