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Jan
17

The Less Discovered Road in India

The other day I was talking to my cousin’s girlfriend who is graduating from college in a month. She told me she was going to India for a month. Alone. To travel up and down. Like a local. She’s beautiful and blonde and sweet and innocent. I could feel myself scream a little inside, because India has been in the news for all the wrong reasons.

And yet, traveling in India has been a rite of passage for most English college graduates for decades. And it’s becoming more and more popular over here to. Which is great—India stands for all the things we want out young offspring to learn about before choosing their path in life. And, on the whole, Indian people are lovely and warm. I hope that by sticking to these hippy spiritual places you’ll avoid mass-transit and large centers where groping does indeed happen. If you get groped, scream.

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Anyway, back to where you should go of you’re looking to better your world:

The original India hippie trail of places like Goa and Varanasi has been overwhelmed by tourism. It’s almost too commercial, if you catch my meaning. You need a little less merchandizing when you want to find inner peace. Here are  five offbeat destinations  that are today’s hotbeds of hippie culture.

Hampi

hampi landscape

hampi landscape

Monuments such as the Virupaksha temple and the Queen’s Bath, have put Hampi on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. But this place has stayed cool in spite of UNESCO. It’s got a real hippy paradise feel to it, with people coming from all over the world sitting in hammock, riding mopeds and looking pretty cool while doing it.

silent lucidity

silent lucidity

Hampi was one of the most beautiful capitals of the medieval Hindu Kingdom, Vijayanagar. It’s getting more and more popular now architecture and religious pilgrims and hippies seeking a way to deal.

CafĂ©s with names like Reggae River and Shanti Restaurant line the main street. The walls are covered in murals of psychedelic mushrooms and Bob Marley is usually jammin’ in the background. Hummus with pita bread and Nutella pancakes are standard here. And life is cheap.

hampi

hampi

Tosh

tosh

tosh

In the far reaches of the Himalayas there lies the small Indian mountain settlement, Tosh, in Himachal Pradesh.

The village has a few wooden houses built into the mountainside overlooking the snaking Parvati River. This settlement doesn’t feature on many tourist maps or bus routes, which is a good thing for those of you on the hunt for it. Remember, spirituality is a journey and getting to Tosh is also a journey but once you’re here you may just not want to go. This peaceful farming community mainly tends to its sheep, fruit orchards — and marijuana plantations—of course.

the view up here

the view up here

Europeans come and stay at the Olive Garden guesthouse. You have to hike two hours uphill trek or take a half-hour taxi ride from Barshaini town. But look at what you get to breathe once you do:

Most 1970s: Kasol

kasol

kasol

Down below Tosh, at the banks of the Parvati River is Kasol, a base camp for treks to Khirganga and the Pin Parvati Pass. You come here and I swear to God, it feels like you’ve gone back in time 40 years.

Cheap accommodation and good food have given this town the reputation of a backpackers’ haunt, evident from the Hebrew signboards and all hippies on the street. It’s beautiful though, and has a real base came feel to it with the market  set against a the snow-peaked mountains and a roaring river.

city of kasol

city of kasol

Lucky for the broke school kids there are also tons of cheap but cute cafés and small shops selling Ali Baba pants, chillum-pipes and backpacks.

Evergreen and Little Italy are two popular cafés here, where you can sip chai and talk Buddha. French Onion soup and cheesy baguettes are popular menu items. It gets nippy up here so its good to eat. Nights are spent warmed by coal fires and pot, with sitar-strains in the background and free-flowing conversations about spirituality, it feels like it always did. And then you have to wake up and get a job

trekking-in-nepal

trekking-in-nepal

Gokarna

Om beach

Om beach

Gokarna is great because you’ll find an equal mix of beach bums and spiritual pilgrims. This is a place you can bet your post-college kid will not want to leave.

The three best beaches of Gokarna — Om, Kudle and Paradise — are surrounded by rasta-colored cafĂ©s and dread locked backpackers as well as their girl friends in bathing suits.

Seafood and the usual European fare feature on every menu, which is great news and the mood is oh, so mellow with yoga classes on the sand.

gokarna-shiv-statue

gokarna-shiv-statue

Om beach is named for the Sanskrit symbol it resembles. There you’ll find Namaste CafĂ©, the largest and most happening shack in the region. And as I said, here you’ll find people who’ve come to stay for an extended time. And why not? Paradise beach is perfect for  long-term hiding and it feels like people here just might not grope quite as much as in Mumbai.

Vashisht

vashisht-hot-water-springs-manali

vashisht-hot-water-springs-manali

Vashisht is the getaway from the getaway. About three kilometers north of the hill station Manali in Himachal Pradesh, Vashisht is where many Indian families make day trips to bathe in the hot springs. It’s pristine, and has a healthy spiritual vibe to it as well as incredible views and fresh air overlooking the Beas River.

wooden houses

wooden houses

Now, this is strange. Guess what holds this place together? What keeps people coming again and again? An open-air German Bakery in the middle of town. This shanty with long wooden benches is an ideal spot to people-watch and socialize with fellow travelers over cups of cappuccino and slices of apple crumble. Can you imagine just how good that tastes up here?

There’s also the Jogini waterfall, a serene spot with beautiful mountain views. All you have to do is take a half hour trek through a quaint village and apple orchards. Now that doesn’t sound too bad, does it?

SO the next time you hear about all the troubles in India, or some young college kid tells you she’s off on a spiritual quest, be sure to send her this and send her the other post on the do’s and don’ts of traveling alone. All good travelers are aware.

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If you enjoy always getting the best tips, deals and insider news before everyone else then make sure to visit www.fareboom.com and follow us on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.

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