Luxury spa Divya Spa, The Leela, Kovalam

The personalised ayurvedic treatments at The Leela, Kovalam leave you revitalised
Luxury spa Divya Spa, The Leela, Kovalam
Luxury spa Divya Spa, The Leela, Kovalam

The sound of waves crashing on rocks and birdsong ringing clear &mdash sounds that make the silence more tangible as we sit on a wooden floor polished silken smooth and cold to the touch, and around us sky washed a pale blue by a brief gentle rain that is the only reminder that this is the monsoon in Kerala.

It is not until later, back home, sitting at my laptop labouring at prose, do I remember Dhammapada and find again these words &lsquoPeaceful of body, peaceful of speech and with his mind thoroughly stilled...the bhikkhu is at peace.&rsquo Briefly, just fleetingly, I think I glimpsed it during that early morning yoga session at the Leela Kovalam when the yoga guru led me through some basic asanas and a meditation session.

Quite an inspiration this, to make a yoga centre of a beautiful wooden terrace that juts out to the sea below. A setting that is able immediately to transcend the surroundings and make of the yoga something that is more than just a passing whim. The Leela, I find, manages to do this rather well in the way it packages its whole spa experience. There is a serenity about the place that makes it easy to forget that you are in a tourist hotspot with a hundred other guests in the middle of a crowded and popular monsoon package. Either that, or the magnificent massages have lulled me into a semi-daze where people have ceased to register.

&nbspThe Leela has two spas, open to both guests and non-guests Divya, a speciality Ayurvedic spa, and the Spa and Health Centre, an international spa. Before the treatments I meet Dr Tomson, the resident Ayurveda specialist who examines all clients, especially those who come for full-fledged cures like the Panchakarma (detox and cleansing routine) or Rasayana (rejuvenation) that can last anything from two to six weeks. The Leela has a tie-up with Ayurvedic consultancy Softouch for massage oils, medications and trained therapists.

&nbspWhat I want to try is the unique Chavutti Thirummu, where the therapist uses his feet to massage the body, but unfortunately this is not available for women. I take instead the synchronised Abhyanga Snana, basically a full-body massage with medicated oil handled by two therapists in tandem. Dr Tomson has diagnosed that I am high on kapha and pitta (polite speak for fat, foul-tempered, lazy, with stomach ailments, all of which are incidentally true) and thus the recommended oil is karpooradi thailam (tree camphor, ajwain or carom seeds and sesame oil) which calms you down and drives away sluggishness.

What really hooks me, though, is the Shirodhara treatment, where a gentle stream of warm Ksheerabala oil is dripped continuously on the forehead for ever and ever till I fall into a stupor. I also try the Netra Sekam, where the eyes are washed with a special herbal decoction a bit panic-making when I am actually undergoing it but amazed by how fresh the eyes feel afterwards.

The next morning is the 90-minute Indian Magic at the other spa, which I frankly suspect will be just another massage with a fancy name but not so. This is Leela&rsquos signature treatment and pure heaven. It uses Indian medicinal oils (in my case Aswagantha and Balaroot for the body and Lavender for the face) and international (Chinese and Swedish) massage techniques. The stress in an Ayurvedic massage is more on the oils while most other techniques knead every pore, so the combination is potent. As she works every kink out of every muscle, I entertain strong feelings about a temple for masseuse Jency.

In a move designed to make me approve of him thoroughly, the doc has said that regular massages will keep my kapha under control. He also said things about my diet that would keep the rest of me ticking but I remember the massage bit clearly. I am hoping the editor will too.

The information

Treatments Full range of Ayurvedic treatments
Treatment Rates Rs 1,500-4,200
Treatment Packages Rs 5,000-90,000 for 3-45 days (excludes room tariff)
Room Tariff Rs 2,500 per person per day (for a minimum of two days valid till October 15)
Contact 0471-2480101,

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