The most exciting spa to open in Kerala in many a moon, Kairali – The Ayurvedic Healing Village in God’s Own Country is a real game-changer. It offers results-driven, transformative treatments for those in search of physical or emotional well-being under uplifting blue skies. The luxurious retreat truly embodies the phrase “back-to-basics” by stripping back living to its bare essentials (the property has no Wi-fi!. Kairali lets the beauty of the natural landscape do the talking at its Ayurvedic retreat. So if you fancy getting away alone this summer to rejuvenate, or would like to bond with friends or family, this might be the hideaway for you.
It was lunchtime when I arrived at Kairali – The Ayurvedic Healing Village, tired after an hour flight and a three-hour drive from Coimbatore Airport to Palakkad in Kerala. 10 minutes later, after gulping down fresh coconut water in the enchanting village, I was escorted to my villa, which has been designed using locally available raw materials like laterite, clay, black granite, and indigenous bricks. However, I was disoriented in those first few minutes, tiredness compounded by heat, and my head scrabbling to adjust from city-mode to remote jungle.
The 30 cottages are both relaxed and luxurious – enticing and surrounded by lush foliage. Featuring high ceilings, squishy beds, wooden floors, and plenty of food, the atmosphere is sociable and relaxed. In order not to lose the original charm, the furniture is an eclectic mix of antique and bespoke pieces. Each room comes replete with Ayurvedic toiletries including soaps, shampoos, and other cosmetics.
The feeling of being immersed in nature at all times is part of Kairali’s magic. Here you’re lulled to sleep by the whirr of insects and woken by an orchestra of bird song. After a blissful night’s sleep in my room, the next day began with a one-hour yoga session. After the class our group of 10 or so dispersed around the site, some headed to read a book on the hammocks, which are strung between trees, others went for a dip. Those following an Ayurvedic programme would wander over to the wellness centre for their treatment or consultation.
Sessions in tranquillity
One of the largest Ayurvedic groups with a presence in over 35 locations worldwide, Kairali is primarily a yoga retreat, so its treatments are quite simple. That said, the menu has a range of traditional Ayurvedic therapies and native treatments that support health, vitality, and holistic healing. Personalised rejuvenation and detoxification treatment packages are also on offer, and these are administered by the in-house doctor. Upon arriving at the wellness centre, I completed a questionnaire to identify which of the three doshas (or which combination) I embody, each with an intricate taxonomy of the emotional, physical, and behavioural. Diagnosed as having a vata-pita dosha, I was fed grounding and warming foods to bring balance to the dry qualities typical of someone with this constitution.
The doctor then prescribed my treatment. For one hour, layer upon layer of different oils were rubbed on my body, I took steam in a giant cabinet, and scrubbed in the shower with gram flour. I emerged de-stressed and my skin looked firm and hydrated. The therapists are lovely – both friendly and skilled – and they went the extra mile to make me feel comfortable.
Lunch the Ayurveda Way
Fortunately, I always rallied myself for breakfast – a treat not to be missed. Meals are nourishing, deliciously wholesome, and traditional Ayurvedic vegetarian cuisine. As a bonus, most of the ingredients in Kairali’s healthy menu are harvested from the retreat’s organic farm. Much of their produce is sourced here, including organic tropical vegetables and fruits that are not only sustainable but enhance biological diversity and soil fertility.
Breakfast consists of herbal teas, fresh fruits, coconut water, and South Indian delicacies like uttapam, idly, and dosa. Lunch and dinner include a wide selection of vegetarian dishes, salads, juices, and jaggery sweets. I must have drunk more coconut water in my two-day trip than I have in a lifetime. The luxurious retreat also offers a cookbook, The Ayurvedic Cookbook, so guests can replicate their delicious recipes at home.
In between, I was free to join any of the daily classes, which included mindful morning yoga classes, guided Om chanting sessions in the evening, and cookery classes and trips to their farms and factory in between. My initial purpose for joining this trip was to explore a place where meditating, eating healthy, and seeking balance may be as common as fixating on a cell phone is elsewhere. But this trip took on new significance and meaning for me. On this retreat, I found a space to appreciate self-care — of body, mind and soul — and a connection to human kindness in a safe, nurturing environment.