Gokarna – Alleppey – Varkala

Karnataka&Kerala State / Southwest India

May 2018

In the previous month I passed through many arid landscapes and the desert in the scorching heat. Then time had come for me to reach the ocean. Now I am going to take you to the magnificent western shores of mother India. To Gokarna, Alleppey and Varkala.

I set off from Hampi in the direction of the ocean. My route first took me to Gokarna through scenic winding roads, with rocky mountains on one side and the Arabian sea on the other. It is a small temple town on the western coast of India in Karnataka state.

Karnataka’s (and maybe also India’s) best beaches are located in Gokarna. It attracts many people for a chilled-out holiday as it’s beaches are calm and peaceful and not as corrupted as Goa that keeps on featuring full-scale crazy parties.

Gokarna main beach is in town, it is quite long and famous for surfing. But I chose Kudle beach to stay that is reached by half an hour walk from the town. You can also use rickshaw. Most accommodation is in bamboo huts along the blissful coast. The view from my balcony was purely amazing. (above)

The calm and remote beaches were perfect for having long meditative walks. It was not the touristy season so there were so few people around whom were long-term travellers like me. Calm and tranquil beaches were exactly what I was looking forward to meet.

Kudle and Om beaches are around 6 km from Gokarna town and are accessible by rickshaw or foot. But Half moon and Paradise beaches are beyond Om beach and are accessible only by trekking or boat. You can hike in between these beaches and enjoy different qualities of each shore.

The surrounding was so quiet and peaceful. I was sharing the long beautiful beaches with few people -mostly fisherman- and with some cows and dogs. Adorable birds, crabs and iguanas were coming over once in a while.
It is not easy to forget that morning when I could be able to overcome a serious situation in the sea. I was enjoying to start my day early with swimming. That morning while swimming I didn’t realize how further I moved away from the shore. So as I wanted to return back, I saw that the waves were throwing me away. No matter how much I tried and struggled, it was not working. I am a quite good swimmer but the waves of the ocean were different from the seas I come from. There was no one at the beach that I could ask help from. Then a great fear arised and a massive strength. I swam with all of the power of my body and breath.
Eventually I made it to the shore. Then I learned that in this kind of a situation one has to swim parallel to the shore first, then overcome the current, and then swim to the beach. Ahh what an experience it was. Death can come any time.

Gokarna town has a laid-back, unspoiled and rustic nature. The colourful markets, little inner roads are perfect places to witness its vibe. There are two faces of Gokarna. For international travellers it is a succession of spectacular sandy beaches. But for most Indian visitors Gokarna is a sacred pilgrimage town of ancient temples.
Gokarna is known as one of the seven important Hindu pilgrimage centers. Therefore large numbers of devotees visit Gokarna every year to offer prayers and worship to Lord Shiva. Mahaganapati temple and Mahabaleshwara temple are the most important religious Hindu destinations here. Unfortunately foreigners are not allowed to enter inside.
One of the greatest gift of Gokarna was my encounter with this man above. He is Babak. He was born into an Iranian family, lived most of his life in Canada, now he is living mostly in India and now and then in Sri Lanka. The main reason that makes him stay in Gokarna is its holy energy. He is a beautiful soul who had settled his life in the path of discovering the truth, his real nature.
The moment we met is vivid in my memories. I clearly remember how I hugged him and couldn’t help myself but cry in the very first minute of our meeting. It was as if my heart felt right away that this was a great connection. Since then he kept on impressing me with his maturity, his perspective and devotion. He became a source of inspiration for me and supported me greatly. I am so thankful for his presence, his friendship. Travelling also brings these kind of precious gifts into your life.

As coming to the southern parts of India the diversity of fruits go crazy. So my main diet started to include mostly the fruits. Papaya, mango, banana ve jackfruit, mangosteen, passion fruit, rambutan, avocado… All are so fresh, delicious and nutritious.

Speaking of food, let me tell about the rich Indian cuisine that varies due to the region, climate and ethnicity. There are so many different recipes of this rich cuisine in which the spices are the most essential ingredients. In time you learn how to distinguish the diversed flavours. Garam masala is maybe the most common blend of spices like fennel, pepper, clove, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, coriander and curry leaf.
Curry is a wide variety of dishes prepared with different vegetables in a sauce with a combination of spices and herbs. Mainly you will see red, green, yellow curries. Coconut milk and oil is used mostly in the southern regions. We can say that the most common vegetarian recipes are these: Palak paneer is a thick paste made from spinach that consists of paneer (Indian cheese). Aloo mutter is made from potatoes and peas in a spiced creamy tomato based sauce. And sambar is a lentil based vegetable dish.
Chutney is the main side dish that has so many varieties in different parts of the country. It is a kind of sauce made from fruits, vegetables or herbs with vinegar, sugar and spices. It is used to provide balance to the dishes and highlights a specific flavour.
Rice is like a must, a main element of the meals. If you are not a fan of rice like me, don’t worry. India has a rich variety of breads. Chapati, paratha, roti and naan are different types of round oven baked flat breads. Puri is also another type of bread that is prepared by deep frying. Dosa is a cooked flat thin layered rice batter that is somehow similar to a crepe in appearance but way more thinner. I love Idli that is a rice cake, oftenly eaten during the breakfast in south.

I was so pleased to reach the ocean during the intense inner process I was going through. Ocean enabled me to relieve myself with its freshness. I swam, played with the waves, gazed at its vastness, breath its smell, cooled myself with its soft breeze. The spectacular sky was always amazing me, magnificent blue colours were changing into a blend of orange, pink and purple during the sunset. I was relaxing and feeling more balanced in the mother nature’s compassionate embrace.
My mind was continuing on testing me. And I was keeping on watching the stream of mental events just like watching a movie on the screen, without attaching or resisting to any of them. Psychological aspect of my ego was gradually purifying. Just so recently I was totally lost in the deep and darkest sides of my psyche. But then the great energies evoked in my heart and taught me how to overcome this turbulance by the guidance of love. This wasn’t a bunch of words in a teaching any more. I realized it through my direct experience that sealed the way out in my consciousness. I was feeling that a solid transformation was manifesting itself in every sense. I was in deep gratitude. (To get to know about the integrity of my story and my inner process that leaded me to this state step by step, you can check the previous essays of my India journey)

I was feeling that a deeper connection and communication was unfolding between my consciousness and the sacred flow of the universe. I was hearing a deep inner call, feeling a deep sense that was quite new but so familiar at the same time. That was inviting me, pulling me towards itself with a great magnetism for merging, for recognition of the reality. I was the drop in the ocean, becoming, being the ocean.
My dear teacher Adyashanti’s words were so much describing what I was going through these days:
“Many people who have deeply engaged in their spiritual journey may have moments where they wonder, ‘Wow, what did I get involved in?’ At the beginning of the journey, it feels like you are chasing the truth. But once the truth is chasing you, you realize the reins of your life are no longer in your ego’s hands. Some other force is now commanding your spiritual journey and your life has given way to a new, transforming force, the force of spirit and fire. And spirit and fire are not predictable, you cannot control them.”

Then I set off from Gokarna and reached my next destination Alleppey in 21 hours. Travelling in India is just like that, taking too long times. It is sometimes a test of patience, sometimes a break to rest or an opportunity to witness the change in the landscapes. It is the perfect place to meet people, listen stories, observe the Indian vibe. Every experience is unique in this sense.

Alleppey (also known as Alappuzha) is located by the Arabian sea in Kerala state in southwest India. The population is a mixture of Hindus, Christians and Muslims. The most widely spoken language is Malayalam. In 2016, it was rated as the cleanest town in India and it is so easy to see this change when you arrive here.
This region was an important spice trading centre from the 14th century onward. It was occupied by the Portuguese first then by Dutch and British and remained as an European colony for some centuries. I find it quite interesting to learn that the main reason for these countries to come here was nothing but the spice! You can still read the colonial influence on the architecture of old buildings. The lighthouse (above) offers great views of the city from above.

Alleppey’s main beach is 2km west of the city centre. It has so big waves and strong currents that makes swimming dangerous. But it is a perfect place to hang around and watch hundreds of Indians enjoying the beach. I was still taking the advantage of travelling in the off-season as there was not even one tourist around.

The beach had an enormous open angle of 180 degrees. All I saw was the spacious ocean in front of me. At the direction of my view, the nearest land was southern parts of Africa which was thousands of miles away. Rainy season brought many clouds that were creating a highly dramatic view. And the sunsets were breathtaking with a blend of many colours in the sky.

The main reason that brought me here was the backwaters. The backwaters of Alleppey is the most highlighted attractions in Kerala that makes it a magnificent settlement with many crisscrossed canals. In the area six major rivers form the backwaters and join the 80 km coast line of the district.
There are over a thousand houseboats in these backwaters. You can book one and stay overnight while going slowly along the waterways. But if you are a budget traveller you can use public transport.

Or you can hire cheap little boats like me and wander in between the little canals as the way you wish. This journey takes you into a watery world of villages. One of the important feature of the area is the region called Kuttanad that is known as the rice bowl of whole Kerala state. Therefore the major occupation of the town is farming. It is one of the few places in the world where farming is done below sea level. The backwaters and wetlands host thousands of migrant birds every year that reach here from long distances. And there is abundance of marine life.

It is a unique experience to explore this area that is home to a vast network of waterways. You get so amazed by the magnificent green colours of nature around you. The tropical outlook is so peaceful with many palm and coconut trees.
I so much enjoyed to wander around the little villages and stop at some points to discover more. At one spot I found a humble place that offers food. This was the first time I experienced the traditional south Indian way of serving food on banana leaves. They put the leaves in front of you, then you wash the leaves with some water. And then they begin serving one by one a wide variety of different food; salty types, sweet types, chutneys, amazing mango pickles and of course rice. It is exactly a feast of different flavours and spices. Service keeps on going until you say that it is enough.

I went on a day trip to Varkala and Kovalam that are in the southern parts of Alleppey. It was raining cats and dogs and I love the monsoon. I guess I have experienced the most extreme rains here. The lightnings were so massive that it was making me feel scared even.

The views above show the beautiful beaches of Varkala.

Today was my birthday. Completing 39 years in this life, I was floating on this silent backwaters, in inner peace and gratitude. Here and now…
Watch out what you wish for, what you intend, what you call into your life. Because they come true, they become reality. I remembered my last birthday which felt like, that was years ago. (Travelling stretches the perception of time.) It came to my mind that on that day I wished for inner freedom.
Myths have been unfolding since then, giving me the gifts of many realizations and chance to understand how to create a meaningful life. At the end, I am grateful to have LOVE as my highest inspiration ever. Loving unconditionally opens in the heart, the peace, compassion and wisdom. Inner freedom is my reward now.

Thank you to all the beautiful beings who were there to help me realize myself, who visibly or unvisibly guided my steps on my pilgrimage on the road of love. Thank you mother nature, the sun and the moon for creating the most beautiful home for me where I taste the immeasurable joy.

I am Love.

The Author