India is like no other place on Earth. It is a nation filled to the brim with life, colour and energy. But chaos and poverty also compete fiercely here. It is a land of incessant contrasts and, as Mark Twain once so eloquently described:
This is indeed India!
The land of dreams and romance, of fabulous wealth and fabulous poverty, of splendour and rags, of palaces and hovels, of famine and pestilence, of genii and giants and Aladdin lamps, of tigers and elephants, the cobra and the jungle, the country of hundred nations and a hundred tongues, of a thousand religions and two million gods, cradle of the human race, birthplace of human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, great-grandmother of traditions, whose yesterday’s bear date with the mouldering antiquities for the rest of nations-the one sole country under the sun that is endowed with an imperishable interest for alien prince and alien peasant, for lettered and ignorant, wise and fool, rich and poor, bond and free, the one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for the shows of all the rest of the world combined.
-Mark Twain, Following the Equator, 1897
Yes, India is something else. It will leave an indelible mark on you. You will love it and hate it at the same time and, all the while, will travel with an insatiable intrigue and a thirst to understand the complexities of this ancient land.
At some stage, however, weariness will begin to seep in and you’ll feel the need to escape the chaos and frenetic energy of the north and follow the sun southwest to the beach to recharge.
If you’re searching for solitude and peace, look no further than Agonda Beach in southern Goa. A tiny, sleepy little beach town, Agonda boasts only the necessities: a handful of restaurants, a few tiny shops and some cute little beach huts built along the 3km stretch of pristine beach. Perfect.
There is a range of accommodation options available. I opted to stay at the beautiful Agonda Villas which is owned by Agonda White Sand.
The villas are a lovely option if you are looking for a little bit of luxury. Situated right on the beachfront, it really is a perfect way to unwind. Breakfast will be brought to your terrace each morning by the lovely, attentive staff who take your order when you wake.
Days should be spent simply wandering along the pristine coast, swimming or sunbathing. Perhaps you could hire a motorcycle for a daytrip up to Cabo de Rama (one of the oldest forts in Goa) if you feel so inclined?
Or maybe one of the sweet staff who attend the villas will offer to decorate your arm with a beautiful henna tattoo?
And remember that, because this is India, sights like this won’t be uncommon.
And because this is Goa, there will be hippies playing bongos as the sun slowly sets.
You’ll end your day feeling so incredibly relaxed as you gaze into the spectacular sunset from your private terrace. Perfect.
After the sun sets, be sure to enjoy some fresh, tandoori snapper at one of the local restaurants. Delicious.
Length of stay: 6 nights over Christmas.
Price of accommodation: 9,000 rupees (AU $160) per night for the Luxury Cottages at this time of year.
Getting there: From Goa’s main airport, the easiest way to reach Agonda Beach is by taxi. It will take around an hour and cost approximately 1,000 to 1,500 rupees (AU $18 to $27).
How have you combined a ‘relaxation’ component in your travels?