The Ayurvedic getaway of India: Kairali, Kerala
Slow down, take things easy; lie by the poolside and count stars, because the place just serenely demands so!
I walk in with the Tamil rendition of Hindi songs lingering in my mind, as I sip on freshly squeezed orange juice and diced fruits, straight from the farm at my residential cottage at Kairali Ayurvedic Health Resort, a premier destination for Ayurvedic treatments in Kerala. The hour long drive from Coimbatore airport (Tamil Nadu) to this idyllic village, Palakkad, Kerala, flanked by palm-tree avenues gave me a glimpse of why Indians crave to travel to South India. I know I am Indian and this should have come earlier, but Ayurveda, yoga and meditation, were three words strictly out of my dictionary, leave alone lifestyle. A tough and exhausting past year had taken a toll my physical and mental being. As is the scenario with most of our lifestyles, my impromptu trip for Ayurveda in Kerala couldn’t have magically come at a better time, reinstating my faith in the term God sent.
I couldn’t be more wrong when I perceived Kairali as another spa getaway, where all I would do for four days was binge on junk, get spa massages and sleep to my heart’s content. On the contrary, I found myself waking up at 6 am for yoga sessions, enjoying every bite of the meal we often skip (breakfast), followed by traditional Ayurvedic massages and enjoying simple, vegetarian, spice-free Ayurvedic diet. Peacocks flock by our side, as we sit by the stream of water that runs through the property, nestling on some erstwhile English chairs, sipping herbal tea.
An ideal day starts at 6:30 am for yoga, post which you can relax by the pool, or head to breakfast. Completely Ayurvedic, the meals are from a pre-fixe menu, for regular guests and for those undergoing treatment, strictly customized according to your diet chart. I am a food writer, who survives on masala-based Indian fare, but if 4 days of eating here, could make me fall in Ayurvedic food, then trust me when I say the food was brilliant. Plus, I lost 2 kgs! There is no rocket science, just that the food uses sunflower oil instead of refined, less salt and absolutely no spice. A simple cookbook and a bunch of recipes are all you need to get going!
Meditation and massages
The guru told us, “You don’t meditate, it happens to you”. Acceptable as my mother couldn’t get me to meditate for 10 years and now, any how, I make sure I take out 20 minutes, every day just to be by myself and meditate.
All Ayurvedic treatments focus on holistic healing and use a lot of therapeutic oils. The most relaxing abhyangam eases muscle stress and focuses on complete relaxation, while shirodhara puts you in deep slumber by a focused stream of oil on the forehead. Customized according to the treatment you are undergoing, your massage will vary, along with the frequency.
Cottages are decided based on Malyali star signs and each room is assigned to you based on your birth date. Every cottage is unique and houses a conch shell kept at a specific location to garner positive energy.
I sat by the poolside, one with my thoughts and nature, listening to the silent rustle of leaves. Even though my age doesn’t qualify me to be very experienced, this is the closest I have come to nirvana. A getaway, which was more a necessity than a luxury, I laud myself for not carrying my laptop, not because they don’t have wi-fi in the rooms, but because for the time I was here, my real, ‘fast-paced’ life couldn’t catch up with the serene pace which I found myself getting accustomed to.
It’s been a month and I can’t say that I have completely adopted the Ayurvedic way of eating, but having felt much energetic and relaxed post eating Ayurvedic food, I was forced to consider my dietary choices. I find myself meditating every day, avoiding junk food as far as I can, with restricted alcohol intake, all giving into the effects this lifestyle had on me.
Who should visit
Not your regular typical leisure getaway; Kairali is a healing health resort, where people come for Ayurvedic treatment of diseases ranging from obesity to arthritis to sclerosis. There are regular detoxification packages, which last 7 to 21 days, and everything—right from your diet to massages are customized depending on the treatment you are undergoing. We were there barely for 4 days, and stress being the ailment which binds us all, we were given a combination of abhyangam and shirodhara, along with ayurvedic medicines. But there were regulars who visit yearly, from all over the world, or come here for weeks together, just to detox or relax.
Why you should visit
Upon arrival you will have a consultation with your doctor to identify your ailments, post which you will be assigned a series of bespoke massages, exercises, diets and Ayurvedic medicines, including treatment methods of Panchkarma. The combining effect of all, coupled with the acclaimed Indian hospitality are all you will need for a resounding wellness getaway. Let nature serenade you with its warm embrace as you head to this soul-searching experience in India.