Stretches of silver sand and white surf beaches, the azure Arabian Sea, the reveling of late nights over feni, the taverns, the green covers and coconut trees… Goa is truly, a destination of many wonders.
Don’t we all love that tingling feeling as we dig our toes deep into the sand? Within some restless souls lives a quiet person who would love to spend hours looking at the horizon, watching the sun sink into the calm sea. There are also those who would gladly let loose, sprint along the coast line and become one with the pulse of the city. Goa is one place that promises both and perhaps even more.
The charm of Goa is that it remains distinct from all the other Indian states. Although it is the smallest state in the country, it has a magnetic appeal which attracts wanderers and curious souls to explore the state’s myriad wonders. One can reach Goa by train, flight or road. Arriving in Goa is like arriving in a different country altogether – the beautiful Portuguese churches, beaches and swaying palm trees seem more than welcoming. The Goa airport, although small, seems like a little fish market – the jostling crowd waiting for their luggage, the managers and workers and a crowd of over enthusiastic cab drivers calling out to the tourists. However, the moment one steps out in the open sun, the entire area is nothing less than a visual delight. In terms of railways, one can de board from either Madgaon or Vasco-da-gama, depending on which part of Goa you would like to visit – north or south.
South Goa is essentially the ‘touristy’ part of Goa. The entire city looks like a still from a period film. Not only does Goa have many spots, ruins and locations from the European colonisation time, it even displays a fair amount socio-political progressiveness. It becomes evident through casual conversations and exchange of pleasantries that the locals are a rather progressive lot. Although majority of the state follows Christianity, other religions coexist peacefully too. Some of the most popular churches in South Goa are Basilica of Bom Jesus, Se Cathedral, Church of St. Francis of Assissi, St. Cajetan Church, and Ruins of Church of St Augustine. All these churches are located in Old Goa, 10 kms east of Panaji. If you happen to be a photographer or just someone who likes to instill memories in your mind, visiting these marvelous architectures is a must. Another interesting must visit site is the Aguada Fort, 18 kms from Panaji. Not only is it a mysteriously attractive ruin dilapidated from the outside, it even houses the central jail.
Along the western coast of India are many beautiful beaches that are a permanent bookmark in the diaries of many travelers. Among the many popular beaches in South Goa is the Morjim beach. The swish of the waters and the Chapora River promise a bountiful catch of choice fish and coconuts as well as beautiful vistas for many travelers. Similarly, the Miramar beach has the most picturesque views and the dense canopy of palm trees provide enough shade and a quiet recluse to any person. The entire beach is lined with make shift shops and shacks where a number of curios, food and local brews enchant one and all.
For those who like to live it up, the buzzing spirit of the city can be witnessed in North Goa. Many cheap accommodations are available for those who like to travel light and take in more. Bikes, cars and jeeps can be hired by those who like to follow their own itinerary. Among the most happenings beaches in the city is Vagator. The rocky beach is crystal clear and many tourists without a shadow of misgivings jump into the clear blue waters for a long satisfying swim. The popular and crowded ‘family beach’, Baga, is lined with shacks selling all kinds of cuisines and a breathtaking view. Most markets, hotels and bedand-breakfast places are walking distance from here. The Calangute and Anjuna beach are known for their night flea markets and this fascinating and crowded place gives one the true ‘feel’ of the city. North Goa also has India’s most well known night clubs. Club Cabana, popularly known as the club in the sky, is one of the best clubs in India. A vast expanse of property, the club is known for its great music, food and ambience. Another popular and frequently visited place to party is Curlies at Anjuna beach. A place without any cover charge, the shack has a little something for everyone. A foosball table, a little bar, and beach beds lay outside the shack, Curlies is a great place to spend your evening dancing, relaxing or playing some table games. The Titos lane at Baga is almost like a one stop solution for the nocturnal beings. The entire lane is lined with pubs, bars and small clubs to keep the crowd of the city engaged.
Clubs, beaches and shacks aside, the one most popular feature of the state is its food. Seafood, coconut milk, rice and local spices are well known and liked. Prawn Hoonam, Harem Mas and marinated Goan sausages are the highlights of this region. While the meat, pork and beef dishes are great here, the prawn and fish curries or the lobster are lip smacking delicacies.
The beautiful state of Goa is not just a beach haven. The history of the place is as colouful as the land, and the food and ambience assure each tourist a memorable and satisfying long holiday.