Monsoon Rains, Ashrams, West India.

On my last day in Agonda, South Goa, I woke up to monsoon rains pouring into my rice-grass hut.
Part of the roof had come off due to high winds… no more red sunsets for me.
Instead of panicking or getting angry, feeling actually motivated by ‘nature’s alarm clock’,
I began packing my bits back into my rucksack ready for the journey on.
I went and told the owner of the hut, who seemed much more concerned than I was.
But by the time I was dressed the sun had already started shining through the clouds…
Time for one last look around with my lens.

I really loved staying in this tropical garden – the owners had built the hut next to their house,
to try and make a little profit during the tourist season… during which time I would have payed triple.
Their house was very modest – pigs, dogs and chickens ran around freely.
I felt very at home amongst the fruit trees and animals.

I had most of the day to fill before catching my overnight bus to Bangalore, so…
it was back on the road – I hired a guide, and a bike, to show me the paradise that is South Goa.

Welcome to Gokarna Math –

Gokarna Math – an ashram/matha (monastery) nestled deep in the Goan countryside,
surrounded on all sides by jungle. A place of peace, meditation, retreat. I enjoyed my time spent here.
The above photo was taken as I was leaving – these two people entering the monastery
were the only non-holy people on site (other than my guide) the entire time I was there.

The halls were almost empty inside. I received a customary blessing from the priest.
Occasionally I caught sight of a young monk, someone sleeping on the stone floor, someone praying,
performing ritual, and a couple of ladies sorting grain ~ but I was mostly alone (and happy for it).

The architecture was very simple, linear – painted bright, pale colours.
A place to really get lost in thoughts, forget the world and physicality around
~ and dance beyond the walls of the mind.

A young monk.
A young monk.
workers on the grounds of the ashram.
labourers on the grounds of the matha.

Next me and my guide, Lens, began touring the surrounding countryside, quite extensively.
Zooming up hilltops, down windy roads, through little villages accessible only by narrow causeways in the hills,
dodging cows and dogs in the road, across bridges, over dams, past great jungle vistas, rivers and lakes,
the occasional monkey, barefoot child, a temple here, a church there,
then down to the coast again for secluded beaches, coves, caves and rock pools,
then back up the mountains to cliff-tops and rocky roads.

It was fascinating to see how these rural people were living so basically – in the middle of nowhere
– often in what looked like shacks, with tin roofs, straw walls – and yet I envied them in some way.
A simple life is so difficult to attain in the Western World – rural houses cost more in the UK than in towns.
Seeing such lives is nothing but an eye-opener, mind-broadened.
It really challenges everything you are taught to believe, about the world,
what we truly need in order to survive. What it really takes to be happy.

Yet again I am humbled by travel.

I’d discovered a part of Goa not written about in the average guidebook,
paths not beaten by the stampede of tourism, not yet touched by Western party scenes,
I discovered a beauty that will stay with me, like so many places I’ve seen,
another place to recall as I journey on, to other lands I’ve never been, to a people I’ve never met.

When I started out on this pilgrimage some two years ago I never imagined
I would see such a lot of beauty in such a short space of time. I never imagined I’d find such heart in the world.
This is more than the diary of an aesthete… these are the memoirs of one so blessed, and one so very thankful.

Time to walk…

J x

25 Comments

    1. Simple things have always been the things to make me happy – a bit of luck, a smile, bare feet on cool grass. I feel very blessed in my life. It has its ups and downs – its springs and winters. It’s not perfect, but it’s my life, and I’ve been blessed to see a lot in my time so far.

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  1. A great paradise, almost untouched in the trend to make it a market for travelers. The downside of their more elemental life is that they didn’t choose it so probably cannot appreciate it as in the same way as yourself. The same way as friends when see the landscapes I share they manifest a surprise for something I find natural.
    There is a sense of authenticity in this place that it’s quite inviting. Thank you ☺

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      1. I guess every body has just to be happy in their own rhythm, without feel guilty for have more (if it’s earn with honest work) or envy for have less (what happens when things have more weight than life)

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