The monsoon season may not considered to be the ideal time to travel in India but if you are looking for a green spa retreat amidst the chirping of birds around a large lake then try the Coconut Lagoon. Situated on the banks of Lake Vembanad, the largest lake in Kerala, this unique health resort offers ayurveda, yoga, and kalaripayattu (ancient martial arts) in old world Kerala style living. It provides the perfect retreat from fifth gear living and its core values abide by the the name of its owner, the CGHearth group, which stands for Clean, Green, Healthy Earth. In the monsoon season, the air is dense with moisture making the flora of the Kerala backwaters seem greener and even more abundant than the rest of the year.
Venice of the East
Situated near the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, the retreat offers a tranquil environment where you an enjoy the birds, dragonflies and butterflies that thrive in the region. Accessible only by boat, you are greeted with the signature coconut water upon arrival. With the lake in the distance, traditional South Indian huts strewn about the property and a large canal that winds its way through the reception area, the dining room, and the ayurveda spa center, it takes moments to feel like you have arrived at the Venice of the East.
Rejuvenation via Ayurveda
The ayurveda spa center offers a complete range of traditional style ayurvedic spa treatments using purely natural herbs many of which are grown on or around the property. Even though ayurveda is regaining popularity throughout India and the world, it is only in South India (mostly) Kerala that offers traditional marma therapy, a type of treatment that stimulates vital energy points with massage, oil and herbs. The spa offers rejuvenation therapy prioritizing health and beauty treatments over hard core Pancha Karma therapy offered by Kalarikovilakom, its sister property near Coimbatore.
True to its ayurvedic core, each treatment is uniquely tailored for the individual bearing in mind the influences of the season. You will check in with a doctor upon arrival such that he or she can tailor a package best suited for your specific needs. Some people seek to focus on a specific health or beauty issue but people seek rest and rejuvenation. “Not only do we need to address each individual’s particular needs,” says Dr. Suresh, “we also need to bear in mind the protocols of the season. For example, treatments based on kalaripayattu are favored right now.”
Yoga & Kalaripayattu: The Best of Local Exercise
Speaking of kalaripayattu, there are very few green spas that offer training in the traditional martial arts of Kerala that is believed to be the mother of all martial arts. The kalari, a traditional style gym that is sunken six feet below the surface of the earth is located along the banks of the lake. Kalaripayattu training is offered each morning at 6 am following a ritual oil application that helps prepare your body for rigorous strength and flexibility building exercises. Now I am not a person who is particularly out of shape but a single session of kalaripayattu is enough to reduce my muscles to pure jelly!
Right next door to the kalari is an open air (though covered) yoga center that allows the natural lake breeze to expand your lungs for optimum breath cleansing. Yoga and meditation sessions are offered at the crack of dawn and then late in the evenings prior to dinner. The yoga guru emphasizes focus by encouraging you to close your eyes as you flow through the yoga asanas listening only to the sound of birds and crickets in the surrounding wilderness.
I love taking long late afternoon walks to explore the vast array of medicinal plants that are located on the property or in the surrounding villages. Although I recognize most of the varieties, it is always fun to be accompanied by one of the naturalists who can point out flora and fauna unique to the region. The medicinal herbs and ingredients are used in the spa cuisine that reflects the exotic tastes of Kerala. I thrive on a particular herbal crush that helps build immunity in the monsoons.
And if all this is not enough to get your green and healthy juices flowing, then try kayaking along the backwater canals, birdwatching in the wee hours, learning to cook with local spices and medicinal plants or touring the eco friendly fashions that are designed and created in the neighboring towns. Talk about feelgoodstyle!