A Healing Village- Wonderful
Review By The Hindu Business Line
The leading journalist
Rasheeda Bhagat of The Hindu recently
visited our resort Kairali- The Ayurvedic Healing Village in Palakkad Kerala and
wrote a beaming review about the resort. This is wonderful review published by
a well-known publication The Hindu Business Line which is known for its emphasis
on accuracy and balanced coverage.
A healing village
Kerala-Ayurveda combo works its magic at this Palakkad centre.
The best advertisement
for this ayurvedic wellness centre in Palakkad is the 92-year-old businessman
from Pune who has been returning to the sylvan surroundings of the 50-acre
Kairali Healing Village twice a year, for the last 12 years.
Sipping steaming and
spicy herbal tea, we are seated in the classic interiors of a traditional
Kerala building with sloping red-tiled roofs, tall columns, open brickwork
walls, cool red-oxide floors, and cane chairs, curtains and tables. The
fragrance of freshly roasted, fried and pounded herbs, spices and leaves
permeates the air, blending with the heady and sweet smell of the many
flowering trees that surround the facility.
Dr N. Saravan is all
smiles as he recalls the visits of their veteran client. “He comes every six months
for a 14-day treatment and says ‘Kairali has given me an extra 12 years of
life’. He strictly follows the treatment and medicines we prescribe and the
The “treatment” is
hardly difficult to take, considering it includes authentic ayurvedic massages
by trained hands. The diet — comprising mainly fruits and vegetables, bland and
yet tasty, oil-free chappatis and an occasional helping of red rice — can be
tough for those used to rich, spicy, non-vegetarian food. Smoking and alcohol
are a strict no-no. So while at this “ayurvedic hospital”, as it is labelled,
but which can give the most luxurious resorts a run for their money as far as
the external lush green environs with chirping birds, swaying palms, and
soothing water bodies are concerned (the interiors are modest), our businessman
strictly follows the code. But after 14 days, he says ‘whatever I have left now
is bonus life, so I want to enjoy’. So he eats, drinks and makes merry till it
is time to return to Kairali for another dose of rejuvenation. “Once he comes
here, he is very strict, eats whatever we give, loses 6-7 kg and returns home.”
When he returns after
six months, a therapist has to fetch him to the treatment centre on the first
day. But after four days he strolls to the centre on his own, supported by a
stick, and following the rejuvenation therapy that includes yoga (seated on a
chair!), he is ready to return home.
Afflicted by arthritis
The magic of the
Kerala-Ayurveda combo brings many foreigners, particularly westerners, to this
centre for the treatment of various ailments, the most common — almost 60-70
per cent — being various types of arthritis. Some of them are in their 40s.
While it’s mainly arthritis for westerners, those from West Asia and India,
including NRIs, are troubled by skin diseases such as psoriasis, chronic rashes
or leucoderma. Other common complaints are stress-related as well as
depression, rheumatism and osteoarthritis.
Almost 80 per cent of
the guests at Kairali are women; Joint Managing Director Gita Ramesh echoes the
common sentiment here when she says that women are more sensible and
responsible about their health. After frightening stories of violence against
women in India driving away western female tourists, it is good to see many
single western women here. While the older ones opt for weight loss or relief
from arthritis, the younger women are hooked on the “rejuvenation and
Depending on the
nature of the chronic ailment, the treatment period can be 14, 21 or 28 days; a
14-day stay with accommodation, meals and treatments including yoga and
meditation sessions costs Rs 1 lakh.
Arthritis is treated
with both internal and external medication and massages. First the body type is
categorised based on the prevalence of Vata (which controls neurological
functions), Kapha (lubricating functions) or Pitta (metabolic actions), and the
line of treatment decided accordingly.
Goodbye to 1 kg/inch
For me it’s a tough
call between rejuvenation and weight loss; I opt for the latter with the doctor
saying I could lose in three days — the cancelled flight allowed me an
additional day — 2 kg and even 3 on a strict diet. I’ve heard of journalists
begging on Day 2 for non-veg food from outside the centre. I shy away from
“strict diet” but promise to eat lots of fruits and veggies and minimal carbs.
But on Day 3, I succumb and gorge on two huge poories and pay the price! “Only
1 kg less? Unbelievable” says Dr Saravan, shaking his head disapprovingly. But
I’m happy enough, as it comes with the loss of one inch around the stomach and
My treatment starts
with an abhyangam, a classic ayurvedic massage, and is followed by ilakiri and
In ilakiri, the entire
body is massaged with hot bundles packed with herbs and dipped in hot medicated
oil. As the expert fingers of Debu and Amrita do a perfectly synchronised
massage, scrubbing my body vigorously to coax out the toxins, a heavenly fragrance
of herbs fills the room. The ayurvedic doctor Priya explains that seven
different leaves (including tamarind and drumstick), a few pieces of lemon,
garlic and coconut have been fried in a special oil, pounded and packed in the
bundles used for this massage. A well-known anti-inflammatory treatment, it can
reduce pain and swelling in one to two days.
Good for joints
Often, patients come
with deformed joints and stiff or bent limbs, which can’t be moved in severe
cases. Within seven days of ilakiri, the movement returns, he says. It helps in
chikungunya cases too. “In joint-related disorders, ayurveda can treat far, far
better than allopathic medicines. But people lack this awareness.”
But what about
concerns that ayurvedic medicines contain metals that can damage the kidneys?
He admits this is true
of some medicines in the Rasasastra system, but not authentic ayurvedic
medicines. Anyway, barely one in 100 ayurvedic doctors in Kerala practises this
system. I also flag the fear that such harmful medicines are used in Chennai by
“In Chennai many
ayurvedic doctors prescribe Siddha medicines, 60-80 per cent containing metals
and minerals. Even this, if prepared in an authentic manner, is safe. But
unfortunately today, it’s all business, and kidneys are damaged in no time.”
The kalikiri massage
also uses powdered herbs that are tightly wrapped in hot, steamed bundles,
which are applied on the body in firm and powerful strokes. While some of the
leaves and herbs are grown at Kairali — which has an abundance of coconut,
palm, jackfruit, mango, tamarind and other trees — others are collected from
forests or bought in markets either in Kerala or Karnataka.
I also experience the
calming and relaxing effect of Shirodhara, which promises to improve
neurological function and enhance serotonin levels in the brain.
So, are definite
results evident after a two-week treatment?
It depends on the
condition or ailment, says the doctor; in arthritis, 90-100 per cent relief is
possible. About 70 per cent is repeat guests; “you have to repeat the treatment
at least for three years for long-lasting results and continue the medication,”
which is available online at www.kairaliproducts.com.
In the case of
psoriasis, patients do get better but stress levels aggravate the condition. An
interesting nugget is that Indians living in Africa often end up with skin
disorders; “often the skin lesions disappear completely after treatment, but
reappear six months later. They admit that diet and stress levels have changed.
If you don’t follow the diet, medicines won’t work. And eat fresh — not
refrigerated — and easily digestible food. “In 25-30 years, our lifestyle has
changed and our problems increased. Unfortunately, prosperity brings lifestyle
Depression, he says,
is easy to treat and “our USP. Here we teach them how to live”. And that isn’t
very easy once you go back; getting up at 6.30 a.m., one hour’s yoga, breakfast
from 8-9 a.m.; first session of treatment from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, lunch at 1-2
p.m., and another treatment in the afternoon, a little free time, a medication
session at 6.30 p.m., dinner after 7.30 p.m. and sleep at 9 p.m.! And, of
course, swallowing the prescribed bitter kasayams, along with tablets.
“Many people ask
incredulously: Is this lifestyle possible? We say it is . I can’t say all of
them follow it, but 30-40 per cent do try and get good results. The foreigners
are better with follow-up; they stick to the medicines, however bitter.”
And are repeat guests
simply loving the verdant green of this property... A Swiss CEO took to it like
a duck to water. This man works only outdoors, hates offices, and tells his
staff to bring their queries or files to him wherever he is seated with his
laptop… under a tree or by the swimming pool!
Published on: December