Temple of “slow down”

The Malsi Estate in Vana, India, proofs a visionary that “wellbeing” is not just a vogue expression:

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Always well cared for by skilled healers, we felt the harmony of body and soul in the middle of this beautiful nature that reminds one of paradise.

Asha has been working on me for three days. Every morning I sink into this relieving feel good effect when her hands are massaging me from head to toe with warm oil. Asha resolves stress into well being. She even lifts the burden of marathon work at the computer off my shoulders. “It’s better now, can you feel?”, she asks, as her hands slide softly over my muscles, which had been hard as the saddle of an ox on the first day. “Mmmh”, do I mumble out of my deep sense of relaxation.

The Abhyanga massage by Asha is only one of the special treats in the Malsi Estate, Vana, North India. “Vana” means forest and we spend a one week “Detox” holidays there with a scenic view at the Saaltrees, a special kind of tree that only grows in this area, where the sunlight falls through the canopy. This place at the frontier to Nepal is made for people who are longing for recovery and recreation. Ayurveda, Yoga, Tibetan and Chinese medicine cooperate with the Indian hospitality in a unique way. The area measures 85000 square meters, which equals the size of 12 soccer fields, at the foot of the Himalaya mountains. Wild orchids bloom between mango and lychee trees. Instead of artistic flower arrangements, the gardeners grow bio vegetables and plant small oases of herbal scents such as basil, thyme and mint. Into this scenery fit the puristic country estates, designed by star architect Antoni Esteva from Mallorca, with 86 state of the art rooms and suites, as well as four mansions.

My day starts at 7.30 am on a blue mattress. In the Yoga Pavilion in front of me stands Aashish Nanda on one leg as if rooted to the ground, showing me the “tree”. My own tree waves in the wind like bamboo, but Aashish brings me swiftly back to balance. I learn how to stand up right, how to breath flowingly and how to do endless stretching exercises (since I am back home, I actually do a short yoga exercise every morning).

At 10 am I have an appointment with Dr. Avilochan. Already his great grandfather was an Ayurveda teacher. The friendly doctor wears a white Kurta and a dark red turban. His pulse diagnosis has affected me to tears. When he takes his fingers from my wrist, he knows more about me and my body than my family doctor after ten years. Singh draws my attention to a distant friend – my stomach. I get to know at what time he tolerates nutrition best, in what quantity and at what temperature. Luckily the Indian with the cozy belly does not want to convert me into an ascetic way of life and he also does not prescribe his specialty, a Panchakarma treatment that is supposed to free your body from the relics of metabolism by the means of fast, diversion, enemas and oil treatments. This takes at least two weeks.

To call Vana, Malsi Estate a Spa, would be like describing the Taj Mahal as a summer house, claims the British Travel Magazine “Condè Nast Traveller”. Also the expression “wellness clinic” or “luxury resort” is not the right one in my opinion. “Five Star Ashram” is a better way to put it: Retreat, to fully let go from the normal rhythm, to recover, all this on a high- end niveau. This is what it is all about. The concept originated from a young man, who has no time for a retreat at the moment. Where is the supplier with the fire bowls? Have they finished sealing the hard wooden floor? Are the balconies, pools and treatment rooms well lit? Veer Singh has been preparing this project for 5 years. Now nothing shall go wrong anymore. The 30-year-old men from Delhi has studied physics in London. He was a biofarmer in India and Spain. Both sensitized him to the vulnerability of our eco system. He says it was a “sign of fate” when his family asked him to draft the concept of the Resort Malsi Estate. Because “wellbeing” means not a touristic profit program to the Vegan man, but a principle for life he wants to share with others:

In Vana one breaths crystal clear Himalayan air, one sleeps in biological bed linens and one experiences a health program that is individually coordinated with your body and soul. Humans and nature shall come to terms with each other. As special as the demand are the experts who are implementing it. For example, Dr. Sonam Oshoe, scientist at the Institute for Tibetan Medicine of the Dalai Lama in Dharamshala, has developed a healing concept for Vana. The treatments that are closely related to Ayurveda are partially accompanied by quiet Buddhist prayers and seem touchingly loving. Or Jitendra Uniyal, doctor of traditional Chinese medicine. After 20 years of practice on three continents, he has accomplished so much in the field of acupuncture that he even converts me. It has to be mentioned here that I hate acupuncture. Nevertheless, I do endure the procedure every afternoon, lying on the mattress, pierced with two dozen needles and words of good advice in order to strengthen my vital force, and I know, I will miss this back home. Only when the doctor burns cotton-like tufts of dried mugwort on some of the needles, my pulse is erratic for a short time. By the way, Uniyal is also a master of pulse diagnosis. My companion, a rationalist to the core, had an appointment with him and now, he almost believes, how shall I put this… in ghosts. When we propose a toast with our basil water that accompanies our virtually non-spiced detox dinner, we feel so healthy and tidy on our last day, as we have not felt for a long time. Within only one week, our body has recreated itself completely and even the head feels like after a spring-cleaning. We pay our respect to you Mr. Singh, your concept is great!