What is so special about Kerala and Kerala Ayurveda?

The Arabian Sea on the west coast, the Western Ghats on the east with its 2.700m  moutain range and a network of forty-four rivers makes Kerala an unique place to visit. A constant climate, a long coast with peaceful solitary beaches, beautiful jadegreen water channels (backwaters) that extends from the coast far into the heartland of Kerala.

 

 

 

This has made Kerala a special tourist destination in Asia. Hillstations (trip to the hills / higher altitude), exotic fauna and flora, waterfalls, widely extended rice, coffee, tea, and rubber plantations, Ayurveda holidays, enchanting art and crafts, magical Festivals, historical and cultural heritage objects and not to forget, last but not least, the fabulous, exotic  cuisine……

 

 

 

So far the eyes can see there are  miles and miles of blue green cocconut plantations blending with the sparkling white sands of the beaches and the waves of an  azure blue Arabian Sea dashing against the black rocks. That is Kerala. For sun starved people Kerala has a lot to offer, she has as many beautiful beaches as Goa. Contrary to Goa, Kerala has diverse touristic attraction to offer the guests, for old and young, for adventourous people, for cultur oriented and for those who want a quiet solitary respite from the hectic bustle of city life.
Due to the long colonial Portuguese rule Goa has lost a lot of regional flair and authenticity and has a strange mixture of west and east, less of tradition that one finds in Kerala. For those seeking culture Kerala is rich in its deeprooted tradition seen in the dance festivals, temple festivals, and boat races just to name a few. For nature lovers the wilderness, biodiverse rain forests,  animals like elephants, deer and birds in Kerala  are a fascinating  passtime. Ancient temples and old palaces are also interesting tourist attraction.

As the sun goes down one can sit back relaxed and watch the enchanting play of colour reflected in the  water and sky, watch myriads of birds settling on the trees as night falls and the stars begin to shine. The green labyrinth of canals, rivers and lagoons have a quaint charm of their own and if one wishes, one can make a boat trip where time stands still and all worries are forgotten. Just be.

Often on both sides of the canals one can view village life with its everyday activities, women washing clothes, children playing or fishermen fishing and if one is hungry one can buy  fish and let it be cooked. With warm rice, vegetables mainly cooked with grated coconut, and fresh fish from the sweet waters what more could one want.

If one feels inclined for a little bit of local intoxication one can down the spicy food (optional) with a glass or two of toddy (palm wine) a local drink, pretty strong. For the stomach as well as for the spirit there is nourishment. This spectacle can be enjoyed in Kerala either from a houseboat in lake Vempanad or from the coast as well as from the forests resorts. If one is a little tired of the warm fan of humid air wafting from the sea and the dense forests one can make a trip to the hill resorts with its rolling mists and cool breeze.

 

The Periyar Tiger trail, is an exciting trekking programme through the dense forests in the Periyar river valley, near the Thekkady tourist resort in Idukki district, Kerala. There are a variety of wildlife including elephants, sambar deer, a large species of butterflies and a multitude of birds, to name a few the famous Indian hornbill and the blue Kingfisher. There is for everyone something that  caters to individual taste and personal whims.

 

Who goes to Kerala?

It is amazing that all age groups, from 2-80 onwards are to be seen there. Young families with children as well as pensioners almost about 80 or more. In Kovalam there is even a German Bakery to cater to the German tradition of  special breads. Italian pasta, all kinds of fresh fish prepared local or continental style, seasonal sun-ripened friuts and delicious coconut water is also available. If one sits back and observes, it is a kaleidoscope of multi -cultures in Kovalam. From yoga freaks to new age -guru’s, Indian women in colourful saris with long black oiled plaits to western women in skimpy bikinis or floating skirts, old and the young, modern and the traditional all blend together in the scenario. There are vendors selling colourful wares and with a little bit of luck, a  good bargain for both parties concerned, all enjoying the sun and the sea. The salty tang of sea breeze play gently on the sun-soaked skin as one reclines in one of the beach chairs of a strand caf- sipping fruit juice or a beer. If one wishes to wake up from the gentle lull of mid-afternoon siesta one can even sip a cappucino or a fruit coctail at caf- Fusion in Kovalam.
Aged pensioners from the west, tired of Mallorco have found in Goa and Kerala a place to retire. With a small ammount of money one can live a relatively comfortable life here.

Ayurveda in Kerala

There is a tale told long ago based on the ancient Indian Epic RAMAYANA that is indirectly connected to Ayurveda. Sita was imprisoned by Ravana the rulling king of Lanka, in the island what is known today as Sri Lanka. Sick at heart and pinning for her husband Ram she was imprisoned in the garden Asoka.

As the epic story goes there ensued an epic battle between Rama and Ravana symbol of “good” and the “bad”. Hanuman (the monkey god)was a faithful believer of Ram and played a major role in the epic and to the tale of Ayurveda. As Lakshman the brother of Rama lay mortally wounded on the ground, Sushena the physician comforted him. “There is still some life in Laksman, he said. Send Hanuman to the Gandhamardan mountain for a life-saving herb. It is golden in colour.”

The mountain was covered with numerous plants and herbs. Since Hanuman could not identify the life-saving medicinal herb and time was running short  he carried the entire mountain and placed it on the feet of Rama. On this famous journey or life saving mission to Lanka, Hanuman accidently dropped a few herbs in the region what is known as Kerala today. Lakshman was brought back to life and the victory of Rama over Ravana is even now celebrated all over India. Thus to cut the long epic episode short, what is important here is to note that the forests in Kerala are full of plants and medicinal herbs. Ayurveda medicine uses medicinal plants and herbs for its curative method. Plants and herbs play an essential role in Ayurveda, so “the wisdom of life” is indirectly connected to the Epic Ramayana.

To conclude this part of the Ayurveda series I shall quote Dr. Jayaprakash:
“Thousands of years back in antiquity remain the roots of a science that diagnosed illness from the throb of a pulse and healed them with natures nectars; a miraculous system of medicine that has imbibed the essence and fragrance of mother nature; a tradition of health care that still elude the logic and theories of modern medicine and yet cures even the so called incurable diseases” – AYURVEDA or THE WISDOM of LIFE”

“A dream realm for the health conscious to achieve total well being of mind, body and spirit. Dharma Ayurveda – the authentic house practicing genuine traditional Kerala Ayurveda treatments (*original Dravidian style) down the centuries through gererations.”

* “Dravida vaidya or the dravidian style is the original indigenous system which is far more effective and gives faster results than the popularly practised aryavaidya (aryan style of ayurveda.” Dr. Jayaprakash

Translated by Paramita Lahiri

Source: Raimund Mueller