Getting Stoked at the Shaka Surf Club

Located in the little known beach town of Kodi Bengre near Udupi in Karnataka, this is one of Indias premier surfing training school. And Indias first female professional surfer is the co-founder of this club
Despite a long coastline, surfing is not a popular sport in India yet
Despite a long coastline, surfing is not a popular sport in India yet

Not far from the famous temple town of Udupi in Karnataka is a little known beach &ndash Kodi Bengre &ndash hemmed by the azure waves of the Arabian Sea. It is here that the Suvarna River joins the sea, hence it is also called Delta beach. A little over a decade ago, the handful of travellers who headed this way preferred to keep it a secret.

May be the beach would have remained in its semi-anonymity if it was not for a surf club which came up in 2007. Started by India&rsquos first female professional surfer Ishita Malaviya and her partner Tushar Pathiyan, the Shaka Surf Club is not only a leading surfing training school in India but also an institution aiming to empower Indian women.

Interestingly, the journey of Malaviya to becoming India&rsquos first female professional surfer is as interesting as the club itself. Apparently, it was a chance meeting with a group of international surfers that Malaviya and Paithan started surfing. For Mumbai-based Malaviya, it was not only a feat of conquering the billowing waves but also the traditional Indian mentality. Although her family initially resented the idea, they finally relented, Malaviya said in a media interview later. Malaviya completed her studies in Manipal and decided to take up the sport full time.The same year, they co-founded the surf club.

In 2019, Malaviya was featured in the Forbes Asia 30 under 30 list. She is also featured in the book "She Surf," authored by fellow surfer Lauren Hill, which celebrates female surfers around the world.

Despite a long coastline, surfing is not a popular sport in India yet. And that is what the Shaka Surf Club is aiming to change. &ldquoThe Shaka Surf Club aims to get more people in the water, by educating them about the ocean, and dispelling fears of the ocean that are deep rooted in the Indian society. We try to combine humanitarian work with surfing and provide under-privileged youth with an opportunity to experience the joy of surfing,&rdquo writes the club on their blog page here.

Today, the school has its own campsite called Camp Namaloha, bordered by the river and the sea on either side. They offer surf lessons and surfboard rentals as well as camping facilities on the beach. The group works with the local community, and imparts training to young children in various skills so that they become confident and capable adults. Surfing and skateboarding is free for kids from the village, according to media reports.

Surfing has made its debut as part of the Olympic Games in Tokyo this year. According to media reports, it was almost a century ago that Hawaiian Duke Kahanamoku first pushed for the inclusion of the sport in the Olympic Games.

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