Exploring Goa through its Music: Guide to a Melodious Holiday

To a tourist, Goa is only about beach parties, water sports and affordable tipples. But a true traveller knows how to look beyond. The discerning holidayer will tell you to find Goa’s history in its architecture or cuisine, but few know that the legacy continues in Goan music as well. Avoid the tourist traps and discover the culture and heritage of the smallest state of India through its music. You’ll be surprised to learn that there is a side of Goa apart from Sunburn or EDM! Presenting, a selection of Goan music genres and some recommendations on where to enjoy them:

#1 Fado

A live Fado performance in Goa (Courtesy: Joe)

Fado is a unique musical form that finds its place on UNESCO’s list of intangible heritage items. A fado performance is generally melancholic in its theme. You will find a single female vocalist (the fadista) flanked by a couple of male guitarists during any live performance. At least one of the guitars is a fado guitar. The show is always intended to be intimate and not a crowd puller.

Only a handful of venues in Goa hold fado nights. Keep an eye out for the schedule and try your luck at the following locations:

  • Alfama (Cidade de Goa) at Vainguinim Beach
  • Madragoa in Panaji
  • Casa Portuguesa in Calangute

#2 Folk Music

When you think of music in Goa that dates back to the pre-colonial era, you’ll probably find yourself reminiscing about Konkani songs (mostly made popular with some Hindi lyrics added to the mix by Bollywood). While there are hardly any places that will let you hear the jovial folk tunes of the fisherfolk, you will occasionally find cafés and bars that hold a night of traditional music and dances.

You’ll often get to watch Carnatic and Hindustani Classical performances on the same evening as a Konkani gig. Catch the action live at:

  • Rudy’s Bar and Grill in Chapora
  • Gaia Hostels in Anjuna

#3 Jazz

A saxophonist during a jazz performance (Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)

Jazz fans have plenty to look forward to in Goa as there is both a niche audience for this musical genre and talented artists who do justice to this artform. If you are new to jazz, remember that this form is usually devoid of any singing (and lyrics, per se). The purely instrumental performances focus on the skill of the musicians (and not on the oomph of the lead singer). Be ready to be swept off your feet by the power of the saxophone though!

While in Goa, you will find a plethora of venues to relax with some soothing jazz music in the evenings:

  • Firefly on Benaulim Beach
  • Soro – The Village Pub in Assagao
  • The Patio at Pizza Delizia in Arpora
  • Café Jazz in Candolim
  • The Rice Mill in Morjim
  • For The Record – Vinyl Bar in Panaji
  • Ciaran’s on Palolem Beach
  • Trevor Jazz Café in Vagator
  • Cantare in Saligao
  • Hideaway Café and Bar in Vagator
  • Jazz & Grills in Calangute

#4 Goa Trance

Goa Trance at a music festival

A spin-off of the western EDM (Electronic Dance Music), Goan trance is synonymous with psytrance (psychedelic trance). In fact, Goa is the birthplace of Goa Psy Trance – a subgenre that effectively captures the quintessential Goan style of partying. Expect a lot of synthetic music created by the DJs, with remixed beats and layered melodies on loop, coupled with some Arabic tunes. Trance parties are generally held away from the neighbourhoods and in areas well known for their party vibes. Along with the music, there is a significant amount of visual effects and dynamic light art on display at the clubs, which in themselves add to the mood of the night-long parties in Goa.

Several clubs and venues in Goa are known for their trance nights:

  • HillTop in Vagator
  • Showbar in Sinquerim
  • Shiva Valley in Anjuna
  • Club 9Bar in Vagator
  • Leopard Valley in Agonda
  • UV Bar in Anjuna

#5 Reggae

A reggae performance at the Goa Sunsplash (Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)

Longing for something similar to jazz but with some lyrics to go with the music? Reggae is a genre you will love! Not so melancholic like your regular Blues, reggae can make you both think and groove at the same time. The lead singer aside, you’ll have a whole band of drummers, electric guitarists and bassists at any reggae concert. The popularity of reggae in Goa has also resulted in the Sunsplash Festival which is dedicated solely to this genre of music.

You’ll easily find places to listen to some live reggae music in the state:

  • Cohiba Bar & Kitchen in Candolim
  • Ciaran’s on Palolem Beach
  • Guru Bar in Anjuna
  • Reggae Haven in Cavelossim
  • Riva Beach Resort in Pernem

Other Genres in the Goan Music Space

Goans (and holidayers) are known to enjoy a range of musical genres. While the choices look similar to one another at times, the subtle differences between every two artforms go to show how discerning today’s audience is. Keep an eye out for R&B (rhythm and blues), hip-hop, blues, epic trance technopop, nitzhonot, psychedelic rock and even sufi music.

The music culture in Goa has grown so much and so rapidly that there’s no telling when a new sub-genre will pop up on the scene. Thanks to the ever-growing influence of travellers from all over the world, this tiny state has made a big impact on the country’s live music arena. You only have to visit Goa and spend hours at different music venues to discover how the musical landscape is changing here.

For further details, log on to https://goa-tourism.com/.

Have you experienced the music scene in Goa yet?

Got any recommendations on other music venues in Goa?

Let me know through your comments below.

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Top 5 “Love” Destinations in India for The Perfect Valentine Trip

Valentine’s Day is regarded by many as the day of love and endearment. Some couples also vow to renew their promise of togetherness. Dreaming of wooing your Valentine with the most romantic gift ever? Well, the best Valentine’s Day present you can give is the gift of quality time together. Nothing is more romantic than getting away from your monotonous life for a while and being with your special someone so you can express your feelings without any distractions. Plan a trip to one of the most romantic places for Valentine’s Day and rejoice in each other’s company as you nurture your relationship.

Date scene by a secluded sandbank
Date scene by a secluded sandbank

Celebrate your love at one of these romantic destinations in India that truly bring love in the air. Take your Valentine to a long romantic drive to one of India’s best destinations for Valentine’s Day. If you’re travelling by train to your dream Valentine destination in India, you can also check PNR status online and get waitlist PNR prediction to stay updated with your train ticket status. Consider some of the best tourist places for couples to make your Valentine thrilled to bits while you strengthen your bond. Presenting 5 romantic places to visit in India:

#1 Udaipur

Lake Fatehsagar in Udaipur: for dates that go beyond the ordinary
Lake Fatehsagar in Udaipur: for dates that go beyond the ordinary

Dazzling yet calm lakes, picturesque hills and lively markets lend to the magic of this regal city. A stay at The Leela Palace or The Oberoi Udaivilas will make your romantic vacation surreal. The intricate architectural elements throughout the city are flattering, and nature only adds to the abundance of natural beauty in Udaipur. Relish a quiet boat ride on Lake Pichola in the ‘Venice of the East’. Visit the homes of the royals of Mewar, intriguing museums and the majestic complex of Udaipur City Palace. Celebrate Valentine’s Day with a candlelight dinner and experience ‘royal’ treatment at one of the lake-facing restaurants by its banks.

#2 Gulmarg

It's hard not to love the snow in Gulmarg
It’s hard not to love the snow in Gulmarg

Nestled in the Peer Panjal Range of the Himalayas, Gulmarg wears the aroma of Jammu & Kashmir. It offers a great chance to spend those lovely moments together, enjoying this ski town’s scenic beauty. Gulmarg is one of the top places to visit on Valentine’s Day since it’s surrounded by snow-clad mountains, steep ravines, forested valleys and meadows sprinkled with flowers. Do not miss Gulmarg’s gondola ride, trekking in the woods, and snowboarding and skiing on powdery white slopes in the winter. One of the best Valentine’s destinations, all the memories here will last forever.

#3 Havelock Island (Andaman Islands)

Stroll through the pristine beaches of Havelock Island
Stroll through the pristine beaches of Havelock Island (PC: Bishnu Sarangi)

Havelock Island is among the most romantic places to go during Valentine’s week. The sandy beaches, turquoise waters, you and your love are enough to celebrate this special day here. There are many resorts that cater to couples. For instance, Silver Sand Beach Resort will genuinely help you experience the true offerings of Havelock such as exploring the corals through scuba diving or snorkelling. Enjoy the serenity of The Andaman’s – one of the most peaceful places to go for Valentine’s Day. The ideal way to do this is to grab a drink, lie together on the beach, and spend that much-needed time together!

#4 Darjeeling

Revive the romance in your relationship in the tea gardens of Darjeeling
Revive the romance in your relationship in the tea gardens of Darjeeling

Darjeeling is a beautiful hill station in India – one like no other. Whether you consider the crisp mountain air or the tranquil tea gardens, every part of this town begs you to live it up with your Valentine. Its chocolate hills, winding roads and toy-train rides make it a dreamlike place to spend a few days with your loved one. Have a cup of Darjeeling tea with your beloved and gorge on momos together. Walk through some tea plantations such as the lush Marybong Tea Estate, and take in the pleasing aroma of the tea leaves.

#5 Goa

Vagator, one of many beaches that define the susegad life in Goa
Vagator, one of many beaches that define the susegad life in Goa (PC: Dominik Hundhammer)

It’s impossible to skip Goa when talking about love destinations in the country! Skip the crowds when you stay in South Goa’s adorable beach shacks to experience isolation in bliss. Looking to explore Goa’s nightlife instead? Places in and around Panjim and the beaches of North Goa won’t disappoint. Venture away from the coastline to savour Portuguese tradition and culture. A hike through the thickets around Mandovi River and Dudhsagar Falls is perfect for adventure lovers, not to forget dolphin cruises and parasailing in Goa. One of the top choices for Valentine’s Day, Goa lures couples with its stunning beaches, magnificent sunsets and the sound of soothing waves crashing against the shore.

Order a Cake on the Train: A Love-Filled Surprise-on-Rails for your Loved Ones

Valentine's Day Journey: Exotic flavoured cakes to order in the train

Cake, a celebratory treat, is one of the best ways to express your love. The Valentine’s Day merriment is incomplete without a cake. Now, if you’re travelling via train with your significant other, and want to order cake in the train, just visit RailRestro’s website on your mobile phone or download their Android or iOS app. Ring in this Valentine’s Day by ordering cake or food in train. RailRestro has a bunch of cake flavours that you can order in the train, including:

  1. Black Forest Exotic Cake: This black forest cake will bring instant cheer to your beloved and make her/him smile ear to ear.
  2. Chocolate Truffle Cake: Chocolate is the most loved gift on Valentine’s Day. This decadent chocolate truffle cake is delicious enough to make your Valentine overjoyed.
  3. Strawberry Crush Cake: The bold red colour of this strawberry cake beautifully complements the Valentine’s Day theme.
  4. Eggless Pineapple Cake: Soak in the fruity flavour of pineapple and set aside all guilt as you dig into this eggless cake in the train and uphold the celebratory mood of the day of love.

How are you planning to celebrate Valentine’s Day in 2021?

Got some more romantic destinations in mind?

Let me know through your comments below.

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Dudhsagar Plantation – A Homestay Hidden Away From Goa’s Beaches

Goa, a place synonymous with beach-life (to the casual traveller), has much more to offer those who seek something different. My friends reading this account will be flabbergasted when they learn that I did not see a single beach all through my recent trip to the ‘party capital of India’. What I saw instead was this:-

Acres Of Greens With No Sand Or Sea In Sight

Farmers prepare to work on the paddy fields

Farmers prepare to work on the paddy fields

If you are a fan of nature and forests and everything organic, get away from the coastline and drive into Sanvordem, and then further towards Kulem until you reach Karmane Village. There, where the road ends and the boundary of the Mollem National Park begins, you will find Dudhsagar Plantation – a farm-stay that is removed from the smoke of the cities and the noise of the parties. I had a chance to stay at one of the cottages here last month when monsoon was in full swing. This was perhaps the best way to begin my career as a full-time travel writer.

The Cottages At Dudhsagar Plantation

The property has 5 cottages with brick roofs which have 4 glass-patches to let light filter through in the mornings. There’s a nice sit-out area in the front porch of each cottage, with wooden lounging chairs to enjoy the view of the plantation. This eco-stay is basic, but comfortable. Every cottage is spacious and furnished with a double bed and a divan, besides shelves on a wall to store your things. The bathroom is well ventilated with grills, and the exposed brick and cement sections lend a rustic touch to it. The all-out in the room keeps mosquitoes away, but don’t be surprised if some harmless caterpillars, bugs or lizards stop by to say “hi”. 😉

Know Your Host

The Malkarnekar brothers - Ashok (right) runs the property

The Malkarnekar brothers – Ashok (right) runs the property

The plantation was started by the Malkarnekar family in 1985 and their home is built on the farm itself. Today, Ashok Malkarnekar, the eldest son, stays here and looks after the administrative bits of this home-stay. I was fortunate to be here when Ashok’s family and friends were around for a reunion, and we spent some good time chatting over chai and singing along with the guitarists in the house. The Malkarnekar siblings (2 brothers and a sister) are half German and half Goan, and fluent in Konkani, Hindi, German and English. They are all very friendly and warm. Throughout the duration of my stay at Dudhsagar Plantation, Ashok graciously showed me around the estate and took me to some interesting parts of Goa I’d never explored before.

Take A Spice Tour

(Picture courtesy: Ashok)

Every guest here can opt for an hour long guided tour of the spice garden. Spread over 50 acres, the plantation is a tropical paradise! Here, you will find a variety of trees and herbs – coconut, betel nut, starfruit, pepper, cinnamon and cashew, to name a few. Speaking of cashew, you can also learn how cashew feni is made through the fermentation process. A milder version of feni is the urak, which is distilled at an earlier stage. During my stay, I had their distinctive jungle juice – a cocktail they make with urak, limca and some “secret spices”. 😉

Jump Into The Family Well

Dive into the 15 feet natural well

Dive into the 15 feet deep natural well

Water babies will leap at the mention of a pool in a farmstay. Dudhsagar Plantation has something even better – a giant natural water well which is 15 feet deep! It was a lot of fun to swim here, the trees secluding us from the rest of the property. You might spot some friendly frogs and little fishes while you take a dip here. It is not uncommon either to sight snakes. (Yikes!!)

Relish Home-cooked Meals

A hearty Goan meal of pao, rice and curries with plenty of coconut

A hearty Goan meal of pao, rice and curries with plenty of coconut

I thoroughly savoured the freshly prepared meals at this homestay. The ingredients are locally sourced and mostly grown on the plantation itself. The food is completely organic as no pesticides or fertilizers are used for farming. Natural composting is practised here and manure is used for the plants. Ashok also showed me the nitrogen-fixing plants which absorb nitrogen from the atmosphere and plug it back into the soil to improve its fertility. This reduces the need to add artificial fertilizers for the regular nitrogen-guzzling flora.


The food is generally vegetarian, but sometimes, the cook also prepares some fish or meat. You can have egg preparations for breakfast, and these are free range eggs from the domestic chickens on the farm. I had my fill of local vegan Goan curries which have a little bit of coconut in the form of its flesh-shavings or as coconut milk. They also use a lot of mushroom, which are my favourite! 🙂 I particularly loved the dishes for their mild flavours (I’m not a fan of spicy food) and judicious use of oil. Don’t forget to try their pineapple-banana butter, a house-speciality which I fell in love with! You will also like their homemade pickles and puranpoli.

Walk In The Rain

Take a romantic walk through the plantation under a cozy umbrella

Take a romantic walk through the plantation under a cozy umbrella

Dudhsagar Plantation is a nice place to spend an intimate weekend with your significant other. The property feels especially romantic in the monsoon (read: Lavasa – A Lyrical Journey in the Rains) when the raindrops rhythmically pelt on the brick roofs of the cottages and the thatched central dining gazebo. You may also want to want to laze in the swimming pool while you wait for the sun to set.

Swim In The Infinity Pool

The swimming pool which gets its water from the well

The swimming pool which gets its water from the well (Picture courtesy: Ashok)

Not all visitors like natural wells, so the plantation also has a modern-style swimming pool that looks out to the green foliage. Fortunately, the pool’s water comes from the well, and has no chlorine. The host is building a yoga-shala close to the pool, which will be ready in a few weeks. He has plans to build a large hut which can serve as a dormitory for budget travellers who wish to learn yoga. This place has the potential to be a tranquil yoga retreat. Can you imagine how relaxing it will be to practise yoga in the middle of nature!

Read, Nap Or Do Absolutely Nothing On The Veranda

Sit back and relax on the lounging chairs in your balcony

Sit back and relax on the lounging chairs in your balcony

Rejuvenating holidays are those where you don’t squeeze too many activities into your itinerary. The best way to spend your time at Dudhsagar Plantation is to read your favourite book or do a little bit of writing. The atmosphere is ripe with inspiration for those who find their joy in composing poems. Bring along a guitar and a mouth-organ, and make some soothing music if you are musically tilted. It really helps that internet connectivity is intermittent and slow here. You have another reason to tune out the world and tune in to your thoughts. The property has a wifi router installed at the common dining area, but that only worked for a few minutes during all the days I was there. No complaints, though. I quite enjoyed playing with the cute toddler (Ashok’s nephew) and the dogs (which guard the estate from trespassers and wild boars).

Things To Do Around Dudhsagar Plantation

Capturing River Kushavati at Usgalimal

Capturing River Kushavati at Usgalimal

If you are the restless type of traveller and cannot sit still, there’s plenty you can do around this place. I did the Tambdi Surla waterfall trek (close to the eponymous 12th century temple), peeped into a Portuguese villa, strolled atop the Salaulim dam and checked out 20-thousand-years old petroglyphs at Usgalimal. More on the activities in a separate blog post. 😉

Have you ever lived on a plantation?

Do you know of more non-touristy things to do in Goa?

Let my readers (and me) know through your comments below! 🙂


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Disclosure: I was hosted by Dudhsagar Plantation. However, all views are entirely my own.