This is an in depth analysis and guide for the Nature cure hospital at Shantivana - Ujire - Dharmasthala - Karnataka - India.
Dhanyosmi! This was the overwhelming feeling I had about the noble souls who had envisioned and started this Nature Care Hospital for a holistic treatment. They had a vision, a noble cause and a yearning to serve and guide the society towards a healthy living.
I had first heard about the nature care hospital at
Dharmasthala way back may be in 2006-2007 when my
friend Sujatha from Tumkur, who had been there for treatment narrated her wonderful experiences. She was all praises for the service oriented treatment meted
out there. It had always remained at the back of my
mind that I should visit the place. Infact just a month back when we programmer friends at the monthly meet were sharing our health and stress woes, we were sort of planning that at least once we should skip this daily mundane and escape to Dharmasthala. I, in my wildest
dreams, would not have imagined that exactly one month later when all my colleagues were attending the meeting, I would be here in Dharmasthala indulging in a holistic treatment for the body and soul.
Yes. That is what it is. I think there is a wrong notion that one should visit this place only when one has health issues or obesity problems. Contrary to this I feel that once one reaches 40, it is a place one must visit ( But of course, there is always heavy demand and one has to book the rooms very well in advance and generally, very healthy persons are not solicited, as they want to address the problems of the patients first.)
The accommodation in Ujire has been made to suits to all pockets and budgets. There is a general ward for Rs.300 per person per day, a special room at Rs.450 per day on twin sharing, Deluxe rooms on twin sharing at Rs.700 per day which has TV and AC. Then there are cottages which cost Rs.1250 per day per person,wherein the occupants have the advantage of having some of the massages and food in their rooms. The rent includes the room rent and food charges.For additional treatments they charge a nominal fee which works out to approximately Rs.1000 for
a stay of ten days, with two treatments per day.If one needs further treatments like acupuncture, physio-therapy, then it costs about another 50 rupees per day.
The procedure of admission is quite simple. The rooms can be booked over phone, but well in advance. Immediately on arrival, an in-house doctor will check us, prescribe further clinical tests needed, if any, gives us a diet scheme depending on our body constitution and health problems. These notes will be recorded on a card which will be updated everyday by the doctor visiting us. We are supposed to carry this card for all our treatments, juices and foods.
Well, talking about food, this could prove the ultimate boon or bane for our stay. Here is the real catch. Those who have a strong will power and self-control over their food habits need not worry. For weak minded, or those who love food
( then, who would not!? ) this is a strict
no-no. We are not supposed to carry any eatables from home. At the entrance gate itself the security will whisk us and take away any eatables found on us. Once we enter inside, other than the food provided by the staff, we will get ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Forget tea or coffee, even milk is out of our reach. But if you have some funny bones, you will thoroughly enjoy the sights there at the dining area!
It will be a sight to watch how people used to indulge in sumptuous meals looking longingly at a hot chapati or a person weighing more than 100 kgs holding his cup of papaya gingerly and take half an hour to eat it or the girls who are officers back home in their towns, but are on juice diet at the centre pouncing on the plates of persons who are allowed rice.
There are three varieties of diet foods provided here : boiled diet, raw diet, and juice. The taste every day for every food remains just the same ( In fact I always wondered how could they prepare it exactly the same way everyday. If you have tasted it for one day, then you have tasted it for all days! ) The boiled diet consists of rice boiled with a little green gram dal, a few vegetables and just a hint of salt and pepper. A few boiled vegetables, which would be cucumber, ashgourd or sorekai – thats it! - again with a hint of salt and pepper.
You have a choice of soup or buttermilk. Hello don't jump with joy. Soup means the vegetable stock of the above mentioned vegetables and butter milk without salt or sugar ! Plus a cup of papaya or one apple.
The evening food will be the same type of vegetables with two dry chapatis instead of rice and everything else will remain the same. For raw diet, it is a salad of cucumber or carrot – I would rather not use the word salad because except the cut vegetables, it has no other ingredients – and on occasional lucky days you will find finely chopped apple or pineapple in it. No salt or khara ! And if the doctor thinks that it will be more food for you, they may just prescribe one apple or one cup papaya along with buttermilk or soup. Mind you, if you feel instead of buttermilk let me take soup – sorry madam, you have to get doctor's permission – who will be available in the dining hall - before taking the plate. Once you cross that point, even if you beg, it cannot be changed. Sorry.
And for those less fortunate souls, who are over weight,it is a glass of juice four times a day ! Don't feel so sad, at dinner and lunch time, they will
keep the juice made from lime and honey and you can have an extra cup or two! Other than that if you complain of tiredness you are advised to drink lots of water. Don't worry, you will get used to it and in extreme situations, doctors are there round the clock to take care !
The food picture looks extremely bleak – is it ? No that is not the case. If you feel you will not be able to sustain or feel weak, you can approach the doctor next day who will switch over the diet from raw to boiled or increase the number of chapatis or fruits. But then forget about the weight loss ! But for the fortunate few who need not worry about the weight, there is a choice of ragi ganji at 9 am. and sprouts with cucumber slices at 4 pm, plus a cup of milk at 9 pm. BUT FORGET ABOUT THE TASTE, SALT AND SUGAR AND SPICES! It is the principle of the hospital that not only should you eat SATWIK food, but control your craving for food too.
The daily routine is : getting up at 5 in the morning, go for a walk, yoga and pranayama from 5.30 to 7 A.M. At 7.30, it is juice – whichever the doctor has prescribed for you , it may be line and honey, carrot, ash gourd or bitter gourd. Then back to rooms where everybody will sleep for a mud pack on their eyes and tummy for about 20 minutes. Immediately after, rush with your card to the treatment area where you will be given the treatment which your doctor has prescribed for you.
These treatments any day beat the best of spas' treatment. It includes a variety of water treatment like hip bath, spinal bath, cold or neutral water immersion bath, jet bath, whirlpool.... There are still many more. Or steam bath, souna, reclining steam bath, oil massage, mud bath, haldi pack... you name it and they have it. Essentially it is back to nature - an idea of treating us with five elements earth, wind, water, fire and the sky. I must never forget the attitude of the staff involved in the treatments. They always have a smile on their lips and a spring in their feet. They are virtuous to a fault.
Each treatment is given with such a sincerity and dedication that you will feel like you are in the lap of your mother when the personnel share your pain with a sympathetic understanding and rejoice at your relief.
We were fortunate to be at this place on 15 th August and in the serene atmosphere on a bright and sunny morning we witnessed the flag hoisting and sang the National Anthem with a pride. After the ceremony we were no less than the school children when trays filled with some covers arrived at the venue. There was excitement all around and murmurs of laddoos, chocolates, sweets filled the air. You should have seen the face of all the recipients when they opened the covers and found that there were two dry dates and two tiny pieces of rock sugar in it! What a healthy way of celebration!
Though the entire building is spread over a vast area, a french architect has designed it so well that from every room, hall and window you can view a garden and rain.
If this is the photo of our bathroom window you can very well imagine how the entire building is built. The rooms, treatment and yoga centre are all a midst greens and gardens and throughout your walk from one end to the other, there is proper shelter so that no rain or sun can dampen or hamper your spirits.
There is a swimming pool, a gym,a hillock to walk and indoor games and library. But library and TV will be available only at free or rest time so that nobody misses the treatments or sessions. The yoga and pranayama are taught with utmost proficiency and personal care.
There is a personalised treatment and care for every inmate and on the last day we would be given a follow up chart and advice for our treatment and diet back home. That day, we will be given passes to visit Sri Manjunatheshwara Temple which entitles us a direct entry to the sanctum sanctorum.
I have a greatest sense of gratitude towards Dharmadhikari Sri Veerendra Hegde, The Man behind this noble venture and when I had the fortune of meeting him at Dharmasthala, I made an humble request to him to start one such unit in our very own Bangalore. My joy knew no bounds when he informed me that the land has already been purchased on Tumkur road in Bangalore and the treatment centre may come up there soon.Amen!