Kasaragod, in northern Kerala, is a blessed-feeling place, fringed by coco-palm fields and long beaches of fawn-coloured sand and lacking much of the tourist traffic that exists in the south, around Kochi. Neeleshwar Hermitage (www.neeleshwarhermitage.com; from $210), a combined Ayurvedic wellness retreat and discreet beach resort, is a place I would stay again for a very long while, diary permitting. The first‑rate treatments are administered in a pretty complex shaded by an enormous tamarind. The beach is presided over by a restaurant that’s basically palm-trunk posts holding up a thatch roof, with sand floors and a smattering of tables dressed in flamboyant purple and pink linens. Guests, understandably, park themselves here for the spectacular sunsets and stay put for hours, savouring divine seafood and the carpet of stars that eventually emerges above. Wooden fans spun slowly on the wide terrace of my pared-down oceanfront villa – though, as often as not, I wasn’t there, tempted away instead to stroll the six-mile-long beach with the locals, listening to the prayer calls and Hindi bhajans roll through the palms as light faded from the sky.