One of the oldest Ayurvedic resorts in Kerala, Kairali — The Ayurvedic Healing Village in Palakkad has undergone a quiet transformation, without taking anything away from its essence.
Think of Kerala and Ayurveda in the same breath, and Kairali — The Ayurvedic Healing Village is usually top of mind. Part of a venerable chain of wellness centres with a global footprint that began life with a centre in New Delhi in 1989, the Healing Village is the only one of their India centres that also offers stays. The Healing Village was set up by K.V. and Gita Ramesh in 1999 in response to the overwhelming popularity of their Kairali Ayurvedic Centre in Delhi. The vision was to set up an uncompromising Ayurvedic health resort in a tranquil and spacious setting, where guests would be close to nature, making it easy for them to recuperate from stress and strain and get treated while on holiday.
The Ayurvedic antecedents of the founders run deep into the past. K.V. Ramesh’s forefathers were traditional Ayurvedic doctors and his father was the first doctor to create an Ayurvedic injection. Gita Ramesh, a Bachelors in Ayurveda, also hails from a family of traditional Ayurvedic doctors. The family and company have a Ayurveda legacy which is over a hundred years old. Kairali turned being shut during Covid into an opportunity by sprucing up its facilities and offerings, something that’s not easy to do in a fully functioning property, especially one as popular as this. I went down to Kairali to check out what has turned out to be a stunning makeover.
Kairali’s Healing Village is located in Kerala near the Palakkad Gap, a low mountain pass in the Western Ghats that connects Tamil Nadu with Kerala. It’s a scenic drive to the Healing Village from Coimbatore, the closest airport.
Styled like a village, the 60-acre property has villas designed in accordance with the principles of Vastu and spread out all across, cocooned by the sort of greenery you can only find in Kerala. The villas exude an old-fashioned charm. Artificial streams run between them, accentuating their tranquillity. While the exposed-brickwork exteriors of the villas, which are inspired by Laurie Baker’s minimalistic and economical architectural style, have been left untouched, the interiors have been completely transformed. The bathrooms are plush if understated and done up in soothing shades of grey. There’s more light in the rooms I’m told (that’s the sort of magic a smart lighting consultant can work). There are nice nooks in each room to sit in. Each room also comes with a Valambiri Conch, to provide positive vibrations.
I enjoyed my time at Kairali immensely. Mornings typically begin with yoga in the new yoga pavilion. A simple breakfast follows, based on what the doctor has prescribed for you. Then the treatments follow, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. (The male and female treatment wings are separate.) Lunch and dinner are also simple and delicious affairs, with a healthy emphasis on vegetables and lentils. Portions are controlled in accordance with the doctor’s advice. Most of the vegetables are organic and come from their own farm.
Evenings are for meditation sessions or quiet contemplation and the occasional cultural performance in the amphitheatre. Periodically, there are talks on various aspects of Ayurveda. There’s also a traditional astrologer who can be consulted (he gave me some interesting advice).
The biggest transformation has been the addition of beautiful relaxation spaces in the female wing of the treatment centre. They are a sight to behold, a far cry from the prosaic property Kairali once was. The male wing will also get a similar treatment eventually. The spanking new reception with its soaring roof is also a stunner. That’s where we celebrated the impromptu birthday of a very shy guest—but when you stay in a place so long, warm bonds form easily. The minimum stay here is a week and you are not supposed to step out for the duration of your visit. Many programmes are on offer — like rejuvenation and detoxification, weight loss, etc — but the most popular is the panchakarma, which requires several weeks’ commitment. Kairali’s guests, several of whom are repeat visitors, seem only too happy to make the investment of time. Like the European lady, who comes here every year for several weeks and who wore the most beautiful saris. An Austrian couple I spoke to who were first timers also seemed very impressed with the offerings at Kairali.
Of course, Kairali also offers treatment for specific ailments, sometimes when all other avenues have failed. It’s also a deaddiction centre which is why they enforce a very strict no-smoking and no-alcohol policy. In fact, I was surprised to learn that Kairali is a full-fledged certified hospital, although you would never know it given its beautiful, resort-like setting. This is not one of those trendy, spa-like places. Kairali takes its role in healing and rejuvenating very seriously.
The founders’ sons, Abhilash K.R. and Abhishek K.R., are also involved in the business. I ran into Abhilash, the older brother, during my stay at Kairali and can vouch that the Healing Village is in good hands with this generation keen on preserving the core values and carrying on the good work of their parents. Let the healing continue.
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