By Sharmila Chand
When was the last time you chased a butterfly or had a toad in your lap? Memory lapses and mind is working hard. But for us city dwellers, where is the luxury of sitting amidst flora and fauna.
Well, I have been rather too lucky. For I got an opportunity to spend some time in the company of some special friends (peacocks, herons, frogs, toads and snails) in the foothills of the Western Ghats in a quiet pretty town of Palakkad, popularly known as the granary of Kerala. For good four days, Kairali, an Ayurvedic Health Resort was my delightful abode.
As I entered the huge gates of the 50-acre sprawling resort, I got a whiff of what’s going to follow. And I was right. A traditional welcome with Kerala offwhite and gold vastram, lighting of the lamp and fresh coconut water. ‘Ahh’, I said. How lovely after three hours flight from Delhi and then one and half hour drive to the resort from Coimbatore airport. I must add, keep your cameras ready when you sit in the car as the drive is really out of the world.
Inward journey begins
As I sipped my coconut water, I was asked about my sun sign. A little surprised at the query, I responded with hesitation. Few minutes later, I was escorted to my cottage and to my astonishment, its walls were done as per my sun sign.
It was then I realized the cottages have been named after Indian zodiac signs such as Rukmani, Aswathi, Karthika, Bharani, Makariyam, Punartham, Avittam and Uthradam, etc. Each of the thirty cottages are unique in name, style and décor and have been built as per the principles of Vaastu Shastra.
Conceptualised by the famous architect Laurie Baker, the cottages reflect the look of traditional Kerala houses. The Landscaping architect, Dr. Randave made sure the cottages amalgamated well into the natural setting. I was told, not a single tree was cut during the making of this resort. No wonder, I could see some trees even growing right through the cottages.
I settled in my cottage only to discover fresh coconut cream (malai) kept on the bedside table. Now that was a very thoughtful gesture and that’s how the pampering began.
The resort is a healing centre for the treatment of various kinds of problems. At the same time, it is a haven of bliss where you can just be by yourself and rejuvenate. Every activity and detailing here leads to healthy and positive vibes. For example, every cottage is internally built in the shape of a pyramid and a special conch shell – divine Valambari Conch (Turbinella pyrum) is placed inside. This helps circulate positive vibrations. The red oxide coating on the floor acts as a natural coolant. It is a pleasure to walk barefoot on such flooring and they say it helps detoxify the body. A cascading rivulet flowing by the side of the cottages enhances harmony and peace.
Wake up to birds’ chirping
At 6.30 in the morning, I get a wake up call through a service boy holding my masala tea at the door. I enjoy it thoroughly and rush for my yoga session by the poolside. Rugs and yoga mats are all in place and guruji starts the amazing session. What a lovely way to enjoy the sunrise in the resort’s tranquil environment.
Sunset is even more beautiful. There is a meditation session at 6.30 in the evening. Go for a nice dip after that and then enjoy your four-course dinner at the Ayurveda canteen.
Be one with nature
Designed by renowned horticulturist and Padma Bhushan awardee, Dr. G.S. Randhawa, Kairali’s landscape is the lush foliage scented with the fragrances of nature.
There are about 800 coconut trees, if not more. The sight of the staff boy getting the coconut from the tree right in front of you is thrilling. I also witnessed extra size mangoes on the trees in the resort and got a bag full of them as souvenirs.
Herbs and plants with therapeutic value are grown in the 10-acre organic garden within the resort. You take a walk and see how plants of Pineapple, Chilli, Tomato, Bitter gourd, Pumpkin, Ladies’ finger, Eggplant, Banana, Snake gourd and a lot more are looking happy. Needless to say they are not treated with any chemicals and that goes into making them look fresh and healthy.
Also you name the flower, and you will see it growing there to glory. It is a beautiful sight to see Jasmine, Hibiscus and Anthurium adorning the stone walkways and retreat’s landscape.
Food is deliciously healthy
The food served is vegetarian. The preparation is unique, devoid of any tadkas in the cooking method. It is a wonder how tasty every dish comes out. I wanted to know the secret and sure enough, the head chef came for organic cooking demonstration. He also gifted me the Ayurvedic Cookbook penned by the very talented resort owner, Gita Ramesh. Nurturing the concept of Ayurveda, she did not want the place to look like a hospital with patients coming in. So, she alongwith her family and team made it into a resort-cum-healing village where people could enjoy their stay in the healthiest possible way.
Health factor is paramount at every step. So what you eat is home grown. Every fruit and vegetable comes from the resort’s soil. Warm herbal water is advised over bottled water. Fresh juices are in and artificial flavours are out.
Meet the doctor at Ayurvedic hospital
My consultation with Dr. Sarvan was an eye opener for me as he gave me tips on diet and healthy lifestyle in very simple terms. He also guided me to the various products they make to cure ailments and relieve stress.
Dr Sarvan told me that Panchakarma (a five-fold procedure for cleansing the body) and detoxification and rejuvenation therapies are the most common treatments opted by visitors. They prescribe a special diet for guests undergoing treatments.
After the consultation, I was escorted to my treatment room where two seasoned masseurs gave me the traditional Abhyangam massage using Kairali’s medicated oils that opens lymphatic channels and improves blood circulation. As the warm oil was rubbed over my body, I could feel my muscles loosened and relaxed.
A steam bath followed the massage and then they gave the body scrub or the Kaya Lepam made from organic products. No soap at all.
Chasing butterflies, relaxing on the hammocks, reading by the poolside, watching a toad hopping by, a listless snail near the gurgling water and sipping tea on an old rocking chair was my ultimate state of bliss. There couldn’t be a better getaway for the rejuvenation of the mind, body and spirit.
Do Not Miss
Ayurvedic Abhyangam treatment.
Yoga & Mediation sessions.
A dip in the pool.
Vedic Astrology readings.
Palakkad is less than two hours away from the Coimbatore and Cochin airports. Palakkad has a railway station and good road and rail links with all major cities.
When To Go : You can visit anytime of the year. The weather is at its best between November and February. March, April and May gets little warm but the resort’s lush foliage acts as a natural protective umbrella. June, July and August is delightful if you want to experience the monsoons.
Sharmila Chand is a freelance journalist who loves to write on Travel, Food & Lifestyle. She is also the author of book “Cheers – 365 Cocktails & Mocktails” by Om Books International. Know more about her at http://www.sharmilachand.in