Spread over more than 10ha of lagoons and landscaped grounds, Lalit Resort & Spa features 37 suites, one presidential suite, a floating cottage (in traditional kettuvallam style and suitable for two adults and two children), restaurant and bar, plus Rejuve-The Spa, offering ayurvedic healing and curative therapies. More: thelalit.com. secrecy surrounding the details of the rituals, with rumours of hunting and drinking animal blood, which makes the atmosphere all the more fevered.
The large town of Kasaragod is worth a look if you like the bustle of markets. The choice of spices is vast and we buy a small sack of dried chillies and cinnamon quills for about $2. We choose some beautiful chiffon saris from Kalyan Silks, the best-known store for such things. I go for a bridal sari because I like the colour and want to drape it somewhere in my house and am leapt upon by a team of giddy assistants who wrap and pleat it around me in a way I’ll never be able to replicate. This is one of the more chichi places to buy fabric, but prices are so low we worry if we’ve miscalculated and there might be an extra zero on the metres of fabric we buy for only about $35.
An ayurvedic treatment is also a must. I try shirodhara, wherein what feels like three or four litres of warm herbal oil is dripped from a contraption on to my head until my hair and scalp are drenched. This is said to trigger a healing of the nervous system and soothe the soul. In the touristy parts of Kerala, ayurvedic treatments are available everywhere but, happily, Lalit Resort & Spa is served by one of the best ayurvedic doctors in India, Dr Ranju Raphael, and many travel here specifically for his treatments.
He prescribes another anointment for me called the pizhichil. This time the continuous oily stream covers the whole body and is followed by a massage. I think my soul isn’t just soothed by this treatment as made blissfully drunk, but half an hour later I feel calmly rejuvenated and ready for more sleep.
THE TIMES Lesley Thomas was a guest of Lalit Resort & Spa, Bekal.