A Monsoon Break in Goa

by newuser09876 17. July 2010 11:24

Goa in the Monsoons 

In India, the monsoons are considered harbingers of fertility, and are generally associated with jubilation. On the west coast of India, the Western Ghats provide the watershed for numerous seasonal rivers that finally flow through the coastal plains and nourish them. Thus, some of the most scenic landscapes that include verdant rain forests as well as virgin coastlines can be found here. Many towns along our western shores also serve as beacons that point to our now diluted association with the colonial rule in India. However, in the state of Goa (which was annexed from the Portuguese only in 1961) this link has endured. While Goa is famous for its Portuguese relics, it is also one of the greenest states in India and its natural beauty is best seen during the monsoons. 

If you have not visited Goa in the rains, you would be amazed at the transformation the monsoon brings to the state. Usually crowded with tourists, Goa becomes an idyllic paradise with its lush carpet of paddy fields, tropical forests, pregnant rivers, and rain-soaked beaches that are interspersed with cultural and architectural relics from its colonial past. 

This 'Rivera of the East' is at its romantic best in the rains. You can either spend your day walking on the beaches while it drizzles, or just lounge in your hotel balcony with Goa’s favourite alcoholic drink feni and delicious seafood to go with it. Alternatively, you can also visit the quaint villages in the Goan countryside to get a glimpse of rural life. 

The climate of Goa is warm and humid for most part of the year. The month of May is the hottest, with daytime temperatures touching 35 degree Celsius (95F). The monsoons that arrive around early June provide a much-needed respite from the heat. Monsoon is a time when Goa takes a break; the carefree attitude that Goans are famous for, is best seen during this time.

In July-August, resident Goans come out to reclaim their beaches from the prying eyes of tourists. It is also the season of monsoon festivals. The feast of St. Anthony, on the 13th of June marks the beginning of the rainy season. Songs are sung in honour of the saint requesting the gift of rain. It is believed that if the monsoon has not arrived by this date, a statue of the saint should be lowered into the family well to hasten its arrival. The São João festival celebrated towards the end of June is associated with fertility. The highlight of this festival is a regatta of decorated canoes that race upstream on the Chapora River until they reach the Church of St. Anthon in the Siolim village of North Goa. For newlyweds, this festival holds great significance. Usually, the mother of the bride pays special attention to the son-in-law, in the fond hope that her daughter will have a bright future. Cheerful village folks come together to celebrate and a carnival like atmosphere pervades. The feast of St. Peter and St. Paul is another popular monsoon festival. Celebrated by the fishing community (particularly in the region of Bardez) this feast is held on the 29th of June. A floating stage is erected on fishing boats tied together and a pageant is held as they float downstream. Dance, drama, and music performances are part of the festivities. Similarly, Hindu’s in Goa celebrate the eleven-day festival of Ganesh Chaturthi with great pomp; the conclusion of the festival usually coincides with the harvest season. 

Other than revelling with locals in the monsoon fests, the following tourist attractions should not be missed on a visit to Goa. If you do not mind the tumultuousness of the sea and the incessant rain, the beaches of Goa are at their magical best in this season. The island of Corjuem, which encompasses an old Portuguese fort, also makes an interesting excursion. You can drive along the scenic Zuari River that snakes past like a silver ribbon, dividing north and south Goa or shop at the many traditional markets that the state is famous for: these include marketplaces in Aldona, Mapusa, and the Anjuna Flea Market, which is popular with foreigners. Old Goa has its own charm with its many churches and heritage buildings. 

Those seeking an adrenalin rush can head for the Dudhsagar Falls. Just 60 Kms from Panaji, this area is famous for its cascades, trekking trails, and wildlife. Nature is at its unstinted best during the monsoons. The fact that most hotels offer a 25% discount during this season is also good enough reason for one to pack their bags and head to Goa for a holiday. 

Sunil Vaidyanathan/ Shayoni Mitra


 

 

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