A strong believer in the philosophy of Nature Cure, Mahatma Gandhi founded Nisargopchar Ashram at Uruli Kanchan in March 1946. He believed that where personal, domestic, and public sanitation are strictly observed and due care is taken in diet, exercise, purity of mind, then inner and outer illness becomes impossible.
A printed board, at the main building reads:
Uruli Kanchan is a town located on Pune-Solapur Highway No. 9 and is 30 km east of Pune city. Set amidst huge trees is Nisargopchar Ashram (Nature Cure Center). People come here from all over the country and even from as far as Great Britain, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea and other places for nature cure.
Built on a plot of 9 acres, the Ashram is walled from all sides to keep out the hustle-bustle of the outside world. Inside are low barrack-like buildings, relieved by patches of garden and lawns beautifully maintained. Pathways are lined with huge trees and everyone looks busy but calm.
Nature Cure believes in:
The treatment is solely based on five natural elements that is Ether (Akash), Sunlight (Tej), Air (Vayu) Water (Jal) and Earth (Prithvi). It includes sun bath, walk in fresh air, use of mud, use of hot and cold water internally and externally, as per prescriptions.
- More dish, more disease,
- More drugs, more doubts,
- More comforts, more complaints,
- More relief, more grief,
- Hunger is not only a good cook, but a physician too,
- We should eat what we require, and
- NOT what we DESIRE.
- The board more or less sums up the basics of Nature Cure.
Natural positive food like sprouts, vegetables, fruits and milk is believed to work as medicine for purification of body and mind. Fasting on water, juice, fruits, coconut water, yoga and other treatments help in elimination of toxic matters from the body.
"There is a strict `no' to three things in Naturopathy -- salt, sugar, white flour" says Dr. R.V.Nisal, Head of the Ashram. Naturopathy believes in natural food and thus only vegetarian food is served to the patients as prescribed by the doctor and is catered from the Ashram kitchen. The treatment can last from 7 days to 3 months, patients have to stay at the Ashram during that period. To start with, laboratory investigation of blood and urine is done and, on the basis of this, the doctors decide on the treatment. Allopathic medicine, if being taken by the patients, are slowly withdrawn.
Naturopathy offers promising cure on chronic, functional and psychosomatic diseases like arthritis, asthma, lumbar spondylitis, digestive disorders, hypertension and ischaemic heart diseases. Diabetes mellitus, skin diseases like eczema and psoriasis, obesity are very well managed by simple procedures and diet control.
Naturopathy basically consists of removing all the wrongs in the way of life of a human being. "What modern Allopathic medicine does is suppress the diseases and give relief without removing the cause", says Dr. R. V. Nisal.
The chances of success in treatment range from 80% to 90%. But it depends on the condition and the extent of degeneration of the body. For example psoriasis, modern science says it is incurable, but it is treated in the Ashram in 7 to 14 days with mud and alkaline juice with excellent results.
"Patients with chronic heart diseases are advised to undergo by-pass surgery operation, but are treated in Naturopathy without a scratch on their body", says Dr. Nisal.
Though the length of the treatment varies from person to person, some like Mr.C.M Shukla, a social worker from Agra, keep coming back. Mr. Shukla suffers from numbness in the body due to spondylitis of spinal cord. But "I have been coming back to the Ashram for the past ten years and today I feel quite fit", he says.
Life in the Ashram begins early, the alarm is sounded at 5 a.m. This followed by a walk and yoga. Sun bath, herbal tea is made available from 7:30 onwards. The treatment with the help of five natural elements begins from 8:30 a.m. onwards, lunch break at 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. The toughest part now follows. All Ashramites are asked to observe silence period from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
The latter half of the day is livened up by group discussion, acupressure, hydrotherapy counseling etc. Dinner is served at 6 p.m., meditation at 9 .m., followed by bedtime at 9:30 p.m. Boarding and lodging charged at the Ashram range from Rs 35 to Rs 175 per day for general ward, single/double room and cottage. Generally guests and attendants are not allowed unless advised by the doctor. Mattress, bed sheets, blankets, pillows are provided to the patients. The patients have to pay extra for the massage and canteen facilities. The rush in the Ashram is usually during Mach to June and the Ashram accommodates only 100 to 150 patient's at a time.
Though the diet is prescribed according to each patient's needs it generally includes juice, curd, buttermilk, milk, porridge and raw or boiled vegetables. All food is prepared without salt, oil or spices. "There is enough salt in natural food to fulfil the body's needs"' says Dr. R.V. Nisal.
This austere regime also wins over its converts. A typical tribute to the Ashram came from a lady from Nagpur who had been there for the treatment for obesity. "I used to swallow those boiled vegetables and dream all the time of all my favourite food. When I left Uruli Kanchan, I went straight to town to have a feast, but I found I no longer felt like eating those samosas and ice-creams; the sight of them made me sick.
To reach the Ashram one can take a Pune Municipal Transport (P.M.T) bus (route No. 7) ply every 30 minutes from Swargate. One can reach Uruli from Pune Junction. Trains depart from Pune junction to Uruli Kanchan from 7:30 onwards.
Address: Nisargopchar Gramsudhar Trust,
Dist. Pune ¤ 412202
Maharashtra State. INDIA
Tel: (020) 816298, 816230.