Punjab may not be a hill state but a new eco-resort is offering that hill-top feeling amidst abundant nature right on the state’s border with neighbouring Himachal Pradesh. Just a two-hour drive from Chandigarh, Gaj Retreat Manaswal village – located between Garhshankar and Nangal towns – virtually puts you in the lap of untouched nature and also gives you a real-time feel of rural life.

The best part about the eco-resort and spa, the first such in Punjab, is that the whole experience comes without compromising on the luxury part of the stay. The village and the resort are perched on a plateau right at the border of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.

A 360-degree look around from the resort gives you the first experience of being in the midst of bountiful nature and the wilderness, including the snow-capped Dhauladhar range and a lush valley below. The resort is part of a private forest reserve.

Spread over six acres, Gaj Retreat has 32 well-appointed, spacious rooms laid out in the form of pool villas, luxury tents, forest villas, chateaus and family suites. Some of the rooms have private pools in addition to the resort’s main pool. The luxury tents, with a South African concept and design, give you a feel of how the royals would have stayed years ago whenever they were outdoors.

Bringing visitors closer to nature is not the only USP of the resort. It has several adventure, sporting and activity-oriented options as well.

From driving all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) on the rugged rural expanse and the rocky riverbeds to off-roading through the ravines on 4×4 vehicles to trekking, nature walks, mountain biking, bird-watching, star-gazing and much more, Gaj Retreat has a lot to offer.

The area around Manaswal is home to wildlife like rabbits, deer, wild boar and over 60 different species of birds. A stroll along the paved paths of the resort at night will take one closer to the natural noises of the fauna.

The food and the service at the resort are handled by people from the area and offer a lot of warmth and local flavour. The resort has an exotic bar, lounge cafe, swimming pools, a spa and wellness centre — and a magnificent expanse of manicured greens, restful fountains and nature preserves.

Nearby sites that can be easily visited from the resort include the Keshgarh Sahib gurdwara in Anandpur Sahib, the second holiest shrine of the Sikh religion after the Golden Temple, Bhakra Dam, Satluj river wetland, Dholbaha Dam and the Chintpurni temple.

– with IANS inputs