India has traditionally been known to be the land where ancient medicinal forms originated, making it a growing hotspot for tourists seeking alternative health remedies and wellness. Apart from the hill stations and secluded places, big states like Maharashtra are also home to major health and wellness facilities.
India’s unique melange of spiritual, psychological and physical wellness has been a strong magnet for centuries. Over the millennia, philosophers and scholars from Egyptian and Mesopotamian to Greek and Persian and on to the Chinese and other Asian societies have travelled to India to study its science and art of living well.
In the more recent times, Yoga and spirituality have attracted modern icons too, such as the rock band The Beatles, who made a historic pilgrimage to India in 1969. Since then, the list has grown continuously and in the recent years, wellness tourism in India has galloped ahead rapidly.
Tourists head to numerous ‘ashrams’ that are sprinkled all over the country for a retreat with meditation, basic food and lot of Yoga and Ayurveda to restore their overall wellbeing.
People often associate the ashram life with quaint homes located in secluded places, far away from the urban bustle. However, big cities in India are also home to major wellness hotspots, which are frequented by visitors. The iconic Osho Ashram in Pune is one such place, and The Yoga Institute in Mumbai is another, both located in the western state of Maharashtra.
Various travellers and fitness enthusiasts travel to Mumbai not just seeking to escape the drill of the city life but also embrace it with a balanced mind. The Yoga Institute in the city is reportedly the oldest organised Yoga centre in the world, where the residential programmes range from a seven-day life course to 21 days to understand better living.
According to the United Nations World Travel Organisation, wellness travel is nearly a USD 500 billion (EUR 460 billion) industry worldwide within the USD 3.2 trillion (EUR 2.9 trillion) global tourism industry, representing 16 pc of all tourism spending.
Medical Tourism Index 2016 had placed India among the Top 5 Medical Tourism destinations. Apart from treatments for major surgeries in India that cost approximately 20 pc of that in developed countries, heart care is a long standing specialty in the country.
And within India, Maharashtra is the continuum of medical and wellness with more than 100 Yoga and wellness centres and over 1,400 hospitals across the state.
So much so, the famous international cricketer and coach Johnty Rhodes and his wife Melanie Rhodes travelled to Mumbai for the delivery of their daughter at Surya Multispecialty Mother and Child Hospital. The couple opted for water birthing process, which is uncommon in South Africa.
They liked their experience to an extent that they came for the delivery of their son to the same hospital.
Moreover, Apollo Hospital at Navi Mumbai became the first hospital in the state to implant world’s smallest and most advanced leadless pacemaker on a patient from Nepal. Unlike most pacemakers that are placed in the patient’s chest with leads running to the heart, the mini was implanted directly into the patient’s heart.
To further promote and develop wellness and health tourism in Maharashtra, the Health and Wellness Tourism Conference (MHWTC) will be conducting its first Health and Wellness Tourism Stakeholders meet on June 30, at Taj Lands End, Mumbai, to bring together stakeholders from the health and wellness tourism industry under one roof.