GOA – The Melting Pot Of Indian & Portuguese Culture

Howdy ! I have been away for quite a long from the cyberspace. In fact this time I don’t have any acceptable excuse to give. To be honest, beginning something and maintaining it are two completely opposite sides of the same coin.

I have been super busy with exams, projects and school functions. Have also been polishing my knowledge of world history – Hellenistic Age, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic empires – too interesting !! I won’t be understating if I say I find myself inclining towards history more than science ( this won’t go down well with mum 😉 )

So not very long ago, my Sunday morning musings were interrupted by a heated discussion on where should we be heading to in the short October holidays. After vigorous debate between a trip to Bhutan or a sojourn at the beaches of Goa, we decided to explore our country first.

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JW Mariott set on the edge of Miramar beach in Goa
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View of Mandovi river from the hotel room

 

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Take a boat tour for picturesque view of Mandovi river and Arabian sea

Who said foreign invasions only brought misery to India? The land of sun, sand, surfers, shells, starfish, forts, churches, casinos, carefree locals and much more, Goa has managed to retain the colonial – era glory till date. It might be the smallest state of India but is one of the most offering places.

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Colonial architecture in Goa’s Latin Quarter – Fontainhas

After landing in Goa it took us about an hour and half from the Dabolim Airport to our hotel. Once you reach your destination, you can move around by the local buses, tuk tuks, taxi or on foot. You can even rent a car and bike and also enjoy doorstep delivery but remember helmets are mandatory.

Named after the Baga creek, the Baga beach is Goa’s wildest strip. Located along the coast between Calangute and Anjuna, Baga was once a sleepy fishing village until the arrival of the hippies in the 1960s. The main road that leads to the beach is filled with popular bars, open nightclubs, tattoo parlors and shops. It is flocked by Indians and foreign tourists any time of the day.

It’s buzzing vibe attracted my family so much so that we ended up spending five out of seven evenings there. Luckily for me, my parents had no place to dump me so they took me along. In the absence of company I gobbled up food at the shacks, read books and soaked in the atmosphere. Popular shacks are Britto’s, Old Bombay, Relish and Meiphung. My folks don’t get bored doing the same thing again and again but if that’s not the case with you, visit the nearby Calangute and Candolim beaches too 😉

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Zip through the waters at Baga beach but of course with your instructor
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Day time view of Baga beach
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My dad bitten by the Corona bug on Baga beach

Goa is also popular for its forts. During our time there we visited the ruins of Chapora fort in the north of Goa. It is around 20 kms away from Panaji. Overlooking the Vagator beach, Adil Shah built the ‘Shahpura’ fort which later changed into ‘Chapora’. The fort got immense popularity in the Hindi film Dil Chahta Hai and is a famous tourist attraction with hundreds of visitors everyday. Though now only a ruin, it has numerous ‘wow’ corners for photography !

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Chapora fort in North Goa
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View of Vagator beach from Chapora fort

Lying on the banks of river Mandovi on Sinquerim beach, Fort Aguada is a fort and a lighthouse built in 1612 to guard from Dutch and Maratha invasion. Aguada means  “Watering Place”. A freshwater spring within the fort used to provide water to the ships that used to stop by, hence the name. It is well preserved and a famous tourist attraction in Goa. During the Portuguese reign, Aguada was the most prized and crucial fort.

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Aguada Fort, Goa

Another must visit destination is Basilica of Bom Jesus (or Basilica of infant Jesus). Located in Old Goa, along the Mandovi river, this church with beautiful baroque architecture is one of the most popular and revered churches in the world.

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Basilica of Bom Jesus, Oldest church in Goa
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Basilica of Bom Jesus, Panjim
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Main Altar at the Basilica

It has the body of St.Francis Xavier who along with his friend found the society of Jesus. Believe it or not, his embalmed body still lies in an airtight glass coffin and till date it has been found to be as fresh as the day it was buried although a few of his body parts have been sent to churches of other countries !! At the time I write this, his body is 468 years old and is visited by millions of devout every single day. Once in every ten years the coffin is brought down so that tourists can catch a glimpse of him. Outside the church there are shops from which one can buy souvenirs.

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St. Francis Xavier mortal remains in the Basilica

Anjuna flea market is a common tourist attraction. It is held on Wednesdays from 9am to 6pm. A shopping paradise, where they have on offer everything from exquisite jewellery to beautiful clothes, from spices, delicious waffles to chilled beverages, from  amazing handicrafts to luxurious hammocks. Or if you are not much of a shopper you can cool yourself at this market by sitting and letting music flood around you.

If you want to indulge in shopping you can always drop into the Tibetan Market. It lies next to the Calangute Circle. Find there stunning jewellery, jaw-dropping statues of Buddha or Shiva, singing bowls, semi-precious stones at mind blowing rates. As for night markets you can visit Arpora that has two night markets which were unfortunately closed during my stay. When in Arpora you can check out The Flame Store where German designer Martino Caramia makes simple cotton look like a million bucks.

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One of the shops in Anjuna Flea Market

Though lot more to say I will save that for the next post 😉 So let your hair soak in the susegad vibe while you discover all that Goa has to offer.

 

 

Note :

To travel between North Goa an South Goa its best to rent a cab since there are bridges and other projects underway.

In case of emergencies : Goa Police : 100  /  Goa Police Women’s Helpline : 1091 /

Ambulance: 108/102.

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