Most of you call Goa a dream destination, and this is the time when the dream is as beautiful as reality if you open your eyes and look outside through the streaked windows. It rains incessantly in Goa at this time – so the usual Goa dream of sitting with your feet up on a sunbed, beer in hand, and digging into some butter garlic squid may not be possible. But don’t worry – monsoon destinations in Goa are equally happiness-inducing!
1. Dudhsagar Falls & Devil’s Canyon
If you have ever taken a train to Goa, you have probably seen the spectacular Dudhsagar Falls cascading down the hill in a 1000-ft drop. What’s a staid, calm cascade at other times of the year becomes a raging burst of water come June when the first drops of rain begin to drench the rocks here. The name Dudhsagar translates to “Ocean of Milk” and the white-water cascade does look like someone has poured milk down the hill. Which is vaguely reminiscent of the legend here too – of a princess’ modesty being protected by the curtain of water. Access to the waterfall is possible on a 4×4 jeep from a syndicate here, or through three trekking routes – one over a railway track and through tunnels.
At Dudhsagar is Devil’s Canyon, a rock formation known as Devcharacho kond locally, is a gorge where the water is very turbulent. Swimming is not encouraged here because of slippery rocks and strong undercurrents, as well as unknown depths. The picturesque place, set in the midst of luxuriant vegetation, is tempting, but please do not venture into the water, especially in this season.
2. Chorla Ghats
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said, “The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.” At Chorla, you live by this mantra, as you stand next to a gurgling stream that picks its own route and its own pace. The fog snakes around your ankle, and then rises to hide the stream from your view for a few moments, before lifting even further. And each time it clears again, you see the Vazra Sakla, the twin waterfalls cascading down the Sahyadris. You play another round of hide-and-seek with the waterfalls, as its silky mist hides it from your view now, and then is lifted by the wind. If you don’t fancy breaking a fingernail in a jungle adventure, enjoy it from the summit at Chorla, but if you are the more adventurous type, go trek! A walk through a village, fields, forests and mountains takes you right to the base of the waterfalls where you can cool off with a little dip in the plunge pool.
Monsoon is the time for one of Goa’s biggest celebrations – the Sao Joao festival. Celebrated every year on the 24th of June, the festival sees young men and women wearing floral headbands, called kopel, and jump into open pools and wells (yes!) after a swig of feni, or even some beer. Food and booze flows aplenty, and the joie de vivre is hard to ignore. At Siolim, colourful floats are taken out on the river, and a rock concert enlivens the evening after a day’s worth of rain dances and whoops of joy at it being Viva Sao Joao. Don’t worry about not being able to participate if you are a visitor. Sao Joao is one of the best days to experience Goan hospitality – you are welcomed, drenched, fed and photographed, and before you know it, you are a part of them. Take your first plunge into a well amid shouts of “valore!”and see yourself becoming a local by the time you are hauled out of it.
4. Divar Island
Meanwhile on the Divar Island, people start planning their tableaux for the Bonderam festival. Chorao Island comes alive for the Bonderam festival. It is a reenactment of a war fought during Portuguese times about demarcation of property, and once the men are done with their mock fight, the womenfolk of the town serve some amazing food to everyone that visits. It really is a festival of flags and used to involve the shooting of berries etc from bamboo pipes, called fotash. It is now about a parade of flags followed by a brass band and a traditional float parade. There’s also a live performance by some of the biggest local bands, and the womenfolk set up little stalls where they make and sell local favourites like kanda bhajji (onion fritters), choris pao (Goan sausage bread) and beef cutlet bread. Beer and local liquor flow without a pause, and the sound of local music wafting in makes sure you are constantly tapping your foot.
5. Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary
You may have seen the Mhadei or Mollem sanctuaries on your way to Chorla Ghats or Doodhsagar, but it’s at Bondla where you see wildlife up close to make it a wonder wildlife destination of Goa. Whether it’s a vine snake staring straight at you or a Giant Malabar flying squirrel going past your head, or a gaur peeping out of the Nano, or the Naked Maiden of the Forest tree, it’s all here in Bondla, carefully hidden behind a thousand shades of green. A superb way to experience this even better is to spend a day in the sanctuary – at the government-run cottages and dorms. You can go for nightly or early morning walks in the forest, and increase your chances of wildlife spotting manifold. Next morning, go to the Tambdi Surla temple via the rear gate of the sanctuary – the black stone temple set in the middle of a clearing in the jungle is a sight to behold through the the dense curtain of rain!
6. Selaulim Dam
It looks like it’s straight out of a sci-fi movie – calm, placid waters as far as the eyes can see, and then, suddenly, a hole in the surface. The water tumbles down what seems like an unearthly semi-circle that sends up a spray enough to drench you (careful of the camera lens there!) and then exits the dam from a funnel on the other side of the viewing area. The sight of the water gushing down, hitting the rocks below, coming back and then flowing away is dizzying, and you can spend hours just looking at the way it tumbles down the circle. Monsoon is the best time to be here – the overcast sky and the green-carpet of the Western Ghats makes the whole scene look surreal. The drive up to the dam is also beautiful, as you pass through narrow winding streets with the greenery catching up to you more often than not, and there in front of you is a sight we bet you have never seen before!
When it’s time to head back and get out of the wet clothes, you still haven’t had enough of the beautiful monsoon of Goa. Streams and waterfalls emerge out of nowhere, and paddy lends the fields a luxuriant green. Raindrops pirouette on you as you take one final glimpse of the rain and then go back inside for some hot kanda bhajji and chai. There’s really a lot of monsoon destinations in Goa, and you’d better start planning your trip there with our fabulous trip planning engine to see a version of Goa most your friends haven’t even heard of.