Indian Traditional Ayurvedic Healing

by AFP/Jay Shankar , Jul 12, 2003 | Destinations: India / Bangalore

On the back of growing popularity of traditional ayurvedic healing, upmarket resort spas and "holistic centres" are cropping up in India's technology hub to cater to a global elite clientele. More than 20 can be found in and around Bangalore, where India's best code writers are employed, offering treatments in Western medicine, homeopathy and ayurveda, using herbs, oils, massage and meditation to cure diseases and boost health. They are taking off as the Indian middle-class has more disposable income and is becoming more health conscious.

The Golden Palms Spa and Resort lures visitors by offering Balinese and Thai massages and treatments such as the "Fountain of Spring", a hydrotherapy massage using seven shower heads and the "Haslauer Dry Floatation", a massage to cure jet lag and fatigue. The resort, which has about 100 therapies, also coaxes its customers into a "Cleopatra's Milk Bath" -- a blend of milk, honey and rose petals to soften and nourish the skin.

"At least 90 percent of people, including foreigners, come here for ayurvedic treatmens," said Lorraine Coutinho, in charge of the spa department at Golden Palms. "They prefer relaxation treatments, weight reduction programmes and detoxification plans," she said.

Other therapies include "Navarakizi" -- medicated cooked special rice preparations bound in cloth pouches which are applied on the body -- and "Sirodhara", a stress buster involving a forehead oil massage.

"Alternative therapy is fast gaining ground and the number of people getting onto this bandwagon is increasing," said Snehal Kulshreshtha, general manager of Golden Palms. "India and ayurveda are now being rediscovered," he said.

Golden Palms, owned by film star and director Sanjay Khan, has started throwing its doors open for corporate conferences and events. "Interest is pouring in as the disposable incomes of Indians is going up and corporations are willing to sponsor events at resorts. There is an exponential growth and this year we expect our growth to double," Kulshreshtha said.

"The idea was to take the death and disease atmosphere out of the hospitals and introduce the concept of de-stress and de-toxification to our clients. Foreign occupancy is about 40 percent of the total average occupancy," he said.

In contrast to Golden Palms which uses its varied therapies to attract its clients, another centre called Soukya (wellbeing) is banking on its international celebrities to attract clients. Issac Mathai, 43, a doctor who has clinics in London and New York, runs Soukya and boasts of clients such as British royals the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson and Prince Charles, and rock stars Tina Turner and Sting.

Ferguson visited Mathai's Bangalore clinic in 1987 for a weight management programme and the centre says Madonna has shown an interest. "Madonna's representatives came here for a recce and they wanted a separate three-bedroom villa to be constructed. Talks are going on," Suja Issac, executive director of Soukya, told AFP. "Prince Charles, Turner and Sting consult him at his clinics abroad and Prince Charles has volunteered to visit Soukya soon," Suja Issac said. "Our advertisement is only through word of mouth." The centre offers therapies such as stress management, therapeutic skin care, phobia counselling and detoxification using Indian ayurvedic remedies.

Ranjit Dhami, 44, a non-resident Indian, working in the British government as a property evaluator, said she found the seven-day course at Golden Palms at a cost of 65,000 rupees (1,382 dollars) "comforting". "I found it relaxing and it appealed to me as it is a bit upmarket and was priced reasonably," said Dhami, who was seeking a cure for lower back problems.

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Fact File

Golden Palms Spa & Resort
Nagarur, Dasanpura, Hobli
Off Tumkur Road
Bangalore 562123. INDIA

Soukya Road, Samethanahalli PO
Bangalore 560067. INDIA

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