The Romance of Goa in The Rains.

By Amrita Das.

I have travelled long distances, let my eyes sleep. 
Let my soul endure and my mind escape me. 
Let me listen to the rain of Goa and feel no further.

Moving to a beach destination wasn’t ideal for me. I’d rather be on the foothills of a mountain range or lie under a starlit night by a lake. But when the monsoons played hide-and-seek with Goa, I was convinced there is no other place I’d rather be.

Goa monsoon, Goa photos
A precipitated sunset at Patnem.

Hugged by acres of greenery, the Canacona district in South Goa is probably one of the sweetest parts of the state. Even though it is home to the very popular Palolem and Agonda beaches, many travellers would rather spend their time there than the mystical lonely forests in the land.

Goa romantic, Goa pictures
Ominous skies before the first shower.




Goa photos, Goa best time to visit
Somewhere on my way to Agonda.

On either sides of NH17, I see lush, dense green forests. From teak and sal, to trees bearing full jackfruits, the highway running across Mumbai to Kerala is covered by diverse flora, a part of Goa’s forest department of protected areas. On days when the sun shies away from us, I have taken my scooter into these unknown turns and surrendered to their silence. After my initial hesitations of safety, I see it grow as an addiction where I must explore one mysterious way every day.


Goa pictures, Goa monsoon
The sun plays hide and seek.

I rejoice when I hear the crook of the toads growing louder. It is a warm welcome to the wholesome rains that cool the earth and provide for the wildlife. Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, open through the year, is an ideal way to spend the day amongst tall trees, variant animals and rare birds. This part of the state nests white throated kingfishers, brahminy kites and bee-eaters in large prominence. Seen at early mornings or late evenings, I find myself fortunate to see at least six kingfishers on a regular count.


Goa monsoon, Goa blogs
A flavor of the rains at Patnem Chai Shop.

One evening, I gave in to my beer-crave and got myself a table, overlooking Palolem’s horizon. The clouds gathered as if to warn the crowds to take a step away from her counterpart on earth - the ocean. And as I watched some people prepare for their safety, I realised most of us had misunderstood the sky. It was but her way to provide some respite from the strong sun.

Goa places to visit, Goa rains
Beer along the horizon.

Goa photos, Goa rains
The beautiful seclusion.

And in days when I can’t get myself outdoors, I give in to the voice of Begum Akhtar or the words of Ismat Chughtai. The rains surround me with pure comfort and indulgence as if telling me, ‘you are here in a home like none, amidst the magic of Goa.’


And I give in, timelessly.

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Savor the monsoons and discover the "other" side of Goa at a 500-year-old Goan Portuguese home in a sleepy Goan village. 

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AUTHOR BIO: Perpetually bitten by the travel bug, Amrita has travelled across twenty states in India and Nepal, Switzerland, Italy and Paris. She shares her experiences best through writing, photography and blogging. She engages in all types of outdoor adventure, explores the local way of life, listens to stories strangers tell her and is a firm believer of serendipity and constant change. She blogs at http://travellingidesofmarch.wordpress.com/ and tweets at @Amrita_dass.

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8 Places to Volunteer Travel in Ladakh.

Compiled by Sifti Dhillon.

Ladakh volunteer, volunteer travel india
Ladakh is majestic, remote and on many bucket lists for its pristine beauty. For centuries, the locals lived in this cold mountain desert in the Trans-Himalayas without contact with the rest of India. Tourism gave people access to roads, education and a booming local economy, but also tempered with traditional cultural and environmental practices. So when you travel to Ladakh next, try to give a little something back to this magnificently beautiful region, and who knows, you might just come back with stories you never imagined you'd hear.

Celebrating the Wangala Festival in Meghalaya's Garo Hills

By Sanjay Talukdar.

Wangala festival, Garo Hills, dance of MeghalayaIn October, I put on magic shoes and travelled to Tura, in the Garo Hills of Meghalaya, to celebrate Wangala aka the Hundred Drums Festival. A celebration of the annual crop harvest and the charming way of life in the northeastern Himalayas, Wangala sees the coming together of tribal groups to pay ode to their chief divinity, the Sun god.

Netala, Uttarakhand: Less Networks, More Connection.

By Namita Kulkarni.

If places were books, Netala would be that rare timeless classic sitting on a hard-to-reach shelf, in a less-frequented aisle of a quaint bookshop that only incorrigible bookworms make their way to. No snazzy cover jacket to grab eyeballs, no stellar reviews announced on its back cover, no catchy tagline, no hashtag-endorsed popularity, not even a shred of well-deserved pride displayed for admiration. Just unassuming dust-laden covers holding between them a world that could enchant and devour anyone who stepped in. An exterior that couldn't possibly have hinted at the grandeur inside. Much like the harsh terrain that precedes this well-kept secret of a village.

Travellers Speak: 8 Awesome Places to Chase the Monsoons in India!





 
Compiled by Shivya Nath.

The smell of the first rain on earth often reminds me of A.R. Rehman's music. This must be the aroma of our soil that swells us with love for India. Anyone who has seen scorched barren summer landscapes transform into a lush countryside, or a thick mist engulf the backwaters, or the sea roar with delight, or anyone who has joined our farmers to dance in the rains, knows the joy of chasing the monsoons in India. Anyone who hasn't, well, the time is now to pack your bags, hit the road, and feel the wind in your hair and the rain drenching your soul.

5 Reasons to Visit Ferozepur on Your Next Punjab Trip.


By Ekta Bhatnagar. 

Punjab people, Punjab culture
Ferozepur, often called the land of martyrs, has gotten lost somewhere in our history books. It is here that Shaheed Bhagat Singh, one of India's greatest freedom fighters, was buried. And here that parts of the famous Bollywood movie, Bhag Milkha Bhag, were shot. The real charm of Ferozepur though, is that it offers an intimate glimpse of life in Punjab without the pretense of a tourist destination, complete with mouth-watering sarson da saag and makke di roti, a riot of colors, and big-hearted Punjabi hospitality. 

Photo Essay: A Journey to Ladakh.

By Achin Gupta.

Shanti Stupa, Ladakh tourist placesI read somewhere: “There are two kinds of travellers, those who have journeyed on the Manali-Leh highway and those who are planning to”. A few months back, I graduated to the first kind. These are memories from a trip I can’t forget; a trip that took me to Leh, Nubra Valley and the majestic Pangong Lake.

Disclaimer: All photos in this story are taken with a regular point and shoot camera, and not edited.

Travellers Speak: Why Spiti is No Ordinary Travel Journey.

Compiled by Sifti Dhillon.


Each summer, India Untravelled invites travellers to journey through the majestic cold mountain desert of Spiti, in the trans-Himalayas of Himachal Pradesh. These surreal mountains are home to stark landscapes, Buddhist monasteries older than a thousand years, Snow Leopard and Himalayan Wolf habitats, some of the most rugged back-country trails, a culture and cuisine different from the rest of India, and locals whose kindness leaves an indelible mark on every traveller.

The Not-So-Curious Case of an Indian Solo Female Traveller.

By Namita Kulkarni.

While I'm the last person to find it at all 'curious' that a woman would travel alone, I've been at the receiving end of a lot of curious, even baffled, looks for gladly pulling off the apparent double whammy of being a single female and travelling alone. 

6 Simple Ways to Sample Buddhism in Bodhgaya.

By Amrita Das.
Bodhgaya India, Buddhism India, gaya bihar


I took the longer route to Bodhgaya. Flew in to Patna, drove for 4 hours through thick winter fog and finally reached the sleepy town of Bodhgaya. When I stepped out for a short walk in the morning, I found myself confused. Had I reached Tibet instead of Bihar?