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India is the home of Ayurveda because Ayurveda is the Indian Science of life. I have been learning about Ayurveda for about 18 months via various wellness podcasts (my favourites are here) and reading books like Perfect Health (my review of the book and what I learned is here) so not only was I excited to travel to India for the first time in 2018 for 4 months but I was also excited to learn more about Ayurveda and I had hopes of being able to eat in an Ayurvedic way for my body and really delve into this ancient system.
However I’m going to be honest and tell you that it was not that easy at all and I found a huge lack of places for Ayurveda in India and places to learn about it.
In a few towns I saw the usual ‘Ayurvedic Massage’ being offered but quickly realised they were not trained in Ayurveda and would do a massage similar to any other on their list. Restaurants did not mention anything to do with Ayurvedic foods and there was also a lack of places to get treatments such as Panchakarma (unless you want to spend a lot of money in a fancy resort) and speak to a good Ayurvedic Practitioner in India.
Perhaps I didn’t dig deep enough or visit the right places but I did visit a lot of places in 4 months and most of the major tourist places.
If you are looking for Ayurveda in India, whether thats to study Ayurveda in India or get Ayurvedic treatments in India, here are the best places I found that offered Ayurveda and the the places I found that offer Ayurveda but I would not recommend:
Ayurveda in India
Ayurveda in Udaipur
There are lots of store fronts with ‘Ayurveda’ written all over them in Udaipur and they all offer a range of massages. I found it all to be a bit too sales-y for my liking and at a number of stores I tried to ask questions on what made the massage Ayurvedic, is it specific to the persons dosha and I didn’t get much of an explanation apart from being told the Ayurvedic massage focuses on the pressure points.
I tried one though as I was intrigued. It was good and definitely different to a full body Swedish or Thai massage but the person was clearly not trained in Ayurvedic massages in a real way, I wasn’t blown away by it and I didn’t feel the passion for Ayurveda in Udaipur from anyone. Just the sales and money.
Ayurveda in Pushkar
Pushkar is a Holy and Spiritual place as well as being a bit of a haven for travellers, backpackers and hippies so I thought I would see Ayurveda here.
I saw a few Ayurvedic massages on offer along with a range of other massages which didn’t seem that genuine and appealing (just like in Udaipur).
However I did see an Ayurveda Medicine stall where the guy will go through your constitution and then recommend Ayurvedic medicines for you and it sounded very genuine.
Luckily towards the end of my stay I found Deepak Ayurveda Massage Centre Pushkar who offer Abhyangam (Ayurvedic) Massages as well as Reflexology, Deep Tissue Massage and Traditional Rajasthani Massage.
It is more pricey here at 1500-2500Rs depending on the treatment. I went for the 75 minute Abhyangam Massage which was 2500Rs and wow, it was the best massage I have ever had! I could feel Deepak doing work on me rather than just massaging me. By the end and by plenty of work on my third eye I felt so relaxed and good.
Afterwards Deepak sat down and gave me a few tips on my lifestyle and how to live in more of an Ayurvedic way. I knew some of them anyway, other things were good to know but hard to take on in my lifestyle travelling-especially the cooking and food elements.
After this he spoke a bit about what he found in my body, chakra’s and mind which was what I was most looking for aside from the massage and that information was very valuable.
Overall if you are looking for an Ayurvedic Massage in Pushkar I really recommend Deepak Ayurveda Massage Centre!
Ayurveda in Dharamshala
There’s not a huge amount of Ayurveda up here but there is a practise in Bhagsu that I was recommended by a friend – Ayuskama which offers consultations, panchakarma, other treatments and even courses, which do look really good!
There are a few others that come up on Google as well as a few signs around the towns. Dharamshala and the surrounding villages are the kind of places where people do know about Ayurveda and you’ll probably end up speaking to a fellow traveller who knows about it as Dharamshala attracts that kind of person!
So I do think Dharamshala is a good place for Ayurveda in India but be sure to do some research online in advance or when you get there and speak to some people.
Ayurveda in Rishikesh
Now Rishikesh is a good place to go for Ayurveda, in fact it’s the best place in Northern India I have found. It’s mainly because it’s the home of Yoga and Ayurveda is the sister science to Yoga, and it also attracts that kind of crowd!
There’s still a lot more Yoga around and I whilst I saw a lot of courses being offered in Rishkiesh for Yoga, Chakras, Meditation, Music etc there wasn’t much for Ayurveda but there are some good practitioners.
I went to see Ayurveda Nirvana, firstly I love that it’s ran by a women – Dr.Usha Vaishnava, and she really knows her stuff. I had a consultation with her which only lasted 30 minutes but in that time she asked me lots of questions, wrote down all of her recommendations so I could take the paper and notes away with me. I mainly went in for my skin as I am experiencing hormonal acne and I want to balance my body with Ayurveda so she gave me some tablets, cream and face wash and for the one set of tablets she didn’t have she wrote down what I needed and I got it at a near by shop. The consultation cost 500Rs/ £5.00 and in total my tablets cost 800Rs / £8.00 which is so good compared to what I’d pay at home!
I would really recommend going to Ayurveda Nirvana in Rishikesh if you want to get an overview of your dosha, your imbalances and how to balance them, whether you know anything about Ayurveda or not. Just be sure to book in advance as she is very busy!
She does do Panchakarma and lots of other places in Rishikesh offer Panchakarma too but these are clinics in the town rather than retreats. My friend started it but after the first massage she didn’t feel like it was the right place to be doing Panchakarma having to walk to and from the practise along the busy streets and then have to pick what to eat at restaurants.
She, like me, has thought of Panchakarama being in a centre where you can relax so do keep this in mind if you want to do Panchakarma in India and in Rishikesh especially.
Ayurveda in Goa
I really didn’t see much Ayurveda in Goa except for massage places offering Ayurvedic massages along with normal massages too. Even though Goa is very close to Kerala it hasn’t got much of an Ayurvedic influence apart from these massages and to be honest, I can’t imagine they are very good or that the masseuse is professionally trained in Ayurveda.
Ayurveda in Kerala
Kerala is the home of Ayurveda in India and in the tourist places like Alleppey, Varkala, Kochi and Munnar there are plenty of places offering Ayurvedic massages with more options than I’ve seen elsewhere in India but there does seem to be a huge commercialism and sales pitch around it all.
If you want a good massage in India, an Ayurvedic massage in a tourist spot in Kerala is the way to go and can be found easily, but if you want to see a real Ayurvedic Doctor you’ll have to look a bit harder, just like in the rest of India.
In Varkala I saw Puccini Lala Eco Wellness Resort who have an Ayurvedic Doctor on site and many treatment rooms, this looked and sounded more like the real deal, especially as it’s in a resort dedicated to well-being.
If you want to study Ayurveda then Kerala is a good option too but from what I saw, there were not lots of places advertising it, which in some ways is good I guess, you will have to look for Ayurveda courses but I can imagine its one of the best places to study Ayurveda if you find the right place.
I hope this helps give you an idea of what Ayurveda in India is like. I will continue to add to this as I see more of India and delve deeper into Ayurveda.