I have a childhood connect with Goa. It happens to be my first-holiday destination. With not much that I remember about it, I only know that my parents had hit its beaches in the year when I had turned five. There is one not-to-be-forgotten story too where my Mom tells me that I had cried a lot over my favorite red cap. In all my excitement to play with the waves, I had dropped it somewhere on the beach and the waves had pulled it away into the ocean.
After twenty years when I was 25, I finally went back to Goa to explore it my way. It was one happy trip. In the last three years, I have visited Goa every year. Rather, in the year 2015, different blogging assignments took me to Goa thrice and I lived in different parts of it. Despite getting the privilege to return to its different fragrances and delights, I repeated my ways of exploring it. In fact, there was nothing wrong about it too, but my most recent trip to Goa has made me realize that I was not doing it right either.
Goa is beyond Sun, Sand, Seafood and Sensuousness
There is something absolutely sensuous about Goa. This little piece of paradise in India is known for its positive vibes, palpable energy, and liveliness. I love it when the sea breeze serenades me and its gorgeous sandy seashores spoil the kid in me. In fact, I have always loved and admired Goa for its beaches, partying, bumming, nightlife and endless frenzy that clocks on all year round. But this time when I visited Goa, I did not indulge in any of the above rather I was guided through it uniquely. I was made to read about it, interact with the right people and walk down its old and famous lanes only to discover it differently. And since then I have not stopped….
Here are some of the unique facets of Goa.
- On the banks of River Mandovi, the capital city Panaji or Panchim has a charming confluence of art and history. It is fun to lose yourself in its Portuguese ambiance and culture. I loved exploring the 18th June Road, Miramar Beach, Kala Academy which hosts the International Film Festival of India every year. Hanuman Mandir at Malā on the hill top (Altinho) is also quite an attraction of the little city.
- Walk down the Latin Quarter of Panjim, Fontainhas to explore the old and colonial styled houses, charming-colorful streets and pretty gardens which fondly take us back to the 16th Century. These alleys are a treat for the lovers of architecture, heritage, history and culture. The distinct Portuguese architectural styles are very eye-catching and give us a peep into Goa’s beautiful past. Tourists love to stay in the heritage hotels and homestays in this area. The street also leads to St Sebastian chapel. And next time when you are there, you must find your way to the tunnels of the area.
- When I got a chance to attend the celebrations of Tripurari Poornima in November, I was really curious to find out more about the local festivals of the state. There is a long list of popular fairs and festivals celebrated in Goa. Three Kings Feast, Shigmo (Shigmotsav), Sao Joao Festival, Carnival, Bonderam are as interesting as their names.
- Like all cities, Goa has a cultural past too. Big Foot Museum is a beautiful concept to learn about the Goan ways of living. There is a mini-Goa inside it and the statues are super attractive. The information provided at every step helps us to peek into Goa’s past. The light and sound keeps us thoroughly entertained and children love this place. It is also home to the largest laterite sculpture of Mirabai.
- Buckle up to take the helicopter ride. Pawan Hans pilot take you for a 10-minute joy ride over the southern coastline of Goa. Fly and take a bird eye view over the beaches of Arossim, Majorda, Betalbatim, Colva, Benaulim and Varca. I am yet to take this experience in Goa but I thoroughly loved my first helicopter ride in Jammu.
- Miramar beach is one of the many beaches located in Panjim. It is quiet and peaceful. If you choose to stay at Miramar Residency, this beach is only 3 mins walk from the residency. 5 kilometers away from Miramar Beach, there is another not very famous Vainguinim Beach. Cidade de goa is built here to resemble a Portuguese style hamlet with Mediterranean influences.
- The Spice Trail at Sahakari Spice Farm is a great way to learn about the importance of spices. We often ignore the benefits of spices in food but this place helps to see through their importance. I thoroughly enjoyed the organic food which is made from their garden vegetables and species.
- Not many of us know that Goa has old structures from 12th century as well. It has a Brahma temple too. One must explore Ponda taluka to discover some of the most popular temples. The Mangueshi temple was built in 1744. Naguesh Temple is dedicated to Shiva and Shree Shantadurga temple at Kavlem has lovely red sloping roofs.
- 420 species of birds maximize the chances of having an amazing bird watching experience in Goa. The state hosted its first bird festival from 11 to 13 November. Southern Goa is home to some of the rarest of bird species. Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary, Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary, Cotigao and Dr. Salim Ali Sanctuary are some of the must do places for the love of avifauna.
The scenery is gorgeous in Goa but one must go beyond the usual and explore the variety.