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Kalari Kovilakom, Ayurvedic Centre

by on September 12, 2007

Other than few temples, there isn’t much to see in the small town of Kollengode, an ayurveda holiday destination or a weekend destination in Kerala (weekend getaway from bangalore too), but this is something I have to be told. I would never have discovered this for myself, for as a guest at Kalari Kovilakom, I’m not allowed to step outside the big, black gate that swung shut as soon as I entered. I’m not allowed to choose what I eat during my stay either. I’m not given access to a television set. I’m not able to enjoy a chilled pepsi as there are no refrigerators in the rooms here and besides, alcohol consumption is not permitted on the premises. I’m not allowed coffee, not even sugar, if I want to sweeten my herbal tea however I have to use honey.

I am experiencing ayurveda as something more than just getting a relaxing massage with oils made of herbs whose names you can’t begin to pronounce. Ayurveda in its purest, most traditional form, here with yoga, a balanced diet at Kalari Kovilakom, the Palace of Ayurveda.

And it was a palace a Kovilakom once. It housed the daughters of the royal family of Vengunad. The original architecture is intact, very little has been touched or added. There is a peacock carved into the ceiling, wooden beams radiating from its plumage like rays of the sun. A set of doors past the enormous four poster bed in the centre leads to a smaller room with space for storage, and further doors open out to the bathroom with bath products made of sweet basil and aloe vera. It’s easy to lose yourself in the past at Kalari Kovilakom. My dad’s leather sandals are taken away and he is given a padukas to roam around. We were woken up at half past five by devotional songs from a temple nearby, meant to awaken the town. Before and after meals the timings of which are announced by the ringing of a temple bell, we were asked to rinse our hands into vessel, using the water that the person waiting, pours on us through a spouted jug.

I heard a lot about energy at Kalari Kovilakom. I’m told that according to ayurveda, the year is divided into Visarga Kala during which our bodies give out energy to nature and Adana Kala during which our bodies take in energy from nature. The monsoon season belongs to the latter, which makes it the ideal time for Ayurvedic treatments because the body doesn’t get tired. I came to know that a popular treatment during monsoon is the panchakarma. The five step cleansing process includes vomiting, evacuation of the bowels with a laxative, nasal therapy, enema therapy and bloodletting. These massages aren’t typical. I’m here for two days, so I get these treatments just to have an idea of what the experience entails. If we were here for 14 to 21 days then the doctor would have first diagnosed us first. She would have drawn up a personalized diet chart, determined which herbs and oils would best suit us and the appropriate yogas for here.

I attended a session of yoga nidra, the aim of which was to attain a state of psychic sleep. The body sleeps, the mind is at rest, but the consciousness is aware. The effort is so relaxing, I doze off a guest helps me through a splitting headache which is due to caffeine withdrawal and that I should ask for a herbal remedy. I did so and half hour later someone walks with a drink hat tastes like rum and from another container he scoops out the paste and rubs it on my scalp. After an hour I felt better.

The yoga and the ayurveda take care of the body. And the fact that these treatments and exercises aren’t designed to occupy you 24 hours a day takes care of mind. And a sign here said that don’t let the silence disturb you.

Reaching there is easy, we took Simplyfly Deccan flight to Kerala and the nearest airport is the Coimbatore. Kalari Kovilakom is not a hospital, not a resort, not a spa but it offers the experience and the benefits of all these. There are 18 rooms and the suits called as Kovilakom or Vengunad suites. The minimum stay is 14 days.

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