Six of the best: South India spa treatments


The gateway to the south of India, Chennai (formerly Madras) is often the first stop so weary travellers may be looking for a treatment that offers rejuvenation. At the recently renovated Taj Connemara in Chennai, a good idea is to jump into the pool designed in the tropical modernism style by celebrated architect Geoffrey Bawa, and swim across to the Jiva spa to book in for a Masala Scrub. The 45-minute treatment uses a scrub made from a blend of traditional Indian spices that not only helps relieve sore muscles, it will also improve blood circulation. It promises to leave you with a renewed sense of self; a balm for any jetlag. Afterwards, walk the verdant gardens on site before sitting down to cucumber sandwiches and Chettinad specialties at the English afternoon tea service at the Lady Connemara Bar and Lounge. See


Lie back on the massage table and the first thing you will notice is that it has strings. At Svatma Resort in in the town of Thanjavur in India's southern state of Tamil Nadu they specialise in sound therapy. The therapist begins by plucking at the 50 strings underneath the giant wooden slab, and soon the reverberations flow through the body. This 30-minute tune up includes the use of giant gongs, chimes, bells, rattles and soothing strings; a sensory bath of sounds promising a deep harmonising effect. It's hypnotic, and combined with the resort's other musical endeavours including bharatanatyam dance, Vedic chants and Carnatic music performances, you can expect a well-rounded musical mind-body experience. See


This is not just any two-hour mud treatment. At the Taj Bekal's giant Jiva spa complex, Alepa (which translates into anointing the body as a part of traditional Indian sacred bathing rituals) is their signature treatment and is said to purge the skin of impurities, stimulate nerve endings and regenerate blood circulation. All you need to do is lie back on the sun bed and enjoy the sounds of the waterfall nearby and the views of the lush gardens in the resort's Indian Royal Mud Bath Pavilion as a choice of four blends of essential oils and herbal pastes are slathered on your body. Once the mud has dried, a natural waterfall-like outdoor shower is used to rinse the clay off. Rejuvenated, you can then return poolside to your private villa. See


After a dip in Taj Madikeri Resort and Spa's glorious temperature-controlled infinity pool one might want to try the gudda bath experience, a scrub and massage performed by a therapist using a copper pot (gudda) to pour the warm water. What makes this experience (which is done whilst seated instead of lying down) is the window view. The sounds of splashing water whilst peering across the Western Ghats mountain range in southern India with mists rolling into the verdant high-altitude valleys is calming. Want more from the experience? Book in for a post-treatment ayurvedic consultation with resident expert, Dr Raj. See


There's an abundance of rose petals at the Taj Falaknuma Palace. As you ascend the marble staircase to the lobby they float down from the balcony, when you come back from dinner there's a jasmine bath full of rose petals drawn for you, and at the spa, the aroma of rose is the signature ingredient in the Nawab-e-khas treatment. You are welcomed with a soothing foot massage followed by a body and light facial scrub. Next is a body massage using the palace's unique hand-blended oil. The treatment concludes with an offering of a sherbet, a Nawabi drink made with the distilled fragrance of flowers, fruits and herbs before walking back to your suite amongst landscaped lawns and fragrant gardens full of strolling peacocks. See


Clear security at Chennai's airport and head left or right to find either of the two outlets of Syona Spa. If time allows book in for a neck and shoulders and a foot massage. Here, the receptionist opens a door to a labyrinth of rooms, revealing a score of therapists kneading and pummelling those in transit. Your therapist doubles as a personal assistant checking what time your flight boards and timing the treatment accordingly. There are private treatment rooms as well as a larger room for foot massages. The ambience is so-so (there is no ban on talking on the mobile phone here) but treatment incredible, plus it's a good way to kill time before the flight. See

Andrea Black travelled as a guest of Adventure World Travels on a tailored South India itinerary; see