Harivihar which literally means abode of the divine is a 170 year old painstakingly restored royal heritage homestead located in Calicut, the old seaport city in Kerala through which Vasco de Gama entered the fabled Indies. Harivihar is a former royal manor-house built around 1850 by the Kadathanad royal family, who had ruled the northern parts of Kerala. The house was built according to Vasthu principles in traditional padinijitta (west-facing) style, as was prevalent then. On the south-west side was the family temple with Durga as the presiding deity, and a large traditional pond on the north-west side with perennial water supply, was used for swimming and bathing. Harivihar Ayurveda resort offers its guests the unparalleled experience of staying in a heritage ambience and benefit from the goodness of Ayurveda and Yoga, two great contributions of India to mankind. Harivihar is a Green leaf accredited centre of excellence for Ayurveda treatments and panchakarma therapies.
When & how Harivihar Heritage Homestead story has started?
In the year 2000 when I started off my neurology and epilepsy practice in Calicut, I visited Harivihar for the first time. My father in law had asked me to demolish the house and build our new house there in it’s stead. However, after visiting Harivihar I wanted to preserve it. At that time, I had neither the idea nor the resources for any restoration. We managed to rope in my wife’s sister and her husband and together we restored Harivihar. It took us nearly two years to finish the restoration. To sum up, we started Harivihar to save an old house from imminent destruction.
What role does ayurveda play at Harivihar Heritage Homestead?
Ayurveda is probably one of the greatest gifts of India to mankind. Kerala Ayurveda has it’s own uniqueness owing to several factors. Harivihar, owing to it’s inherent beauty and vasthu compliant architecture is ideally suited for Ayurveda treatments. The house has a positive energy and serenity which is ideal for holistic health treatments like Ayurveda and yoga.
Even though we are modern medicine specialists, we have a healthy respect for Ayurveda to which as children we had been exposed quite well. Hence when we started Harivihar we had no doubt that this house should offer the greatest gift of Kerala – that is Ayurveda- to it’s residents. We want Harivihar to be a centre which promotes traditional Indian knowledge and culture to people all over the world.
You and your wife Neetha, you are both doctors practising western medicine. How is your practice connected to ayurveda?
We, Dr. Srikumar and Dr. Neetha Srikumar are consultants in neurology and dermatology respectively with our own busy practices. Both these specialities deal with chronic diseases where cure sometimes is not possible. Many a time, we have limited treatments to offer. We are trying to see whether we could integrate modern medicine and Ayurveda for neurological and related diseases at Harivihar. Such integrated approaches might be greatly beneficial to the patient. We have started integrated neurology clinics along with the help of our Ayurveda doctor and yoga therapist at Hariviha, exclusively for our in-house guests.
What makes Harivihar Heritage Homestead different?
There are scores of resorts in Kerala and most of them offer Ayurveda along with other tourism related activities .There, the focus is not on Ayurveda. You have conference facilities, bars, multi cuisine restaurants etc attached along with and there is a good chance of the Ayurveda guest getting distracted. Harivihar, on the other hand focuses on Ayurveda. Here, Ayurveda guests have none of the distractions mentioned above and can concentrate on their treatments in a peaceful atmosphere. Since Harivihar is a homestead, the guests have very good interaction with the hosts and the staff, thereby adding to the overall quality of their stay here. Also important is the fact that the host couple – who are post graduate allopathic doctors themselves – who promote Harivihar stay in the same compound and interact with the guests on a daily basis.
Why is Calicut an interesting place to visit?
Kozhikode, called as Calicut by the English (name derived from Calico: plain-woven unbleached cotton textile), is the oldest city in North Kerala. It was a bustling port city from the 11th century, famed for its export of spices, mainly pepper and cardamom as well as timber. In the 11th and 12th centuries, the Chinese and the Arabs and from the 14th century, the Portugese followed by the English had established trade contact with Calicut. The list of travelers who visited Calicut include Ibn Batuta from Morocco (1342-1347 AD), Abdul Razack from Persia (1442AD), Ma Huan from China and Vasco de Gama in 1498 AD. Vasco de Gama landed first in a place called Kappad (Panthalayini), about 14 kilometres away from Calicut and it was he who opened the sea trade with Europe, finally leading to the colonization of India.
When is the best time to visit Harivihar?
Monsoon season is probably the best time for Ayurveda. Monsoon time is from June till November. December to February also is good for treatments. March to May is summer time and hence treatments are avoided.
Text: Zuzana Zwiebel
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