Goa spreads from the Konkan Coast into the Arabian Sea and is the place to go for beaches that are quite simply a little slice of paradise on India’s South-western coast. Winter falls between 22nd December and 20th March, which is the best time of the year to be here. Winter means no summer sweat, no wet beaches and definitely none of those off-season anomalies.
Because it’s winter in Goa, it’s party time. With Christmas and New Year in the wings, either to look forward to or reminisce over, this is what there is to keep holiday revelers entertained.
Foremost on the fun calendar must be the Sunburn festival which is traditionally held along the beaches of Goa. Here, renowned DJs from around the world entertain and invigorate. Performances play out on 5 separate stages, hosted by more than 120 DJs, bringing with it LED light shows and lasers. Sunburn never fails to impress. With music from the evening late into the night, days can be enjoyed partaking in the many interesting workshops held during pre-event times. Participants can even learn to play a musical instrument. But that is not all the festival offers when the DJs are resting up. Before the night events, exciting adventure activities such as hot air ballooning, bungee jumping, mechanical bull riding, zorbing, and the adventure zipline will more than while away the sunlight hours.
Talking of sunlight, the best place to be in Goa when the sun is up is on the beach. Dwarka Resort at Cola Beach, Goa is a hidden, secret gem worth discovering. It has a lagoon, not many people, and accommodation fitting of its positioning. Talking accommodation, Goa has the full range. Choose North Goa for a lively scene, South Goa for relaxation, and the middle around Panjim to be near the airport.
Arambol in North Goa is where Sweetlake lies, very near Arambol’s main beach, it is a fresh or sweet water lake. Hire a deck chair and relax and then take a 15-minute saunter to the jungle where the high “holy” baba lives over December, under the impressive Bodhi tree. Eat at the Cookie Walla and join a drum circle on the beach in the evening.
And when the sun is about to dip, visitors will want to be at Thalassa Restaurant on Vagator Cliff, enjoying Greek food and watching that unforgettable sunset as can be seen here like nowhere else.
Of course its not all sunburn, festival and beaches, although Goa really shines with its beaches, jungles, and nightlife, it does have historical, cultural, and religious sides to it. Old Goa is more or less a square with old Portuguese churches that just cry out history. Old Goa, or Velha Goa (pronounced Vell-yea and meaning old in Portuguese) nestles on the banks of River Mandovi. The rulers of the Bijapur Sultanate founded it as a port town in the 1400s. By 1510, it had been usurped by the Portuguese and was made the administrative seat of Portuguese India. By 1759, Old Goa was abandoned to the malaria and cholera outbreaks, and Nova Goa, or Panaji, became what is now the current capital of the state.
Among Old Goa’s churches in the square are the Basilica of Bom Jesus church in which Goa’s Patron Saint, Saint Francis Xavier lies buried. This Baroque style masterpiece is among Goa’s oldest churches, constructed back in 1594. November 24th is the start of novenas, and the feast of St. Francis Xavier is celebrated annually on the 3rd of December.
Afonso de Albuquerque’s victory over the Muslim army on the feast of Saint Catherine was commemorated by the building of the Sé Cathedral, in honor of the Saint herself. Architecturally it incorporates Portuguese-Manueline, Tuscan, and Corinthian styles, depending on which sections are being viewed and from which perspective. Other impressive churches or their ruins include Church of St Francis of Assisi and St. Augustine’s Tower, and many lesser known ones well worth the viewing if churches of old are of personal interest.
Mapusa market brings visitors the real India. Arpora’s Saturday Night Market runsNovember through March. There’s more! Get that Indian travel visa and visit Goa this winter!