This Ayurvedic hospital within a resort in Palakkad makes you want to stay forever
Massages are medicinal. Or so I discovered on a recent trip to Palakkad. Two Ayurvedic masseuses soak me up in what I estimate to be at least a bucket’s worth of coconut oil. Their palms kneading my skin in synchronised rhythm, to a beat only they seem to hear. I am at the Kairali — The Ayurvedic Healing Village. And if you’ve never been to one, get out your acupuncture chappals, because we’re taking you on a tour. But first, more oil. My massage therapists have me slowly but surely relaxing into a classic Abhyangam session (reduces body aches and improves skin texture). Lend me that glow, ladies...
Hospital in a resort
Wandering the grounds, Kairali is not what we expect it to be. This lush green spread of 60 acres is, in fact, an NABH-certified hospital designed as a resort. That means meditation sessions in the morning, with a pool table next door and doctor’s appointments for ailments, that you can wait for whilst sunning yourself on a hammock. “Ayurveda is a lifestyle change, not just popping a few tablets to be cured of an ailment,” says Abhilash K Ramesh, Executive Director, Kairali Ayurvedic Group, explaining the need to create an environment that would enable his family to teach these values. “We needed a centre to educate and make the public aware of the benefits of these treatments and why a 14-day programme is essential,” he goes on to add.
Admittedly, our least favourite part of this healthy lifestyle were the meal plans in place. Every guest is prescribed a strict diet that waiters on duty are required to memorise to keep one’s doshas (energies) — vatha (ether and air), pitta (fire and water) and kapha (water and earth) in balance.
Pass the salt?
We experienced this firsthand, having earned ourselves a ravenous appetite after our first yoga class on the premises. A few swigs of a much lacking in salt, Spring Onion soup, and we’re ready to jump to dessert (pineapple halwa!) But the order of the courses must not be interfered with. The raw salad that follows despite our apprehensions, is surprisingly delicious. Slivers of carrots, cucumbers and radish — plucked fresh from the in-house organic garden sit pretty on a plate — with a simple dressing of freshly squeezed lime. For mains, there is a choice or rice or roti with three cooked side dishes — dal, cabbage and beans and a black-eyed peas gravy. A far cry from the coconutty avial we were hoping for while in Kerala... To up the flavour quotient on our meal, we attempt to suggest to a waiter to bring us some ghee — citing a more ‘well rounded’ meal of course. We are promptly but politely turned down!
Weight loss, we quickly glean from this, is one of the top three requests from guests staying here. The other two, the most senior doctor on the premises, 88-year-old doctor T Chandrashekhar shares with us, are, “spondylitis and pain management as well as detoxification”.
Joining the league of brands like Kama Ayurveda, look out for mainstream Ayurveda products by Kairali in the beauty and health segment of the market place shortly. These will include Kaircin for
anti-ageing and stretch marks (contains saffron and lotus) and Kairbal, a body wash (with the goodness of green gram, nut grass and galanga) to exfoliate the skin. Prices: Rs 30 to Rs 2,100.
Blast to the past
Flashback to 1908, however, and this resort with 30-odd villas on the grounds, flanked by coconut trees and flowing streams were a distant dream for Managing Director K V Ramesh’s grandfather, an Ayurvedic vaid (practitioner) who provided the residents of Palakkad with traditional remedies. Now reputed with international awards, expanded to 35 locations (treatment centres, including eight outside India) and hosting guests at the Palakkad resort from as far as America and Azherbaijan — and the ancient practice of Ayurveda has slowly but seamlessly been interspersed into daily life.
Pink water & guavas Our villa, for instance, has everything a creature of comfort might need — double bed, air conditioning, a television and room service. But the water in our thermos is pink and infused with herbs like (Pattanga and Gokshura) to promote wellness, the welcome basket is freshly cut fruit from the organic garden (not a chocolate or chip in sight), the rubber slippers promise to slip in an acupuncture session and we brush our teeth with a powder made of arimedastwak (for healthy gums), yashti (which has anti-bacterial properties) and ela (prevents bad breath).
Massages and meditation aside — the highlight of our stay was a walking tour of the garden on site. With wooden signage demarcating the name of each herb, fruit or vegetable and summing up its wellness benefits — we found ourselves in the midst of a rather unconventional education to be stored away for the next time you hit the grocery store. Ivy gourd can help tiny tots reduce their bed wetting while guava makes for an easy-to-access aphrodisiac!
The writer visited Kairali at the invitation of the resort. Rs 30,480 (all inclusive) per person for three nights and four days.
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