As we were planning for a short and sweet holiday, the obvious choice for both of us was Ever green holiday destination Goa. So unanimously (which happens very rarely!!!) we headed out for Goa in our Car. Panjim is about 225 kms from Kolhapur. It was a good time to test our GPS by MapMyIndia Navigator . We booked our hotel at Candolim from where almost all North Goa beaches are nearby. On our first day we decided to visit Old Goa which is outside Panjim and about 25 kms from Candolim. Our tour itinerarywas:
- Basilica of BOM Jesus: This Basilica is famous throughout the Roman Catholic world. It contains the tomb and mortal remains of St Francis Xavier who, in 1541, was given the task of spreading Christianity among the subjects of the Portuguese colonies in the East. There is a modern art gallery attached to the Basilica which is a collection of photographs and sculptures. Though we are not art lovers we took a quick look at it and found it worth visiting!! The next stop was just across the street another famous church Se Cathedral.
- SE Cathedral: This church is one of the oldest and most celebrated religious buildings in Goa and is one of the largest churches in Asia. It houses a famous bell, often called The Golden Bell because of its rich sound. After spending some time in the peaceful surroundings of the Church, we left for Panjim, the Capital of Goa.
- Panjim /Panaji City: Panjim is a very beautiful city located at the banks of River Mandovi. We had a lot of time to spend till the sunset so we decided to see the city by walk. Walking on the footpaths of Panajim is a pleasure. We discovered the following walk trip in the beautiful city of Panjim. Check it out.
“Start to Finish: Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception
Distance: 6 kms
From the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception walk east up the hill along Emidio Gracia Rd (Corte de Oiterio). At the four-way junction, where you’ll see fruit-seller barrows, turn right into 31st January Rd. Continue down to the heritage hotel Panjim Inn. Take the right fork of the road and continue south past the small fountain (not working) from which Fontainhas gets its name. Keep walking in the same direction until you see the steps off to the right leading uphill to the ornate, salmon-pink Maruti Temple, dedicated to the God Hanuman. The temple’s veranda provides fine views towards the Mandovi River. Nip behind the temple and follow the road up into the Altinho district. When you reach a junction with a red ‘stop and proceed’ sign, turn right and continue around to the Bishop’s Palace, residence of the Archbishop of Goa. This grand white mansion, with a silver painted Jesus statue outside, lords it over the much-humbler Chief Minister’s Residence across the road. After gazing through the fence of these two buildings retrace your steps back past the Maruti Temple and back towards the fountain. Turn left at the cross- roads just before this and head towards the steps, just before these turn right and head up hill past lots of big old houses. After around 300m you’ll see a set of steps on your right descending downhill and marked by a crucifix. Heading down these you’ll pass by many colourful houses until you reach the Chapel of St Sebastian. Built in the 1880s, its most striking feature is a crucifix that originally stood in the Palace of the Inquisition in Old Goa. Walk back to 31st January Rd and return to where the road meets up with the fruit stalls. Then, at the junction with Emido Garcia Rd, continue straight over and into the brightly painted streets of Sao Tomé, pausing for a drink at the Hotel Venite. Afterwards continue on to the river, turn left and walk down to the Secretariat Building, left again at Jose Falcao Rd and, keeping an eye peeled for the strange flower- and star-coated crucifix built into a wall on the right, back to where you started at Church Sq.”
Secretariat Building: Considered to be one of the Goa’s oldest buildings, the Secretariat houses Goa’s state legislative assembly. Originally, a palace of the Muslim ruler Adil Shah of Bijapur the monument was converted into viceroy’s official residence in 1759 by the Portuguese. Numerous attempts at renovation and repair have slowly converted an overtly Islamic structure into a giant colonial building, which boasts of a sloping tiled roofs and iron pillars. Being a high profile building, heavy security cordon is guarding the building everyday. However, visitors are permitted to enter and check out the exquisite carvings and a strange amalgamation of cultural architectures. Amazing!!
- Miramar Beach: Miramar beach in Panaji is the prime hangout place of local and Indian tourists. After our walking spree in the city we decided to go to the beach for sunset. Sunset here is a feast to the eyes. We took a stroll along the long beach, from here we can see the Light house situated at Fort Aguada.
- River Mandovi and Cruise: We were back to Panjim for river cruise. The cruises were decorated with lighting. We can see the whole of Panjim skyline from aboard the cruise covered with celebratory lights. Mandovi is the main river of Goa along with River Zuari. We opted to go on a cruise on Mandovi river which took us on a ride till the river joins the sea. On board here are live musical bands and groups which perform folk songs and dances of Goa. We enjoyed the life and art of Goa on an a hour long cruise. There is also a Floating Casino for those who want to try their luck.
After a very busy day, we were famished. There are many great hotels in Panjim which serve traditional Goan food consisting mainly of variety of sea food. We had our dinner at one of the hotels where we could taste the traditional goan cuisine. Sea food here was the best!! We crunched crabs and crustaceans, devoured squid-o-rings, Bombay Duck (Fish), Mussels, King Fish and Xacuti. Visit Viva Panjim which offers cheap tasty Goan and Portuguese staples and the ambience that of a small town in Portugal. Other notable eat outs in Panjim are Hotel Ritz, Pergola, George and Casa Moderna.
That was the end of our first tiring day in Goa and we decided to reitre for the day.
- Arambol Beach, Kerim Beach and Fort Tricol/Terekhol: First we visited Arambol Beach. It is quiet and peaceful and less crowded. We had a nice stroll along the beach under the warm sun. From here we headed to Fort Tricol. A trip to the fort makes a good outing on a motorcycle, but we preferred our own vehicle. The winding 11.5 km road from Arambol passes through villages and rice paddies and rises up to provide good views over the countryside and Terekhol River. We stopped at Querim beach to find it deserted with very less visitors. We took a Ferry/Barge to cross the Terekhol River to Fort Tricol. One can take their motorcycle or car on the Barge / Ferry (The barge ride is free both ways) to the other side but, we preferred a walk of about 2 kms from the barge to the Fort, which was, though little tiring in the noon, was refreshing.
Terekhol Fort is situated on the northern bank of the Terekhol river and in Maharashtra State bordering Goa. It was built by the Raja of Sawantwadi but, it was captured by the Portuguese. The cChurch and the Fort were rebuilt then. Terekhol Fort was a key Portuguese fort for the defence of Goa, situated on the north side of the estuary of the Terekhol river, the northern most boundary of Goa. Customarily marked by turrets and surrounded by a ditch it overlooks the panoptic ocean. How many times in your life have you woken up in a fairy-tale castle overlooking the Arabian Sea? Well at Terekhol, the northernmost outpost of Goa, you finally have that chance!! In the middle of the Fort is the church with a Goan façade. The view from the top of the fort was just breath-taking. One can spend a whole day in the calm and quiet atmosphere of the castle with the great sounds of Arabian sea touching the shores. The tranquility of the place is accentuated by the confluence of the serene sea and the river. The fort presently houses a Tourist Heritage Hotel. We decided to have our evening tea and snacks here on the top of the castle enjoying the serene view of the sea with the hill background. We ordered Pancakes and Chilled Tomato Gazpacho Soup to end with Iced Tea.
We decided to end the day with this visit and retired for the day.
- Calangute Beach: Our first stop for the day was Calangute which is the largest beach in north Goa, visited by thousands of domestic and international tourists alike. We had a great walk along the long beach side. There are various water sports like parasailing, paragliding, boats and water bikes available for the ones who are interested. We preferred to rest ourselves in one of the Beach shacks for a while. Then, we had our lunch at renowned beach side Hotel Souza Lobo where we enjoyed the tradional sea food dishes which were delightful.
- Baga Beach: Baga beach is smaller compared to other beach but certainly one of the most scenic and picturesque. Being less crowed than other beach helps even more who love to spend time calmly. The backdrop of hill and smooth brown sands made the beach instantly likeable.
- Anjuna Beach: Anjuna is a quiet beach with calm waters of Arabian sea lapping softly to the Indian shore. Unlike Calangute it is less crowded and we could feel the silence. We took a short stroll to the beach and lazed out on the white sands for a while before going to Vagator.
- Mandrem: Then we headed to the next beach south of Anjuna, Mandrem, which is one huge palm backed ribbon of clean and uncluttered sand; it’s one of Goa’s undiscovered gems. It’s good for midrange travellers looking to kick back and do absolutely nothing.
- Vagator: Vagator beach offered us a stretch of soft white sands, coconut palms, and a scenic view of the Arabian Sea. We enjoyed our sun set at Vagator. On our way back we had a nice quick munch of Tacos and Tortillas at a Mexican Restaurant on Vagator.
- Night life: Night life in Goa is equally vibrant as the beaches. One can have a range of Goan, Continental, Thai, Chinese and many more Indo Asian food joints. We visited Hotel Jambalaya frequented mostly by foreigners near our resort in Candolim where the live band of local boys was belting out numbers by GnR, Dire Straits and the like with a few Konkani and Hindi songs amidst travellers enjoying cocktails. It was a rocking night!!! Another hot spot is Tito’s which is a famous discotheque in Goa.
- Candolim Beach : The next day we decided to see Candolim beach which was just few minutes’ walk from our resort. This beach offered us the quiet atmosphere and scenic background. It was a full moon day and there was high tide. We enjoyed all the morning in the warm waters of the sea amongst high rising waves. An amazing experience one should not miss!! Candolim is an adjacent beach of Calangute but, is less crowded than Calangute. One can have a long walk or sunbathe at the beds provided by the shacks. After spending almost half a day here we decided to leave for Fort Aguada another tourist attraction of Goa.
- Fort Aguada: On the way to Aguada, we stopped for lunch. This old Portuguese fort stands on the beach south of Candolim, at the shore of the Mandovi river. Constructed by Portugese in the year 1612 to guard against Dutches and Marathas. A freshwater spring within the fort provided water supply to the ships that used to stop by. This is how the Fort got its name. Aguada means Water. After spending some time in the fort we went to see the 4-storey Portuguese lighthouse, erected in 1864 and the oldest of its kind in Asia. If you reach before 5.30 pm you can climb the top of the light house by paying a small amount of ‘entry fee’. We were lucky enough to reach there just before closing time and on time for the sun set in the Great Arabian Sea. The view from the top is breath-taking. At one side we can see the great river Mandovi, the other side we can see the vast Arabian sea and the beach of Candolim.
North Goa was explored by us. The next day we returned back to Kolhapur hoping to return back to Goa and hungry for more and to explore South Goa.
P.S.: All thanks to our MapMyIndia GPS Navigator for making our Goa holiday a smooth sailing by 99% efficiently navigating us through the intricate roadlines in Goa.