When I tell my friends that I visit Goa every alternate year or so, they look at me in what I think is a mix of disbelief and awe. Awe – for the obvious reason and disbelief mainly because when it comes to having ‘Goa-type fun’, I am a 2 point someone on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the most fun)
It is a popular belief that Goa has nothing to offer to a Vegan (in transition) Introvert. Having visited Goa over a dozen times in my life so far, I beg to differ. I have enjoyed my visits to this place as much as any extrovert, travel freak or party animal.
So, sitting under this magnificent bell tower (Featured Image) in the mesmerizingly beautiful Mangeshi temple (Yes, there are temples in Goa) on my last day here, I write this blog, hoping to break the myth and encourage people of my breed to explore the less known parts of this beautiful state.
All my visits here so far have been with my family (shocker!). We generally spend our first-day visiting temples around this place. There are about five temples in Margoa region of South Goa that can be covered in half a day or so. For most Konkanis like me, one of these temples happens to be the Kuladevata temple. The perks of this being rooms and good vegetarian food at reasonable prices which in a place like Goa is a rare thing. Apart from that, these temples have a rich culture and hundreds of years of history dating back to as far as the year 1500. You can read more about this here.
The temple is engulfed from all sides by tall trees, lush greenery and backdrop of tall mountains. If you happen to wake up during the early hours of the morning, you will be able to see the sunrise right there from your room. Imagine waking up to this every morning.
When you spend most of your year listening to the hustle and bustle of the city, go to sleep listening to the honking of the vehicles outside your apartment and wake up startled by the alarm clock, spending the first day of your vacation in a serene environment like this does not seem like a bad idea. The booze, beaches and hangovers can wait.
The flea market outside the Mangeshi temple is one of my favourite spots to hang out in the evenings just before the sunset. Mangeshi –priol like most places in old Goa goes to sleep a little after the sunset and wakes up several hours after sunrise. This lazy town thus sets the perfect mood for a vacation.
As I write this, I have looked at the sky subconsciously a couple of times. It is not every day that I get to see a starry sky with no signs of concrete towers for miles together.
Moving forward, 2018 to me was a year of waterfalls – the year started with a trip to Coorg (Abbey falls), followed by Shivanasamudra falls sometime near monsoon and finally, the mighty Jog falls. Needless to say, I wanted to end the year in the same spirit, making Dudhsagar my stop for day two.
Although December is not an ideal time to witness the mighty falls, it played out just right for me. With the flow being timid and the sun not it’s otherwise scorching self, both the long walk towards the base of the waterfalls and the dip in the cool water afterwards were safe and enjoyable. Not to forget, the bumpy jeep ride through the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wild Life Sanctuary was just as adventurous.
My second stop of day two was a less known Mahadev temple (Yes, temple again) at Tambdi Surla on my way back from Dudhsagar. If you are a fan of national heritage sites and ancient Indian architecture this is a must visit place for you.
Mahadev Temple, Tambdi Surla
My days here usually end with a scrumptious home cooked dinner at the nearby Mahalasa temple. This temple is about a km away from where I stay and the walk to and fro is something I look forward to. With trees on both sides of the road, breeze wafting across your face, a silence that helps me listen to my thoughts and peace that helps me declutter my mind. For once the last thing I look at before falling asleep is not a blue screen.
The third and final day here started with a long drive to a place called Ribander, around 25 km from Mangeshi. From here we took the ferry to reach the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary. It was not a grand experience, to say the least. Our timing was not right and we did not see any exquisite or near extinct bird species. Nonetheless, the walk through the jungle and the ferry ride was worth the shot.
On our way back we stopped by to spend a few minutes at the Carambolim Lake, the serenity of which during the early hours in the morning is beyond words. This place is known to attract birds from places far and near. We made a quick stop after this to the Church of St. Augustine. Dating back to the year 1600, this ruined church complex is one of the World Heritage sites in Old Goa. Something to look out for if you are a lover of the ruins like me.
The visit to any place is incomplete without giving the local cuisine a shot. But when you are a vegetarian in the paradise of seafood, you tend to get a little disappointed. So I went on a short ride, looking for places to eat on my third day here.
Misal Pav, the thought makes me droll even though it’s been just a few hours since I last devoured this popular Maharashtrian street food. More about this – here. This along with a chilled Kokum Sherbet makes a perfect combination for an evening snack. There are other similar regional delicacies for one to try – Goan Pav Bhaji, Usal Pav.
If you haven’t heard this already, Goan sweets are as popular as the seafood here. Perad a sweet made of the fruit Guava is something to die for. I will not deep dive into Goan cuisines as there are hundreds of sites dedicated to this.
From my previous visit to Goa, I remember a few places that I would have liked to visit again had I planned for a longer vacation. The Aguada fort with its lighthouse and well preserved 17th-century Portuguese fort and the Arvalem waterfall and caves that date back to 6th century B.C.
Last but not the least, no matter what your style and diet preference, the trip to Goa feels incomplete without visiting at least one of the many beaches it has to offer. If you, like me, choose to visit Goa during Christmas, then Anjuna, Calangute and Colva and other popular beaches are out of question, unless you want to spend hours sitting in your car waiting for the traffic to clear.
The closest beach to my place was Miramar beach near Panaji, the capital of Goa. This beach has almost everything the other beaches in Goa has to offer – bars, water sports, seafood restaurants, you name it. Clean, less crowded and filled with soft sand makes it perfect for evening walks or early morning strolls.
So there you go – a 1200 words long rant on how Goa has all this and more to offer to people of all kinds and types.
Know of anything else ‘Goan’ that you would like to add? Do let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
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