Soul curry

Soul curry

Escape on a weekend retreat to an Ayurvedic holiday at the Gateway Hotel, Kozhikode

Kavita Devgan
March 20 , 2014
06 Min Read

The plane began its descent and I looked down and saw a vast, thick expanse of green. No sign of the city I was supposed to be visiting! Well, I should have known. Situated on the southwest coast of India, threaded with backwaters, Calicut (or Kozhikode, as it prefers to call itself now) is beautifully bathed in a hue of monsoonal green that’s quite different from the shade we live with in Delhi: it is definitely darker and deeper. Out of the airport, this happy hue stayed with me all through my one-hour drive to The Gateway Hotel, my home for the next three days.

There, after showering away the rigours of an entire morning spent airplane- and airport-hopping, I tucked into some comfort food at their all-day dining restaurant GAD (Gateway All Day). Vellayappam and kozhi curry was exactly what I needed to energise in preparation for a weekend of cleansing body-mind-soul (per the plan I had come with).


So without further delay, I went visiting. To the Ayurveda centre which sat on the other side of the pool from my room. It is affiliated to the famed Coimbatore Ayushman Trust of the Coimbatore Arya Vaidya Sala, offering their standalone therapy sessions as well as whole rejuvenation programmes. Between five treatment rooms, one yoga centre, two Ayurvedic doctors and ten trained therapists, the centre keeps the basic rigour of ‘authentic’ Ayurveda solutions intact within the comforts of a five-star ambience. There aren’t too many places that manage this balance successfully, said a 78-year-old lady (who looked more like 60) I met at the centre, there on her sixth visit. This yearly sojourn, she said, helped her cope with her health problems. “Besides, I love their food,” she added.

Food, yes, that’s a big draw. But more about that later, because now it was time for me to head to the beaches.

I take to water like a dolphin. In every beach versus hills debate, I vote for the wave every time. So after a quick look around close-by Calicut city beach, I went further to Kappad beach, soaking in the blue. And yet was able to make it back for the fabulous dinner buffet at GAD.

Next morning began early. I had a yoga session scheduled at 8am at the Ayurveda centre. There I met Dr Valsala, who initiated me into yoga with a surya namaskar.

I was scheduled to go back to the centre for my consultation with the doctor two hours later, so meanwhile I had a look around. Besides the GAD, there’s the watering hole called Logan’s Lounge, which serves its drinks in a colonial ambience, a boardroom and a 24-hour business centre, a conference hall called Beypore, a gift shop, a pool and Active Studio, the gym.

Then it was back to the centre, where the doctor took over again. After a detailed discussion, she worked out a three-day plan to address my ‘issues’: weak digestion, fatigue, back pain and stress. Then she taught me the first step of pranayama (and we perfected it over the next three days) before I went in for my muscle-relaxing massage. The next two days had a similar format of treatment — yoga, pranayama and a massage concentrating on my problem area (upper back). I was also taught the pawanmuktasana, which I realised was possibly all I needed to rejuvenate my always-tired self in the everyday.

So what are these rigorous meals like, then? Well, as a trained nutritionist, I can promise you this diet was easy to stick to compared with advice I have dispensed myself! Take that last day: Ayurvedic meals the entire day, beginning with a moong-dal dosai (like a pesarattu) in the morning, moving on to tempered beetroot salad, subzi kochar, lauki-palak bhaji, tandoor-grilled mushroom, steamed kofta curry, Chinese greens with burnt garlic and the delicious dolma with spinach sauce paired with ragi rotis and steamed red rice. Did I lick my fingers after every meal? Yes, absolutely!

Chef Salin Kumar also introduced me to the Gateway’s Active Foods concept. This menu basically collects dishes that are high in fibre, antioxidants and phytochemicals, low on the glycaemic index and which rely on handpicked fresh ingredients. Active meals are balanced to meet your daily nutrition needs. Simply put, it includes foods that, when eaten regularly, make you fitter, happier, more energetic and healthier. Speaking to him, I recognised a few of these items that I had sampled without thought through my many meals during the stay: the smoothies, fresh juices, wheat bran and flaxseed breads at breakfast, the Greek salad, oven-roasted tomato and burnt pepper soup, the Gateway dosa made with nine types of lentils...

In between eating and treating myself, I managed a day trip to the shipbuilding town of Beypore. On my last evening, I went down for one last look at the Kozhikode beachfront. Spent a glorious hour there, sitting on one of the two dilapidated jetties to watch the sun go down. A 10-minute walk back and I was home — at the hotel, a stone’s throw from the city centre. The perfect location for those who can’t take a break at a ‘retreat’ to rejuvenate their mind, body, and soul!

The Information

Location Beach Road, Calicut; 28km from the airport; 1.5km from the railway station
Accommodation 70 rooms, 4 suites
Tariff Rooms from Rs 5,800, suites from Rs 12,000. Ayurveda packages start from Rs 10,500–16,000 per day, and include stay, meals prescribed by the physician, consultation charges, ayurvedic oil therapy (external) and herbal medication (to be taken internally) plus all taxes.
Contact 0495-6613000,

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