If you think about Spas, especially with respect to the treatment methodologies and practices available then undoubtedly the place to go to for some of the world’s finest treatments would be India.
India as has once been described is one of the Spa worlds greatest trust funds. When you consider it; that is not that an unusual description especially for a country that gave us such a wealth and breadth of wonderful treatments.
It is amazing quite how often treatments have originated from India and gone on to be in such demand worldwide. The leading ones including the following: Abhyanga, Shirodhara, Yoga, Meditation, Ayurveda, Doshas and Chakras.
Yet the surprising thing about this is that despite the wide variety of treatments that have originated from India, the whole concept of spas and western-style health resorts almost definitely is a recent phenomenon with regards to India.
It was said in the old days that if you wanted to steam, all you had to do was step out into the baking heat of the Indian summer and the fat and cellulite would pour off you in a few minutes. That having said that there were always the centuries old tradition of the various therapies practiced at Hindu ashrams (monastic retreats) throughout the country.
These offered a wide variety of holistic and life enhancing treatments such as Ayurveda and Yoga amongst others. However, modern day India has joined the western worlds demand for more and more exclusive and exquisite treatments with a vengeance.
Today, there is nothing you cannot get in Indian Spas and to be quite frank they do it by and large a lot better than most elsewhere. From packaged contortion, aromatic rubs, aura imaging and herbal body pummelling all are available aplenty within the fast growing market for Spas in India.
However it has to be said that it is the traditional Ayurvedic Spa treatments that flourish like a cottage industry in the southern state of Kerala that really encompass and represent India.
Like the vast range geographic and climatic differences that make up India the treatments are accordingly wide and varied. In Ananda, high up in the Himalayas where a wellness sanctuary situated in a restored royal palace in the Himalayan foothills claims to have the world’s oldest billiards table you can get the benefit of therapeutic treatments based on traditional Ayurvedic and yoga meditation.
From here you can drop down to the historic valley of Indias sacred Ganges River at Rishikesh where each and every day at Sunset you can witness the Ganga Maha Aarti, a 90 minute ceremony of music and chanting that takes place at an ashram on the bank of the river so there is plenty of relaxation for mind as well as soul!
For the more selective jetsetter travelling within India are a chain of Hotels dotted throughout the north and west of the country managed by Oberoi Hotels. With Wellness Spas provided by Banyan Tree they are much favoured by corporate travellers especially.
In a lot of cases the Hotel industry has benefited in a rather weird and roundabout manner from Indias emergence into a twenty first century democracy. When British rule was abolished in the late 1940s and India gained independence, the large number of Maharajas that had benefited rather well from British rule had their vast incomes from land taken away from them and by and large left with only their real estate or palaces.
The far seeing and forward thinking amongst them realised that there was income and profit to be had from converting these incredibly impressive palaces into modern day hotels and the luxury hotel and spa market in India took off with a vengeance.
It has not looked back since.