The Telegraph
Tuesday , April 12 , 2011
Since 1st March, 1999
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Riverside rhapsody

Imagine peace. By the riverside. Birds chirping. The wind whispering. And a nook wrapped in rustic warmth, far from the madding crowd. That’s Sundarwasala — ‘beautiful abode’ in Sinhala — the newest addition to Ganga Kutir, the luxury resort at Raichak, a 90-minute drive from Calcutta. This new 10,000sq ft wing is an eco-space comprising 10 duplex suites. Added attractions: a pool running down the centre, a cobbled courtyard, first-floor bay windows overlooking the river and the pool, a spa and a spa cafe. “You don’t have the time to do things like reading a book, taking a dip in the pool or talking to your family in your busy daily routine. That’s why you’d like to come here. And it’s so near Calcutta that you don’t really have to plan in advance,” said Harsh Neotia, chairman Ambuja Realty, at the opening of the wing on April 7. Designed by Sri Lankan architect Channa Daswatte (he has designed the rest of Ganga Kutir too), Sundarwasala has come up at a cost of Rs 6 crore. A night at a duplex costs Rs 11,990.

Coastal is the theme at Sundarwasala — from the tiled roof and brick-texture walls to the predominance of cane and wood in the interiors. “There are two things I asked the designer for. One, I wanted the houses to be pool-centric. So you could step out of your living room and be in the pool. Two, we wanted each guest to get a view of the river. That’s why the duplexes,” said Neotia. The ground floor is a cosy living room with coastal mood pictures, quilted couches, a sofa, a wooden dining nook and cane accessories. The only spurt of colour on the bare cement-polished walls come as phulkari-embroidered fabric wall-mounts. The wooden stairs lead to a snug bedroom with attached bath and powder and washroom hidden behind a sliding door.

Part of the expansive Anaya Spa (of Ganga Kutir), Sundarwasala also has a mini spa with three therapy rooms. Massive wooden doors, baskets with ayurvedic oil, lotions and potions and wooden flooring give the place a hamam-meets-tavern feel. There is a steam room, in addition to offerings like aromatherapy body spa and luxurious foot soaks and baths.

And if all this pampering has made you hungry, Spa Cafe awaits you on the upper floor. Health food it is for this 22-cover cafe that serves up a staple of juices, soups and salads. If you are looking for a more substantial meal, the Ganga Kutir restaurant is just a short walk away.

Draw back the drapes from the bay windows of the first-floor bedroom, and you’re at one with nature. Sit on the cushioned space on the window sill and watch your kid take a dip in the pool or gaze at the sun go down in the Ganges. In the mood to venture out? Take a golf cart ride to the jetty and jump aboard Pari (the resort’s own river ferry) for a charming, sunset cruise “over muri, samosa and chai”, added Neotia.

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