Ayurveda is the medical side of yoga. It’s India’s traditional natural healing system, which has been practiced for over 5,000 years. Ayurvedic resorts have become popular destinations for relaxation and rejuvenation in India, while Ayurvedic hospitals cater to people seeking Ayurvedic treatment for more serious health problems. Here's what you need to know.
Health Benefits of Ayurveda
Ayurveda is a pranic system of medicine, which works to balance the body’s life energies known as doshas. This is achieved by diet, different types of massages, pouring herbal oil onto the body, cleansing enemas, steam baths, and covering the body with herbal leaves and powders. You’ll be assessed by a qualified doctor and a treatment program tailor-made to address the root of your problem.
Ayurvedic medicine is particularly effective for metabolic, stress-related, and chronic conditions. Treatments are also very helpful in relieving the effects of surgery and debilitating treatments such as chemotherapy. Other popular uses of Ayurveda include general rejuvenation and beauty care.
When to Go
The rainy season, during the monsoon from June to September, is an ideal time for Ayurvedic treatment because the atmosphere remains cool, moist, and dust free. This helps the body’s pores to open up, making it most receptive to herbal oils and therapy. Attractive monsoon season discounts are usually available too.
At least a couple of weeks are needed to complete a full course of Ayurvedic treatment. However, it’s possible to get simple treatments, such as Ayurvedic massage, by themselves.
Where to Go
Most places that offer Ayurvedic treatment are located in the southern state of Kerala due to the climate, and abundant supply of medicinal plants and herbs there. Ayurveda is regarded as a mainstream, rather than alternative, method of healing in Kerala. Eight families of vaidyas have traditionally practiced it there for centuries, passing the knowledge down from generation to generation. You’ll also find quite a few Ayurvedic centers in Goa and Karnataka. Five-star hotels in South India offer Ayurvedic treatments as well.
Hotels and resorts are fine for anyone wanting to get some pampering, a massage, or an overall feel for Ayurveda. However, those who are serious about receiving quality Ayurvedic treatment for medical reasons should go to a proper hospital.
Best Ayurvedic Hospitals
The Ayurvedic hospitals managed by the Arya Vaidya Sala charitable institution are highly recommended for getting comprehensive Ayurvedic treatment in India. The main one is in Kottakkal, in Kerala. There are others in Kochi, Delhi, and Kolkata. All types of accommodations are available, from basic to luxury. Be sure to book well in advance though. If it's full, you can also try the Padinharkkara Ayurveda Hospital and Research Center. It's an inexpensive place in the Palakkad district of Kerala.
The Hindustan Kalari Sangam Ayurveda Hospital in Kozhikode (Calicut), in Kerala, is a renowned specialty center for orthopedic and sports medicine ailments. It has another branch near Auroville, Pondicherry.
In addition, Kerala Tourism provides a list of accredited Ayurvedic hospitals here.
Best Ayurvedic Resorts
These Ayurvedic resorts in Kerala are well-managed and provide an excellent range of medically administered treatments for all budgets.
Kerala Tourism also offers Ayurvedia-focused holidays with special Age Halt Ayurvedic packages across a number of its resorts at top destinations in the state, for those who want to combine Ayurveda with sightseeing. The treatments are overseen by qualified Ayurvedic doctors. Kerala Tourism's website also provides details of accredited Ayurvedic centers in Kerala.
In Karnataka, try Ayurvedagram near Bangalore or the Indus Valley Ayurvedic Center (IVAC) near Mysore. If you're on a budget, Doctor Shivkumar at Hitayu Ayurveda and Yoga Center in Karnataka's Udupi district gets great feedback.
In South Goa, check out Lotus Nature Cure in Orlim.
Ayurveda in North India
While Ayurveda is more prominent in the south due to the climate, there are a few decent resorts in the north around Rishikesh that offer Ayurveda. One of the best is Ananda In the Himalayas, not far from Rishikesh. A new boutique hotel in Rishikesh, Dewa Retreat has a wellness center that offers traditional Ayurvedic treatments. Sanskriti Vedic Retreat, riverside in Rishikesh, is a less costly option and it serves Ayurvedic food as well. Hemadri Ayurveda Center is another good option in Rishikesh, particularly for panchakarma treatments. Vedic Ayurved also gives some of the best Ayurvedic treatments, including massages, in Rishikesh.
For delicious and healthy Ayurvedic cuisine in Rishikesh, don't miss visiting (or staying at) Ayurpak!
If your interest in Ayurveda is more in-depth, head to nearby Haridwar as many medicinal roots and shrubs that are grown in the Himalaya are readily available there. You'll find plenty of Ayurvedic pharmacies in Haridwar, such as Swadeshi.
In Almora, in Uttarakhand, AyurVAID Kalmatia is excellent for Ayurvedic treatment.
Cost of Ayurvedic Treatment
Ayurvedic hospitals are the cheapest option, and it’s possible to undergo treatment at an Ayurvedic hospital for about $1,000 per month excluding accommodation. Alternatively, the minimum price charged by resorts for Ayurvedic treatment is between $60-100 per day.