Goa has more churches than sinners, more musicians than audiences, and by the look of it, more tourists than locals. Its popularity as a holiday destination for foreigners and Indians alike continues to do a Vertical Charlie. Where else are the girls totally comfy in skimpy clothes?
Where can you find memorable meals in unsung beach shacks? Where are the parties so popular that often ‘decoy parties’ are staged to veer away the extras…? Milling joyously with friends into the wee hours, pounding the feet to heavy techno base with drink in hand can take its toll.
So after the hurly-burly’s done, it could be quite nice to drift into ‘susegad mode,’ a byword in Goa meaning “relax and enjoy life,” from quiet in Portuguese.
This is when a tranquil sanctum small boutique hotels could come in handy. These delightful havens in Goa are surprisingly unknown…
Pousada Tauma’s little heart beats in the core of Calangute, like a hare trying to hunker down and lie low whilst the noisy predatorial traffic swirls by. Step through the wrought iron gates into a sienna coloured sanctuary drenched in tropical foliage. Neville Proenca’s 12-room gem is built entirely of local laterite, and the blur of a hummingbird over a hibiscus is as commonplace a sight as a tulsi shrine in a Goan Hindu home.
A large swimming pool, built to look like a part of the rockery, is the focal point (unless your eyes are riveted on the topless Mediterranean beauties sunbathing on the lounges) and the rooms nestle around it.
Each one of the rooms is a spacious suite, with a completely different design and décor from the next one. Every plant has been carefully chosen to dress up the tiniest nook and cranny red gingers, heliconias and ferns tickle the shoulders as you walk along the paths, tender tendrils find their way into your prawn balchao as you pull up to sup. Tauma is named after Neville’s father, and Pausada, aptly means a nest, or a cosy home.
Seolim House in Seolim, Bardez, has been lovingly restored by venture capitalist Varun Sood whose first love is architecture.
A shattered ruin in 1996, the dignity of this once grand mansion has been restored. Traditional mosaic floor tiles and translucent oyster shells for windows were garnered painstakingly from antique salvage yards. Seolim House becomes your home when you live there, its sunning courtyard yard where you might fall asleep reading a book.
The cook and gardener will expect company. They serve intuitively and are adept at sharing the local lore. There are seven large rooms, one large enough to host a cricket match. If you are going to ask Varun about his plants, plan your escape route first, for he is a real aficionado, and will linger over the niceties of rare orchids for eons. Seolim House is the perfect bolt hole that revives the weary spirit, and it sees its guests return time and again.