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A former Maharaja’s palace, this is a romantic and uplifting place to undertake a proper two week programme of India’s ancient holistic system of health, Ayurveda.
It’s set at the edge of the village of Kollengode in the foothills of the Annamalai mountains, and well off the Keralan tourist trail. Spacious grounds are dotted with ayurvedic herbs, and contain an authentically-designed yoga and meditation hall and low-rise buildings with light and airy treatment rooms. There is also a Kalari, where you can watch or learn the ancient martial art of Kalaripayattu.
Book a room in the atmospheric original palace, or an elegant guest wing. Meals are specially prepared for your constitution by an Ayurvedic chef and, in true ashram-style, eaten communally. There are other ashram-like qualities to Kalari Kovilakom too – your day starts early with hot water, lemon and ginger, you’re encouraged to go to an early session of (gentle) yoga, and no alcohol, red meat or leather shoes are allowed.
The minimum stay here is two weeks, the time required for ayurveda treatments to have any real effect. Most people have a ‘panchakarma’, or general ayurvedic rejuvenation programme, when experts lead you through a safe and nourishing course of ayurvedic oil massages, detoxification therapies, meditation and exercise. Stress relief, weight reduction and anti-aging programmes are also available.
The yoga focuses on slow, focused stretches in the Bihar School of Yoga’s Satyananda style. When you’re not having a treatment, wander the grounds, read in your room, go for a walk in the nearby paddy fields or commission the tailor to copy some of your favourite pieces of clothing.
Healthy Traveller Tip
The monsoon (June to mid August) is a particularly good time to undertake ayurveda in India. The cooler climate means your metabolism increases, making digestion and blood circulation more efficient, and it's also the time they call 'athanakal' in Sanskrit, which is when our bodies accept nature's energy more readily.
The lovely Vengunad Suite has stained glass windows and a day bed suspended from the ceiling.
Professional men and women travelling independently and in couples, to de-stress, detox or to cure genuine aches and pains.
Other ideas for wellness retreats in India
Top short haul options, and a more clinic type experience
18 palatial suites that offer the experience of authentic palace living, divided into two wings:
Kalari Kovilakom Palace is located in the old princely capital town of Kollengode (Vengunad) in the foothills of the Annamalai range, Kerala, India. The nearest International Airport is Cochin, 105 km, or about two-and-a-half hours drive away. Coimbatore Airport is 75 km away. Palghat is the nearest railway station (on the Mumbai-Trivandrum route), a mere hours' drive.
There are a variety of treatments available, lasting from between 10 to 28 days. Please ask for full details about whichever treatment you are interested in.