Sunday, October 11, 2015

October Trip to Goa

"Goa is not a State. Its a State of mind." 
It is virtually impossible to define Goa in a single sentence. Goa is different for every traveller. Its like the clear water that takes on the color of your mood.

It is adventurous yet peaceful, religious yet romantic, festive yet tranquil, desi yet foreign. From the dense western ghats to the endless beaches dotting its coastline, from the thundering waterfalls to quiet churches, it has something for everyone. And that is the reason it has carved a niche for itself in Indian tourism.
Goa :)
Goa is a veteran among all tourist destinations since long time back, even before IT industry was exploding with expansion, stressing out its professionals during the weekdays, and starting the trend of weekend tourism, sprouting quick getaways around metros.

 You find in Goa, what you seek. Come to find peace and recluse, you have the pristine beaches. If you yearn for adventure and thrill, water sports are just the answer. Maybe some party and booze, no dearth of that either on Baga Beach. You are a nature and wildlife freak, head straight to the DudhSagar falls and reserves. Or if you are on a break from your chaotic life, just laze around the water...like this kitty.

I remember our planning of family vacation in Goa when I was little. It used to come up every year during summer holidays but something or the other left it unfulfilled.
So finally, this October I visited Goa with some friends.

Day 1: Aguada fort, the Lighthouse and Sinquerim Beach:

Faced extreme weather on this day. Strong sun in the day and heavy rain in the evening. Aguada fort is quite spacious and provides nice view of the sea. Although, you might face some trouble trying to move over-zealous tourists from the view-points to get a decent snap.

LightHouse at Aguada Fort
Trying to bring it home.. Good luck Anita
Aguada Fort Entry
Sinquerim Beach

"Don’t grow up too quickly, lest you forget how much you love the beach." Michelle Held
Water sports @ Sinquerim Beach
Sinquerim Beach

Day 2 : Panjim (Panaji Church, Donna Paula, Miramar Beach) :

"2 October ko hum Panaji gaye the"....par humne Swami Chinmayanand ji ka Satsang nhi suna. Who remembers Drishyam dialog.. :)

Panjim Church
We started our visit with the famous Panaji Church on this dry day. White church against the blue sky is a sight to behold. But sight was all we got from it. Tourists were not allowed inside as a service was going on. So we headed to the Donna Paula Point. 
Donna Paula Point
 On the way back, we visited Miramar Beach. The weather had become awesome by now. The clouds and rainbow and sunset, all at once. We tried for some shadow photography against the setting sun and were quite pleased with our novice efforts.
Two suns..
A Full Rainbow!!
Barahsingha found on the beach!! :)
Up in the air.... almost
We spent the rest of the evening shopping for dresses and junk jewellery at the Calangute beach. Got a good bargain too :)

Day 3 : Water Sports at Candolim Beach 

Aaj kuch Toofani karte hain...!!! Water sports are a must on a Goa trip. We got a package for Rs.1300 per head at Candolim Beach. The package included Bumper Ride, Jet Ski, Banana Ride and Parasailing.
Green waters at Candolim Beach
Bumper Ride : It was a flat raft with two handles in front. One had to lie on their stomach and hold the handles tightly. The raft was then pulled for a bumpy high-speed ride over the waves, into the sea. One slip and you are in the lap of the sea itself. The whole ride felt like clothes being jerked hard to dry.

Jet Ski: This was a casual water-scooter ride.
Jet Ski
Banana Ride: This one is special and a must for the adventurer in you. Effect is more if you are a non-swimmer which we all were. All people are seated on a banana shaped raft one after the other and taken into the sea by a motor boat. Then somewhere the boatman says "leave" and takes a sharp turn throwing everyone in the water. It is very easy here to panic and gulp a lot of seawater. But keep calm and enjoy the sea. Life-jacket holds quite well if you do not panic or move around frantically. The boatman lifted us all up after a while.
Google search reference for Banana Ride
Parasailing: This one was also enjoyable. You get a bird's eye view from the top. For Rs. 200 extra, he offered to dip us in the sea a little. It was worth the money.

Day 4 : DudhSagar Falls, Old Goa (Basilica of Bom Jesus) & Baga Beach

Dudhsagar Falls are a beauty made famous by various movies like Chennai Express. These are among the tallest falls in India and in monsoon season are quite gigantic too. Our initial plan was to trek along the railway tracks to the falls. But due to lack of time and energy, we chose the comfortable jeep ride to the base of the falls through Mahavir Reserve. There is a morning local train from Madgaon to Kulem. At Kulem, one can hire jeep to the falls or embark on a rail trek of 12 km. 
DudhSagar falls
Jeep trail crosses streams
Stream in the forest
 The jeep ride turned out to be equally exciting. The jeep took us through dense forests, over the streams and finally to the falls. It was fun swimming in the pool formed by the falls. Life jackets are a boon to non-swimmers.

Base of DudhSagar falls
A boat afraid to leave the harbour... :)
This area is very rich in flora and fauna. Jeep driver showed us cashew trees on our way. Many species of beautiful butterflies are also found here. One of them became friends with my sandals.

On the way to the falls
Same pinch!!
On our way back, we visited Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa. This church preserves sacred relics of the body of St. Francis Xavier(1696). It is one of the oldest church in India.
Basilica of Bom Jesus(Old Goa)
Front View of Basilica
Relics of St. Francis Xavier

Day 5 : Anjuna Beach, Vagator Beach , Chapora Fort

The last day was mainly spent on beaches. But the harsh sun made it a little less fun, and a lot more tan. We visited Anjuna and Vagator beach. From the Vagator beach, the nearby Chapora fort is a mere 1.3 km. Famous Goa scene of movie "Dil Chahta Hai" was shot here.
Anjuna Beach
Every dog has its day..  Vagator Beach
View of Chapora Fort from Vagator Beach
View from Chapora Fort
Thus ended our first trip to Goa. We came back happily with lots of pics and a lot of tan. Now our web searches have changed from "Places to visit in Goa" to "How to remove tan quickly".

Life sahi hai, tension nahi hai :)

1. Sit back and relax. You are in Goa.
2. Carry light clothes. Temperature is usually warm.
3. A good sunscreen is a must. Don't forget to use it though.
4. Try hiring scooty/bikes on a weekday for your whole trip. Weekend charges are high.
5. Jeep trail to Dudhsagar falls is closed during monsoons. Water sports too. They both start from October.