ver since The Beatles
adopted their guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and fled to northern India in the 1960s, the subcontinent has lured droves of westerners seeking a time-out from flashing lights and fast food. Today, India boasts a far wider selection of places to detox and get enlightened, ranging from ascetic to aesthetic. On the rigorous end of the spectrum is Kalari Kovilakom
, a 19th-century palace in the Anamalai Hills in Kerala. The retreat’s location is, according to legend, infused with healing powers, but there are also non-magical therapies on offer such as meditation, yoga, Ayurvedic massages and nutrition programs. The ashram-like atmosphere—all bare feet and white pyjamas—is offset by vast four-poster beds and cloister-like hallways bedecked with wooden carvings. Those newer to holistic trial-by-fire could head to Goa, where the Leela
and Taj Exotica
hotels overlook the Arabian Sea. At the Exotica, 50 acres of gardens surround a modern Ayurvedic spa, though food-wise, there are seven restaurants, serving everything from local Goan delicacies to lobster rolls. For city slickers, the Oberoi Rajvilas
in Jaipur offers spiritual cleansing treatments like hot herbal poultices and chakra balancing; within the hotel’s grounds, a Havali (or, Rajasthani mansion) has been restored as a spa. Princely tents are dotted around the gardens, but guests can also dose on the bustling city outside, home to palatial Mughal architecture and the Gem Palace. At the famous Ananda
spa, nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas with breathtaking views over the Ganges, visitors may relax in the sylvan environs of the palace that once housed the Maharaja of Tehri-Garhwal.