Fun things to do holidaying in Goa
Well, it’s round 2 of the holiday season. And with New Year’s around the corner, Goa suddenly becomes the perfect place to be. Well, with the tourism boom, and tour guides looking to innovate, no part of the state has been left unexplored. But if you’re one of those who would rather enjoy the charms of seclusion and people-less places, then a few tips below might help make your stay in Goa a bit worthwhile.
Visit Butterfly beach…
If you’ve visited all the popular beaches like Baga, Calangute and Candolim, then you’ve seen such big crowds, you might’ve prayed for a tsunami! While the popular beaches are mostly north, Butterfly beach is far from these. Take a bus or hire a car down south Goa, to Palolem. Find accommodation there itself as Palolem is more than an hour and a half’s drive from North Goa and that can easily take two hours during peak season. From Palolem beach, hire a boat that will ferry you to butterfly beach and back. Make sure you let your boatman know how long you plan on staying there and so you can fix a fare accordingly. When negotiating a fare, do bargain as Goans love a worthwhile haggle. With almost no access by land, this beach remains secluded, far from any form of commercial or touristic development. Take water, food and whatever else you need to as there are no commercial establishments on this beach. If there’s absolutely no one else in sight on the beach, then there’s a famous cocktail that comes to mind, you might want to try out.
Goa has an overpowering coastline, with lovely pristine beaches and scenic views from almost everywhere. But one forgets of the rich forest reserves that stretch the length of the state. One of those is the Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary, and far within it – The Dudhsagar falls. With a height of 306 meters and width of 30 meters, this one is amongst India’s longest waterfalls. A 4 tiered waterfall, this one lives upto its name and looks much like milk being poured down a mountain.
Getting here might be a bit difficult though. Make sure you’re physically fit as it will involve a bit of a trek. Get hold of a private tour operator (you’ll find many of these all over north Goa, and in the main city side as well, or ask your hotel concierge for one). They’ll arrange a jeep and guide you through where you need to be picked up. Alternatively, a train from Madgaon station only takes one to a certain point (Sonalium railway station). A walk on the track might seem like the fastest way from there on. Not recommended alone. So play it safe. Follow instructions from a locally hired tour operator. The best time to pull this off would be June to September, during the monsoons.
If you’re generally a person with patience, then fishing might be your thing. With 2 rivers the Zuari and Mandovi flowing through Goa, there’s an abundance of water bodies all over Goa, creating several fishing spots. During tidal movements, the Baga bridge at Baga beach has never failed to disappoint, if you could make do with catfish. The Mandovi river that flows alongside Panjim too has several spots to offer. Apart from this Old Goa along the Ribandar road has many fishing spots and a few defunct jetties where one could sit back and relax at. Carry your own rod, reel, lines and bait. You won’t find any rentals easily.
Visit Divar Island…
If you’ve visited the famous churches namely The Basilica and done with the religious tour, then a mere 5 minute walk from there leads you to the Old Goa Ferry point. Hop on to the ferry (there’s one every 10 minutes), that takes you to Diwar Island (5 minute ride). Make sure you have a car with a driver for this one as you would need to take the car on the ferry. Driving your car up the ramp of the ferry and reversing out would require a little driver’s skill. Here, you’ll see no tourists.
This is one part of Goa that has remained true to the Goan way of life as popularly known. With old Portuguese homes all over, most of them being well maintained architectural structures from the 1940s, there’s also the sight of stone walls, bright red mud and the occasional touch me not (mimosa pudica) plants you might come across. This place is full of Old Goa charm. All you need is less than an hour to take a quick but pleasant drive around this island.
Have a goan thali
While you might spend your time at restaurants by the sea, take time out for at least one lunch in the city side. Ask around and you’ll find plenty of lunch homes around Panjim and Mapusa markets. Kamlabai at Mapusa, Starlight at Arpora are the more popular ones. But as mentioned the inner markets of Panjim and Mapusa will have plenty more. Order a fish thali. There’s usually one fried fish, one curried fish dish, a dry fish dish, fish pickle, salad, kokum kadhi and rice. Go for rice. The red goan curry is best had with rice, (thick boiled rice to be specific). While the fried fish may be pre fixed according to a day wise schedule, if offered a choice of fried fish, go for mackerel, known as Bangda. Usually it’s the whole fish fried in red masala called reshad masala. Politely request for a big piece.
Try the local Feni
If you enjoy experimenting with exotic drinks, give this one a shot, literally. And then try one with lemonade and a pinch of sugar. Goans take great pride in their Feni, made from either coconut or cashew. Cashew can be stronger than coconut, so choose accordingly. Your bartender could suggest some interesting Feni cocktails. Order a plate of Goa sausage fry. This will go well with Feni.
Youth Writer, Mumbai
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