Not too many properties deserve the tag of being destinations in themselves, but Swaswara in Gokarna, Karnataka does. A CGH Earth resort, it sets standards in hotel design and service. Of course, being set against the beautiful Om Beach on the foothills of the Western Ghats only adds to it attractiveness.
SwaSwara means the inner voice of the self and, if you allow yourself, you can hear some of it while here. Yes, the yoga and meditation sessions give you a helping hand, but it the environment you are in that really makes a difference.
Morning starts with windchimes playing against the fresh breeze - the music touches you deep within. It is all you hear at that time. And then meditation on a hill facing a vast Arabian Sea in front with the sun rising behind only uplifts you further. I had been bothered with a niggling lower back pain for many days. Meditation enabled me to focus on the energy centres on my lower spine; it allowed me to imagine the deep ocean soothing it and the waves massaging it. I am not exaggerating when I say I got cured. Was it the yoga guru, my meditation (it was the first time I meditated in my life) or the place - or a combination of all? Swaswara can claim credit for bringing it all together.
Here is more on the property:
* Accommodation: If they were selling one of their 24 Konkan villas, I would be the first to buy one. My villa had an air-conditioned bedroom with a room over it with lounge chairs for reading. There is an open to sky courtyard, leading down to a semi covered verandah with work tables and chairs, a coffee and tea making bar, a refrigerator and easy chairs to stretch on. It opened into a man-made lake. The bathroom was open to the sky. Made in a traditional style, the villas have high quality furnishings and fittings and all modern comforts.
* Location: A perfect setting along the Om beach in Gokarna. Accessible by air through Goa (170 kms / 106 miles) or Mangalore (240 kms / 150 miles) airports.
* Activities: Life may seem to move in slow motion at SwaSwara, but there sure is enough to keep you busy. You can practice yoga and meditation - you can choose levels and what kind. Yoga includes gentle or advanced yoga, Laughter yoga, Pranayama, Yoga Nidra and Art yoga. You can also go for Chanting Meditation, Trataka, Mind Sound Resonance Technique, Chakra Meditation or Breath Awareness. You can spend time with the resident artists and create something of your own - using clay, colours or mud. And leave it behind for others to see. A massage at the Ayurveda centre can be a great way to wind down at the end of it all.
* What else can you do? Besides the structured activities, you can take a walk in the ‘kitchen gardens’ of SwaSwara where many a chemical free fruit and vegetable are sourced for your meals. Listen to the birds and spot them too. Lie back on the hammocks with a cool drink and a book, or get involved in a game of kabaddi. Swim in the sea, sunbathe on the Om beach or follow a trail through hilly forests to other beaches around. Join the cooks in the kitchen and learn while you help them prepare a meal.
* Food: Swaswara offers you meals keeping the following in mind: “They say partaking of a diet such as ours helps in the development of ‘prana’ or vital energy and spiritual consciousness, while encouraging the development of the higher qualities of peace, love and humility.” So what does this diet include? Chefs mostly use fruits and vegetables grown on their own farms or in nearby fields, all without the use of chemicals and in clean soil. Their said objectives can be met only when their chefs prepare meals “using natural foods grown in harmony with nature, ripened naturally on good soil and cooked in the right manner, with the right attitude.” The menu may not look like something you are familiar with, and some of your taste buds may raise questions, but you will leave the dining room pleased with what you had.
* Shopping: It is easy to be skeptical of high priced shops in hotels, but the one in Swaswara is different. Reasonably priced, it spoils you for choice and quality of goods. You can shop for toys, clothes, gifts, handicrafts and more - it is very difficult to hold yourself back.
* Service: Impeccable. All staff are soft-spoken, well groomed, and always alert to your needs. They are knowledgeable, friendly and will not give you reasons to fault them.
Swaswara may be a catalyst for you to hear your inner voice, but what you achieve depends on you. They may offer yoga, meditation and art, but it is for you to attend or not. The place has energy, it is for you to use it to uplift your body, soul and mind.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.