Gokarna was calling me strongly. I heard the Gokarna Mahatmya, read about it and it is just 150 odd km from Panaji, Goa. When I was searching for places to stay in Gokarna, Swaswara kept popping up on top of every list. The name itself fascinated me.
Swaswara literally means your own voice. How many times do we stop to listen to our own voice? A series of serendipitous connections and we landed in Gokarna and headed straight to their facility. Earthy colors were all around us. As we were led to our Villa, flowers in bright yellow, magenta, and pristine white welcomed us – on the trees all around.
Villa was spacious enough for us to work from here with a lovely view of the blue water just behind. We had our lunch listening to the waves desperate to meet the shore, as well as happy tourists enjoying their water rides.
Here are a few reasons why you should choose Swaswara for your Gokarna visit:
Indic Way of Living
The facility is designed for a very Indic way of living. The five elements of nature are never far away.
While you have all the luxuries around, you still have that rootedness in the air. There is a lot of quietness. that allows you to go quiet and listen to your own breathing.
Vila that we stayed in had ‘Chit’ written outside it. This made me take a walk and look at all the names they have given to their 24 villas and found soulful names like Bhakti, Chandra, Chakra, Bhoomi. Maybe pick up a villa that suits your mood or personality. I think Chit was just perfect for me.
Every Villa has a Tulsi plant in front of it just like Indian homes. The rooftop area with red oxide benches to sit is a perfect place to jot down your innermost thoughts. I would love to conduct a writer’s retreat here sometime.
There is no TV in the rooms and the use of gadgets is discouraged in the eating areas.
Bathing under the Stars
Open to Sky bathrooms allow you to bathe in the open while ensuring complete privacy for you. My favorite memory from Swaswara would remain bathing under the stars with a full moon in view at night.
A great example of how a simple design element can keep you closer to nature, something that we have almost forgotten.
They have well-defined areas for practicing Yoga, meditation, pranayama, and Yoga Nidra. They have regular sessions in the mornings, afternoon, and evenings for their guests that anyone can join. If you need specific sessions, you can ask for them.
A meditation hill that gives a great view of the sunrise is a perfect place to meditate with a sea view, pretty much like the ancient sages who used to cross mountains to come and meditate here.
Their library has a wonderful collection of books from Bihar School of Yoga, which in my opinion are the best books on Yoga to read.
There is, of course, a swimming pool but I would rather go play in the ocean right next to it. You can learn cooking in their live sessions.
The food served is healthy and cooked in a holistic way. The menu is limited and the choices are between a wellness meal and a regular meal. Wellness meal usually comes with some creative recipe using seasonal vegetables. One day I had a stuffed bottle gourd and the other day I had a baked cake made out of ash gourd.
You can choose limited options of sea-food too but mostly vegetarian food is served.
Meals are served at the right windows of time for you to eat. I wish and hope they introduce an option to have the last meal before sunset.
Indulge the Artist in You
I am not much of an artist even though I end up writing about all kinds of arts. Swaswara has an art room and a full-time artist to guide you on an artistic journey. I could see many kids learning to paint in a room full of paintings. Some were done by the artist in charge, while others were done by the guests.
I tried my hands on the clay pottery. It was fun to hold the clay in your hands, kneed it enough to make it ready for molding. As the wheel moves, your fingers become the magic wands, that with a slight touch can give the shape to the wet clay.
If you stay long enough for the clay to dry, you can take your creation along with you.
You can take guided nature walks inside the property that goes up and down on the famous Om beach. With ample trees, you can see and hear a lot of birds. The best place to spot birds is from their Cocum restaurant which is at a height and lets you see the birds on the treetops surrounding it.
You can also walk out of the property and climb the hill that divides the Kudle beach and Om beach. It takes you on a laterite plateau and gives you a glimpse of how ancient Yogis would have traveled on these paths.
Going down to the beach and back is a lovely walk in itself.
Finally, a place is as good as the people who manage it. The staff there were disciplined, dedicated, and helpful while allowing you your own space.
Every time we wanted to go to the city, they readily helped us with local transportation & information.
I would highly recommend staying at Swaswara as and when you plan to visit Gokarna. We thank them for being our kind hosts. Do check out the CGH Earth website for more details.