Issue 60 / Discovering 5 Wellness Cities In India

Discovering 5 Wellness Cities In India

Aug 21, 2016

We traverse the great Indian landscape in search of the country's key wellness cities. Here is what we've found.

Rains bring the promise of romance, moodiness and a general languor, all deep fried in generous cauldrons of indulgence. It’s the season to let go, thus inviting the risk of facing impending festivities feeling like a beached whale. Instead, we suggest just you combine rain-soaked travel with an itinerary that’ll keep your body, mind and soul in banging shape.


Bosu workout in lush verdant environs surrounded by gurgling waterfalls at Atmantan.
Photo Credit: Aparna Pedneka


Slay Your Fitness Demons

What: There’s always a good excuse to avoid getting out of a rut, physically and mentally. But if the rains are washing out the old, leaving a thirsty landscape new and refreshed, why not your abs, biceps and metabolism? Enroll yourself in a boot camp that will kick you out of your complacency.

Where: Located between two nightlife-rich cities — a three-hour drive from Mumbai and 45 minutes from Pune — Atmantan is idyllically positioned to cleanse the partying hordes of sins. Spread over 40 acres of a valley overlooking the Sahyadris and Mulshi lake, this brand new luxury wellness resort is lush enough to make their 5 to 10 nights fitness challenge feel easier than it actually is.

How: After a detailed fitness VO2 max assessment that tabulates your lung capacity, breathing cycles, body age and other fitness data, you’ll be entrusted to a private instructor who won’t skimp on the hard stuff. When you aren’t deep in Tabata, Pilates, cross fit workouts or vibration training, there’s the option of trekking into the healing crystalline Sahyadri mountains and knocking out surya namaskars under the benign gaze of The Divine Buddha.


Atmantan's portion-controlled protein fix; no-oil tandoori chicken.
Photo Credit: Aparna Pednekar 

Fringe Benefit: Hot stone massages and Tao Chi Nei Tsand treatments. Despite the dietary restrictions — you’re not encouraged to smuggle tea coffee and pakoras into your room — Chef Sandeep Biswas’s genial staff will make sure your portion controlled, protein-packed plates are thoroughly Instagram-worthy.


Plush susegad in the sunshine state: The Beach House.
Photo Credit: Aparna Pednekar 

Lose Those Extra Kilos
What: The monsoon may seem like the oddest season to lose weight, but you want to get that early start before the festive party season gets swinging. A week or more is perfect to get you on track for the rest of the year.
Where: The sunshine state — she of the Butter Pepper Prawns and pints-by-the-hour fame — may not seem like the ideal destination to count calories, but just five kilometers from Margao, on Sernabatim Beach, is the answer to your weight woes. The Beach House may look as susegad as they come with thatched hut therapy rooms, paddy fields and fishing boats on the horizon, but their Weight Management Retreat is no lightweight.
How: The best way to lose weight and keep it off is to take a holistic approach instead of quick-fixes and crazy crash diets. Start the day with aloe vera shots and coffee anemas (the latter is known to cleanse the liver), with limited access to mobile network or television. Between power yoga, zumba and cardio sessions you’ll find yourself munching on fruits while swapping notes on the state of your colon with fellow guests.

Sunset glam after a hard day's work at The Beach House.
Photo Credit: Aparna Pednekar


Fringe benefit: The hypnotherapy session addresses long established lifestyle and behavioural patterns that affect weight. This is the time to trace that emotional connect to food and nip it in the bud. 

Vana: A haven of tranquility in the Himalayas.
Photo Credit: Aparna Pednekar 

Purge Yourself

What: In an increasingly volatile, hostile and troubled world, spiritual cleansing isn’t just hippie-speak. To answer all the big questions in life — where am I? What was I meant to be? What should I be doing? — you need to go deep within yourself and emerge with a modicum of clarity on the direction your life needs to take.

Where: Counted as one of the finest Himalayan luxury wellness resorts, the Vana Malsi Estate near Dehradun offers a quixotic setting, with dew-drenched sal forests, mango and lychee orchards.

How: Between June 1 to August 31, 2016, the retreat offers its patrons the chance to experience their personal version of Vassa, a Buddhist practice in which monks devote themselves to an intense study and practice of Dharma teachings. Along with meditations and yoga, your self-discovery period will be aided by acupuncture, moxibustion (a Chinese therapy that involves the burning of healing mugwart herbs near the skin), cupping and raag therapy.


Stay calm and meditate at Vana.
Photo Credit: Aparna Pednekar 

Fringe Benefit: A kun-ye massage and a session with a Tibetan doctor, who traces his/her learnings to Men Tsee Khang, the Tibetan medical centre set up by the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala.

The Shreyas advantage for millennial yogis.
Photo Credit: Aparna Pednekar

Sharpen Your Yogic Cred

What: Just like your fitness and weight goals, your yoga practice could also be stuck in a rut. Beyond power yoga classes; stunning warrior poses and pulling off a decent shirshasana, there is so much more knowledge and discipline in the yogic way of life that is aching to be explored.

Where: Just an hour’s drive from Bangalore, the Shreyas Yoga Retreat may be suspiciously luxurious, with plush jewel-toned suites and a new 20,000 square foot spa block. This is where you can take your yogic practice to another level.

How: It’s never just about contortions and picture-perfect poses, although you’re likely to perfect those. Along with asanas and pranayam, you’ll explore pratyahara (sensory withdrawal), dharana (concentration), chakra shuddhi (chakra cleansing), yoga nidra (deep relaxation) and karma yoga (community service at nearby villages).

Fringe Benefit: This August, Shreyas offers an annual 7-day retreat with Canadian Hatha Yoga teacher Heather Morton. The former model and actress with an eating disorder, is the ideal example of a true example of how yoga can transform your entire life.

Feel the stress melt away at Niraamaya.
Photo Credit: Aparna Pednekar


What: You could be jogging up the hills every day, be top dog at yoga class and glow like a princess, but there’s that empty black hole inside eating away at you every day. The twin ogres of stress and depression can overcome the best and the most disciplined of us, so it’s imperative to take a break to relax and rejuvenate.

Where: Perched on a gorgeous cliffside in Kovalam, Niraamaya, Surya Samudra is the go-to Keralite destination for corporate rats on the verge of a burnout.

How: The seven-nights corporate stress management retreat at Niraamaya is ideal for the monsoon season — known in Malyalam as karkitaka — believed to be the ideal time for Ayurvedic purification and rejuvenation of mind and body. Your aim is to balance out the three doshas — vata, pitta and kapha. To this end, you’ll be immersed into a daily itinerary of karkitaka chikitsa, abhyangasana, shirodhara, paadamardhanam, mukhalepam, pranayam, meditation and reiki.


Lose your worries over a blissful seashore dinner at Niraamaya.
Photo Credit: Aparna Pednekar 


Fringe Benefit: If your stress levels aren’t in the danger zone, opt for a day trip which includes abhyangasnana (traditional Ayurvedic oil massage), sweating with herbal pouches (kizhy) and detox herbal drinks.

Main Image Photo Credit: Aparna Pednekar (Nirmaya)

Aparna Pednekar


 Aparna is an India - based travel writer for leading lifestyle and fashion publications. She's also a gemologist and jewelry designer. New cities, new food, cats, dogs, snakes, hours of walking and driving fuel her incurable ADD.


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