Cures Await You at Carnoustie
I have had a bad back for several years. It’s a chronic problem that flares up ever so often leaving me in pain. Over the years, I’ve attempted to give it the attention it deserves, but my schedule rarely allows me the chance to take long stretches of time off to focus on finding a cure for it.
After a particularly bad episode recently, I decide it is high time I find a permanent solution for my problem. Ayurveda has been my go-to cure for several years, and I decide to try it this time as well. With 14 days reserved for the treatment, I start my search for an authentic experience in Kerala. Carnoustie Ayurveda & Wellness Resort has come under my radar several times; the resort’s been winning the Best Ayurvedic Resort Award at the asiaSpa India Awards for quite a few years now. I decide to see what makes the property so popular.
The property is located 65 kilometres from Kochi, and it takes about an hour and a half to reach there. Landscaped gardens and smiling faces greet me as I arrive, and I am escorted by the extremely pleasant staff to the sprawling Mallika Pool Villa, where I am to stay. I feel like a queen when I see the beautifully appointed interiors and the private pool and deck – all mine for the next two weeks.
Already impressed, I make my way to Ida, the multi-cuisine restaurant. The beautifully done-up restaurant is dominated by bamboo and thatch, and warm tones. Apparently, I can eat what I please today; my diet will be customised after a consultation with the doctor. I am rather pleasantly surprised to find an exhaustive and exotic array of dishes on the menu of a restaurant at an Ayurveda wellness resort. Needless to say, I make the most of what I presume will be the most delicious food I’ll taste in the next couple of weeks.
The next day, I walk into the resort’s wellness centre, Aryavaidyasala. The spa has light and airy treatment rooms; for additional privacy, three guest villas have been converted into therapy rooms. Above the spa is a gorgeous, open-sided yoga shala where private sessions and twice-daily group sessions take place. The ratio of doctors to therapists (1:2) here is different from that in other resorts since the doctors themselves perform many of the treatments.
I am introduced to Dr. Rajeena, the physician in charge of my wellbeing for the duration of my stay. After a detailed discussion – that lasts almost two hours – she declares that my dosha is a combination of vata and pitta, and my treatments and meals will be customised to suit my dosha. I tell her that I would like to lose some weight as well, but she says her focus will be on curing my back. But vanity cannot take a backseat, so I hope that some weight loss will take place as a result of the treatments and the Ayurvedic diet she will put me on. Detox and lots of therapeutic and spiritual treatments will be my mantra for the foreseeable future. I am told that it will not be a punishing exercise if done in the correct manner under the expert care of specialists.
The team of experts at Carnoustie has devised a unique combination of Panchkarma, Marma, pranic healing, and yoga to repair and revitalise tissues and organs, and refresh the mind. I undergo a variety of these treatments, all of which have been customised keeping my dosha in mind.
The Ayurvedic treatments include Snehapanam, which involves the intake of sneha (oil) – a foul-tasting medicated oil that I ingest religiously every morning on an empty stomach for five days because it is said to be the best form of internal purification. This is probably the only unpleasant experience. There’s the invigorating Abhyangam massage with warm herb-infused oil, which improves circulation and aids in the expulsion of toxins. The most luxurious is Pizhichil, in which the body is bathed in lukewarm medicated oil, followed by a massage and medicated steam bath. I also experience three massages with poultices: Podikizhi, Elakizhi and Njavarakizhi. Podikizhi, an Ayurvedic technique of fomentation, involves the rhythmic pounding of the body with warm herb-filled pouches and a massage with herbal oils. Elakizhi, a sudation practice, uses fresh leaves from herbs and medicinal plants, which are fried and tied into cloth boluses, dipped in warm oil and used for the massage. Njavarakizhi uses Njavara rice, pudding cooked in herbal decoctions, in boluses for the massage. There’s also the Marma massage, which is administered by Dr. Rajesh, considered the best in the business in Kochi. Sessions involve a massage with warm medicated oil, stimulating or massaging the Marma points all over the body.
I am encouraged to experience a few sessions of pranic healing as well. My sessions focus on cleansing and energising the aura to calm mental stress. I must say I sleep like a baby after the sessions.
The wellness cuisine served at Carnoustie breaks all the myths of Ayurvedic food being boring and unpalatable. The chef prepares individualised meal plans under the supervision of the doctors and therapists to ensure that my meal plan fits well with the recommended treatments. So much so that the food is the highlight of my trip. It is well presented and delicious. The varied diet that I am given does not allow me to get bored. A variety of soups, delicious and innovative main courses and yummy desserts are part of my diet. I, in fact, look forward to every meal, because I know the chef will plate up something interesting! The Detox Tea served twice a day deserves a mention too. The specially brewed tea is infused with herbs that make it effective in controlling stomach problems, improving liver function, lowering blood sugar and controlling diabetes.
My last day dawns much too soon. I have completed my course of treatment and today is reserved for indulgences – typically Kerala ones at that! I am to take a four-hour lunch cruise on The Carnoustie Boat. I spend the entire time gorging on delicious food and lazily taking in views of the backwaters from my perch. I am completely relaxed, holistically nourished and absolutely positive that I am on the road to recovery thanks to the healing magic Carnoustie’s been working on me.