Written by Anannya on 05 Apr, 2010
Due to the necessities of business travel, I had almost forgotten what it is like to travel by Indian trains, tending rather to add up the frequent flyer mileage. The last trip was probably in 2008. So this time, for the trip to Goa, I…Read More
Due to the necessities of business travel, I had almost forgotten what it is like to travel by Indian trains, tending rather to add up the frequent flyer mileage. The last trip was probably in 2008. So this time, for the trip to Goa, I decided to take the train. A holiday special to Karwar put on the schedule by the Indian railways ensured that I and my friend got our reservations just two weeks in advance. Most of the Indian railway operations were inherited from the British establishment. The Konkan Railway however was one operation that was done after independence, in the 1990's. For years, Mumbai and Mangalore had no direct rail connections. The KR connects Mumbai right down the west coast to Trivandrum. It involved working from scratch surveying the entire coast, acquiring land, cutting down hills, digging tunnels, building bridges, etc and is probably the biggest railway project since independence (some say the biggest in this century but that's a bit too much). . The train, 109 down CSTM-Karwar Holiday Special had just four five stops including the origin station Mumbai CST (or Victoria Terminus for the nostalgic folk). The next stop was Thane, then Panvel, then Madgaon the alighting point for Goa. So it was that at 2100 hours, we with our back packs were sitting comfortably in the waiting lobby of CSTM preparing to board the train whose STD was 2215 hours.This waiting lobby, 16 months ago, was the scene of a ghastly battle that doesn’t need to be mentioned here. The bloodstains were gone from the floors but the crowds were the same: on the benches, on the floors, on the walls, on the pillars. The X-ray machines and metal detectors were the new entities, ubiquitous and unused. The train jerked out of the platform on time. We had booked ourselves in 2ndAC i.e. the two-tier variety as opposed to the three-tier variety. More head room for both the tiers means one can sit and read with a small headlamp for illumination. Having said that, all that was not really required as the moment we hit the berths, we went off with the Sandman to the world of dreams.Next day morning, at about 6 am, we were one hour past Ratnagiri and as per schedule 1 hour 18 minutes late. As sleep had left me (I got myself a chai from a vendor at Ratnagiri station), I went out and stood by the door, looking at the Konkani landscape speeding by. There was one valley which was covered by dense fog, making it look like those fantasy places in Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter films. Visibility in this foggy area was zero. The train skirted round this area. I was trying to place which part of the country this is. Soon we passed Kudal station and that gave me a clue that this was the Sindhudurg district. At about 8 am, we crossed the border. How does one know this? Well, geographically, the last station is Savantwadi Road following which there is this long tunnel at the end of which is Pernem, the first station in Goa. Incidentally, this tunnel was the most problematic one during its construction. It took 6 years for finishing it and was opened as late as 1998. The train of course does not stop here at Pernem but it slowed down giving a few passengers enough time to jump off and go their own ways. At Karmali, the train actually stopped completely on the platform. The KR is mostly a single track line and trains have to stop in station sidings to allow upcoming trains to pass. Such a train passed and then we were on off for the final leg – to Madgaon. The train goes over the two big rivers of Goa - Mandovi and Zuari. Karmali is in the doab part i.e. between the two rivers. Touch down at Madgaon at 9 am, two hours late from schedule. But we were on holiday. So does it matter?Close
Written by maparnapari on 04 Feb, 2010
Yes, this is how I would describe Palolem ! During my childhood, I had been to this beach for a school picnic. But now, I had vague memories of this place and wanted to explore this beach once again. Thus one Sunday morning in March…Read More
Yes, this is how I would describe Palolem ! During my childhood, I had been to this beach for a school picnic. But now, I had vague memories of this place and wanted to explore this beach once again. Thus one Sunday morning in March 2009, we, that is, my husband, my daughter, my mother-in-law and myself set out to enjoy a picnic lunch at the much praised Palolem beach.After reaching Palolem village, we had to meander carefully through the narrow alleys and then on reaching the bend we waited eagerly to take a first look at the much praised beach of Goa.As soon as we entered the entranceway to the beach, we all exclaimed in unison: Awesome !Much more than it was anticipated !A fantastic place to spend an entire day !This three kilometer palm fringed, idyllic, sandy beach with placid blue cool waters is a "picture perfect beach", situated in South Goa, India. It has a crescent shaped bay lined with swaying coconut palms dotted at one end with some rocky crags. The initial stretch of the beach is lined with beach shacks that serve cool drinks and food. The shallow sea bed and lack of huge waves, this beach is safe for swimming. It is located 40 kilometres away from Margao (a major town in South Goa), and 3 kilometres away from Canacona Railway Junction.There regular buses and taxis from Margao to Palolem that would drop tourists at Canacona village. Panaji, the capital of Goa, is situated at a distance of 70 kilometres.If you have watched Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) in The Bourne Supremacy film in 2004 - it was Palolem Beach, his hideaway in India, that he was running along.On reaching the beach we strolled along the cool waterfront, for a few hours, collected sea shells, which my daughter loves to do and then returned to one of the beach shacks to enjoy a our picnic lunch. Admiring the beautiful scenery, we idled in the cosy cane chairs for another hour, sipping the cool Fanta. At 2.00 pm we decided to head back, home. Though we did want to spend the entire day amongst these pleasant surroundings, but had to leave as my daughter had to take her routine afternoon nap. But she did not want to part with the golden sand and the cool waters. After much cajoling, she agreed, provided that we would bring her back here , again, in near future ! We gladly agreed.The peaceful surroundings coupled with the laid back nature of people around, act like a soothing balm to the tired senses ! We will definitely go back to this paradise, soon !Close
Written by sbmalik on 07 Dec, 2007
GOA BEACHESGoa possesses one of the finest stretches of sandy coastline in India. To the average tourist interested in having a good time, “the beaches" is what Goa is all about. It has been widely publicized in the media, movies and adds to the mystique…Read More
GOA BEACHESGoa possesses one of the finest stretches of sandy coastline in India. To the average tourist interested in having a good time, “the beaches" is what Goa is all about. It has been widely publicized in the media, movies and adds to the mystique of Goa. This is not without reason because the tropical climate, the coconut trees, the white sand beaches all have been immortalized and add to the romantic allure of Goa.Goa is now the major tourist destination of Indians on the move especially the newly weds on their honeymoon and the upwardly mobile Indian gentry, besides foreign tourists coming in hordes in winters.The beaches in North Goa have been commercialized, especially Calangute. Hotels with shops and restaurants to cater to every taste occupy the road parallel to the beach. In South Goa, however, there are a few isolated virgin beaches for those in search of peace and tranquility.The beaches in Goa are clustered into two regions, in North and South Goa coastlines. The capital Panaji and nearby Miramar and Bambolim beaches, lie in the middle.The North Goa coastline extends from Fort Aguada and Sinquerim beach areas and goes upwards along the coastline to Chapora beach and fort. The Sinquerim, Candolim, Calangute, Baga, Anjuna, Vagator, Chapora, Morjim beaches are along this stretch of coastline. The other coastline extending south of Vasco da Gama and Bogmalo beach and going down along the coastline to the southern tip of Goa and ending with Polem Beach. The Bogmalo, Velsao, Majorda, Colva, Benaulim, Betul, Canaguinim, Agonda, Palolem, beaches are along this stretch of the coastline. We visited many beaches in Goa. The virgin Arrosim Beach in South Goa near our hotel was however the best liked by us for peaceful and serene surroundings, no crowds, just enjoying within the group with leisure. The other beaches visited were Agauda Beach, Calungate Beach, Baga Beach and Miramar Beach. Miramar beach in Panaji, lies 3 kilometers from town centre and about 1-kilometer ahead of the convergence of the Arabian Sea and the Mandovi River. The beach has fine silvery sands, which makes it ideal for taking long walks and soaking up the sun. The Miramar beach is parallel to the main road, expands up to 2 kilometers and given its fine location, one can catch a charming and magnificent view of the sea. The Miramar beach is pretty popular among tourists and it also offers accommodation of good hotels near the shore. Calangute BeachCalangute beach is popularly known as the "Queen of all Goan beaches" and is 16 kilometers from Panaji,. This beach was originally known by the name "kolli gutti", which means "land of fishermen". During the Portugal rule, the name got distorted and came to known as Calangute beach. The place around Colangute beach is abundant in coconut trees, which add to the scenic surroundings.The Colangute beach provides tourist with variety of food and drinks. It is an ideal place to check out the local cuisines. There are many music concerts held there every now and then and is a favorite among music and art lovers. An art gallery called Kerkar Art Gallery is located on the beach. The Colangute beach today is one of the busiest beaches in Goa thronging with locals and tourists. The beach has a leveled shoreline and not rocky at all. This makes it ideal for indulging in daring adventure sports and diving. Various water sports are offered at the beach. However, due to its crowding, is not meant much for people searching for peaceful and relaxing atmosphere. Anjuna BeachAnjuna Beach is another popular beach of Goa. Anjuna is situated 8 kilometers west of Mapusa and 18 kilometers from the capital city, Panaji. It overlooks the sea and thus gives a splendid look of the shoreline. The village of Anjuna is nestled between the Arabian Sea and a small hillock. The Anjuna BeachClose
Goan ChurchesWith a significant Christian population, the churches are important in Goa's religious, cultural and social fabric. Most of the churches during the Portuguese rule were built in Old Goa and today Old Goa along with its churches is a world heritage site. One of…Read More
Goan ChurchesWith a significant Christian population, the churches are important in Goa's religious, cultural and social fabric. Most of the churches during the Portuguese rule were built in Old Goa and today Old Goa along with its churches is a world heritage site. One of the major tourist attractions in Goa are Churches. Goan churches are famous for their interesting architecture, which is usually a blend of two or more forms. These institutions of religion played a major role in inclining people initially towards Christianity. The churches are important in Goa's religious, cultural and social fabric due to a significant Christian population. Old Goa:This ancient historical former capital of Goa is located about 9 km east of Panaji. Old Goa is a UNESCO world heritage site and is famed for its opulent buildings and churches reminiscent of the glory days of "Golden Goa". It was abandoned by the Portuguese officially in 1843 when the capital was moved to Panjim or Panaji. Most of the churches during the Portuguese rule were built in Old Goa. The churches built during the Portuguese rule were different. However, over a period of time a significant change has come over in the architecture of the churches. Each of the churches had some uniqueness to it yet certain commonness marked them all, like the baroque style architecture or the ornate altars. Today, most of the remaining buildings and churches are maintained by the Archeological Survey of India and the church services are maintained by the Archdiocese of Goa. The Old Goa is having beautiful churches. We visited the Basilica of Bom Jesus, Se Cathedral Goa & Church of St. Francis of Assisi GoaBasilica of Bom Jesus:Basilica of Bom Jesus is located in Old Goa. It is a holy site for all Goans particularly Goan Christians because it is the site where the sacred relics of St Francis Xavier or "Goencho Sahib" are preserved for posterity. This is the most revered and famous of all the churches in Old Goa. This World Heritage Monument was constructed in 1695 and is a milestone in the history of Christianity. The name Bom Jesus basically means "good Jesus" or "infant Jesus". The Bom Jesus Church contains the body of St. Francis Xavier, a member of the Society of Jesus, who came to India with the Portuguese to spread Christianity in India. He is often credited for baptizing various people in Goa and he also preached the teachings of Jesus. He took various voyages to Malaga (Malaysia), China to preach. While on a sea voyage to China, St. Francis Xavier died, on December 2, 1552. The body was initially buried in Malaga. The following year, while relocating Francis Xavier's remains to Goa, in agreement with his wishes, it is said that the body was as fresh as the day it was buried. The news reached the Vatican where the title of Saint was bestowed upon the priest. The remnant attracts a huge number of devotees and believers from all over the world, especially during the "Exposition" public viewing of his body every ten years on the 2nd of December, which is the death-anniversary of Saint. The last such event was in the year 2004. The saint is said to have miraculous powers of healing, and pilgrims come from all over the country. The body of the saint has been kept in a beautiful silver casket. The Basilica of Bom Jesus is one of the richest churches in Goa. It is carpeted with marble flooring and inlaid with valuable and rare gems and stones. The interior of the Church has highly structured gilded altars. The Church also has kept paintings of St. Francis Xavier. The Tomb of St. Francis Xavier was the gift from the Grand Duke of Tuscan. In 1946 it became the first church in India to be elevated to the status of a minor basilica. Se Cathedral Goa & Church of St. Francis of Assisi GoaThese are also located in Old Goa, next to each other. The Se Cathedral Church is dedicated to St. Catherine of AlexaClose
Goa ExperienceArrosim Beach & Heritage Village Club-South GoaThe visit to Goa was one of the best enjoyed family tours. We stayed at the boutique hotel “Heritage Village Club”, located in South Goa at the virgin Arrosim Beach. Heritage Village Club facilities are comparable to any…Read More
Goa ExperienceArrosim Beach & Heritage Village Club-South GoaThe visit to Goa was one of the best enjoyed family tours. We stayed at the boutique hotel “Heritage Village Club”, located in South Goa at the virgin Arrosim Beach. Heritage Village Club facilities are comparable to any major hotels in Goa. The resort is about 30 minutes drive from the Dabolim Airport and near Margao City, where a major Railway Station is located. A big size pool, good dining, pool table, and serene surroundings were the highlights. The hotel kept daily evening programs with variety of shows like live band, DJ music, Saxophone playing, Karoake singing, Magic show, Tambola, which is well enjoyed in a relaxing mood after day outing. This was the best deal as the other popular beaches were found to be overcrowded during day visits. Peaceful strolling at Arrosim beach for about one hour refreshed the body and mind. The family enjoyed wading through sea; though due to strong undercurrents it was advised not to venture out far in the sea. South Goa is predominantly virgin countryside. The beaches of South Goa are fantastic. Most of the beaches are isolated with no disturbance of the peace; all you have to do here is enjoy the beaches, wonderful food and hospitality of the locals. Arrosim Beach is one of the mostpicturesque and scenic locations in Goa. The beach is quieter and cleaner when compared with the other renowned beaches in Goa.A lot of hotel accommodation isavailable in the near vicinity to the Arrosim Beach. The Arrosim Beach is one tourist destination that is not so famous in the Goa - BeachCapital of India. The quiet resort is charming with the bountiful beauty of nature. The soft white sandy beach is a major draw for several tourists. Sightseeing in Goa:Goa is a land of beaches and churches. A half day sight seeing tour took us to Mangesh Temple, Old Goa for Churches, Miramar Beach, Shopping and finally River Cruise on Mandovi River. Mangesh Temple: The temple is located about 23 Kms from Panaji on N.H 4A at Priol Village. The present site is not its original location. This temple was in a location in Cortalim earlier. During the 16th century, after the occupation of Goa by Portuguese, it was shifted to the present site. The edict of 1540 gave the Portuguese Viceroy the authority to destroy all Hindu temples and shrines within the area of Portuguese control. The temple estates were confiscated for the maintenance of churches that were ordered to be built on their sites.The temple is dedicated to Lord Mangueshi, an incarnation of Lord Shiva. This 400 year old temple is a must visit in Goa temples tour. An interesting feature of this century old specimen of Goa temples is a gateway within the temple enclosure. There is a seven-story ‘Deepmal’, a tower for oil lamps, one of the special architectural features of many Goan temples. This is said to be a Maratha influence. On festival days the "Deepmal" or the "Deepa Stambha" (the Lamp tower) is decorated with hundreds of oil lamps and the effect is spectacular. The gateway leads to a paved path leading to a courtyard. Marble floor and decorated tiled walls like this are rarity on a Goa temples tour. These items alone make this temple an interesting object on an India temple travel. A shivalinga inside a fluorite designed sanctum flanked by dwarpalas (guards) is additional attraction. A golden snake besides the Linga and an image of Shiva constitute the main altar. Other notable features here are a Garvagriha, large towers and specious courtyards. A chariot takes the deity on a round of temple on festive occasions. Close
Written by Vaidya on 22 Jan, 2006
We were really missing the homecooked Goan meal. The opportunity came in the form of an invitation from a good friend. We were picked up from the hotel and were taken to their house at Margaon. I was told that the lady of the house…Read More
We were really missing the homecooked Goan meal. The opportunity came in the form of an invitation from a good friend. We were picked up from the hotel and were taken to their house at Margaon. I was told that the lady of the house had scouted the fish market in the morning (at sunrise) for the freshest prawns, fish, and chicken. On reaching their house I found that a close relative also had pitched in for help in preparing the feast. A typical Goan trait—the host will go all out to please the guest, and relatives and friends would also come for help.
The smell of delicate combination of spices, broad welcoming smiles, the kind you cannot see elsewhere welcomed us as we entered. Another Goan trait that I love is that they are lively and attentive communicators—you just cannot get bored in a Goan house. They are simple, they open their heart, they overwhelm you with loads of respect, they take the life easy—and it shows. You rarely find beggars, cheats, or desperate people in Goa. The festivals, marriages, and family gettogethers are celebrated with a gaiety almost unseen anywhere else in the country. India is full of beautiful places but I think it is the people of Goa whose positive energy has made Goa the number one tourist places.
Coming back to the food, the feast was supposed to have started with beer, wine, and cold drinks but we had had the Goa ‘fenny’ the night before and were not in a position to consume any more liquor. Feast had fried chicken legs marinated in Goan spices, chicken curry Goan style, plain rice, prawn fried rice, bread, stuffed fish covered with semolina and fried, fish curry, veggies, dal, and tossed salad. The piece-de-resistance was the pudding- perfectly made.
We ate, talked and laughed to the hearts content till we were tired and sleepy. The lady of the house insisted that we take a big packet for the evening so that we need not bother about food whenever we get up. They insisted that they would drop us back even though many taxis were freely available. We arrived back with contented Goan hospitality filled not only our stomach but our hearts too.
Written by BarrieB on 27 Mar, 2004
My wife and I have just returned from two marvellous weeks in Goa, India. The first week we spent at Club Mahindra, Varca Beach and the second week at Royal Palms, Benaulim. It's true what's said about the beaches, wide, soft sand, endless…Read More
My wife and I have just returned from two marvellous weeks in Goa, India. The first week we spent at Club Mahindra, Varca Beach and the second week at Royal Palms, Benaulim. It's true what's said about the beaches, wide, soft sand, endless and empty and stepping in the sea was like getting in the bath. Add to this the excellent service and meals provided not just in the resorts but at beach shacks also and, well what more could you ask for? The only comment needed about the sun is to say it shone all day.
Both resorts were delightful with all the staff very friendly, polite and always helpful. If you have not been then go soon, for I fear it will not be long before "The British Pub" and other similar establishments start to appear.
There is another side to Goa and to be honest, we found our trip from the airport to the resort upsetting, seeing what we call the poverty of the people and we wondered if we would enjoy our holiday. I don't think you ever lose your initial feeling, you just become acclimatised to the situation, and surely it is better to buy something at a price agreed with the seller, even for say, only 100 rupees, which goes to their family, than not to buy at all.
Pigs, chickens and bullocks wander along the road aimlessly, and although this is an everyday sight, you still gaze with amazement. You might even have an unexpected visitor like us - a wild eagle on our balcony.
We don't think it's a holiday for families - although the kids will love the pools and the beach, but the sea has a strong undercurrent.
We had thought of holidaying in Goa for some time, and I don't think we could have achieved this, certainly not in five- and four-star luxury, without being members of RCI.
The only negative was "Peter the Palm Tree," as we named it. We asked for a room with a view of the pool at the Royal Palms, but this was obscured for 150 of 180 degrees by Peter the Palm Tree. We asked to move rooms, but nothing was available.
Marie and Barrie Blakemore
Written by phileasfogg on 06 Aug, 2005
Much of Goa seems like a place that’s not quite India--and yet is. Massive white churches with typically Latin curved facades and a huge bell hanging from the centre stand amidst lush green fields of new rice. Roadside shrines with plaster or tile crucifixes or…Read More
Much of Goa seems like a place that’s not quite India--and yet is. Massive white churches with typically Latin curved facades and a huge bell hanging from the centre stand amidst lush green fields of new rice. Roadside shrines with plaster or tile crucifixes or a painting of Jesus are bestowed with incense sticks and garlands of marigolds--just like thousands of Hindu temples all across India. The names on the houses along the streets are Fernandes, Menezes, Gonsalves, Gomes, Lobo, Mascarenhas- and the houses themselves have terracotta-tiled roofs, and coconut trees standing sentinel in the backyard. The food and the drink include ingredients fairly uncommon in other parts of the country, from Goan `port’ wine to local vinegar. Even the place names--Benaulim, Panjim, Sanquelim, Querim--don’t sound Indian (although their local names- Banahalli, Panaji, Sankhali, and Keri- are definitely homegrown).
There’s an almost all-pervasive veneer of the West, although it disappears almost completely the further you head inland. But where it exists, it dominates. And not surprisingly, for Goa, after all, was ruled by the Portuguese for five hundred years- about three centuries more than the British could manage- and the Portuguese took Goa very seriously indeed, saturating it with everything that was Portuguese- from religion and architecture to music, food and clothing.
The event that ultimately brought Goa under the rule of the Portuguese occurred in 1498, when Vasco da Gama arrived at Calicut (in modern day Kerala), worn out by the ten-month long voyage round the Cape of Good Hope. Although da Gama didn’t get a warm welcome--the Moors goaded the Zamorin of Calicut against him, and he was literally hounded out of the port, and had to return to Portugal with a few spices and the consolation of having discovered the sea route to India. (It’s a different matter that he actually managed to make a profit of 3,000% on the spices he brought back with him).
Vasco da Gama’s voyage opened the way for his more ambitious compatriots, eager for the wealth- mainly from spices- that India offered. Goa was a tantalising destination, an excellent port that, if captured, could rake in millions. On February 28, 1510, a fleet commanded by Afonso de Albuquerque invaded Goa (more precisely Bijapur), but were driven back within six months by the local armies of the Adil Shahi ruler and the prevailing monsoon winds. They came back- with reinforcements- in November 1510, and this time they stayed.
Goa became the first territorial possession of the Portuguese in Asia, and Velha Goa- today’s Old Goa--was made the capital of the Portuguese empire in the East. It soon acquired a large Eurasian population (a result of intermarriages between the native women and the Portuguese men who’d arrived with Albuquerque) and was granted the same civic privileges as Lisbon. The state’s senate was granted the right to direct communication with the king of Portugal, and Goa Dourada- Golden Goa--became the place to be in.`Quem viu Goa, dispensa de ver Lisboa’--`He who has seen Goa, need not see Lisbon’-- became a popular proverb of the era.
The fifty years between 1575 and 1625 saw Goa reach its peak: splendid mansions, magnificent cathedrals, bazaars overflowing with Portuguese velvet, Chinese porcelain and spices from the islands of the Far East, pearls and coral from Bahrain. Estado da India- the Portuguese empire in India- basked in the limelight.
The good times didn’t last, however: the arrival of the Dutch in the early 17th century brought one disaster after another. Goa was first blockaded by the Dutch, and then hit by an epidemic that wiped out hundreds. Goa didn’t quite recover its splendour after that- and attacks by the Marathas did nothing to bolster the prosperity of the state. However, Goa managed to hang on and remained a bastion of the Portuguese against the rest of British-dominated India.
Anti-Portuguese feeling had already begun to build up in Goa by the 1700s, and the Pinto Revolt in 1787, led by a group of priests supported by a clique of military officers, was a sign of things to come. By the 20th century, Goa was- like the rest of India- pushing to be free of colonial rule. The rest of India became independent in 1947, but Goa continued under Portuguese rule till 1961. The Indian government’s negotiations with Portugal’s Prime Minister, Antonio Salazar, collapsed and India finally resorted to military action. The Indian army entered Goa on December 19, 1961, and Goa was declared part of India.
Goa today is not as magnificent as it once was--but there are memories that endure. In the imposing churches and convents of Velha Goa; the exquisite Menezes Bragança Mansion of Chandor; the lilting tunes played by Goan singers with their guitars and their drums; the flavour of chourisso sausages, the 20,000 or so people estimated to still speak Portuguese. Yes, there’s more than a mere hint of the West here.
Written by phileasfogg on 30 Jul, 2005
We were on our way back from a three-hour trip to the beaches of Baga and Anjuna and the hilltop Chapora Fort.The jaunt had had its ups and downs. The view from Chapora had been splendid; the waves at Baga had been cool; the coconut…Read More
We were on our way back from a three-hour trip to the beaches of Baga and Anjuna and the hilltop Chapora Fort.
The jaunt had had its ups and downs. The view from Chapora had been splendid; the waves at Baga had been cool; the coconut groves had been pretty; and the many miles of bright green rice fields, with threads of gleaming water between them and the sheltering coolness of rain-laden clouds above had been exquisite. On the other hand, the bike we were on--a beat-up vehicle very low on power--had nearly thrown us in a ditch; Anjuna, which we’d visited simply to see the famed flea market, had turned out to be more or less deserted; and by the time we got on to the straight road leading to Calangute, we had sore butts and a craving for something cool and thirst-quenching. We stopped off at a roadside shop to buy ourselves some bottled mango juice, and while we were gulping it down, we noticed something pretty amusing.
The house next door had a flamboyant gate--the gateposts were about five feet high and painted a virulent red, with intricate drawings of dragons picked out in white. What was even more unusual was the fact that both gateposts were topped by two identical statues of large black goats. It was just as I was moving off towards our bike when my husband made an interesting discovery: the goats were alive.But after a while, Goa stops surprising you. You do continue to be amazed by its vivid beauty and by its somewhat not-quite-Indian feel, but soon enough, you start taking all of that in stride. You may just stifle a grin when you see a King of Kings Wholesale Dealer or a Holy Spirit Bar and Restaurant, and you may find something vaguely incongruous about a roadside shrine in which the large white-tiled crucifix has been smothered by garlands of marigolds and has a bunch of incense sticks burning before it. A large roadside statue of a sheep, made out of god along knows what material, but with a strange arrangement of stiff metallic rays giving it a backdrop, may take some while to register as the Lamb of God; but after a few days here, even that won’t surprise you.
In fact, it’s all quite charming.
All of Goa, actually, has a delightfully laid-back and happy air about it. This is a sunny strip of land running down the south-western coast of India, lapped by the waves of the Indian Ocean on one side and flanked by the densely forested hills of the Western Ghats on the other. To the north lies Maharashtra; to the south lies Kerala. And in the middle is Goa. Beaches, Bermudas, bikinis, bars, and bebinca are what Goa is famous for. It’s what thousands of tourists come seeking every winter.
But suntans and seafood aside, Goa has a lot to offer--all you need to do is dig deeper. There are beautiful old cathedrals dating back to the 17th century; typical Portuguese-Konkani houses, with wrought iron or carved wood balconies, terracotta-tiled roofs, and bright blue ornamentation; groves of coconut trees; and pubs, bars, and eateries down every street. It’s all rather crowded during the winter, when both foreigners as well as Indians descend on Goa in sun-seeking hordes, but try coming here in the monsoon.
The monsoon, usually beginning in early July and lasting up to late September, soaks Goa--the state actually receives some 100 inches of rain a year. With its deep red earth, its lush green fields, and its brilliant blue kingfishers (we saw about half a dozen on an average per day), Goa is perfect for a monsoon visit. You may not be able to soak up the sun or go swimming, but this is the best time to get a taste of a state that’s very friendly, incredibly beautiful, and very easy to fall in love with.
River Cruise Goa River Cruise on the Mandovi River is an enjoyable and pleasant experience. The finest way to enjoy your cruise on Mandovi River is to embark on a cruise arranged by a registered agent like Goa Tourism Development Corporation. There are number of…Read More
River Cruise Goa River Cruise on the Mandovi River is an enjoyable and pleasant experience. The finest way to enjoy your cruise on Mandovi River is to embark on a cruise arranged by a registered agent like Goa Tourism Development Corporation. There are number of cruises you can choose from - Daytime, Sunset and Moonlight. River cruise for an hour is best during the evening time. Sailing across the Mandovi River, there is lush greenery on the sides and the rich turquoise-blue water of the river. The cuisine on board has a vast range and offers both drinks and food. Sun Set Cruise and Sun Down Cruise This cruise is a one-hour trip that is fun filled and very entertaining. We took a cruise from 6 to 7 in the evening. You can get to see professional artists perform the traditional dances of Goa like Fugdi and Shigmo. It is a guarantee that you too will want to dance along with the tempting beats of their music, when invited on the dance floor. You can also spot some majestic historical monuments like Reis Magos Church, the Reis Magos Fort, the Aguada Fort and the Cabo Raj Bhavan. Music and DanceA Goan is said to be born with music in his blood and music literally accompanies him from the cradle to the grave. Musical traditions run in whole generations. Flutes to sophisticated tabla and sitar or violin and piano soloist thrilling large audiences in concert halls is a common site. Music is the time seller at all major social events-feasts, festivals, and marriages. Goan folk music has a lively rhythm and the folk-dances elicit emotional content, rhythmic charm, the colorful variety and vitality. Indeed the folk music and folk dances have crossed the borders of the state and become popular in the rest of the country during the past 25 years. Close