India is witnessing a steady rise in the number of surfers.
From sea-faring fishermen to city-dwellers and seeking an active lifestyle, India is witnessing a steady rise in the number of surfers.
A small, brown figure confidently appeared on a white surfboard, into the choppy pre-monsoon waters of the Arabian sea.
The boy disappears into the collapsing waves soon. A few seconds later, he emerges standing on the board, finishing every wave with a stylish manoeuvre.
A crowd of locals erupts into a loud cheer. The 12-year-old is dancing on the waves after winning his first ever surfing competition.
Akhilan was introduced to surfing barely five months ago by an older group of surfers in his neighbourhood.
Born into a fishing family in Mahabalipuram in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, "surfing is life" for Akhilan now.
A shy boy on land, he is a fearless, natural athlete in water, and also one of the leading examples of the existence of innate talent for the emerging sport in India.
"We have mainly seen three types of surfers in India. Vacation surfers, who try out the sport for a few days. Surfing enthusiasts, who keep returning whenever they can. And surfers who are serious about the sport, and work to make a life off of it," says Rammohan Paranjape, a surf photographer and vice-president of the Surfing Federation of India (SFI).
Based in Mulki, a small coastal town in the southern state of Karnataka, the federation is recognised by the International Surfing Association (ISA) as a national governing body for surfing in India. According to the federation, India's 7500km (4,660-mile) coastline is dotted with at least 20 surfing spots.
It provides training programmes to instructors, lists Indian surfing schools that have ISA certified instructors, and supports surfing festivals to boost the sport among the general public in the country.