Balmy breezes rustling through coconut groves and spice plantations. Views of far-off mountain peaks. Retreats where you’re encouraged to cast aside technology, are pampered by spa treatments, and can indulge in the ultimate luxury: the ability to lose track of time for a while. These are a few of the things you can expect from Ayurveda in India.
From the Himalayan foothills in the north of the country to the languorous backwaters of Kerala in the very south, these eight retreats combine India’s natural beauty with a stress-free environment – and intensive Ayurvedic treatments. For the uninitiated: Ayurveda is an ancient Indian system of healing with an incredible 5,000 years of history behind it, designed to help us to feel balanced and healthy in our bodies and minds. At these retreats, your introduction to Ayurveda will consist of everything from delicious, specialised meals to massages, yoga classes and other holistic treatments. You’re certain to leave feeling glowing and revived.
Ananda in the Himalayas
Set at the beginnings of the Himalayan foothills in a wonderfully secluded corner of Uttarakhand, lies Ananda in the Himalayas. For those looking to immerse themselves in Ayurveda in India, it’s hard to find a more pampering experience than this: the retreat houses a stunning, 24,000 square foot spa whose menu comprises more than 80 different treatments. Ayurvedic experiences on offer include special lifestyle and wellness consultations, as well as treatments like full body massages, herbal exfoliations and other restorative offerings.
Carnoustie Ayurveda Wellness & Resort
Singled out by a number of publications as one of the best spa resorts in Asia, Carnoustie Ayurveda & Wellness Resort looks out onto the waters of the Arabian Sea along the scenic Keralan coastline. In this languorous tropical environment, guests can take advantage of the on-site spa, where bespoke Ayurvedic treatments are tailored to each individual – from mud masks to herbal massages, the programmes are certain to promote wellbeing. After treatments, visitors can retreat to luxuriously appointed private villas”¦or go for a houseboat ride along Kerala’s magnificent backwaters.
Billed as a “˜Palace of Ayurveda,’ the lovely Kalari Kovilakom can trace its roots back to the 19th century. Today, the resort still has no shortage of historical splendour – guests stay in facilities originally used by the region’s nobility – though its contemporary renovation ensures the amenities are perfectly modern and up-to-date. Above all, though, what Kalari Kovilakom offers is a luxurious escape. There are no televisions or electronics on-site to distract from treatments, which are all completely personalised and as traditional as can be.
Accessibly located along the outskirts of Bangalore, Soukya is nevertheless a verdant oasis of calm: founded by internationally recognised holistic professional Dr. Issac Mathai, the health centre is set on 30 private acres decorated with fountains and gardens. In this peaceful setting, visitors are perfectly situated to discover more about Ayurveda in India: wellness packages include yoga sessions, specially prescribed meals, meditation classes, and, of course, expert-administered Ayurvedic treatments, using oils and other materials selected to fit the patient’s temperament.
Vana Malsi Estate
Occupying a 21-acre estate in Dehradun, Uttarakhand, the beautiful Vana Malsi Estate, all bright décor and floor-to-ceiling windows, profits from its forested setting: hidden away amidst the trees, the retreat becomes a place of perfect tranquillity. Technology is forbidden in public spaces, and the hotel works with each guest to create custom itineraries specific to their wellness goals. An on-site Ayurveda centre lies at the heart of the retreat’s focus on healthful immersion, while a Tibetan healing centre, spa, and yoga studio are among the other offerings designed to cultivate wellbeing.
Described as the first Ayurveda resort in the world, Somatheeram‘s brand of Ayurvedic treatment goes back through the millennia, focusing on the most traditional of treatments. The seaside resort, located in Kerala, takes advantage of its lush surroundings: within its on-site garden, more than 600 herbs are grown to be used in individual treatments. Those looking to immerse themselves in Ayurveda in India would do well to opt for one of the retreat’s packages, which range from body purification therapy to longevity treatment. Then there are the beautiful beaches adjacent, which are the perfect place to wind down after a day full of holistic healing.
Niraamaya – Surya Samudra
On the one hand a five-star beach resort, on the other, an Ayurvedic getaway: Niraamaya – Surya Samudra, found in Kovalam, Kerala, situates guests in airy, private cottages within view of the Arabian Sea. While it’s tempting to remain near the water’s edge, the Niraamaya Spa shouldn’t be missed – visitors can opt to stay for one- or two-week yoga and Ayurveda programmes, or can select individual therapies from the spa menu.
An ideal stay for those who are curious about Ayurveda – but don’t yet have any first-hand experience of the healing process – Neeleshwar Hermitage offers a stunning spa and a wellness menu alongside other draws that range from fragrant local fare to a sprawling infinity pool. When not paddling, going on walks to explore the local wildlife, or cuddling up in one of the resort’s detached cottages, visitors can take advantage of Ayurvedic consultations and treatments on offer for a measured dose of calm.
Book your trip to Delhi with Virgin Atlantic and continue onwards to discover Ayurvedic retreats across India.
Have you experienced Ayurveda in India? What were your impressions of the ancient healing programme? Let us know in the comments section below.
Written by Claire Bullen