Velsao is for the solitude seeker — it’s all wooded hills, coconut groves and white sands. The beach has no crowds, except for the odd picnicking group on a Sunday, and relatively few resorts. And for this, one has to thank the rice fields bordering the beach, impressively starting where the sand dunes end. Though things are slowly changing now — at least one resort has begun to come up every year — the stretch from Velsao to Betalbatim is still a haven for someone looking for a quiet getaway in Goa.
This quiet seaside village was short-listed, along with the high-profile Fort Aguada Plateau and the state capital Panjim, as a venue for the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), which moved permanently to Goa from New Delhi in 2004. Panjim finally was chosen, but it should tell you something about how beautiful Velsao is.
Nestled in a valley below the Verna Plateau, Velsao has been blessed with nature’s bounty. Even the seas off Velsao are rich, as an event from August 1999 indicates: a school of sardines, obviously swimming close to the shore, got washed ashore by strong monsoon waves. That day, fishermen sold 60 baskets of sardines without using a net!
Velsao’s seafront is dotted with fishing huts and canoes. The only blot on the landscape here is the gigantic Zuari Agro Chemicals fertiliser plant, located on the hillside above Velsao. Locals agitated against the plant because of the pollution it created, and as a result, the plant authorities did clean up their act. It has since been winning environmental awards every few years, but even so it remains a prominent eyesore.
Velsao is a reasonably safe place to swim, as long as you keep away from the tiny creek here. But there’s no lifeguard, so unless you are a strong swimmer, be sure not to venture more than waist-deep into the sea.
Located to the south of Velsao, Cansaulim is a large village with a beautiful and accessible stretch of beach in Arossim. The latter is the home of Tristao Braganza Cunha, the father of Goan nationalism. Braganza was the pioneer of the freedom struggle in Goa. He studied in Paris, where he came in touch with other radical students who went on to become leaders, like China’s Zhou en Lai and Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh. He was also a close associate of Romain Rolland, the first Western author to write a biography of Mahatma Gandhi. Cunha’s ancestral house is still to be found in the vaddo of Quelim.
Arossim is considered a reasonably safe place to swim. There’s no lifeguard here, so unless you are a strong swimmer, don’t venture in more than waist-deep.
Majorda is actually only a large village, where the beachside accommodation is limited to just three places. This also means that the beach has been left pretty much untouched, and you can spend a lot of time undisturbed near the surf.
Majorda beach and Betalbatim beach are generally safe beaches. A few drowning deaths were reported from Utorda about five years ago, but none since. There’s no lifeguard at any of the beaches, so unless you are a strong swimmer, do not venture more than waist-deep into the sea.
Location Velsao Beach is a short distance south-east of Bogmalo and Issorcim on the Mormugao Coast. It’s close to Verna (4 km), and between Panjim and Madgaon off NH17. Arossim Beach is just south of Velsao Beach on the Mormugao Coast, and north of Utorda Beach in Salcete Taluka. Majorda Beach is just south of Utorda and north of Betalbatim in Salcete
Distances Velsao Beach is 625 km S of Mumbai; Arossim Beach is just 2-3 km S of Velsao; Majorda is 7-8 km S of Arossim JOURNEY TIME By rail 113/4 hrs + 40 mins by road
By air 1 hr + 30 mins by road By road 13 hrs
Route State road to Kalamboli; NH4 to Panvel; NH17 to Verna via Mahad, Chiplun,
Nandgaon, Sawantwadi, Pernem, Mapusa, Panjim and Cortalim; district road to Velsao via Cansaulim
When to go Winter is the best season to visit these beaches but that’s also when the maximum crowds flock to the popular Goan coast. Monsoon is also a glorious time if you like rains.
Goa Tourism Development Corp Ltd
Central Reservation Office
Dr Alvares Costa Road
Tel: 0832-2436666, 2424001-03
STD code 0832
By Ashwin Tombat
About the author
Ashwin Tombat was a journalist (he was the Editor of Gomantak Times and Goa Today magazine, and the Assistant Editor of Gentleman magazine), a researcher (MacArthur Foundation population fellow) and a street theatre activist (with Aavhaan Natya Manch). He is now a part-time writer and media consultant, when he is not sailing, swimming or coaching Goa’s children in these sports.