I woke up by sudden halt of my taxi at 5 am to the slight nip in the air, chirping of the birds, could hear the ripples of pious Ganga with clean and fresh air to breathe. It was an overnight journey from Delhi to Rishikesh which is situated on the foothills of mighty Himalayas. Normally it doesn’t take that long; we started only at midnight with the jam at UP toll tax wasting atleast half an hour of our time.
I am here with some of my colleagues to de-stress and detox at Kairali’s Sanskriti Vedic Retreat
Unlike popular perception, Kairali is not a spa. It is an Ayurvedic wellness resort which not only offers massages but also offers many wellness packages that includes a diet plan as per body type (decided by doctor), a yoga center, an ayurvedic meal, selected ayurvedic medicines and an in-house doctor.
Besides six river view double rooms named after various ghats, Kairali is equipped with TV while Air-conditioning work is in progress. It has an ayurvedic café, yoga room, six massage rooms and steam facility. I would have liked attached sauna-shower experience to provide a complete experience. The rooms are usually provided to guests who come here for different treatments ranging from three days to a month. It is a little property with most facilities available required for a comfortable if not a luxuries stay.
As mentioned above, Kairali’s Sanskriti Vedic Retreat has an experienced in-house doctor. It also boasts of a chef who knows ayurvedic cooking that uses too little of oil, focuses on fresh cooking and tries to use most organic products, apart from trained therapists and helpers.
The café is open to in-house guests as well as the outsiders. Offering a lovely view of Ganges, the small café provides fresh and healthy breakfast and other meals including light vegetarian snacks and drinks. During the two days of our stay we enjoyed lot of dishes. I simply loved the mint chaach and mint shikanji. Mint is fresh and adds an extra zing to the taste. The chickpea flour based veg omelette served with date chutney is a welcome breakfast. Wheat porridge with raisins is light and perfect start of a beautiful day, while lunch thaali and accompanying spinach and coconut soup or a beetroot and sesame seed salad is not only homely and tasty too.
This menu in itself works wonder for people coming from cities and living on high salt, oil or pesticides laden vegetation. Instead of sugar, honey or jaggery is used, and bare minimum oil is used that is necessary for the cooking. Pricing is very competitive and meal for two will cost less than Rs500.
This was something that pulled me to the retreat, and it surely was more than my expectations. The massages are imparted by same-sex therapists who are professionally trained over the years. These massages are geared for well-being and curing besides offering relaxations that even the regular spa’s offer. These massages are usually advised by the doctor, though one can choose the regular massages like abhyangam on their own.
Let me forewarn you what to expect. I am made to wear a small cloth around my pelvic area with nothing underneath for a full body massage. I try my best to hide my assets and lie down on my stomach. Two men who are the therapists coolly loosen that cloth from behind leaving it all exposed and casually started massaging me. For the few minutes I am embarrassed and want to jump out but few minutes later I remember a saying, ‘when massage is inevitable, enjoy it’! Obviously saying has been tweaked slightly to suit my condition 🙂
Here are the massages that I experienced in the two days of my stay.
Pada Abgyangam (Foot massage; Rs1000): I started with foot massage to get over the overnight travel. Unlike other spas where one foot is finished before moving on to the other, here both feet were simultaneously addressed. This is a short duration massage but very relaxing.
Udhwarthanam (Anti Cellulite Massage; 2250): A dry powder massage designed to remove the impurities, deep cleansing of skin and some fat, I felt like bathing in dry mud. As long as it can make me thin, I don’t mind.
Sirodhara (Head Massage; 3250): This one massage that you would neither have experienced in any non-ayurvedic spa, nor should you miss it here. A steady stream of hot sudhbalatalam oil is poured over the head that ensures relaxation and has properties to cure many ailments including stimulating the third eye and crown chakras, and awakens intuition and inner wisdom besides relieving stress, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
Abhyangam (Deep Tissue Massage; 2550) with Potli: Kairkare proprietary oil is used in four hand deep tissue massage apart using a hot bundle filled with sand and oil stress relief, relief of pain in the joints and muscle spasms.
My visit to Rishikesh was almost after a decade and I realized that it is not only the Yoga capital of India but there are many good eating out options (vegetarian) in the city too. I did try Little Buddha Cafe which is like a shack in Goa offering beautiful scenic view of the river. The menu caters to most nationalitities; however food ranges from average to good without being great. My next visit will soon be with my family when I would like to come for a little longer duration when I would try few more massages, restaurants, visit the old city, try rafting, trekking, and to completely detox and get away from hustle-bustle of the city.
Address: Sanskriti Vedic Retreat, Near Shivanand Hospital, Ramjhulla Shivanand Yatri Niwas, Rishikesh | Phone: +91-7895519888/ +91-135-2442999