Monsoon trip to Goa - Part 1

I remember reading about this book 'Chasing the Monsoon' sometime back. This is the story of a person (Alexander Frater) who followed the monsoon across India, right from the coasts of Kerala -where the spectacle begins- to Chirapunjee -the rain capital of the world were the grand finale unravels. There was a passage in the book which goes something like this... "Heaving a door open I stepped outside. Soaked to the skin within seconds I felt a wonderful sense of flooding warmth and invigoration; it was, indubitably, a little bit like being born again." A reviewer had the following comment on the book "...If all travel books were this good, everyone would just stay home and read..".I am now in a better position to understand the madness and fun behind such an endeavor.. after my monsoon trip to Goa through the coastal route two weeks back. I also feel that you should get out and get wet to really understand what he actually describes in the book.. words can never do justice to this phenomenon.

This was a trip which got postponed a number of times, thanks to some funniest and lamest of excuses you ever hear. But finally five of us set out on a four day trip. After a lacklusture drive of about 8 hours we reached the coastal town of Mangalore. Rain stayed away from us most of the day but came pouring down in the night.. right when we were driving down the ghat roads from Sakhleshpur. The night drive amidst the rain and the mist was really dangerous but the hot tea and fried fish for dinner almost made it up...!! We stayed in a dirty small motel that night... we just wanted a place to lie down for a few hours. Sleep conquered us in no time, much before the stink of the mattresses could get into our heads.

We started our journey to Goa next day morning. We reached Udipi in time for an early breakfast and it started raining immediately. It was great driving through the torrential rains this time as the roads were good. We stopped by the silver sands and ocean at a couple of places before taking the left turn to Gokharna. This impulsive decision to visit the Om beach proved to be worthwhile. The road towards the beach offers some great views and the serene beach devoid of crowd was breathtaking. We had our lunch there and spent a couple of hours lazing around. You cant do justice to the beaches in Gokharna with a couple of hours in hand. So we left Gokharna only to come back another time.. possibly for a beach trek in September. We passed through Karwar and touched down at Goa by evening. Our destination for the night was the Mayem Lake Resort, a small economic place ran by the state tourism department. The Mayem lake is not something that features in the itinery of normal Goa travelers... a small lake, far away from the beaches. We had a tough time finding this place in the night.. but that gave us an opportunity to travel across Goa in the rain, getting a glimpse of the villages of Ponda, Sanquelim and Bicholim.

The next morning showed us the real beauty of Mayem.. with its clean and vast stretch of waters and walkways all around it.. a perfect place to take a sabbatical to. It was raining heavily in the morning and the lake looked beautiful with the raindrops creating all sorts of patterns in the water. It was great to take a walk along the lake, amidst the cashew plantations, with the sweet sound of rain in your ears..!!! We decided to take the ferry across Mandovi river to Panaji and drove down to Chorao. Goa's only bird sanctuary - Salim Ali bird sanctuary- is in Chorao, near the ferry wharf. The ferry trip was interesting in the heavy downpour and Mandovi was flowing in all her glory and might..!! We reached Panaji and started searching for the one and only auto gas station in Goa - East Coast -and it took us a while to find this place. From Panaji, you have to go towards Margoa and after the church of St. Xavier(Bom Jesus) & Se Cathedral, you have to take a U-turn and join the one way back to Panaji.. about 2-3 kilometers ahead is the gas station, a little away from the road, but visible from the highway.

After filling the tank with enough gas to take us back to Bangalore, we set out to explore Panaji before moving to the beaches....

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