An Offbeat Guide to Goa

31st Dec 2013
Photo of An Offbeat Guide to Goa 1/5 by Mitali Chakraborty
Photo of An Offbeat Guide to Goa 2/5 by Mitali Chakraborty
Photo of An Offbeat Guide to Goa 3/5 by Mitali Chakraborty
Photo of An Offbeat Guide to Goa 4/5 by Mitali Chakraborty
Photo of An Offbeat Guide to Goa 5/5 by Mitali Chakraborty

We all are familiar with the popularity of Goa as a tourist hub. It is a destination on the wish list of every Indian traveler and a foreign tourist alike. However, when people come to Goa, they restrict their travel itineraries to the selective commercialized beaches, popular churches, hotels and whatever the organized tours provide. There is so much to Goa beyond that. And, that’s why I decided to undertake a journey to “offbeat” Goa and I was not left disappointed.

On 31st December, I took a flight from Indira Gandhi International Airport and landed at Goa Airport in approximately 4 hours. I had already pre-booked a private taxi for the duration of my stay. The taxi cost me around Rs 7000 for a duration of 5 days. Taking that taxi, I went to my friend's place at Porvorim South Goa. That very evening itself, I set off for the Arambol beach in north Goa. The entire journey took an hour. The entire evening was spent there amidst an ambience of a mild sea breeze, and amazing local food that the many shacks on the beach provide. The next day, I set off to explore the flea market at Anjuna beach. It took me 30 minutes to reach the beach from Porvorim. I spent the entire day as a frantic shopaholic haggling with vendors, and enticing myself with delicious local cuisine at the beach shacks.

The next two days were lined up to invigorate an adrenaline rush. The third day was spent going Karting in both tracks of north and south Goa. On the fourth day I set off to Trasi, which is a five-hour train journey. After reaching Pigeon Island, I opted for the diving course module for novices and prepared to experience the underwater world. The last day on my itinerary was kept for relaxing and enjoying great food. For this experience I chose Kudos, which provided a completely innovative menu with delicious food. On the 5th, having covered the tracks of my idea of Goa "offbeat", I ventured back to my humdrum Delhi life.

Arambol (also known as Harmal) gained prominence in the 1960s. Being a non-commercialized beach, one can look forward to peace and serenity here in the lap of nature without the mayhem of uncountable tourists. There is affordable accommodation here in the little huts near the cliff side. This is also a favorite hangout place for the hippies, which makes us encounter a completely offbeat and rare culture. Being thronged by fewer tourists does not mean that this beach is in any way inferior to the commercialized ones. There are shopping opportunities provided by numerous stalls that operate around the clock and occupy the entire stretch of the beach road. All in all, Arambol provides the traveler both the serenity to soak in the extravagance of a pristine beach along with all the facilities like accommodation, food and shopping.

Photo of Arambol Beach, Arambol, Goa, India by Mitali Chakraborty

The flea market at Anjuna beach is a shopping experience that should not be missed. Occupying the south of Anjuna beach, the market is held every Wednesday starting from 11 am catering to all the needs of Shopaholics. From clothing items to jewelry to souvenirs you just name it. It's all on offer. The best part is the great deals that the skilled haggling shoppers get. What started as an enterprise by hippies to sell their native products to garner enough money to buy a ticket home has now turned into a commercial venture. The vendors at the present date are both expats and natives seen belonging to a diverse section of India, some even coming from neighboring countries like Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh trying to sell the tourists the essence of their native lands. It takes hours for tourists to venture this flea market. The numerous restaurants and shacks on the beach providing a relaxing spot as well as enticing the tourists gastronomically further make the shopping experience delightful.

Photo of Anjuna Flea Market, Montero Waddo, Anjuna, Goa, India by Mitali Chakraborty

If you are an adrenaline junkie and love fast driving, then Karting is one thing not to be missed. Goa has two Karting tracks. One is in Arpora, North Goa and the other is in Nuvem-Salcette, South Goa. The track in Arpora is around 340 meters in length and it has a lot of U shaped turns and narrow stretches. This track is open from Tuesday To Sunday From 04:00 PM To 10:00 PM. Located very close to Verna, the track in Nuvem is situated at the top of the hill which couples the adrenaline rush from this adventure with a splendid panoramic view of Goan hillside nature. The length of the track is around 550 meters approximately. This track has enough curves to provide the adrenaline rush to the racing enthusiasts. The JK Tyre National Go-Karting Championship is also held in this track. The best part is that the cost for 10 laps is between 120 Rs to 200 Rs which makes it very easy on the budget.

Photo of GoKarting, Aguada - Siolim Road, Arpora, Goa, India by Mitali Chakraborty

A journey is always incomplete without an amazing food experience. Kudos is one such place that promises that gastronomical extravagance. The best part of eating at Kudos is that it does not provide a ‘run of the mill’ food experience. Dishes like Pina coco grilled pineapple slices in Malibu cream sauce, Prawn Balchao and Dessert Martinis render a highly innovative menu and are delicious at the same time. The ambience is elegant and urbane with comfortable seating. The range of wood oven pizzas and sizzlers are also very popular. And, to add to the list of plus points about this place, the prices are also not exorbitant. Again, all in all one gets value for money with great food.

Photo of Kudos, Goa by Mitali Chakraborty

What’s the best way of experiencing the beauty of the sea? While many tourists flock Goa to experience this beauty through beaches. In my opinion, diving is the best way to get acquainted with the sea. Goa diving provides a range of dives to suit novices and professionals alike. Situated at a five-hour train journey to further south of Goa at a place called Trasi in coastal Karnataka. The place, apart from providing diving opportunities, is also equipped with basic, but quality accommodation. This beach is also known for sea turtles, which hatch during October and March. Local dives start at ₹2000 for a one-tank dive; five dives plus transfers and one night’s accommodation near Pigeon Island comes to₹15,000. An introductory dive costs ₹3000, an advanced course costs ₹13,000 and an open-water course costs ₹18,000.

Photo of Pigeon Island, Karnataka, India by Mitali Chakraborty

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