Check out the holiday homes and art residencies offered by Artisanale. You can choose from their properties located in Colvale, Loutolim and Saligao. While in Loutolim, you can visit the Ancestral Goa Museum (http://www.bigfootgoa.com/). The owners of Artisanale prefer you book for at least seven days as this is not a typical resort but a place for those who want the time and space to pursue their artistic passion. www.artisanale.in/.
Cheer at the festivals
During monsoon, Goa holds several festivals that are great fun to attend. The Sao Joao Festival, dedicated to St John the Baptist, finds young people merrily diving into wells and streams, in remembrance of the saint’s leap of joy in his mother’s womb when she was informed about the birth of Jesus. Boat races are held in Bardez. In many places, people float the Sangodd, a decorated platform usually made of two banana tree trunks.
Located less than 20km away from Panaji, Marcel is a little known village which claims to have the only temple in India where Krishna is worshipped along with his mother Devaki. Known as Devakikrishna, the idol consists of Devaki in a standing posture with little Krishna between her legs. During monsoon (July 28, 2015), the temple observes the Chikhal Kalo (play in the mud) festival, when people jump into a pool of mud outside the temple, a symbolic gesture of little Krishna playing in the mud. Participants also make a human pyramid to break a clay pot containing butter and tied to a peepal tree.
Divar, about 12km away from Panaji, observes the Bonderam Festival on the fourth Saturday of August (August 22, 2015). The festival is actually reminiscent of a feud between different clans staying here that was finally resolved by the Portuguese administrators by demarcating areas with flags. Today, it is a merry celebration ranging from traditional float parades to musical performances to fashion parades.
Those looking for some adventure can try white water rafting along the Mahdei River in Goa. The 10-km stretch with rapids with names such as Bid Daddy and Giant Haystack can be tackled by amateur participants too. www.goarafting.com/.
One of Goa’s popular attraction, the Dudhsagar waterfalls turns into its spectacular best during the monsoon. This is the time, when you realise why this waterfalls, about 80km away from Panaji, is named thus; the tonnes of water coming down the hill side look like pouring milk. You can go down the hill side to reach the base of the falls but not advisable for those with heart or knee ailments. Also, be cautious as the path can be very slippery at times. Trains plying from Vasco to Londa offer a close-up view of the falls. You can make a day visit to the falls or stay at the Dudhsagar Spa Resort (http://goa-tourism.com/) in Mollem.
The Arvalem (Harvalem) waterfalls too turns majestic fed by the rainwater. Located near the Rudreshwar Temple (33km from Panaji), the cascade is best seen from the bridge on the opposite side. Kesarval, a hill spring, abut 22km from Panaji, is believed to have medicinal properties; it increases in volume during the monsoon and surrounded by greenery, present a pretty picture.
Relax by the lake
Tucked in the middle of verdant hills, Mayem Lake in Bicholim (about 25km from Panaji), is an ideal place to ditch the clock. Spend time in the middle of tranquil nature, go boating and take a round of Bicholim village. You can stay at GTDC’s Mayem Lake View Resort, which can get a tad noisy when the daily sightseeing tourist bus brings its passengers for lunch here; the Champions Yacht Club (http://www.championsyachtclub.com/) on the lake offers many kinds of activities – shikara rides, kayaks, bumper boats, water bicycles, boat with barbecue facilities, etc. If you are just looking for a day visit, take a ride to Carambolim Reservoir, about 13km from Panaji and 2km from Old Goa. Surrounded by paddy fields, the reservoir is home to local birds (and migratory ones in winter). Owing to the continuous emergence of bubbles on the water surface, local people often refer to Netravalli Lake (77km from Panaji) as budbudyanche taley; apparently, the intensity of the bubbles increase if you clap hands over them.
Spend a day in a spice plantation
Spice plantation tours are becoming increasingly popular in Goa. There are several in and around Panaji. Most follow the intercropping system, and besides spices, grow coconuts, betel nuts, fruits and vegetables. On a guided tour, you will learn about the curative properties of the spices and the other natural products. Usually, a trip ends with a meal prepared from the locally grown produce. Some of the popular plantations are (with distance from Panaji in brackets) – Parvati Madhav Plants Park (30km), Rustic Plantation (48km), Sahakar Spice Farm (35km), Sai Organic Farm and Herbarium (35km), Savoi Plantation (35km), and Tropical Spice Plantation (30km). Some of the plantations offer elephant rides and an opportunity to bathe the elephants, on separate payment – but these are nothing but tourist traps and best avoided.