India's holistic wellness retreats
Anushree Basu-Bhalla July 16, 2013AYURVEDA
Kalari Kovilakom, Kerala
Can there be a royal road to deep healing? A stay at Kalari Kovilakom will make you believe so. Known as the palace of ayurveda, Kalari Kovilakom is a beautifully renovated 19th century South Indian palace situated near Kerala's Annamalai Hills. Legend has it that the owner of this palace, Prince Dharmavarman, suffered from a skin ailment and was greatly benefitted by the healing spring waters and venga trees that grew around it. Today, Kalari Kovilakom has been restored into a unique space that retains the age-old philosophy of the property. It amalgamates the healing experience of ayurveda, organic farming and a nature-based livelihood with the luxuries of palace living. Guests here sample the produce of a fully self-sustainable ayurvedic kitchen, natural remedies created from freshly picked herbs, a variety of massages, and hatha yoga classes. Other activities include classes in yoga nidra (a meditative technique meant to induce deep relaxation) and the ancient martial arts practice of Kalaripayattu. There are four kinds of specialised wellness packages: Rasayana Chikitsa (anti-ageing); Manashanthy (stress relief); Pancha Karma (rejuvenation); and Thanlyakina Chikitsa (weight reduction), usually lasting 14, 21 or 28 days.
Kalari Kovilakom is located in the old princely capital town of Kollengode in Palakkad, Kerala. The nearest international airport is Cochin at 105 km, a two-and-a-half-hour drive away.
The palace has 18 suites, 20 colonial western-styled rooms, and other traditionally appointed double rooms. For package prices and other details, visit kalarikovilakom.com.
Osho Meditation Centre, Pune
His name is synonymous with new-age spirituality catchphrases such as 'totality', 'awareness', and 'conscious living'. Once known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, academic and philosopher Osho is the quintessential Indian guru who entranced the Western world during the 70s with his groundbreaking and radical ideologies about religion and society. His teachings, albeit controversial, live on even two decades after his death, and are a compelling upgrade on the work and spiritual systems of precending mystics. The Osho Meditation Centre is one of the biggest facilities dedicated to meditation and spirituality in India. Its proximity to Mumbai means that even a quiet and introspective weekend here helps you reconnect with yourself after the din of a busy week. Owing to the unconventional teaching that it imparts - think, tantric sex - the Centre is also touted as a 'Spiritual Disneyland'. Every year, around 200,000 visitors enroll for the Centre's programme on spiritual enlightening. Apart from a few rules regarding dress, general decorum and attitude, there's nothing of the monastic lifestyle that one might associate with ashram life. As the ashram endorses a relaxed lifestyle, there are relaxation facilities, cafes, health clubs and a huge pool dotting the 28-acre campus premises. The meditation classes cover all major schools of spirituality, and touch upon yoga, zen, Taoism, tantra, and even Sufism.
The centre is located at the upscale Koregaon Park in the heart of Pune, located approximately 6 km from the city's international airport. The centre also arranges door-to-door pick up service from Mumbai, for a fee.
The upscale rooms at the Osho Guesthouse start at Rs 12,000 per night on twin sharing (taxes extra; till October 31). Pre-booking at reservations @osho.com is advised.
Jindal Naturecure Institute, Bangalore
Run by the Sitaram Jindal Foundation, a charitable organisation, the institute is the final word when it comes to alternative healing through nature sciences. This residential naturopathy hospital is spread across an eco-friendly and self-sustainable 120-acre plot of lush greenery in Bangalore, Karnataka. People suffering from various medical conditions, especially lifestyle-related ones such as asthma, diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, migraine and abdominal problems, can enroll in a residential programme. The facility is staffed by 12 trained alternate therapists and practitioners who heal through a non-invasive, drugless therapy that combines Indian nature cure with yoga, diet therapy, physiotherapy and acupuncture. Ideally, the doctors at the institute recommend that a person undergo treatment for a three-week period. However, there is a shorter 10-day course offered for guests with time constraints. A stay here offers the patient Naturopathy's central therapy of a controlled and prescribed diet, depending on the person's ailments and physical condition. This is supplemented with yoga sessions, counselling, physiotherapy, physical workouts, laughter therapy, purging treatments (meant for cleaning the bowels), mud baths and massages.
Jindal Naturecure Institute lies on Tumkur Road, in the suburbs of Bangalore. The institute is a 40-minute drive from the city centre.
Accommodation begins atRs 5,000 per night for a single cottage on a twin-sharing basis, and goes up to Rs 10,000 per night for more expensive rooms (taxes extra). Though most treatments are free or are included in your stay charges, some require the payment of a nominal fee. For bookings, visit jindalnaturecure.org/
YOGA AND SPA TREATMENTS
Shreyas Yoga Retreat, Bangalore
Shreyas is arguably the only retreat in India that is dedicated to the spiritual tradition of yoga, combined with minimalist and meditative luxury. One of the most exclusive, sought-after and upscale resorts in the world dedicated to Indian mysticism and wellness, Shreyas has been listed in the 2011 Relais & Châteaux Guide. The retreat offers a variety of meditation classes, daily yoga, chanting sessions and ayurvedic spa therapies. Spread across 25 acres of verdant estate, the space includes cottages, organic garden, infinity swimming pools, an amphitheatre, a yoga pavilion and lush outdoor spaces. A veritable therapy here is the Shreyas singature facial: a four-step treatment that cleanses, purifies, exfoliates, tones and tightens the skin. A rich concoction of honey, milk and curd is used to cleanse, strawberries to exfoliate and essential oils to nourish the skin. A freshly prepared organic scrub and mask helps drain toxins, and improves circulation.
Located 43 km (an hour's drive) from Bangalore Airport
There are 14 exclusive rooms, three en-suite poolside cottages, eight tented rooms and a three-bedroom garden cottage. The rates for the resort start at Rs 12,000 a night. You can also opt for long-stay programmes such as Wellness For The Soul at a price tag of Rs 2.96 lakh (approx), per person for 14 days. To make reservations, log on to shreyasretreat.com.
BIO RESURGE CLINIC, ALILA DIWA GOA
Picture a fitness boot-camp with creature comforts and seaside views - that's Bio Resurge for you. It is a private 'clinic' housed at the Alila Diwa resort, located on the idyllic Majorda beach in the south of Goa. An exclusive institution that allows just 10 clients at a time, it promotes comprehensive health through its weight-loss programme. Developed by Glen Schirmer, an Australian fitness guru who has trained tennis champs and Olympic athletes, the 28-day wellness/fitness programme at the clinic focuses on helping individuals regain health, and reverse "health pathologies" by gaining as much lean body mass (LBM) as possible while losing maximum body fat via massages, workouts, power walks and healthy eating.
Alila Diwa Goa is a 30-minute drive away from the Goa Dabolim Airport.
An all-inclusive stay package at the wellness retreat can set you back by Rs 9.25 lakh. The package includes accommodation in ultra-luxe rooms, which come with private pools, meals, spa services, health supplements, medical analysis, nutritional analysis, dietary education and fitness training. For information and reservations, log on to alilahotels.com/diwagoa