the coconut palms give way

goa without the beaches

usually a post on a holiday in goa would begin with the sea, and end with the sea and there would be many mentions of the sea in between all of that too… words about the lovely beaches, the lovely sand, the private beach which you couldn’t reach, the lounging, the shacks, ‘susegad’, the packed shacks, martin’s corner, sunset at betalbatim, interspersed with vegetarians cribbing about the lack of options and the meat eater canoodling with ‘children of sea’, but it always comes back to the sea and the beaches… the white… the blue… the foam… the froth… gentle waves… silent… peaceful… calm… this year, we muddled up the mix. we went to goa in the monsoons… so whats the big deal?

this picture says it all… and we encountered it everywhere… so the one main reason to goa was wiped out, but we wanted to see what else we could do. we wanted to discover the other side of goa, would it be the jekyll or the hyde? the beaches are almost a crutch, once there you just do not want to go anywhere else as you are already in the midst of beauty. wouldn’t you agree?

do not venture into the sea

after a short and quick flight, we arrived to a rain drenched and fresh goa and made our way to the hotel. the hotel was by the beach and through the day and night i could hear the waves’ menacing dance, it was a loud announcement of the arrival of the monsoons. and rightly so the seas were banned!

so we bundled ourselves into our moist rooms and watched the sea from the balcony of our 4th floor room. it was a gorgeous view of angry waves beating up the shores.

the coconut trees bend forward with the wind
the coconut trees bend forward with the wind

goa is a green state through the year and that green just doubles in the monsoon. the green is greener, so much so that even the brown earth starts to look green. there are creepers everywhere, grass growing wild, weeds starting to become largish shrubs.  the roads are black juxtaposed by the green. you have to almost shield your eyes. so what did we do apart from marvel at black roads and green grass?

the greens and the browns
the greens and the browns

we visited a far-flung pond beyond quepem that even the locals haven’t heard about. marveled at a basalt rock temple just before the karnataka border… had coffee, hummus and soup in a cute & quaint cafe at an art centre in panjim… spent a night in a huge log cabin / cottage by the mandovi river. explored the monuments and churches in velha goa… drove down to ribandar, took a ferry across to a small, isolated island with beautiful bungalows in various stages of their life-cycle. then watched a bunch of kids play football in the rains with their ‘messi’ t-shirts, and got stared at… gorged on an elegant and delicious meal at a homestay in south goa, with two beagles sitting at our feet and begging for food. went to a pub that had a beer tap at every table and had a husband who went ‘oh wow’ quite continuously… searched for a baskin robbins post 12 midnight to celebrate a birthday, didn’t find it and other ice-creams shops weren’t open. partied with a bunch of local friends who played a card game that even i could understand… and then they fished post midnight! (yes, what’s with that, i didn’t understand either!)

so on this trip to one of my favourite places in india, i didn’t set a foot on any beach, i didn’t squeeze the sand between my toes and i didn’t take photos of sunset. and marvelously so, i didn’t have any sand in the corner of my bathroom that drove me mad… this trip was all about the non-beach goa and we were pleasantly surprised, there was lots to see and do, and still is. but thats for another trip in another monsoon!

watching the rain and slurping burnt pepper and barley soup at a renovated portuguese-home-turned-art-centre & cafe
watching the rain and slurping burnt pepper and barley soup at a renovated portuguese-home-turned-art-centre & cafe

26 thoughts on “goa without the beaches

  1. Agree, agree, Goa is lovely in the monsoons – Without the beaches, the shacks and teh crowds. loved the green tranquil and dark clouds gathering over the hyper sea waters – made for some awesome pics;) we took a scooter and drove around ..made it to the ‘western most point of goa’ ! and realised it looked pretty much like the western most point of Portugal !! n both ‘points’ were called cabo de roca ( or soemthing like that!)


  2. it is totally brilliant… but the crowds have been dipping in goa… everyone is now going to srilanka i think… we went 2 years ago for new years.. and it was empty!! works for me, i like the space 🙂

    like that line “green tranquil and dark clouds over the hyper sea waters”!

    been there just after the rains earlier, we couldn’t hire a bike crazy rains.. so hired a self-driven car and did more than 500 kms in 4 days..

    cabo de rama (??) is that old fort and its in the south… nice place but more importantly its an awesome drive to that fort. deserted roads and nothing anywhere..


  3. lovely piece! reflects my feelings about Goa in the rains…and hey that’s how I first saw Goa! 🙂 Your love for the place is evident. Look forward to reading many more…


  4. This is poetry at its best, Bhavani.
    Truly enjoyed reading it.

    I was reminded of a haiku I wrote a few years back:

    the darkening sky splits
    into liquid night



  5. Have been to Goa n number of times… but never in monsoon… but I can imagine how good it would be,especially when there is less crowd… the entire Konkan/Shahyadri region gets awesome in monsoons…


  6. totally… it is sooo green that one is quite amazed. i was actually near nasik last weekend and its as green! think the landscape all over transforms in the monsoons… from the dusty browns to the vibrant, alive greens.

    you should go next year.. mark it on your calendar!


  7. thanks niranjan… goa in the monsoons is a new discovery for me, that i can manage goa without the beaches & shacks and love it so much that i want to go back next year!


  8. Thank you for making possible the vicarious experience! Having some Goan ancestry I had always suspected that there was a Goa beyond the beaches, but you brought it nicely to life.


  9. Wow. I totally relived my half forgotten maiden trip to Goa. A beautiful one. It was during my college about 4 years ago. Summer break, college life, always short of money for doing stuff, hence we decided to go there during monsoons (off-season being way more cheap). It was awesome. We hired scooters and I don’t remember anytime we drove dry. It was always raining, always. By end of 3rd day we were leaving our hotel rooms with wet clothes on 🙂
    But all of it was great. Being from Delhi, it was my first experience of monsoon without water-logged roads, in fact shining black, curvy roads with elevations and descends running across the bright green landscape. I even remember getting embarrassed on the entry of the Casino we went to, where everyone was coming in classy, suited up or at least dry, and the 4 of us were drenched in rain. We pleaded our way through after trying to dry up for half an hour or so. But the rains were good and appeared unstoppable. And speaking of lesser crowd around this time, yes Goa is definitely much less crowded around this time. It is much more peaceful. I went there last year for Christmas and New Year and it felt chaotic to me. Traffic on roads, rush in clubs and there is no 10 meters around you on most beaches where you can be alone. You also have higher chances get to know the locals during this time of the year. As being off-season, major local population being some way or the other tourism dependant, are less occupied in their businesses. Enough written, thanks for writing down your experience so wonderfully.


  10. Thanks Bhavani for visiting my home state during Monsoon. I always wondered why people wouldnt bother to see the Goa beyond the beaches, shacks and the beer that flows around. Glad somebody did 🙂


  11. thanks seeta! yes, so much more to goa!

    i just got back day before from another 6 day trip to goa… it was ‘occupied’ by velha goa (old goa) and panjim and fountainhas etc etc.. again, non-beach. but i did go to miramar and baga beaches.. so not a beach-less holiday but definitely more than just beach 🙂


  12. An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto
    a coworker who has been doing a little research on this.
    And he in fact ordered me lunch due to the fact that I discovered it for him…
    lol. So let me reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending the time to talk about this topic here on your web page.


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