Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Holy Cow! Adventures in Goa & Beyond



After a short ride on the train we reached Gokarna in the neighbouring state of Karnataka, a sacred coastal town popular with Hindu pilgrims for over two millennia. It is believed that Shiva was reborn here through the ear of a cow (Gokarna means cow's ear). A statue, situated in the town's Medieval temple, is believed to be so auspicious that a mere glimpse will absolve a hundred sins, even the murder of a Brahmin. 


Sadly, ferenghis are banned from most of the temples, so we were forced to live with our sins for a bit longer.


On the train we flicked through our Rough Guide, liking the sound of Nimmu House. We hailed an auto rickshaw at the station (a 20 minute ride from the town/ £2) and went to take a look. The owner took us to an immaculately clean room, with an attached bathroom, at the top of the house and we agreed on 600 rupees (just over £6) a night.


Our room had a tiny balcony overlooking the main pathway to the temple so we could watch the pilgrims pass by, unobserved.




Within minutes of arrival we encountered a scene straight from The Darjeeling Limitedthe body of a child borne aloft on a bier, almost entirely covered with jasmine and marigolds, accompanied by a procession of white lunghi-clad & barefoot male mourners beating drums. A heartbreaking but hauntingly beautiful sight.


Nothing can prepare you for the wonder that is Gokarna, rituals and traditions unchanged for thousands of years. 


Something to admire on every street corner.


Most days we'd find a shady spot and sit, watching with amazement as life unfurled in front of us.







Although we'd visited three years previously, we were again spellbound by the early morning activity at temple tank, wafts of incense & wood smoke, the devotional songs echoing across the water, punctuated by the tinkle of temple bells and the gentle splish-splash of water as pilgrims bathed before prayer. 






Through the shutters of one of the Medieval houses facing the tank I caught sight of an elderly man dressed in a loincloth & lying on a bed, his breath laboured and his eyes looking somewhere far beyond me, while his wife and son sat at his side, watching and waiting. Further on a lady bid me a cheerful Namaste! whilst trying to drive a cow out of her hallway with a broomstick. 








We chose an auspicious time to visit and were lucky enough to see several processions.





Although a pilgrimage site, there's a growing traveller scene with many of the old Goa crowd preferring Gokarna's simplicity and lack of commercialism.


Advertising, Karnatakan-style.


Graffiti like this is popping up around the town. According to a couple of locals the two little boys are by an anonymous English artist and there's an internet rumour that its Banksy.


A twenty minute walk away, you'll find beach shacks selling beer, omelettes and tandoori chicken if you tire of the pure vegetarian, alcohol-free lifestyle in town or, do what we do, buy a cheap bottle of white rum (£1.80 a litre) before boarding the train in Goa and have a candlelit drink (or three) on your balcony after dinner.



So that was Gokarna but not the end of our adventures in Karnataka. Next we embarked on an epic 12 hour journey, travelling to a place I fell in love with after reading about it in a book written 40 years ago. 

See you soon!

PS Between us we took far too many photos. If you can bear to see more click right HERE.

66 comments:

  1. What a colourful and interesting post. How sad about the child though.
    You know, I really, really love that barbers chair xxx

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  2. Amazing photos. Always makes me want to go to India!!

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  3. I always love reading about your trips to India I drink up the culture through your wonderful photo's and description. Its so far from ours in so many ways. But it makes you appreciate life and what we do have but also that simple and basic makes for happiness in so many ways. dee xxx

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  4. Dear Vix,
    loving your fabulous travel tale posts, the photos are brilliant, as is your engaging writing style. I reckon you could pen a best selling travel guide book.
    I am itching to go on another magical mystery tour and India looks so magical, exotic and right up my street. Thanks for taking the time to document and share your experiences. Looking forward to the next installment.
    Stay awesome chick, Jennie xxx

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  5. Frocktasia beat me to it. I was just going to suggest that you write a travel guide of Goa yourself. Your enthusiasm for the place is contagious and your writings capture the culture and magical laid back vibe of the place. Loved seeing your amazing photos....fab barber's (or was it a dentist's) chair? xxx

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  6. You two are AMAZING. I'm quite sure I would have sought out the same experiences you did if I had a clue where to begin - so YES to Fiona's suggestion about your writing a travel guide. Your descriptive writing skills are awesome, by the way.

    I am struck by the vibrant colors on the one hand and stark simplicity on the other....

    Surprised by all the English. Can one get along w/o speaking another language there?

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  7. Your portrait photos make it clear that the Fountain of Youth is located in Gokarna!

    What wonderfully intense colors -- and what enchanting graphics and graffiti enrich Gokarna! (No doubt I'm admiring a sign that says "buy bug spray cheap here.")

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  8. You look so damn happy, maybe you should move there? ;) Beautiful spot!

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  9. What IS that huge contraption in the first video? Where were they moving it to? Did it ever get there?

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  10. the magic of india!!!!!
    want. go there. ! i can almost smell the incense!
    thanx for sharing with us, my friend!
    xxxxxx

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  11. Beautiful place, beautiful people from a beautiful source, thanks Vix!

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  12. Even the graffiti is beautiful and awe-inspiring. What an amazing place! You and Jon look even more relaxed than usual.

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  13. This makes me more and more determined to go!! In fact I am selling vintage and starting my saving this week :) Love your posts! ]

    http://hayleythrifts.blogspot.com
    XOXO

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  14. I loved this post. Off sick with a nasty bug for a few minutes I was transported to goa imagining all the sights sounds and smells .. That is evidence of a good writer, I believe, someone who takes you to another place .. That's you, hope a publisher snaps you up fast.

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  15. Such photos! It seems like you really capture the heart and soul of Gokarna. I loved this.

    I find it very interesting however, as my husband often comes across the same issues when he travels, that they ban foreigners in spots. I can only imagine the uproar in Canada should any Church, or place of worship would try to do the same here. Human rights activists would be all over that. In Thailand even some bars are banned to foreigners.

    bisous
    Suzanne

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  16. The color! Stunning. I'd love to go to India. Do you buy a ton of stuff while you're there? I have a probably unrealistic and western fantasy of shopping in India for gold and spices and fabric! Sipping gin and tonics all the way! :)

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  17. Amazing photos and writing, Vix - you bring me right there to India. Living with your sins a little longer -- not so bad, eh? xox

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  18. Incredible! Is it wrong for me to say that I don't want your travel posts from India to ever end? ;)

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  19. Fantastic, Vix. Stunning. You don't half make me want to pack a back and go there. My feet are very itchy lately and it's all very well and good my kids going off travelling when the fancy takes 'em...mum and dad should have a turn I reckon.
    I agree with Jennie...you should write a travel guide.
    Loves ya.
    xxxxx

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  20. So incredible. Can't wait to hear about the next place.

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  21. So the travel guide is going to happen then? I think it should! I love reading about your travels and observations of India, and seeing the photos of people going about their daily lives in their beautiful environment which looks so different from ours, yet the experiences are universal. And you are clearly so happy to be a part of it, if only for a short time - you are positively radiant in those pics of you!
    Love these posts - love you! xxxx

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  22. Same thing here in Nepal, foreigners are not allowed to some temples. And at some places the entry fee for foreigners is 10 times higher than for locals.
    Wonderful post, full of colours and life. You look spectacular!

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  23. this just brightened up a very rainy, dreary morning. Of course, I want to see more.

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  24. ha...that's one place that doesn't seemed to have changd since 2008....I even have a picture of that very barber's chair except my ex is sitting in it getting a close shave...not quite close enough as it turned out!! Can't wait to see we're you're taking us next!x

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  25. Wow, great pictures. The colours! The graffiti! The Life - love it.

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  26. Amazing, I just love people watching. I'm all agog now for the next installment. Come on chop chop write more!

    Did you watch Indian Summer on Sunday?

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  27. such an amazingly colorful place!, the clothes, the houses, the decorations and advertisements, everything looks bright, vivid and lively!
    I love to sit and watch what's happening, that's my favorite activity when travelling!, so I enjoy your pics!!, thanks for sharing!
    besos

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  28. Yes yes yes! Keep them coming - the colors, the sun, the hat on top of the monument in the first photo (yes I thought at first it was a hat! hahaaa - I'm a little obsessed with brightly colored head things, aren't I!?)

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  29. Your smile says it all, you always look so happy in India. Beautiful photos

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  30. Just so extraordinary, the colour above all is wonderful and the processions give an insight into something splendid.

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  31. I'm amazed by all the colors! And you fit right in with you're beautiful skirts and dresses! I would love to have one of those! :)

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  32. Oh wow seriously I think this is my favourite out of all your previous trips, but you say there's more to come. Wow......I can't wait.

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  33. Gokarna looks like the most amazing place for people watching. Like you, I would be content to sit in a shady spot and watch the processions, rituals, and other bits of life unfold in front of me.

    Looking forward to hearing about the epic 12 hour journey!

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  34. ORANGE! I love India's love for colour! The clothing, the houses...everything is so vibrant and filled with glorious colour! On the flip side, I also love how they wear white when someone has crossed. I'm sure there's a reason for it...I'll have to look that up.

    I'm a people watcher too...it's neat to see that you and Jon enjoy the same thing.

    Overall, India is so intense...and you are sharing some very beautiful photos! India was lucky to have you both as guests.

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  35. Oh my goodness I have just caught up with all your posts so far! It looks like you both had the most amazing time, I particularly loved the first post- that house was stunning! Can't wait to see more, the photographs are wonderful, I feel almost like I'm there (which hopefully one day soon I shall be!) XXX

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  36. Just amazing, Vicky! So much heart and soul, so much love in this post. Love just looking through the pics and video, but you write just like others say in such an engaging way too - I can feel your love for India in your words. You are so very multi-talented, my dear. Your relaxed smile is priceless - love seeing you happy as a child! Namaste! xxxxxx

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  37. Oh yes, I agree, a book about your travels would be so lovely. And just think, if you got a book deal, all your travel expenses would be tax deductible!! Gokarna is so amazingly beautiful. Every photo is like a film set. Imagine being surrounded by this much colour and beauty every day. I'm so seduced by the small details, even in the most tragic of circumstances. I love the thought of you just sitting there watching life unfold around you. It seems the perfect way to experience India, rather than rushing around in a frenzy. Keep them coming Vix, these posts are sublime. Xxxxxx

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  38. thanks again for sharing these moments~so visually warm on another frigid day here in toronto. definitely looks like banksy!
    s

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  39. As always your pictures and descriptions are fascinating. Thanks for sharing!

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  40. Loving your photos and hearing about your travels xx

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  41. These photos are stunning. I especially like seeing your vacation wardrobe. Please tell me that you paid a little visit to Cassiopaya boutique.

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  42. I checked all your photos. Wow. Growing up with so much colour must do something wonderful to one's brain. By contrast, I feel like I am living in a mud pit. Can you imagine living in that float/shrine of your first photo with a sun room in the upper pom-pom deck? You and Jon are glowing in these photos. You can see how all the edges are softened just being in this place.

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  43. Always fun and very interesting seeing Goa and more through your eyes. Must have been so wonderful not to be in wind chills and freezing temperatures. :) x

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  44. India is so colourful. No wonder you two love going there. Thanks for all those gorgeous photos!!!

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  45. Total joy Vix - we are so starved for colour. Keep posting!

    I'm glad special places are kept so.

    Now, can I go and live in Cassiopayas please :)

    You look divine as always xx

    Elaine Tra-la-la

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  46. So wonderfully colourful and I love that you're not slumped on some tourist resort somewhere. This is proper culture! Thank you so much for sharing, keep them coming! xx

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  47. So many experiences you've enjoyed in this exotic place ... I'm loving the gorgeous colours ... and just how relaxed you look in these photos :0)
    xx

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  48. so full of color and so vibrant...and you look so in your elements!!!

    loving all your pics!!

    www.myunfinishedlife.com

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  49. Stunning pictures, all those colours!

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  50. Amazing photos and those glimpses into everyday life; I liked the bit about the woman driving out the cow but still having time to cheerfully greet you. The colours and the sunlight are stunning, and I can see why you love Gokarna xxx

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  51. I agree with Melanie, "Growing up with so much colour must do something wonderful to one's brain". And wearing so much colour back in England probably do something wonderful to your friends Brains.

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  52. O, wow wow wow I love these pix!
    Sitting back and watching life unfold in a foreign land is just about my favourite thing to do, especially if there's a river involved! I could spend hours looking, thinking, considering these different lives. There is so much more beauty and life in these countries; more energy and joy, even in the face of poverty or disaster. Never fails to amaze me, nor remind me of how grateful I should be.
    Gloriarse post, lovely.
    Love Helga XXX

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  53. Stunning photos, you look so relaxed there!

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  54. I think there is such deep spirituality and tradition in India, I know I have never been there but your post has such a tender and beautiful view of life there, so devastating about the child?
    I think, like you and Jon, I would have sat and watched life go on before me - I was fascinated with the first video, I couldn't figure out what the structure was and the graffiti art is suspiciously Banksy - like everyone else, I definitely think you should write a travel guide, your love of India is captivating - look forward to the next installment! x x x

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  55. Your photos are breathtaking and make me want to travel to India as soon as possible. If I do get there, it will be because of you. Thank you for sharing your adventures.

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  56. Wow, what a place! It's beautiful. Every shot looks like a still from a movie shoot, to my eyes, which have never seen such sights in real life. I love your India posts so much!

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  57. Stunning photos! Thanks for such an interesting tour.

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  58. Just amazing that you can always find new things and rediscover everytime you visit. I love that! And no you can never take too many photos, only too few. I am always getting told off for whipping my cameras out but I know we will forget in time. xxx

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  59. You never cease to amaze me. What a GORGEOUS post!!! Had to share... -xo

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  60. Oh Vix, Gokarna looks like such a wonderful place. Thanks for sharing with us xx

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  61. omg all those colours! i love it! and yes so very very Darjeeling Ltd, both in happiness and sadness! The streets also look amazingly neat and clean compared to the cities. And the signs and as you mentioned lack of commercialism. Just that lovely Indian kitsch! I love it when you go to Goa. i should just go myself!

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  62. So many memories from my visit there 20 years ago! It still looks wonderful.So many sweet memories!!!

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  63. the best thing about visiting somewhere different from home is the opportunity to just sit, look, breath, and take in all in. Witnessing a completely different culture is fascinating. Gorkana is now on my 'places to visit' list - in ink and underlined, twice.

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Love from Vix
xxx