Goa, the smallest state of India is a big giant when it comes to tourism. Goa is famous of its pristine beaches and old churches. People from far off lands come to enjoy the 365 day vacation life in Goa.
From the famed Aguada Fort to the blue beaches, Goa has lot of attractive spots for everyone. In this tourist friendly state, the best way to travel is by hiring a motorbike or scooter and explore at will. A trip to Goa can be divided into North Goa, South Goa and the Old Goa.
Old Goa: Consists of some imposing churches and cathedrals, which are amongst the largest in Asia. Many of the buildings are now museums and present information about history of Goa. One of the important spot here is the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi.
Near to it is the Basilica of Bom Jesus, where the preserved remains of the body of Saint Frances Xavier are kept. The body is kept for public view every 10 years, last one being happened in 2015. Old Goa is around 12 km. from Panjim.
Various old Hindu temples are also in south goa. Some Funstays near calm beaches of south goa are really nice to spend quality time in peace.
North Goa: Heaven for those who seek to rejuvenate lazily on the beachside. Listing out the beaches for an oceanly experience...
1. Calangute Beach - Big and crowded beach, visited by thousands of travellers. Popular for water sports.
2. Candolim Beach - Nice beach with shacks available there. Have a dip and relax at shacks.
3. Vagator Beach - Its one of the cleanest beaches, with very fine sand, in Goa. Not a crowded beach.
4. Anjuna Beach - Small but Quite popular beach, particularly for night parties at beach or trance parties.
5. Bagha Beach - One of the main attractions of Goa. Shacks, market for shopping, Beach side restaurants like Sam's Shack, popular clubs like Tito's - all you get at Bagha. Must visit place. Good to have your hotel/cottage at Bagha while you cover the belt of beaches in north Goa. Check out Sam's Shack...
6. Aguada Fort is a historical site near Candolim beach - Fort Aguada and its lighthouse is a well-preserved 17th century Portuguese artefact standing in Goa.
South Goa: South Goa is around 80 km. from Panjim City and promises a beautiful, topsy & turvy road journey. South Goa is a destination for those looking for beauty and calmness at the same place.
1. While you depart from North Goa, spend the evening in Panjim City, where you can explore the city streets, which will make you feel in Portuguese Era, enjoy ferry ride and old churches
2. The church of our Lady of the Immaculate Conception: Built in the year 1541, this over 450 years old church is one of the much visited landmarks in Panjim. This church has featured in many of the Indian movies.
3. Dona Paula Beach - One of the best beaches in Goa for water sports like windsurfing, water skiing, para sailing, motor boat rides and also several organised water sports facilities are on offer in Dona Paula.
The lively Dona Paula beach has a tragic history attached to it. Dona Paula was the daughter of Portugese Viceroy who falls into love with a local Goa boy. However upset and shattered by the refusal of his father to meet her lover, she threw herself into the Arabian Sea off the cliff. In memory of his daughter the beach was named as Dona Paula beach.
4. Popular beaches are Colva, Benaulim, Majorda (water sports like jet skiing and banana ride), Varca Beach (calm ambience and serene atmosphere, perfect place to loosen up and sunbathe).
5. Palolem Beach - You can rent a beachside room here. The northern end of the beach is shallow and the depth increases gradually. In the film Bourne Supremacy, the protagonist Matt Damon’s home was here. This beach is quite popular for rave parties.
6. Betalbatim Beach - Golden sands blend well with the swaying coconut palms on the fringes. The beach is famous for Dolphin Spotting
There is much more to Goa other than the beaches. Travel to Goa during the monsoon from June to September and see the flourishing nature, the rain brings refreshment and romance to the land of Goa.
Spice Plantations: Apart from beaches and churches one can also opt for guided tours for Spice Plantation visits in Goa. Farms are open to visitors, who can enjoy picturesque farms and also spicy lunch.
If you do not like Spice too much, you can opt for cashew plantation visit, which are cultivated extensively in Goa.
Dudhsagar Waterfalls: Sea of Milk is a beautiful waterfall located on the Mandovi River at border of Goa, 75 km. from Panjim. Gushing splendour of Dudhsagar falls make it a popular spot for nature lovers and adventure seekers. In rainy seasons Dudhsagar falls is really strong with plenty of water making the passengers of passing by train completely wet.
Crocodiles watching at Cumbharjua: Boat ride from Cortalim jetty will take you to Cumbharjua canals for experiencing the crocodiles in their natural habitat.
Goa is located along the Western Ghats, which are amongst the "hottest hot-spots" of biological diversity in the world. So wildlife and birds also prefer Goa as their natural habitat. The wild life sanctuaries are open all year round in Goa, however October to March are the best months to visit. Major sanctuaries being Bhagwan Mahvir and Cotigao Sanctuary. One can enjoy the sanctuaries on elephant safari too...
If only we did not have a stomach which tends to get hungry too often, we could have continued exploring places to visit in Goa without any break. No worries Goa is also a foodie delight place, as there are numerous eating options at the beaches as well as the city side. Goan food is a seamless blend of Portugese and Indian flavours which is a hot favourite for the tourists, let’s try the flavours:
• Fish Curry and Prawn Curry prepared in coconut milk based Goan curry.
• Other delicacies include pomfret, shark, tuna, and mackerel. And among the shellfish are crabs, prawns, tiger prawns, lobster, squid, and mussels.
• Locally prepared Rava friend fish, chicken sausages, beef rolls and Chiken Cafreal which is cooked from roasting coriander, lime, green chilies, peppercorns, and mint.
• Bebinca Sweet: Cake prepared from egg, coconut milk, sugar and ghee. Preparation takes a long time as next layer is added after the cooking and roasting the first layer. Most popular dish in Goa, enjoy hot or cold as per your preference.
• Local alcoholic drink Feni, prepared from coconut and cashew. The one prepared from cashew is more popular.
Other than these Goa also presents delicious variety for vegetarian food like Bhaji, Malabar Paranthas etc. as well so that you can travel around places to visit in Goa and keep on enjoying the food as well. Keep on travelling and keep on exploring places as well as the culinary delicacies in Goa.
Contributed by Gaurav Verma...
PICTURE CREDIT GOES TO ORIGINAL ARTIST