KALARI KOVILAKOM, The Palace for Ayurveda
Kalari Kovilakom is the Palace for Ayurveda, perhaps the first and only one of its kind. Its face is the face of the warrior- king, elegant and expansive. But its heart is that of a sage, offering a deep healing, a doorway to the union of the mind, body and spirit
If the old legends are to be believed, healing is part of Kalari’s very soul. Stories are told of a Prince who came to the foothills of Kerala’s Annamalai Hills around the 10th century. It seems he was afflicted with a particularly troublesome skin ailment. So he came to cure himself in the healing spring waters of this land. Possibly, he also sought the medicinal Venga tree that grew here in profusion
Dharmavarman stayed on to found a kingdom, Vengunad, ‘The Land of the Venga Tree’. And for all the days to come, his descendants held sway over these silent and green foothills. It was in the 19th century that they built Kalari Kovilakom. Today, Kalari Kovilakom has been restored and recreated into a unique experience in wellness. Combining the healing experience of India’s ancient medicinal system, Ayurveda, with the grace and scale of palace living
The intent and purpose of Kalari Kovilakom is to give you a chance to start your life all over again. Ayurveda, if correctly followed, promises not only a new body and mind, but a deep connection with the spirit.
To the ancient Indians, this was a cosmic connection. A chance to be reborn in this life itself. To stay true to the traditions of the palace, no meat, leather footwear or alcohol are allowed at Kalari. You will see echoes of Ashram-like austerity. Yet, enjoy a rare level of amenities and service, part 21st century comfort, part 19th century romance.
The original dwellings of the lords and ladies of Vengunad are still yours to delight in, unchanged from times past. CGHEarth restored them as authentically. Then added as many modern facilities, without compromising the Palace’s original character.
The air-conditioning, the luxury bath fittings and the four – poster beds will certainly lull you, but they shouldn’t mislead you. For Kalari offers unvarnished ayurveda, administered in its purest form, in accordance with millennia-old texts and traditions
At Kalari, every therapy is personal. The treatments are customised for you by our doctors, often combined with yoga and other methods to provide deep healing from within and without. Every treatment is based on your needs and your ayurvedic body type. Even the food you’re served is individual, with health drinks and herbal preparations that vary with your treatment.
The result is nothing less than a return to the womb. There are no game rooms, no shopping expeditions, no television sets. The evenings are alive with chanting and hymns, unsullied by the sounds of the city. In fact, apart from these post-dinner gatherings where guests and staff alike participate, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, to disturb your new-found inner silence
You are in a space like no other on earth that we know of. An atmosphere that makes you conscious only of the potentials within, being slowly unlocked as your therapies progress.
Kalari Kovilakom offers ayurveda unveiled in its most authentic form. The herbs used are pure and freshly picked, usually from the herb gardens maintained on Kalari Kovilakom’s own extensive grounds.
All food is prepared in a full fledged ayurvedic using pure spices and ingredients to create simple, yet delicious vegetarian meals that form an integral part of the treatments.
And the therapies are in strict accord with the ancient texts of Ayurveda.
Through a combination of massages, herbal treatments, medicines, diet and purifying baths, the Kalari experience promises you a chance to see the world afresh, to be twice born. 10 therapy and massage rooms offer a complete range of treatments. Expert masseuses and therapists work with you from head to toe, bringing new life to tired muscles, bones and tendons. The healing continues at our Yoga and meditation centres, and even at the dining table
Yoga is the ancient Indian mind-body-spirit discipline, said to have originated in the ‘sutras’ (philosophical verses) of sage Patanjali, millennia ago. The word is from the old Sanskrit, and means ‘union’. While there are many different forms of Yoga, the purpose of all of them is the same – to achieve oneness with the cosmos. For the serious Yogi, the ultimate aim is to attain ‘moksha’, or liberation from the karmic cycle of birth and death
The form of yoga that’s most widely known in the West is ‘Hatha Yoga’, a system of ‘Asanas’ (postures) meant to perfect and discipline the body, and its accompanying breath exercises, called ‘Pranayama’.
Kalari Kovilakom use the Bihar school of Hatha Yoga, a gentle, yet powerful form that combines particularly well with other therapies. Afternoons in the Yoga Centre are reserved for ‘Yoga Nidra’, a special meditative technique that brings about deep relaxation in the individual. Like everything else here, yoga therapies too are personal and focused. You’ll be guided through a routine that’s designed for your age, ailments, body type and general condition.
Kalaripayattu is one of the oldest martial arts traditions in the world. In fact, many historians believe that it was the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma ( Daruma to the Japanese), founder of Zen, who first took it to the Far East. Over the centuries, the form was expanded and developed, finally becoming the basis for Kung Fu and other martial arts. ‘Kalari’ means school or arena, and ‘payat’ is skill training, exercise or practice. Kalari aims to create the most proficient warrior. and so fits out the body and the mind with an elaborate repertoire of movements and exercises: There are four basic types of Kalari training, viz. body control exercises, training with wooden staffs, the use of weapons such as swords and shields, and unarmed combat
There is also training in the use of a unique Kerala weapon, the lethal flexible sword, called the ‘Urumi’ that can be concealed as a waist belt. Another special feature of Kalari is training in ‘Marma’, the art of knowing and activating the 107 energy points in the body. Theses are vital points for correcting the body’s energy flows and replenishing its resources. Kalari therefore aims to make the practitioner not just a warrior but a self-healer, and one who can also help others with his healing powers.
At Kalari Kovilakom, there are regular training sessions in Kalaripayattu, held in a traditional covered pit arena on the grounds. So not only can you watch the experts at play, you can even take a crack at Kalaripayattu yourself! Simple Kalari movements are great exercises for strengthening and toning the whole body, and can make your treatments that much more beneficial.
Kalari Kovilakom’s pure Ayurvedic kitchen is a shrine to ideas first outlined by the ayurvedic physicians of more than a thousand years ago. Foods are prepared in brass, iron or clay vessels only. And chef Nayaranan Kutty weaves his pure vegetarian magic with only the minimum of oil and almost no chillis.
You may find your first meal at Kalari somewhat bland, specially if you’re a curry lover or a steak-eggs-ketchup-and-mustard kind of person. But within a day or two, something strange happens. Your palate softens, becomes more sensitive. Suddenly, the subtle flavours of pure spices and fresh tropical vegetables begin to come to the fore. Each meal becomes a medley of subtle textures and aromas, rather than the taste assaults most of us are used to. Even better, you need to eat less and less to feel completely sated!
A meal in Kalari’s pillar-framed, breezy dining area usually begins with tumblers of lukewarm, herb-medicated waters, your serving being based on your body type and our physician’s recommendation. This helps to prime the stomach, readying it for the food to follow. The highlight of the meal is next, a gleaming brass thali. It arrives covered in a banana leaf section, sliced to fit, and offset by rows of glistening katoris, or cups.
A raw sprout and onion salad may be balanced with a creamy dish of the local bitter gourd. And a mound of the steaming, fibre-rich red rice could be complemented with a thick lentil and dry jackfruit combo. Whole wheat chapatis or dosas (Indian unleavened breads) could be served up with a piquant, low-spice sambar.
As with all the treatments at Kalari, our diet programmes are designed to stay with you long after you leave. Based on your ayurvedic body type, our physicians create comprehensive lists of foods that favour you and those that don’t.
So if you can choose to be a little more conscious, you can easily carry your new-found sense of well- being into all your future meals.
18 palatial suites that offer the experience of authentic palace living
The Old Guest Wing, with ’20s colonial Western-styled rooms.
The Palace Wing, which has traditional Kerala architecture reminiscent of the ‘zenana’.
Ayurvedic vegetarian food, prepared in a pure Ayurvedic kitchen. The food served to you is based on your therapies, constitution & treatments and varies accordingly.
EATING AND WELLNESS
Ayurvedic Rejuvenation Therapy: 14-, 21- and 28- day
Rejuvenative and therapeutic programmes
Beauty and skin treatments
Training and demonstrations of Kalaripayattu
Kerala’s traditional Martial Art
Ayurveda treatment rooms, catering to 10 persons simultaneously
Ayurvedic beauty therapy centre
Extensive gardens growing Ayurvedic herbs
Yoga, meditation and chanting hall
Traditional Kalari arena
Spaces for music and cultural performances
Kalari Kovilakom Palace is located in the old princely capital town of Kollengode 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 and Palghat is the nearest railway station (on the Mumbai-Trivandrum route), a mere hours’ drive.
Jan – Mar: These months are cool (well, 28-34 C) and dry
Apr – May: Peak summer
June – Aug: These are the Monsoon (rainy) months. In ayurveda, this is considered a specially good time for healing
Sept – Dec: A pleasant and dry period, usually the main tourist season.
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