What started as a counterculture and a coordinated rejection of mainstream ideals in the 1960s from the west, has evolved to become an entire way of being, one that is rooted in exploring, discovering, and seeking eccentric traditions. The earliest representations of this lifestyle are said to be the Sadhus of ancient India, spiritual speaker hippies who deemed the materialistic world and individualistic principles to be condemnable.
While the hippie culture has gained a reasonable level of acceptance and welcoming, it is truly surprising that the hippie movement in India, a country known for its spirituality, sense of community, and oneness, has slowly drifted further and further away from the public eye. Nevertheless, few other settings in the world can match the lazy, carefree experience of soul-searching that these Indian hotspots offer. Here’s a list of some of the best places for hippies in India:
A temple town in the southern state of Karnataka, Gokarna is the new flavor of choice for all those in search of secluded serenity. Although slowly rising in popularity in the commercial tourism circles, Gokarna is isolated enough from the huge crowds and flocks of travelers that tend to cramp up cities like Goa. Ages ago, before the hippies and tourists descended to this beautiful town, the tribe called Halakkis were the only inhabitants. Perhaps it is their way of life, still deeply rooted in the past, one that does not revolve around materialism, that has shaped the hippie culture that pervades Gokarna. Other than the temples, Gokarna’s major draw, the 3 main beaches: Om (shaped like Om, a spiritual symbol in Indian religions), Kudle, and Paradise Beach, are only 6 km away from the bus stand, all easily accessible by an auto. You may even choose to make your way to one beach from another by traversing the hills and rocks that separate them, making for an experience of intriguing interactions with all things nature.
There’s no way you haven’t heard of Goa, arguably the very first, and undoubtedly the most popular place for hippies in India. The 1960s saw the first hippies arrive at Goa for its cultural isolation, sense of spirituality, and more recently, nightlife. Anjuna, Vagator, and Baga were initially the target destination for these people, but Agonda and numerous other seaside landscapes have all began to share the mantle. The get-togethers of the arrivals from 1960 slowly but surely gained popularity and by the 80s, the hippies began attracting people from all over the world to their carefree, unconventional lifestyle of parties, psychedelic rock, and hallucinogenic drugs. Eventually, the concerns of the more conservative indigenous residents of Goa had their say, putting a lid on the public display of disregard of traditions and norms. Nevertheless, the hippies of Goa, while having left behind their haven, have also left behind their descendants and ideals, who spend most of their time in yoga, running, meditation, and other acts of spirituality. Everyone knows Goa for the expansive parties and its reputation as an international tourist hub, but the other side of the city remains authentic, true to its initial vibe of a rejuvenating getaway from the blinding city lights.
An ancient village and the former capital of the Vijayanagara Empire, Hampi is a pilgrim’s delight, with its array of rock-cut monuments and temples. Hampi is around 12 kilometers from Hospet, accessible by a short bus or auto journey. More and more backpackers head to this temple town with each passing year to relish the opportunity to experience a peaceful search of spiritual meaning. The tourist and hippie scene is on the other side of the Tungabhadra river, aptly named Hippie Island, although it’s not an island in reality. Prehistoric landscapes and stretches of rice-fields characterize the more laid-back, isolated scene here, providing a break from the stressful outside world. There is an abundance of really cool murals and paintings on walls, beautiful shacks, and numerous cafes. Legend has it that the island got its name as a result of all the foreigners and other such people looking to embrace the rugged culture heading to and settling in the area.
Situated in Parvati valley, on the banks of the Parvati River, is Kasol, an urbanized village that also acts as a gateway to the other hill towns of the area like Tosh, Chalal, and Malana. Kasol is frequented by different types of tourists and peace-seekers from India and outside all through the year. Expect to see many tourists, especially from Israel, who’ve decided to settle in this hippie abode after a shift in their military, owing to the hospitality of the locals. Cannabis cultivation and export is one of the only means of livelihood for many tribes in the region, which was relatively unknown and untouched until around 25 years ago. To no one’s surprise, the markets and the setting, interior decoration, and overall vibe of the cafes are a representation of the liberal culture on consumption, with the famed marijuana leaf and pictures of Bob Marley present on every type of merchandise and paraphernalia imaginable to man.
5) Kasar Devi
Kasar Devi is a quiet, peaceful backpacker destination with a mellow vibe, panoramic views, and mindblowing landscapes of the Himalayas, in the small town of Almora. There’s not much to do in Kasar Devi, but this is a great place to chill and meditate on your thoughts. The hippie movement in India probably owes its growth and inception to Crank’s Ridge, alternatively known as Hippie Hill, located on the way to Kasar Devi temple, a place frequented by artists, writers, influencers, and spiritual seekers from all over the world. This tradition of visits to Kasar Devi began as early as the 1920s, culminating in the pilgrimages of musicians Bob Dylan and Cat Stevens, among other philosophers and visionaries.
Located 36 kilometers away from the capital city of Trivandrum, Varkala is commonly called the pearl of the Arabian Sea. Picturesque in every sense of the word, Varkala is isolated enough from the hectic city life to provide a refreshing experience to the backpackers and tourists who head to the area, at the same time, is happening enough to keep you on your toes. The North Cliff is directly facing the Arabian Sea, proving to be a beautiful setting for both sunrise and sunset. The views are mesmerizing, with the lines of palm trees and crashing waves.
While Varkala is a hub for the free-spirited souls in search of the perfect hippie haven, it is also a temple town, filled with numerous places of worship. Ayurvedic massages, yoga, and meditation centers are widely available too, making Varkala a hub for people from all walks of life seeking to explore their spirituality. This is a temple town, home to the 2000-year old Janardhan Temple, and its variety of beaches and scenic beauty, making it a natural retreat for hippies to settle down in.
Keywords: The Tarzan Way
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