With the monsoon rains descending on Kerala, creating just the right cool and balmy atmosphere, health resorts and clinics in the southern Indian state are ready with their Ayurveda packages to pamper and heal tourists.
The theory that monsoon is the best season for Ayurveda rejuvenation programmes has been proved right because the atmosphere remains dust-free and moist, opening up the pores of the body and making it most receptive to herbal oils and therapy.
Another reason behind Ayurveda's success in Kerala is the state's climate and the abundant supply of herbs and medicinal plants, vital ingredients for making the medicines.
While the tariff is competitive among the resorts, the least one would have to cough up is around 40 to 60 euros for a day.
The most preferred treatment protocol is the rejuvenation package, which consists of massages. Body slimming, stress management and beauty care packages are also popular.
Muthoot Hotels managing director John Muthoot told IANS that bookings at the Taj Green Cove hotel near Kovalam were excellent.
"We have a unique treatment protocol and in our six treatment rooms during the monsoons we have around a dozen people a day. The treatment extends from 90 minutes to almost five hours. We use organically dyed towels, porcelain vessels free from lead and the candles we use are made out of honey bee wax," he said.
While most of the resorts are interested in shorter Ayurvedic programmes, some others are offering one- to three-week-long treatment protocols for modern day ailments like obesity, mental tension, spondylosis and skin problems.
Jose Dominic, head of CGH Earth, a premium chain of resorts, said the Kalari Kovilakam at Palakkad, which has 18 rooms, would be full during the monsoon season.
"We have a two-week programme, which costs 5,000 euros all inclusive, and over the years it has become a much sought-after product. During the two weeks, we don't serve tea or coffee, the phones will be disconnected and there will be a full-fledged Ayurvedic kitchen," said Dominic.
The various treatment protocols in Ayurveda include different types of massages, pouring of a herbal liquid through a special vessel on the forehead and other parts of the body, application of herbal leaves and powders (that are made into pouches and immersed in warm medicated oil) all over the body, application of herbal juices and medicated oil through the nose.
Another attractive experience during the rainy season is a moving ayurvedic houseboat from the Alappuzha-based Pulikattil Tours.
Tomy Pulikattil, owner of the houseboat, said the bookings for his Ayurvedic houseboat this season had picked up well.
"We offer a package in a houseboat, which has two rooms. The massage is given under the guidance of Ayurvedic doctors. We offer only vegetarian food and the family package comes at Rs.4,000 plus Rs.1,000 per person for massage," said Pulikattil.
While the resorts and classified hotels get their routine clients, the traditional exponents of massages are also doing roaring business.
Ambi Asan, a fourth generation traditional expert in massaging, says though he now advertises his services, he has got a large number of clients by word of mouth publicity.
"I use herbal oils that I prepare and my massage is just for a minute or two. For best results, clients have to come and stay near my house and have to apply my oil throughout the day. The results are visible in a week," said Asan, who stays close to the famed Kovalam beach near here.
The state health and tourism departments are conducting surprise checks at all resorts to see that fly-by-night operators under the disguise of Ayurveda do not take tourists for a ride.
Ayurveda believes in the treatment of not just the affected part but the whole body. According to experts, it is a natural way to refresh oneself by eliminating all toxic imbalances in the body and thus regain resistance and good health.