Hike in Goa Monsoon Tourism

Goa Monsoon 2012

Photo Credit: http://www.parrikar.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/chorlaghat.jpg

The jury still seems to be out on whether a Goa Monsoon Holiday is a good idea or not. 

But as Goa Tourism Department statistics show, Goa registered a 6.5% growth in monsoon tourism from June 2012 to September 2012 as compared to the same period last year. While Goa welcomed 3.8 lakh visitors during the Goa Monsoon in 2011, this year Goa received 4.05 lakh tourists – an increase of over 24,000 tourists. Both these figures were for foreign and domestic tourists. But it was the foreign tourists that made the big difference. While  Goa had 5,938 foreign visitors in September 2011, it saw 16,141 foreign tourists visiting Goa in September 2012. That meant a whopping increase of nearly 60%. 

In the type of tourists, MICE tourists were fewer this monsoon season but were replaced by a sizeable increase in FITs (free and independent travelers), families and young couples.

To entice tourists to visit Goa in the monsoon, hoteliers offered special monsoon discounts and discounted monsoon packages that included accommodation as well as  other freebies including airport transfers, free half-day sightseeing tours to Old Goa including the UNESCO Heritage Zone of the Basilica of St Francis Xavier, boat cruises on the Mandovi river and other goodies. 

It is the nature of the monsoon in Goa that makes visiting Goa during this period such a difficult decision to make. The monsoon in Goa is much harsher than in other places, especially the UK and Europe. What the West calls rain is merely a light drizzle for a Goan. When the monsoon comes in all its fury, the rain lashes down for days and months on end. It rains down so hard that the pressure of the raindrops can be quite unnerving sometimes. Hence, for long, tourists avoided Goa in the monsoons like the plague. 

However, soon tourists (both Indian and foreign) realised that one could enjoy the monsoon in Goa if one came prepared. Strong umbrellas, shorts and slippers made the monsoon in Goa much easier to bear. Plus, smart tourists realised that they could get great deals from hotels in the monsoon. However, it was not just the price that attracted more and more tourists to Goa during the monsoon. 

Some tourists like the French had no other choice, with their holidays coinciding exactly with the Goan Monsoon. So they made the best of their time there, walking about coolly under their umbrellas. 

Others, like my Dad, loved the Goan Monsoon because it meant that Goa did not have as many tourists as the rest of the year. The tourists that did come were able to enjoy Goa to the fullest, without being rushed by the usual crowds that Goa sees. 

Another reason was of course, that apart from July and half of August, it did not rain the whole time in Goa. After the showers stopped, Goa showed itself in all its beauty with the green fields greener than ever and all nature basking in a washed, clean look that forced one to stop and watch in awe. 

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When to go and where to stay in Goa ?

This week, Angela asked the following question: When to go and where to stay in Goa?

When to go to Goa is a real tough choice. People I speak to have different opinions and each person seems to love Goa in a particular season. Basically, when to go to Goa can be divided into 3 different options:

1. Christmas / New Years in Goa: Christmas and New Years is the peak season for Goa. It is when EVERYONE and when I say everyone, I mean everyone, thinks of going to Goa. While most Europeans book their New Years holiday to Goa well in advance, most Indians do it at the last minute. On the negative side, Goa is terribly busy and expensive at this time of the year. But on the positive side, Goa is at its most happening during the New Year’s period. Visitors get to experience Goa in its best avataar with rocking beach parties, dances and live music everywhere. 

2. Goa Monsoon: The monsoon in Goa is not for everyone. Some people love Goa in the monsoon and some people absolutely hate it. And unlike in most other parts of India and of the world, the monsoon in Goa is quite unique. From mid June to the end of September, the rain lashes down on Goa with great fury. Especially in July and August, there seems to be no letdown from the rain as it pours and pours and pours (well, you get the message) the whole day and night. But if you dont mind getting a bit wet, then the monsoon in Goa is also the time when you get to see a different side of Goa – when most of the tourists are away, Goa sort of relaxes and lets its hair down. The scenery and the greenery are absolutely stunning at this time. Do it like the French, wear shorts, take heavy duty umbrellas and you will really learn to enjoy the Goan monsoon. 

3. Rest of the year: Apart from New Years and the Monsoon, Goa is pretty much the same the rest of the year. The prices are more reasonable, there are fewer tourists and getting around Goa is much easier. For those who have the time, I would suggest Jan – April or October – November as great pre-season times to visit Goa. 

As for where to stay in Goa, Goa has loads and loads of places to stay, depending on your budget and your interests. Most people head to North Goa to the Baga-Calangute strip. This is where all the “action” is and most people choose a medium budget hotel in this area. For those who find North Goa too expensive / crowded, they usually head to South Goa which is not yet as developed / popular as North Goa and hence is much cheaper and quieter. 

Many tourists however are looking to experiment and staying in offbeat areas such as Fontainhas, the Latin Quarter of Panjim. Here you find quaint old Portuguese houses, small bye lanes, a baker cycling by, dogs lying in the sun and cats licking themselves in the shade. Fontainhas is the other Goa, where those looking to learn more about Goan culture and history come to visit and stay. Many photographers (hobby and professional) fall in love with Fontainhas as there is so much old world history to capture in their lenses. Many tourists who stay in Fontainhas love to simply walk about for hours, soaking up the Latin atmosphere. Fontainhas is also home to my Mitaroy Heritage Homestay (www.mitaroygoahotel.com) – my mother’s ancestral heritage home that I converted into a Homestay. 

The Monsoon in Goa

 

There is something quite majestic about the monsoon in Goa as is batters down in fury on the dry earth.

Im sitting in my upstairs Suite at my Mitaroy Goa Hotel and as I type this, I can hear the rain thundering down on the tiled roof above me. Whenever I stay at my Mitaroy Goa Hotel in the monsoons, I make it a point to stay in the upstairs Suite so that I can hear the rain as it hits the tiles.

There is something in the Indian Monsoon that brings out the writer in one and the Monsoon in Goa has the same effect. Images of hot samosas (homemade by one of the ladies in Fontainhas) and adrak wali Masala chai automatically pop into my mind. It was 7th standard Hindi class, if I remember correctly, where we had this one story about a man who came back home after work and had the hot samosas and masala chai that his wife had prepared for him. And the image has stuck in my mind.

During the day, I love to sit on the my Suite balcony and watch the rain as it cascades incessantly from the rooftops. The coconut trees sway in the background, bowed down by the constant rain that falls on it. Sitting on my Suite balcony and watching the rain pour down, I am both enamoured and awed by the force and fury of the monsoon. I also watch as the small rivulets turn into gushing little streams and how the students from the nearby school walk in these streams on their way back home. Like the cliche, it seems to be the girls who carefully and daintily side step the streams while the boys make it a point to step right into the big puddles!

The advent of the Monsoon in Goa also signifies the end of the tourist season in Goa. On the beach mile in North Goa (read Baga, Calangute, Candolim etc), the shacks are securely shut and covered, to be opened after the monsoon has passed. Surprisingly, there are still tourists in Fontainhas and for some reason known to them alone, they all seem to be French. Although originally the Portuguese Quarter of Panjim, it is now French that can be heard in the streets as the French tourists walk around with their cameras and their umbrellas.

The Panjim riverfront is a popular Monsoon hangout for local and tourist couples alike as they hold hands and walk along the Mandovi river. Unmindful of the pouring rain, it seems that these couples only have eyes for each other.

Another popular Monsoon sightseeing spot is the Dona Paula jetty, a few kilometres drive from Panjim. If you climb to the top of the small outcrop, near the statue of Dona Paula and her lover, you can marvel at the force of the waves as they thrash and pound at the Dona Paula jetty, sending their spray  high into the air.

But the Monsoon is best enjoyed outside the city of Panjim. Driving through the verdant green fields and small villages outside Panjim it seems as if the whole of Goa has been washed clean by an unseen hand!

Mihir Nayak

Goa Monsoon – Romance in the Rains

Goa Monsoon

Finally, its that time of the year.

Whether you prefer to take long walks in the pouring rain or cuddle up cozily in your spacious Suite and watch the rain beat incessantly against your windows, Goa in the monsoons is the perfect place for romance.

Goa is a great place to visit in all seasons but my favourite time of the year has to be Goa in the monsoons. 

After a long and hot summer, the monsoon showers in Goa bring much needed respite to the soil. Nature in Goa takes on a newly washed look, looking fresher and greener than ever.

Goa in the monsoons is perfect for romance because, for some odd reason, most tourists choose to visit Goa either during Summer or Christmas / New Years, leaving Goa quiet and peaceful for couples that visit during this time of the year.

As you walk along the Panjim pier (a short distance from my Mitaroy Goa Hotel), you can see a few couples holding hands as they marvel at the spate of the Mandovi river, in all its glory!

Stay Romantic!

Mihir