In 1972, when American surfer Jack Webner visited India, he was instantly charmed by the culture and the traditional spirit of the country. But he was surprised that the surfing culture was totally missing in India despite favourable opportunities, and he was determined to change that. He then, along with his friend Rick Perry, introduced the sport here and together they went on to becoming the surfing pioneers in India.
The Indian sub-continent has a vast coastline spanning up to 7000 km, most of which remains largely unexplored in terms of surfing. Surfing is a surface water adventure sport, in which a surfer rides on a wave which carries him usually towards the shore. It is an extremely popular leisure and adventure sport in the west, especially in Hawaii, California, Australia and South America. Despite thousands of miles of ocean beyond the southern tip of India, we still have some catching up to do in surf culture. But we do surf with a twist, and how!!
Surfers all over the world profess of a spiritual connection with the waves and the ocean, describing the activity as a divine experience over all. Taking this divinity a step further, in the small town of Mulki in Karnataka, live the swamis who surf, who combine yoga and meditation with surfing.
What now is a thriving vocation with multiple yoga and surf retreats, was started as a small surf club back in 2004 by Jack Webner, now known as the swami who surfs! The Mantra Club is an abode for spiritual enlightenment, it is an ashram with extensive surfing classes during the day and meditation and aartis at dawn.
"We wake up everyday at 4 AM and after hitting the shower we begin our mantra-meditations. At 6:30 AM there is a group chant and after that we do what in India is called 'the puja'," says their website.
Daily Activities at the Ashram Surf Retreat include surfing, stand-up paddle (SUP), kayaking, bodyboarding, wakeboarding, swimming, volley ball, mantra meditation, yoga-asanas, surf film entertainment and environmental awareness documentary presentations. Or you can just kick back, detox, unwind, relax, read a book and enjoy the sea breeze.
The club also organises surf tours for intermediate level surfers to Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep Islands, which are almost untouched (by surfers) and where the waves are epic!
For a one night stay with surfing lessons, per person cost is between ₹2800 and ₹3800, depending on your choice of rooms. Extra charges are applicable for various other water sports and activities. Click here for cost details.
At any given time the ashram can accommodate only 10 guests, thus, it's never too crowded and a general serenity is felt here. The Ashram has a clean private beach for all adventure activities, yoga and relaxation. Stay at the Ashram includes two wholesome vegetarian meals and healthy snacks. You can book your stay here.
When to go?
In the winter/spring season the waters become gentler and the waves get back to normal. This is the small swell season (also the peak tourist season) i.e. from October to April and is the best time for beginners learning to surf. To book your lessons call: +91 96631 41146
How to get there?
By car: Mulki is only 30 km from Mangalore, making it an easy 6 hour drive even if you are coming from Bangalore.
By bus: Regular overnight and day buses ply from Bangalore to Mulki.
By air: The nearest airport is in Mangalore, and the village of Mulki is not far away.
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