The Retreat | Vana

Living Spaces

At Vana, our private living spaces bring together various elements of our design philosophy: contemporary aesthetics, bespoke and natural materials, exceptional comfort, thoughtful lighting, design and simplicity. The 66 rooms and 16 suites on the estate look into the Sal forest or our gardens and fruit orchards, all with balconies or terraces.

We are conscious of ecology and have used sustainable materials where possible, including bamboo flooring, FSC certified wood, and certified organic linen.

With a neutral palette of colours and art created by artist Siraj Saxena, our rooms evoke a sense of harmony and wellbeing allowing guests to rest, reflect and connect with nature.

Our forest and garden rooms have the same layout and are comfortably appointed for a guest on their own, or two guests together. With its unique layout, the Bodhi suite provides intimacy in its living room and bedroom, and the ability to meditate or have a private treatment in its petite meditation room. The Forest suites, with their generous living room, feel ethereal and almost part of the forest in front of them. Our Esteva suite pays homage to Vana’s architects and is special for the natural light that enters it, along with its sense of space. The Vana suite enjoys a 180 degree view of the hills and the forest, and is the most generous suite at Vana.

Our Casas follow a duplex style layout. The two sun lit bedrooms – ideal for a family of three or four – are interconnected, yet large enough to be private spaces of their own. A large living space that is perfect for relaxing, lounging, or mediation is the center of the house. For small daily needs, a pantry provides basic utilities.

Vana is designed in muted, soothing tones, and the artwork by Siraj Saxena is intended to merge gracefully into the space.

GARDEN ROOM

530 sqft

View of the gardens, well-appointed resting space, bathroom, wardrobe.

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FOREST ROOM

530 sqft

View of the forest, well-appointed resting space, bathroom, wardrobe

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BODHI SUITE

1060 sqft

View of the forest, intimate living and resting spaces, bathroom and powder room, wardrobe, petite meditation room.

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FOREST SUITE

1060 sqft

View of the forest, generous living space, resting space and bathroom, powder room, wardrobe.

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CASA

1750 sqft

Duplex style layout, view of the orchard, generous living space, resting spaces and bathrooms, powder room, wardrobes, pantry for daily needs

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ESTEVA SUITE

1560 sqft

Our Esteva suite pays homage to Vana’s architects and is special for the natural light that enters it, along with its sense of space.

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VANA SUITE

3140 sqft

The Vana suite enjoys a 180 degree view of the hills and the forest, and is the most generously sized suite at Vana.

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ALL ENTER AS EQUALS

Vana is a refuge for all beings.

Harmony, nourishment and wellbeing are here for all on the Vana journey, and the ultimate truth lies in perceiving all beings, people, plants and animals as equal. From this philosophy arises a sentiment that Vana is a leveller, where material differences are left outside, and people connect to each other and nature without hindrance. When we become truly aware, we recognise our interdependence.

At Vana, each human being is important. We do not conform to political, cultural or social stature or benchmarks. Our guidelines apply to all and our vision, mission and values take precedence over individual beliefs. We encourage Vanavasis to step out of their social personas as they retreat into Vana.


SIX SEASONS

Vana follows the six traditional ritus or seasons – Vasanta (spring), Grishma (summer), Varsha (monsoon), Sharad (autumn), Hemanta (pre-winter) and Shishira (winter). Each brings its own unique character, energy and grace, to which we adapt as best as we can. Our endeavour is to exist in equilibrium within this nature. This takes effort but benefits Vanavasis, our team and the Retreat as a whole.

Any opportunity to work on one’s wellbeing is precious. Therefore, there is no ideal time to come to Vana other than when one has the time.

Experiencing Vana in each season also brings its own joys and pleasures. Our weather in general can be described as being temperate and we do not get North India’s infamous summer temperatures. Even the warmest days are not too hot and evenings are always cool.

The monsoons are the most lush and beautiful time at Vana, the best time to be on retreat as per Indian tradition. They begin in late June and end in early September.

Vana lives and breathes all year round.


LIFE AT VANA

Vana almost seems a contradiction – a forest touching it on one side, and nestled between the city of Dehradun and the hill station of Mussoorie. Over the years, the outside world has crept nearer to our 20 acre Retreat, and yet just inside its boundaries, one enters a different world.

The Retreat’s neutral coloured walls are seen amidst its trees and orchards, with pebbled paths and stone walls cutting through, and bamboo groves gently swaying. Vana’s spaces are sometimes vast but always humble, seeking to evoke a sense of wellbeing. Held together by its skilful team, the experiences at Vana reflect its sincere intentions and generosity. Trees, plants, birds, monkeys, butterflies and insects all coexist in peace at Vana.

Vana tries to stay in tune with seasonal and daily rhythms. This deepens awareness, discovery and wellbeing as a whole. Small details bring one to the present moment. Surrendering to the experience brings freedom and unexpected outcomes.

Time seems to stand still at Vana and yet goes by quickly. Between just being, resting, treatments, consultations, interacting with Vanavasis and team members, a multitude of daily sessions, music, learning and more, Life at Vana slowly takes over. Personal reflection, intuition, contemplation and practice further deepen the journey. With each aspect of life at the Retreat, from its cuisine and aromas to occasional prayers, performances and celebrations, Vana remains deeply connected to nature.

The Vana Calendar marks seasons, auspicious days, phases of the moon, festivals, and important days of prayer. These are then revered through music, prayer, cuisine and creative expression. It is Vana’s way of paying homage to wisdom, our traditions, to nature and those beings who have contributed to our life in a profound way. The Retreat has daily quiet hours, conducts various Pujas throughout the month and makes daily music offerings. These pay homage to our Gurus and deities and are done regardless of participation by Vanavasis, for the benefit of all beings.

Vana’s group activities form part of a Vanavasi’s daily routine. Along with private treatments and sessions, these are an integral part of the Retreat Program. Each day includes Yoga, at least one form of meditation, Raag therapy and music offerings. The week includes cuisine lessons, interactions with our team, treks, fitness sessions and more. Each Vanavasi must find their own pace, leaving enough time for positive effects to settle in.

Spending time alone and also with others are both encouraged at Vana, as is varying the degree of social interaction during your Retreat. It is normal to feel low at the start of your time here, as the body often purges its tiredness and fatigue, finding itself in a safe and comfortable environment, being cared for and nurtured by our team. Anxiety, frustration or irritation might also arise during longer retreats, providing lessons in impermanence and opportunities to develop one’s spiritual quest. However, challenging emotions are greatly compensated for by moments of genuine peace, gratitude, joy and contentment.

At the end of a retreat, most Vanavasis leave Vana with some sense of equilibrium and confidence, a warm heart and their energies balanced. One’s experience of Vana is also determined by how the mind chooses to perceive it and what one feels has been accomplished at the conclusion of one’s time here. Knowing fully well that it is only one step in a longer journey.



RETREAT RHYTHM

Experience tells us that it takes time to settle into Vana. Getting adequate rest and catching up on sleep is encouraged. Don’t fear missing out, because this slowing down is important. Surrendering to the experience of being at Vana is rewarding, control can be renounced without hesitation.

Our approach to each Vanavasi recognises their uniqueness, with a personalised program, that is open to iteration. While treatments, sessions and activities bring healing, vitality and learning, it is also important not to do too much. One must find time to just be and let things settle.

Short retreats allow one to rest and restore depleted energies.

After a fortnight, one might achieve tangible wellness benefits and greater awareness.

Three weeks onward, transformation begins and deeper goals can be addressed.

Beyond four weeks is when the layers really begin to unravel and wellbeing arises from within. Transformation then takes root with new habits and we find clarity through learning and practice, inspiring action towards greater realisation.



LIFE AFTER VANA

Vana can only point to the truth and give you a taste of it. We can provide healing, opportunities to learn and a glimpse of a better life.

But sustained health and a present mind, a mind at ease, can only come from personal effort. Therefore, working on the mind and also, the wellbeing of others should form part of this effort, with some dedication to develop it into a practice. Understanding the dependence of our wellbeing on our mind, and the interdependence between our wellbeing with that of others is vital to our peace and happiness. Results might come slowly but positive imprints can be lasting. Shifting one’s focus away from oneself, to genuinely benefit others, will make this journey easier and more fulfilling.

This is all that you need to know…to ‘take Vana home’.

Vana wishes to be both a journey and a springboard, as do its initiatives. It is not an end in itself. We urge you to discover, wander and wonder. At home, in India, elsewhere and back at Vana too. Wellbeing is sometimes found or deepened at the most unexpected of places. Positive motivation, renunciation, awareness and compassion are helpful qualities worth developing on this journey.



Vanavas

Vanavas means to take abode in the forest and those that do are called Vanavasis. Vana draws inspiration from the qualities of a forest—a place that protects, nurtures and nourishes, providing space to discover and flourish.

‘Taking refuge in the forest’ has always been an important act of personal evolution in Indian culture. Retreating from one’s usual material existence allows us time to contemplate and reflect; one is equal to all other beings in the forest. This may mean developing a fresh perspective; for others, it is overcoming a physical hurdle. It is an opportunity to reconnect with oneself or with something greater.

The great masters say that to retreat is to simply create a boundary between past and present thought. In other words, to be in the present.

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