|Pool side at Shreyas Retreat – not your typical yoga retreat|
Shreyas is one of the world’s best yoga retreats and is also renowned for its cuisine so I jumped at the chance to stay there despite the absence of three of my favourite things from the menu. Any thoughts of sacrifice instantly disappeared when I arrived at Shreyas and was greeted with a cool face towel, freshly squeezed carrot and ginger juice and had a garland of marigolds placed around by neck. Although Shreyas is a yoga retreat it is as far removed from an austere ashram as it is possible to be while still espousing the same principles.
|Dessert Shreyas style – rasmali topped with pistachio nuts|
Set in a 25 hectare coconut plantation there was plenty of space to escape and relax at Shreyas. The retreat also boasts an infinity swimming pool, private cinema complete with big screen and reclining chairs, spa, library of 1000 books and even its own cricket machine (which was great for entertaining MTV). Rather than bunking down in an ashram dormitory I discovered at Shreyas I had my own tented suite with plush bedding and an open aired bathroom which I instantly wanted to replicate at home.
|The verandah of our tented room|
Most importantly though, rather than subsisting on dahl and rice, the food at Shreyas was designed to convert even the most rabid carnivore to temporary vegetarianism. For breakfast there was cereals, porridge, toast and fresh fruit with milk fresh from Shreya’s own herd of cows. This was followed by an Indian style dish such as soft paratha bread dotted with fresh fenugreek leaves or spongy rice cakes of idli with a spicy masala sauce.
|Cauliflower soup for lunch|
Lunch made the most of Shreya’s expansive organic vegetable garden which supplies most of the retreat’s produce. It started with a peppery roasted vegetable soup, tangy salad of sprouts and subtly spiced cauliflower with green peas, sauted okra with onion, rice flecked with cumin and papery whole wheat roti bread followed by a spongy rasmalai doused in a sweet, creamy sauce and topped with crushed pistachio nuts.
|Sprout salad, cauliflower curry and okra for lunch|
Dinner was served outdoors lit by flickering Chinese lanterns hanging from the trees by the pool or with tables arranged around a bonfire on chillier nights. We ate a zesty salad of beetroot served with tandoori roasted mushrooms and paneer, char grilled corn on the cob with a squeeze of fresh lime and stuffed capsicums in creamy sauce.
|The yoga pavilion|
Service at Shreyas was genuinely friendly and warm thanks in part to staff classes in yoga and meditation which ensures all staff are passionate about the ethos of the retreat. There is a meticulous attention to detail with shoes left outside rooms carefully turned the right way around, mediation notes on pillows at night time and tables and rooms strewn with flower petals. Although admittedly, the rose petals and marigolds scattered everywhere can make it feel like you have crashed someone’s honeymoon.
|Shreyas keeps India’s flower growers in business|
The retreat is not entirely a rural idyll – a noisy train line runs nearby and at dusk there are some pesky mosquitoes. However in typical Shreyas style any problems have already been anticipated before they arise with a set of earplugs and natural mosquito repellent in every room.
|Visiting the local market with Shreyas as part of the culinary package|
Shreyas is the ultimate luxury retreat which stretches its guests in more ways than one. I won’t pretend the experience has converted me entirely to vegetarianism and an alcohol and coffee free life but I honestly did not miss any of my three addictions at all during my stay and felt so much better for a temporary detox. A stay here is pure bliss.
|Shreyas own ambassador taxi is at the service of guests to get around|
Details: Shreyas Retreat, Santoshima Farm, Gollahalli Gate, Nelamangala, Bangalore 562123, India. (Ph: +91- 80-27737102, 27737103, 27737183)
Damage: Budget Breaking. Nightly rates start at USD$280 (£179, $275) a night. A culinary package (7 nights accomodation, meals, yoga, activities and treatments) is USD$3,370.
Gourmet Chick was a guest of Shreyas.
Gourmet Travel Tips
- There are direct flights with British Airways from London to Bangalore from £519 return or Singapore Airlines flies from Melbourne to Bangalore for $1010 return. Shreyas is a one hour drive from Bangalore airport and the retreat offers a complimentary transfer service (complete with cold face towels and bottled water in the car).
- Each guest receives a consultation with an Ayurvedic doctor. The doctor carefully explained the philosophy behind Ayurveda to me, diagnosed my Ayurvedic dhosa and tailor made a program for me for my three day stay at the retreat including massages and Ayurvedic treatments at Shreyas brilliant spa.
- At the retreat there are group Hatha and Ashtanga yoga classes at 6.30am – 8am every morning and 4pm -5pm every afternoon along with mediation sessions at 10am every morning. Private yoga and mediation sessions are also available.
- I undertook Shreyas’ culinary package (although on a shorter three day time frame) which included a tour of the local market and a private cooking lesson with Shreyas’ chef Rajan. More details on my cooking lesson at Shreyas to come in a later post.