Far from the maddening crowd: Goa, India

Tripoto
1st Sep 2013
Photo of Far from the maddening crowd: Goa, India 1/20 by Dev Arbikshe
Vagator Beach
Photo of Far from the maddening crowd: Goa, India 2/20 by Dev Arbikshe
On the way to Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary
Photo of Far from the maddening crowd: Goa, India 3/20 by Dev Arbikshe
St. Lawrence Church near Aguada Fort
Photo of Far from the maddening crowd: Goa, India 4/20 by Dev Arbikshe
A small church on the way to Old Goa
Photo of Far from the maddening crowd: Goa, India 5/20 by Dev Arbikshe
Church of St. Francis of Assisi
Photo of Far from the maddening crowd: Goa, India 6/20 by Dev Arbikshe
Mandovi River
Photo of Far from the maddening crowd: Goa, India 7/20 by Dev Arbikshe
Old Goa
Photo of Far from the maddening crowd: Goa, India 8/20 by Dev Arbikshe
Looking out from St. Francis Church
Photo of Far from the maddening crowd: Goa, India 9/20 by Dev Arbikshe
Inside the St. Francis of Assiss
Photo of Far from the maddening crowd: Goa, India 10/20 by Dev Arbikshe
Church of St. Francis of Assisi
Photo of Far from the maddening crowd: Goa, India 11/20 by Dev Arbikshe
The Chapel of Our Lady of Mount
Photo of Far from the maddening crowd: Goa, India 12/20 by Dev Arbikshe
Basilica of Bom Jesus
Photo of Far from the maddening crowd: Goa, India 13/20 by Dev Arbikshe
Miramar beach
Photo of Far from the maddening crowd: Goa, India 14/20 by Dev Arbikshe
Passing by
Photo of Far from the maddening crowd: Goa, India 15/20 by Dev Arbikshe
Mandovi river bridge
Photo of Far from the maddening crowd: Goa, India 16/20 by Dev Arbikshe
Zuari river
Photo of Far from the maddening crowd: Goa, India 17/20 by Dev Arbikshe
Panaji
Photo of Far from the maddening crowd: Goa, India 18/20 by Dev Arbikshe
Vagator
Photo of Far from the maddening crowd: Goa, India 19/20 by Dev Arbikshe
Miramar
Photo of Far from the maddening crowd: Goa, India 20/20 by Dev Arbikshe
Anjuna

Goa is an anomaly and yet it fits so well in the diverse landscape of India. It is one of the most sought after places for people who seek peace and tranquility as well as the ones who like to let their hair down and have fun. It has different things to offer to different people. I went there to take a break from the rat race of the city and the maddening crowds which are enough to make a person go crazy! Having traveled to and fro from Delhi to Goa several times by train, I decided to take flight this time. Luckily I made a friend on flight who invited me to stay at his place in Goa!

 Initially I was hesitant but I accepted the offer and I am glad that I did. It was a house surrounded by lush green forests and Madei River. His family was very hospitable and I chose to rent a two-wheeler for few days to explore Goa. The public transport is not reliable as after 7 p.m. you are virtually at the mercy of auto rickshaw drivers who charge exorbitantly high amounts.

Goa is amazingly diverse for its size and yet there is a common thread that has an unmistakable stamp of Goan air. The Portuguese architecture is the first thing anyone notices which is strikingly different from the styles found in rest of India. Often painted with sunny yellows and sky-blue colours, the houses in Goa reminds one of a bygone colonial era. You'll hardly believe that 90 minutes away from the peaceful South Goan lush green landscape are the old 16th century Portuguese remnants of the colonial era in form of Basilica of Bom Jesus, where the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier are kept , the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, the Church of Saint Cajetao and Our lady of Rosary Church. 

And an hour away from Old Goa is long stretch of sandy coastline renowned for its multitude of beaches. There's something on offer for everyone, from luxury resorts to makeshift huts, and trance parties to tranquility. 

Want water sports? Head to Baga

Want to hang with the hippies. Try Arambol.

 Prefer isolation? Agonda or Patnem might be the beach for you. 

With so many things to do and see, you'll be spoilt for choice.In my limited stay I chose to visit the places recommended by my Goan friend.

 I went to Vagator beach, Chapora Fort, Aguada Fort, Anjuna beach, Arambol beach , Old Goa, Valpoi,Dona Paula and explored the small but vibrant market of Panaji and of course the The Baroque Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church located in the heart of Goa. I was lucky to have a Goan friend guiding me to explore the places guides don't tell you to visit. Everyone rushes to beaches and has a stereotypical image of Goa in their minds. But it is a native dweller of a place that knows the special places apart from the usual attractions where everyone goes invariably.

Such places are not always necessarily grand forts or beaches but the seemingly plain abandoned streets between the houses built at the tip of Arabian Sea or a strangely isolated place besides the ocean where only a handful of houses surround the area covered on three sides by the sea. Such a place is located nearby Panaji, a town named Penha de Franca in Bardez near Alto Porvorim. It is such places where one can witness "Houses of Goa", a unique museum by reputed architect Gerard da Cunha, which encapsulates for posterity the phenomenal outcome of the amalgamation of eastern and western architectural styles. 

Few kilometers away is Aguada fort and en-route to the fort, one comes across the church of St. Lawrence, the saint of the sailors where you would start believing in the idea of heaven as a place, as you stand on top of the hill staring at the Arabian sea where water shimmers like pearls when sunlight hits the surface of water.

I took out some time to visit the Bondla wildlife sanctuary and Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary too. It was a chance to see the other facet of Goa. Away from the beaches, it was a treat to witness the splendid beauty of Mother Nature.

Goa is much more than just beaches and sea. It has a soul, which goes deep into unique history, rich culture and some of the prettiest natural scenery that India has to offer. Give yourself a chance to explore the real Goa that lies in its interiors, both inside its buildings and in the hinterland away from the coastal area. A word of caution: not every one you come across will be friendly.

I stayed at a friend's place in Valpoi, Goa. Surrounded by lush green forests and a river, it is literally a place out of the Jataka tales fairy land. I like the place for it's nonchalant vibe. This place does not figures in the 'to go' list of tourists but if you love nature and want to witness flourishing and untarnished natural beauty , you must visit this place . Th best way is to hire a scooty and just drive through the surroundings. There are some corners and twists and turns inside which lie hidden and are no less than a hidden wonderland in terms of peace and beauty they offer!

Photo of Valpoi, Goa, India by Dev Arbikshe

Panjim is the largest city in North Goa. It lies on the banks of Mandovi river. It has terraced hills, concrete buildings with balconies and red-tiled roofs, churches, and a riverside promenade. There are avenues lined with gulmohar, acacia and other trees. The Baroque Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church is located overlooking the main square known as Praça da Igreja. Colourful villas, cobbled streets and interesting buildings give Panaji a Portuguese ambiance.

Photo of Panaji, Goa, India by Dev Arbikshe

Visit Church of St. Francis of Assisi and the Basilica of Bom Jesus and get transported into 16th century. It is a historical city constructed by the Bijapur Sultanate in the 15th century, and served as capital of Portuguese India from the 16th century until its abandonment in the 18th century due to a plague. It is said to have once been a city of nearly 200,000 where from, before the plague, the Portuguese traded across continents. The remains of the city are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Old Goa is approximately 10 kilometers east of the state capital Panjim.

Photo of Basilica of Bom Jesus, Old Goa Road, Bainguinim, Goa, India by Dev Arbikshe

A beautiful beach where hippies can be easily spotted but the local flea market is over hyped. There isn't much worth buying . But make no mistake, the place is heavenly. It has cleaner water compared to other beaches and plenty of restaurants around to have food, mainly sea food. If you do not like sea food, good luck finding something else worth eating!

Photo of Anjuna Beach, Bardez, Goa, India by Dev Arbikshe

A beautiful and clean beach. There are hardly any shops here but maybe that is why it is so beautiful and uncorrupted. The Chapora Fort located on the hill located adjacent to the beach offers breathtaking view.

Photo of Chapora Fort, Chapora Fort Road, Chapora, Goa, India by Dev Arbikshe