Thursday, 21 June 2012

Photo Tour of North Goa – Monsoon Seasons


Goa MansoonMonsoons, popularly described as the time of the year to stay put indoors and sip tea as the rain lashes your window pane. Umm, not for some. And we chose Goa, a Union territory enriched with heritage, and flecked with beaches, churches, temples and more.
We knew the sea would be fiery and there would be no water sports. But we knew something else too. There would be no crowd either. And nature would be at its beautiful best.
Bombay to GoaOur trip started at Mumbai, because we have relatives there. We booked our seats by a semi-sleeper Volvo bus, which was very comfortable and reasonably priced.
The landscape along the road that snakes through mild hilly terrain between Mumbai and Goa has an unadulterated beauty about it. The rain soaked fauna is lush green.
North GoaWe were determined to stay in North Goa, because we were told that all the action is right there. We got off at Mapusa and went to Calangute beach straightaway in the search of a hotel. Well, you can afford to take such risks in off season, don’t think of it in peak tourist seasons!!
You may well have to book your hotel three months in advance.
Hotel GoanThe options of lodging, however, are numerous and rising in Goa. There are hotels of varying budgets, guest houses, anything you may want. We wanted to stay as close to the beach as possible, and the one we zeroed in was perfect: Hotel Goan Heritage.
Our room overlooked both the swimming pool and the sea. And a gate from the campus would open directly to the beach.
Scooter Ride - GoaGoa offers another flexibility to the tourist: Hire your own vehicle and go wherever you want. You may hire a Scooter, a fancy bike or a car. Hiring a tourist bus or a taxi is also possible, but that’s too ordinary a thing to do.
There is perhaps no petrol pump in Goa except Panaji. Petrol is available in roadside shops, albeit at a slightly high price, but fuel is not a problem at all.
Fort AguadaBecause you have turned up in off season, you may find perfection missing from everything. Moss and weeds grow freely on the rain soaked monuments.
This is the entrance to Fort Aguada, which was actually a storage for water in the higher parts of Goa. An abandoned lighthouse is also here.
Fort AguadaThe Fort overlooks the sea below. The slope down is rocky on which a dense growth of trees tip into the sea. The horizon almost merges …
Fort AguadaDown the road from Fort Aguada, we drive to Sinquerim beach. It is obviously the extension of Aguada. A circular viewing gallery has been constructed, and if you stand there for even five minutes, the angry splashes of the sea would drench you. Taj Vivanta, a five star resort, overlooks this beach.
Candolim BeachMoving north along the coastline, you would discover Candolim Beach, characterized by this old deserted ship.
Ries Margos FortIn our search for a fort called Ries Margos, we arrived at this unnamed beach. The fort lies right opposite this viewing gallery, and is presently under renovation. What a lovely resort this fort would make with its picture-perfect location!
Baga beachFor the shoppers, even in this not-so-tourist season, Goa offers a myriad variety of beachwear, junk jewellery, funky eye-gear, alcohol and sea food. Another craze is temporary tattoos. Although the overnight artists claim that these would last a month, in all probabilities, these would last few days. If you want a permanent one, check out the tattoo studios in Goa. This is at Baga beach, btw.
Anjuna BeachAnjuna Beach. Rocky but picturesque. You can step in the sea if you are careful. There’s water trapped in the rocky base, and you can see tiny fishes.
Vagator BeachVagator is another rocky beach along the coast. The approach is from an elevated level, but if have some time in hand, and your adventurous self is active, you may venture down.
Fort ChhaporaThe next destination is Fort Chhapora, which is in ruins. What remains is the boundary, and you cannot make out where the inner structure were. The wind is so strong that birds cannot fly against it. And needless to say, the view of the sea is breathtaking.
BeachesThree beaches await to be discovered by you. The blackish sand, the gentle slope inviting you into the sea and complete ignorance by the tourists characterize them: Morgim, Aswem and Mandrem. If you are lucky, you may witness some fishermen in action, some tending to their boats and get a feel of their daily routine.
Arambol BeachThe northernmost beach, Arambol, is popular among foreigners and other tourists as it is closest to Mumbai. It has some trees on one side. Our guide showed a beach further north by the name of Quickem, but no one seemed to know about it.
PanajiNext day we ventured into Panaji to book our return tickets and then move on towards Old Goa. You have to cross the backwaters of the sea and the road is a dream to ride on.
Basilica of Bom JesusThis is Basilica of Bom Jesus. Adjoining it is St. Catherine’s Church and Archaeological museum. These three are well known tourist destinations. They form a part of a beautiful complex of chapels and churches, which is an architect’s delight.
Mandovi RiverA road on the backside of this tourist complex leads you to Mandovi River. A ferry service is operated by the Government that carries people complete with their conveyances: two wheelers, cars, trucks and also pedestrians. In about 15 minutes, you would be on the other side, Divar Island.
Piedade villageThere is no tourist spot per se in Divar. It is a peaceful island with picturesque beauty. Piedade village is perhaps the only human settlement, which is sparsely populated. There’s a church and temple on top of a hill. The tranquility of the place grips you while you drive around. Lose yourself if you will, because there is no signage. You can eventually come to the dock, to be ferried back into Old Goa.
sea foodIt is also a foodie’s paradise, if you are a non vegetarian. Vegetarian preparations are equally good, don’t worry. Mouthwatering sea food cooked in the Konkan style is available in even the smallest joints in Goa. North Indian, Chinese, South Indian options are also there. Must do: Enjoy a meal on the beachside with your favourite drink.
Our trip was short but we have come back very happy and rejuvenated. There are many things we did not do or see. But we have experienced Goa in a new way. We could explore in the inner roads and see how the common man lives and how the city functions beaneath its shiny armour of tourism. Indeed Goa is a place to be during tourist season where there is fun, frolic, adventure and water sports. Nevertheless, we encourage you to witness Goa in this peaceful and calm version.
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