Taj Rishikesh Resort & Spa

The site layout of the hotel complex Taj Rishikesh by Montreal-based architecture firm yh2 is inspired by traditional Himalayan villages, anchored around a Darbargadh, the traditional residence of local rajas or lords.

Taj Rishikesh Resort & Spa

Fact File
Location: Rishikesh, Uttarakhand
Area: 150 000 sq ft (79 rooms& villas)
Construction period: 2011-2020
Design: yh2
Architects in India: Edifice consultant
Interior designer: Eco-id architects
Landscape architect: Burega Farnell
Lighting consultant: GA Design
Developer & contractor: Darrameks Hotels & Developers
Structural engineer: S.V. Damle
Photographer: Maxime Brouillet

Taj Rishikesh Resort & Spa

The Indian Himalayas, a steep mountain landscape through which the sacred Ganges River meanders, is a natural creation that supersedes all human construction. Located 250 km north-east of New Delhi, the complex incorporates the main hotel block and a series of villas on a vast and steep site overlooking the Ganges River.

The architecture evolved in response to the rugged mountain topography, the traditional vernacular architecture, and the locally available materials, which established the foundation of the project.

Taj Rishikesh Resort & Spa

The Darbargadhs are used as a combination fortress-palace-temple; they offer at their heart a walled courtyard that ensures the protection of the villagers in times of war, and serves as a gathering place for community life in harmonious times.

Created in the image of a traditional Darbargadh, the main block of the hotel overlooks the valley and provides a central location for gathering all the main services of the resort: the reception, restaurant, bar, boutique, library, and more.

Taj Rishikesh Resort & Spa

The villas, as in a traditional Himalayan village, are laid out as a series of pavilions built on a succession of stepped terraces kept in place by massive stone retaining walls. This stratification of the site in successive levels offers each villa a private view of the mountain panorama and the majority with framed views of the Ganges River.

Taj Rishikesh Resort & Spa

The architecture of the project takes advantage of the materials found locally: river stones for the retaining walls, slate for the roofs and flooring, and large wooden frames for the joinery. Traditional Himalayan construction techniques intermix stone walls with vast cantilevered cedar beams. This traditional building style called ‘kath-kuni’ has been reinterpreted here with modern materials, with steel replacing the cedar beams that are now banned from exploitation in the Himalayas.

Taj Rishikesh Resort & Spa

A long sinuous central pathway unites the property, winding through the different plateaus and leading to the various buildings of the resort complex. From the national highway at the top of the site, this long ribbon gently unfolds, connecting the main hotel block on the top plateau to the villas on the intermediate terraces. The path then travels further down to the yoga and spa pavilions at a lower plateau, only to end its journey at the swimming pool and restaurants that directly overlook the beach on the banks of the Ganges. This serpentine line of light-colored gravel winds elegantly through the site, just as the Ganges meanders through the Indian Himalayas.