I have just been to an extraordinary Ayurvedic clinic near Kollengode,Kerala, in Southern India .
This a first for me and I must say I was a bit sceptical to start with,but it has been an amazing experience.
Kalari Kovilakom is set in the grounds of a palace built by the local Rajah about 150 years ago. The buildings are a combination of Indian and colonial-era styles where there are various guest rooms. The clinic takes a maximum of 26 people at one time , serviced by a staff of about 100.
The palace sits within an enormous walled garden, with many giant mango , coconut and exotic flowering trees.
As you pass through the high entrance gates, you are asked to leave the world behind. Everything is provided. You live in white cotton pyjamas or white dressing gowns and begin your daily round of treatments, meals, walks, yoga and meditation.
Your food is prepared individually for you, as prescribed by your doctor with every day a new menu. Food is seen as a healing medicine in Ayurveda so there is big emphasise on what you eat and how you eat it.
Kerala is famous for it’s spices , but the food at Kalari Kovilakom is lightly seasoned. It is cooked with no oils or butters. Turmeric, cumin and coriander are the main spices and are used sparingly.
Food preparation is started only one hour before the meal is served. There are no refrigerators, no left overs, no reheatings. They talk about “living food “. All the vegetables are grown organically on the property; the rice and pulses come from nearby organic frames.
Every thing is spotless. It is a joy to see.
The people are kind , gentle and always smiling, from the women tending the gardens to the therapists and doctors.
It is a rigorous regime of cleansing ,re-balancing and regeneration so it’s not for everyone.
But for me it was marvellous. At the end of two weeks I felt transformed , like a snake with a new skin – all bright , shiny and bursting with life.
My challenge now is how to integrate this experience into my daily life at home.