I strongly recommend that you read Part I of the trip before you start reading this and it’s not just to get an extra click on the blog. Well, it is, in a way because why else would I do two (three actually, there’s another one after this) posts instead of one, but seriously, go read the first one.
…and we reached The Glasshouse on the Ganges vomit laden (I told you to read Part I didn’t I? Now look, you’ve missed out on all the fun. Go back and read it now).
Reaching our destination – for the next two days – refreshed, even after a 7 hour car journey, that too just after lunch hour, was as good as road-trips can get. I did have some concerns throughout the drive about our reservations as the booking hadn’t gone smoothly. But, I was pleasantly surprised that everything that had been conveyed over the phone was taken care of and the check-in into our spacious and comfortable looking “river facing” rooms named after two of India’s other majestic rivers Kaveri and Bhagirathi took a mere 10 minutes.
Two things struck me the most upon arrival at The Glasshouse; one that the resort is a relatively small property and second that the sound of Ganga is omnipresent. What I like about Neemrana properties is that they don’t shy away when it comes to room sizes. The furniture – as was the case here – is almost always old-fashioned but charming and comfortable. Old wooden mirrors, almiras, and beds with chairs that I had seen at my grandparent’s house, the hotel is an epitome of quaint luxury – with some modern amenities like a semi-waterfall showerhead, LCD television, and a bit of aroma therapy in the rooms, all of which were much appreciated. The hotel houses a spa that my father “tested” on the second day and recommends. Aside for that, the small common area has board games and a collection of books to while away the time when you feel lethargic not having done anything all day long – which probably happened by the river in a hammock chair. So, the idea of being at The Glasshouse is to be outside doing something or nothing; taking in the fresh air, admiring nature, honing your photographing skills, or trying to achieve inner calm sitting next to the expeditious Ganga.
Food! There’s something about vacations and mountain air that make us city folk extremely hungry. I remember a holiday we had taken where upon arrival to our hotel in Kasauli we headed straight to the restaurant and asked the half asleep waiter to bring one plate of every vegetarian snack they had on their menu. Bewildered and still stumbling in his sleep, he had made his way to the kitchen probably to wake the cook up. The look of amazement on his face upon seeing a family of four gulping down so much food in so little time is engraved in my mind – not supermodels or actresses, this is what’s engraved in my mind…hmpf!
Glasshouse on the Ganges is situated such that you have to drive anywhere from 2-10 kilometers to get food from a dhaba or a restaurant. While it may work during lunch, night time driving in the hills is never recommended. This means, you are stuck with having the buffet at the hotel since they do not have an A-la-carte menu.
The buffet at The Glasshouse isn’t a grand affair, but it is an excellent one. Breakfast includes freshly made omelettes to your liking, pancakes, and a mixture of all-region “morning food” – idly/sambhar, porridge, parantha/alloo, cold cuts and cheese, breads, poha, and fresh juice –the flavoured lassi was yum! It’s the kind of food that brings a smile to everyone’s face and gets them ready for the day ahead, which in all probability includes simply lounging on one of the easy chairs or at most taking a tiny walk down to the river bank.
Lunch is prepared on limited basis so the staff will inquire about your lunch requirements during breakfast. It is a buffet, but just as I skipped both the lunches during my visit, most guests tend to miss it too – and if you stuff yourself during breakfast, in all likelihood you won’t be hungry by lunch.
If the plan is to enjoy dinner then the evening snack served at The Glasshouse should be approached with care. It is easy to get carried away eating delicious pakodas with tea and coffee – as it happened on day one of our visit. However, if you can fill yourself up on pakodas and some snacks from home, feel free to save some money by avoiding dinner. Although, I do recommend that you don’t. The dinner at the resort, similarly to the breakfast, isn’t splendid but concise and flavoursome.
A typical buffet dinner at The Glasshouse consisted of the following;
Corn Soup – the best I’ve ever had.
Baked Leek – tasty and cheesy.
Fish Tikka – could have been juicier.
Manchurian – fairly good.
Fried Rice – a little dry.
Malka Dal – loved it.
Nargisi Kofta Curry – LOVED it.
Baingan Bharta – LOVED IT!
Assorted Indian Breads – freshly made to order and “kadak”.
Lemon Mousse with Zest – creamy and zesty, just as it should be.
Rabri with Malpuha – classic Indian dessert sadly with a runny rabri.
Do note that the resort doesn’t have a liquor licence so they do not serve alcohol.
The Glasshouse on the Ganges is a place where time stands still even though the Holy Ganga doesn’t. The resort’s proximity to the rapid called “Black Money” means you are aware of the river’s presence all the time – especially because of the bobbing rafting boats that pass by every few minutes and the screaming and shouting – relax, out of joy not fear or so it seems – adventure enthusiast in them.
The presence of abundant greenery, trees, bees, flowers, and the fresh cool air is an experience that dawns upon slowly. That there is a river-bend nearby makes for some exceptional opportunities to take photographs especially during dusk when the light is perfect. In addition, small “embellishments” like an Aarti every evening by the Ganga organized by the resort, a small play area with swings, outside seating-a-plenty, and a beach – I’m using the term very loosely – like area where kids can play with sand, all make this for a perfect weekend getaway with the family.
Part III of the series – and I promise that’s the end – is where I talk about popping my river-rafting cherry, meeting a TV star, and our quiet uneventful journey back.