The Monsoon Hideout

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With the sun playing hide and seek with the clouds, the monsoons grow sporadic. The fresh green foliage adds another facet to the glory of Goa. Though the tourist season is not yet officially announced, Goa is cluttered with those who enjoy the refreshing, cool environs of the monsoon. Many discover the wet charms of Goa as they meander through the various novel ways that are not just traditional but also spontaneous. Sussegad is the call of the day. Calm and unhurried as only the Goans know how to be, they initiate the process of getting ready for the season. Stored stacks of shack building material is removed out of storage and examined for damage. Thatchers begin work readying material for the upcoming shacks. Carpenters are hard at work and entrepreneurs are busy with end of season sales. Green and luscious the plants are so dense it can be hard to find your way sometimes. The charms of Goa are pronounced during this time. The monsoon, which begins in June, comes as a relief for the Goans after the hot, dry months of early summer, bringing welcome rain and lower temperatures. Goa is at its most beautiful at this time of year, with the vivid green of newly sprouting rice in place of the bare red earth and parched vegetation of the dry season.

There is a lot more to Goa than just the beaches, get down to south Goa, sparsely populated you could spend days exploring the hills and villages. Forays into the surrounding country side in a 40 km radius of Palolem and a trip into the rain forests of south Goa during monsoon must be heaven, orchids, tropical fruit trees, and waterfalls ancient temples, couple this with the sleepy village life of an off season Goa and you’ve got a lovely place to chill out. Goa in the Monsoons is not just a marketing hype, it is a truly wonderful experience. It is at its best in the Monsoons. Goa in Monsoons is a market hype backed by reality. There is no mad crowd at the Goa beaches unlike that during peak season. Just get little away from the beaches and you will see innumerable streams and waterfalls. You can enjoy lush green landscape all around. A walk through the lush Goan countryside will soothe away all your troubles. Dudhsagar falls (a little away from Panaji at 60 Kms) is a treat to watch as water cascades down.

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The Arabian Sea gets real angry at this time of the year and you can watch its fury expressed through giant waves. Yes, walking along the beaches during Monsoons is an experience in itself. Of course, the sea will not let you swim. Goans have always known the secret – Goa is best during Monsoons. To celebrate Monsoons, they have numerous festivals that all Goans participate enthusiastically.  Most hotels offer at least 25% discount during Monsoons. If you are smart, you can bargain for more. For many, this is good enough reason. Though the occasional roll of thunder in the air still reverberates, many a visitor find it the right time to be in Goa with its vibrant festivals and innate warmth. Sao-Joao (the fertility feast of Saint John the Baptist), is the hot favourite. Celebrated in late many participate in the local custom of jumping into overflowing village wells to retrieve bottles of local feni alcohol. Resorts have huge parties by the poolside with both the tourist and the local diving into the swimming pool as a safer option in celebrating the feast. The feast of Saints Peter and Paul, at the end of June, is a sight to behold. Locals sail up river on rafts performing plays and songs. In late August, the carnival-like Bonderam flag festival is held on the tiny Divar Island off the coast from Panaji. This colourful festival is much looked forward to. The colourful floats individualizing this festival are a festive and jubilant sight. Ganesh Chaturthi is also observed in Goa with much reverence and excitement.

Goa’s legendary nightlife still can be experienced, despite there being controls on loud music being played in towns, the party atmosphere has a very relaxed feel and is often found on the sandy beaches that wind along the coast. Restaurants that aren’t located on the beach usually stay open during the monsoon. Down south, Fiplees at Benaulim is the place to be. Viva Goa down the Colva-Sernabatim road has live music every Saturday. Gawin’s at Verna has a rousing round of live music with well known musicians jamming in every Thursday. Lloyd’s in Calangute (after the chapel, on the Candolim Main Road) is the place to be on a stormy monsoon evening. The atmosphere is friendly and entertaining, with many people passing by and dropping in. You can also try Britto’s on Baga Beach for seafood.

Ecotourism, spice plantations like Pascoal Plantation at Ponda recommended by Goa Tourism and other lesser-known remote options like Godfrey Retreat at the border of Goa can be explored during this season. Cloudy skies and mild rain, however, are deterrent to most visitors. Goa’s picturesque wildlife sanctuaries are open all year round. Mollem National Park and Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary are harder to reach than Bondla, the smallest and most accessible sanctuary in Goa. Besides nature trails, Bondla has a mini zoo and deer safari park, which is great for kids. The imposing Dudhsagar Falls, located on the fringe of the Mollem National Park, is at its best during the monsoon as the water rages down from a huge height.

The tourist season officially starts mid October with the arrival of various charters from various corners of the world. Goans embrace the season and the visitors with charm and tradition that is quaint not only to the Indian culture but also inherent in the Goans. Known as the peak season, October to April plays host to the tourist of varied cultures and socio-economies. As Goa gets ready to greet the expected hordes of tourists from various corners of the world the monsoons have fashioned new concepts to attract custom.

Out in the city pubs, restaurants, stores, bakeries and other establishments are busy refurbishing interiors and exteriors. New attractions are the call of the day. The shops are busy stocking and sprucing up. While pubs are busy soliciting entertainment for increasing their custom, restaurants are polishing up their menus to serve a more exciting fare to tickle the palette. Sussegad is out and the party is on. Houseboats, yachts, motorboats are on the way out from the dry docks and readied for the season. Casinos are cooking up exciting deals for soliciting business. Entertainers on the other hand are polishing up their acts ready to rev up the action and keep the party-goers feet tapping.

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For those who prefer the sun, the sea and the sand the beach has tons to offer. From dawn to dawn the beach rarely sleeps. Dawn offers fishing to those early risers. Trawlers on their way out deep sea fishing offer the interested many a ride out and a chance to get right down and fishy. But to those who prefer not to be out at sea, watching the trawlers come in to shore heavy with their catch is a treat in itself. The day offers sunbathing to those who want to spend their days out by the sea reading a book, just lazing around or napping in the warmth of the sun under the shade of brightly coloured beach umbrellas or the dancing coconut leaves. Impromptu games of beach ball, football or volleyball can be spotted on various beaches in Goa. Children building sand castles and toddling around with beach buckets completes the serene picture.

Candle lit dinners and festive music interspersed with sporadic floor shows are the call of the night. While many choose to dine early there are scores of shacks that remain open until the wee hours of the night. Singsongs, club music, trance and a variety of other choices are available down the shores. The mystic of Goa is gloriously showcased during the season. With something for everybody there is no dearth of activity in and around the state.

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