It is a retreat for patients. And the architecture has been conceived as one of the medicines, finds out T. NANDAKUMAR.
A lush, unspoiled environment with little other than the sigh of the wind blowing through palm leaves and the twitter of birds to break the silence, a skyline dominated by hillocks and trees — it is difficult to believe that the place is less than 20 km from the hustle and bustle of Kerala's capital city.
The pristine environment is what strikes the visitor to the Ayukshethram Ayurvedic health resort and rehabilitation centre established by the Vasudeva Vilasam Group at Nettirachira, near Nedumangad, in the suburbs. Located in the lap of Nature, the centre is a study in eco-friendly architecture. The landscaped grounds, quaint buildings with tiled roof, exposed brick exteriors, and mud plastering are designed to blend with the natural environment and create a tranquil atmosphere.
The centre mostly caters to victims of stroke, Alzheimer's disease, and geriatric complaints, though a large number of visitors turn up for rejuvenation therapy during the June-to-November season.
“Rehabilitation of these patients requires time and the right environment to overcome the mental depression that often accompanies such ailments. That is why we have created a facility with lots of greenery and open space conducive for community living, quite different from a hospital,” says Pradeep Jeothi, managing director, Vasudeva Vilasam Group.
“The architecture also reflects the need for natural lighting and ventilation, so essential for recuperating patients.”
Designed and constructed by the Habitat Technology Group, the resort covering two acres (1 acre = 0.4 hectare) of land has nine blocks to accommodate the treatment rooms, lodging, and office. Concrete work has been kept to a minimum. Mud plastering has been selectively used to impart an earthy look and provide a cool atmosphere. Most of the campus is barrier-free for patients on wheelchairs to move around. “The layout is intended to promote free movement and interpersonal communication,” Dr. Jeothi says. The buildings are named after Ayurveda gurus such as Brahma, Ashwini, Charaka, Sushrutha, and Prajapathy. Two of the blocks are constructed in the Nalukettu style with inner courtyards ringed by rooms. Even the water tower and recycling unit are built of country bricks and given a tiled roof to blend with the environment.
The expansive grounds are landscaped with coconut trees, different varieties of other palms, flowering plants, shrubs, and lawns.
Every building faces a green space. A waterbody in the shape of the infinity symbol occupies the middle of the grounds.
Fed by stormwater runoff, the pond is surrounded by a garden with walkways winding through the green.
The micro climate of the region features good rainfall almost round the year. Together with the sloping terrain in the neighbourhood, the resort is assured of water security from the good inflow into the premises.
The centre is equipped with a sewage-treatment plant and a wastewater-recycling system. The grey water from the recycling unit is used to irrigate the garden. As many as 45 patients can be accommodated at a time in the resort. A good section of the clientele comprises foreign nationals.
The establishment contributes to the local economy by employing people in the neighbourhood and procuring vegetables from farmers in the region.
The patients are provided prescribed vegetarian food prepared in-house without using preservatives.
Dr. Jeothi says a proposal is there to start a dairy farm within the grounds.