Footworks to bliss

Knead away the stress and rejuvenate your body and mind with the famed Kalari massage at the Divya Spa at The Leela Kovalam.

Knead away the stress and rejuvenate your body and mind with the famed Kalari massage at the Divya Spa at The Leela Kovalam.


If the picturesque sight of palm leaves swaying in the sea breeze, sea waves continuously lapping up the sandy beaches, fishing boats bobbing in the sea and the invigorating smell of cardamom and bursting jackfruits aren’t heady enough, I am introduced to the wonders of traditional Kalari massage by the Divya Spa manager Sunil Raj. K at The Leela Kovalam. His advice: “It’s surely going to work wonders on professionals like you who have erratic working hours and are under constant stress.” Sounds apt as I make my through the Zen-like spa interiors and into a corner room with two young girls greeting me with folded hands and a smile. They are my masseuse, I am told. A tastefully done up room with diffused spotlights, stone flooring and a peeping view of the sea greets me. However, it has sparse interiors comprising a wooden bed (without legs) lying on the ground and a jute rope hanging above it, quite unlike the usual, soft linen covered bed and flower-filled copper vessel seen in most spa rooms. Reading my flummoxed look, the masseuse explains: “It’s our spa’s signature massage and this is how it’s done in the traditional way.” So, it’s different from the luxurious confines of the other seven rooms that make up the Divya Spa.

I lie down on the wooden bed that has been covered with a sheet of soft towel and the trained duo go about dabbing my body with copious amount of sesame oil before beginning to massage every frayed nerve with their nimble feet. Yes, that’s the USP of Kalari in which the entire body is massaged by the masseuse using her foot. Traditionally, this form of massage is applied on the exponents of Kerala’s martial arts i.e. Kalaripayattu who need it to sharpen their reflexes, make their body flexible and agile. 


However, it’s rejuvenating and healing properties has made it find its way into luxury spas as well. As the adept feet of the duo go about applying the right pressure on my body, kneading away every iota of stress and ache that was lying bottled up, I suddenly begin to wake up to the wondrous effects of this massage and feel the stress melting away and the body seeming lighter. As I lie down with my back facing upwards, I feel their magical foot work stimulating every marma or vital energy points of the body, be it my spine, shoulders or feet, even as they steadily hold on to the suspended rope for support. Such is their synchronised movement that I am left wondering how.

As their therapy takes over, I slip into a deep trance. My blissful hour-long sleep during this 90-minute treatment is cut short when one of them taps my palm and wakes me up to undertake the ritualistic post-treatment shower. This includes scrubbing the body with green moong dal paste to remove the extra oil and add a glow to the already visibly glowing skin.

I am loving it.


Ready Reckoner:

The Divya Spa is spread over 8,000 sq. ft. and is equipped with eight treatment rooms to cater to both guests staying at The Leela Kovalam and visitors coming to Kovalam.

It offers a range of traditional Ayurvedic treatments – the Netra Tharpanam i.e. warm, medicated ghee eye bath to relieve eye strain and strengthen the optic nerves, the Abhyanga Snana or body massage, the signature Kalari massage and Shirodhara, to name a few.

Rejuvenating and detoxification packages are available for 7, 14 and 21 days.

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