Goa in Monsoon??
Who says the monsoons are a bad time to visit Goa? There is no such thing as a bad time in Goa. It is the monsoons that bring this emerald to life.
Goa is famously touted as the ‘party capital’ of the nation. The general itinerary of tourists in Goa includes dining at the shacks, water sports at Baga, getting foot loose at Tito’s and getting bargain deals at the flea market of Anjuna.
This is only my second trip to Goa and it looked a whole lot different this time. Goa is well beyond the parties, the beaches, the booze and the cliched tourist spots. The real Goa is much different than the image painted by the generation of today. The word “Susegaad” is ingrained in Goans, literally. People still shut their shops in the afternoon for a nap and markets are open on Sundays for just half a day.
The laid back elders reading their newspaper around the corner, Old Portuguese homes lined up erratically, tiled roofs echoing the pitter patter of rains in the monsoon, fishing lines sprayed across the back waters & a wider horizon of rice paddies are just some of the few things the adverts will never show. Melodious choirs at the church, Goan sausages, local football and feni are synonymous with Goa.
I visited a handful of eccentric places in this small but peaceful, fun-loving state which I instantly loved.
Greener side of Goa:
While on our way to South Goa, we stumbled upon a rural landscape of Goa. Old Portuguese houses dotted the landscape, lush vegetation bordered quaint lanes, small bridges floated over the backwaters and rice paddies painted the land in hues of green. The monsoons seemed to bring this otherwise sun-scorched scenery to life. The mist of rains in the air, the swaying leaves and the thunder beats of the clouds compose the rhythm of Goa.
Further South, we reached this spot. The Cabo De Rama boasts of one of the best views I have seen in Goa. The cliffs present a majestic view of the Arabian Sea. An open sweeping view of the blue pristine waters, palm trees swaying in the wind and a mesmerizing view sum up this beauty. This vantage point is barely a few meters ahead from Fort Cabo De Rama, located in Cancona district of Goa. Cabo De Rama is named in honor of Ramayana hero Ram. It is believed that Lord Ram and Sita resided here during their 14-year exile from Ayodhya.
An old Latin quarter in Panjim which mirrors the Portuguese influence through its architecture, narrow winding streets & picturesque buildings. The pale colored buildings and red tiled roofs on the early century buildings are still maintained beautifully. The streets and the entire quarter is kept clean.
One can experience the vibes of this atmospheric heritage via Fontainhas heritage walk organized by Goa Tourism (GTDC). I decided to wander around by myself getting lost in this artistic maze. The projecting balconies, the uneven structure of the houses and the varying colors give each building its own distinct identity.
The streets reminded me of the French Colony in Pondicherry. Situated in the heart of Panjim, Fontainhas seems like a place out of time.
The best time to get beautiful pictures would be early morning to take advantage of the soft light or in the afternoon when the entire quarter is enjoying a siesta.
Aguada Light House:
After visiting Fontainhas and Panji, we headed to Fort Aguada Lighthouse. The lighthouse is completely operational and visitors can loiter on the premises for a mere Rs.5. I am glad I traded a visit to Fort Aguada for a quick run around at the Light House.
The view from the Lighthouse was unobstructed, windy and literally quite deserted until a few tourists walked in. Fortunately, they helped get this pic.
Churches with history:
• St. Sebastian Chapel :
The colored quarter of Fontainhas houses the whitewashed Chapel of St Sebastian. It is dedicated to St Sebastian who treated people with his miraculous interventions during a time when the state was commonly affected by the plague. The Chapel exhibits a large crucifix which once stood at the Palace of the Inquisition in Old Goa. A rather prominent feature of this crucifix is the open eyes of Christ on the cross, believed to strike fear into unorthodox people brought before inquisitors.
• Immaculate Conception Church: Pictured in many Bollywood frames, this church is the dream of every camera lens and largely popular with tourists. Built as a chapel in the 1500’s, overlooking the city of Panjim, it was later replaced by a larger church. The exterior of this Portuguese-style influenced Church is painted white in stark contrast to the colorful interiors. It houses one of the largest bells in Goa, second only to the Golden Bell in Old Goa.
• St. John the Baptist Church, Bardez Goa: So, I did not know about this church until my cabbie halted at the gate and suggested we should visit here. The infamous blockbuster movie “Amar Akbar Anthony” was filmed here. It was Sunday afternoon when the church was closed and I could only manage to take pictures from the outside. The surrounding was peaceful and the silence surrounding this magnificent architecture sounded like choirs echoing rhythmically in the air.
Just one visit to Goa is never enough. The true identity of goa is hidden under the more publicised glittery party nights. The next time you are in Goa, ensure you take time out from your party schedule and witness these beautiful places before they cease to exist under the new age of modernization.
Have you visited Goa recently, more specifically during the Monsoons? If not, then you certainly should? Let me know your experience in the comments below