In monsoon, discover a soul-stirring facet of Goa, which will provide tranquility and comfort with its inanimate vibrancy.
It’s difficult to pin down what makes road trips so endearing. Be it the camaraderie between the travellers that becomes stronger as the wheels keep rolling, or be it the shared experience of discovering new places, these trips do result in a powerful bonding. One such amazing road trip opportunity is to trace the beaches from North Goa to South Goa along its magnificent rugged coastline, especially during the monsoon. During this season, Goa is beautifully bathed in the hues of monsoon-green with desolate sandy beaches that are lined with swaying coconut palms seeming visibly happy with the absence of human cacophony. There isn’t a better time to witness sunset than monsoon, and if getting drenched doesn’t bother you, opt to ride a two-wheeler to feel the drizzle on your face. There are more than 50 beaches along the 100-km-long Goan coastline and about seven major forts, each with a story of its own. Join us on a tour to explore some of the best ones.
Where sky meets the sand
Northernmost beach of the state, Arambol, is a place for dreamers and stoics. It has one of the longest stretches of fine sand. This place is an anomaly compared to the party atmosphere North Goa beaches are known for. It has recently evolved as the quintessential yoga hub of Goa. Visitors across the globe visit the place to learn yogic techniques. Various small schools have propped up in the area offering courses in yoga and other art forms such as tantra, meditation, zen, Sufi, tai chi, painting and innovative dance forms. Around 35 yoga centers, schools and ashrams are located here and barring a few, most operate all year round.
Located at a distance of 10 km from Arambol, Morjim is a unique beach adjacent to the banks of Chapora River. There are many reasons why Morjim is one of the most spectacular beaches of North Goa. To start with, it is the nesting site of Olive Ridley Turtles, a phenomenon which happens every year during October to March. The Chapora river joins the sea here against the splendid backdrop of the famous Chapora Fort. The river sand merges into this beach lending it a greyish-black shade. The river estuary is also the ideal place for fishing if you are looking for a fresh catch. The western end of the beach is a wall of rocky outcrop earmarked with coconut trees. Unlike many other beaches, this one is devoid of any settlements (hotels and shacks) except a few fishermen huts.
Vagator is where all the action takes place in Goa. The crescentshaped beach is popular for its midnight parties during the tourist season. The beach has dramatic red cliffs looking down on the shore and two fresh water springs within a stone’s throw of the sea. Characterised by rocky outcrops, there are multiple resorts and shacks at this beach. The road to Vagator Beach and Chapora Fort is flanked by tall palm trees on either side – a part of almost all Bollywood movies shot in Goa.
A prime location for hippie parties, primarily consisting of Western backpackers, this place is a dream destination for party goers. But during monsoon, one of the busiest beaches of the state almost wears a deserted look. The rocky outcrops shine brightly in the monsoon rains. Barring a few beach facing bars and a handful of places at the otherwise busy Southern end, most of the shops are closed. However, this is the time when prices hit nadir and one can expect great deals on accommodation and food. It is also a blissful time when the beautiful palm-fringed stretch with shining brown rocky beds scattered all across the beach can be enjoyed in the vibrant monsoon rains.
With the sturdy walls of Fort Aguada in the North and the famous Calangute and Baga beaches to the South, Candolim is the ideal place for a perfect beach experience. The entire stretch of Candolim-Calangute boasts of a plethora of resorts, shops, sit down bars and restaurants. During monsoon, the crowd is thin and the place seems perfect. Unlike other beach locations where shops and hotels close during this period, Candolim remains open with just the ideal convivial atmosphere fit for a rainy day. Candolim is also famous for its beach scrub (vegetation) which comes to life during monsoon and makes the coastline even more spectacular.
It is probably the only beach in South Goa where there are party joints and lounge evenings. A favourite among Westerners, it has some delicious food joints serving Italian and Spanish cuisine. Apart from the night life, this horse-shoe shaped palm fringed beach has a small outcrop of granite boulders at the Northern end reminiscent of such formations found in Seychelles. Due to its unique shape, it also has backwaters where you can opt for a boat ride. There is also an option of spotting dolphins in local motor boats and visit the elusive Butterfly Beach (which cannot be accessed by road). Walled beauties
The Chapora Fort was rebuilt in 1717 by the Portuguese. Nothing much remains of the fort today except the walls. It’s like an open, bumpy ground on top of the hill with boundary walls of red laterite stones. The fort attained a cult status after it was featured in the 2001 Bollywood movie Dil Chahta Hai. With the absence of any symbolic structure, the fort has negligible historical significance, however, it arguably offers the best view in the state. A large door-like crevice on the north eastern part of the fort offers the opportunity for a small trek to the end of a protruding hill. This particular place provides a stunning view of the magnificent Arabian sea, coupled with the twin view of Vagator Beach on the southern end and Morjim Beach along with the Chapora river estuary on the northern end. There is something about the view – its uniqueness, scale and stillness, which make it the perfect vantage point of Goa.
Cabo De Rama Fort
Around 30 km from Margao, Cabo De Rama in South Goa is another crumbling fort of the state with just a few walls remaining. The journey to this fort is much more enticing than the place itself. As one nears the destination, a short straight road seemingly ending beyond a cliff comes into view. The road and the horizon of the Arabian Sea seem to merge at the end. The breathtaking short drive on this road is unique and ought to
be experienced on a two wheeler. Sunset views from the fort and the adjoining cliff is mesmerising when the horizon gets spattered in paint box colours creating surreal reflections on the Arabian Sea. The ideal time to visit Goa might be from October to March, but it looks lovely during monsoon when the countryside is a patchwork of green. Also, during monsoon you can discover a soul-stirring facet of Goa which will provide tranquility and comfort with its inanimate vibrancy.
Words: SUGATO TRIPATHY