Herb is the healing of a nation, alcohol is the destruction. - Bob Marley
In 1968, when a Time Magazine study on Hippie philosophy credited the foundation of the hippie movement with historical precedent as far back as the "Sadhu" of India, the spiritual seekers, little did we know that India would soon become the most sought-after hippie haven for the pot-smoking, peace-loving nomads from across the world.
If your heart craves for a life free of worries, of exploring and learning on your own terms, and seeing the magic of free-spiritedness, chances are that you might be a 'closet-hippie'. If breaking free off the corporate shackles is what you seek, here's the list of the best hippie destinations in India where you could be a part of the culture that perhaps the whole world should embrace:
To find the charm of white sand beaches, long stretch of coastline, shaded by tall coconut trees, lazy hours under the sun, and very few beach shacks, head to Palolem, Goa. Watch the laid back sleepy beach in the day transform into the nightlife hub, giving us an equally interesting and chilled out vibe.
A popular hangout for backpackers, Varkala, Kerala, has golden sand beaches grazing the shores of the cliffs. But what stands out is the sparkling market with hints of hippie culture, and thumping trance music that fills up the air. The general demeanor of the place oozes the laidback vibe that hippies are known for.
Vattakanal, Tamil Nadu
Vattakanal, Tamil Nadu is a misty hill station surrounded by trees of every kind imaginable. Its abundance in psychedelic mushrooms makes it a popular destination for trippers. A close cousin to the "The Princess of Hills" Kodaikanal, this place is famous for its highs and hippies. A haven for people who want to completely be lost and not give a damn to the mundane world!
The surroundings of Hampi, Karnataka echo a tale of the city that was once left in ruins but has since resurrected itself to a destination of choice for many travelers. The beautiful rocky outcrops and stunning temple architecture engulf you, as this city seems frozen in the swinging 60s. Added to it is a mystical vibe where the locals approach you with nonchalance to ask if you need a room, a man, or a "special smoke".
A temple town with unexpectedly calm beaches, Gokarna, Karnataka, conforms to every hippie-town norm, with a generous sprinkling of rasta-colored cafés and backpackers with dreadlocks. You could enjoy the requisite trance music or the strumming of some strangers' guitars. For the hippie soul, this would seem the perfect place to be.
Kasol, Himachal Pradesh
This veritable paradise is a mecca for travelers with a penchant for offbeat treks and travel, evident from the Hebrew signboards and dreadlocked hippies on the street. Nestled in the vibrant and colorful valleys of Himachal Pradesh, Kasol is replete with hippie hideouts, trance music and cuisines that reflect the sense of gathered heritage.
Malana, Himachal Pradesh
Set against a backdrop of snow-peaked mountains and a roaring river, and small shops selling chillums, Malana, Himachal Pradesh, is a close cousin of the more popular Kasol and is surely a destination that is welcoming and at the same time reclusive towards outsiders. This place thrives on the cultivation of hashish, that draws a lot of free-spirited travelers from across the world.
This famous French beach town is a world in itself. Puducherry, formerly known as Pondicherry is one of the most loved hippie getaways in South India. It has embodied various nationalities that have now come to be a part of the town and its identity. For a place that is defined by every culture that has ever touched its nooks and crannies, adapting the hippie culture almost came naturally.
Rishikesh, Uttarakhand is everything you want it to be. It is the place to attain your spiritual nirvana, get a wisp of adventure, or spend some relaxed time off in the many yoga ashrams that could be found here. Hailed as the 'Yoga Capital of the World', spiritual centers, the ever-increasing number of expats, new cafes sprouting every other day, riverside camps, and babas, the holy men who won't mind giving you a high five sums up this place.
A legend to its origin, a unique temple, a camel festival, a holy lake and fairs and festivity. And yet, Pushkar, Rajasthan, will give you the glimpse of its rather unusual hippie side. Essentially a very spiritual place, Pushkar can be best described as an amalgamation of culture and free spiritedness. Very much in contrast to the rest of Rajasthan that in seeped in culture and heritage, this quaint town has the zen that only a hippie soul is searching for.
Almora, Uttarakhand, houses the famous 'Crank's Ridge', also known as the 'Hippie Hill'. The beauty of this pine-covered ridge has seen the likes of Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan and Cat Stevens at the peak of the Hippie movement and takes you back in time to the 60s era of sex, drugs, and rock n roll. This overture of nature welcomes one with its open arms to become a part of the free-spirited haven that it is.
Tosh, Himachal Pradesh
In the far reaches of the misty oblivion of the mountains, where modern influences are scarce, there lies a settlement composed of a scattering of wooden houses built into the mountainside overlooking river Parvati called Tosh, Himachal Pradesh. With the music reverberating in the backdrop, this place offers the perfect green pastures to get you high on.
Let me leave you with some interesting pictures of chillums and shishas that I had clicked during one of my early trips to Manali, Himachal.