Goa: A Trip to Remember
This was my first trip to Goa, and one I had been looking forward to for a very long time. A highly appreciated tourist destination worldwide, Goa glitters in its rich diversity of people and experiences.
Goa covers an area of 3702 square kilometers. Maharashtra lies on the north, Karnataka on the east and south. The west coast is bordered by the Arabian Sea. The coastline stretches 101 kilometers and boasts a large number of gorgeous beaches. The economy of Goa is built primarily on tourism, fishing and mining.
My family and I stayed at a beautiful resort five minutes from Baga Beach. We also visited a large number of other beaches in North Goa like Calangute, Arpora, Anjuna and Chapora. I was particularly taken with my trip to Chapora Fort. It is an artfully constructed structure permitting a complete 360-degree view of the surrounding high slopes and the distant sea blending into the horizon. I was fortunate enough to experience a mesmerizing vermillion sunset which proved to be quite a spiritual encounter.
My husband and I spent the evenings at Baga beach sipping cocktails and grooving to ‘house’ and ‘psychedelic trance’. The beach provides a long row of restaurants with cuisines from different parts of the world. It also caters to many hawkers, who offer everything from anklets, earrings and laser bangles to services like foot and neck massages.
A City Rich in Heritage
Archaeological evidence in Goa shows that some of the earliest settlements in India were in this region. Crude weaponry like stone axes date back to about 10,000 years.
Goa was a part of the Maurayan empire in the 3rd century B.C. It came fell under various rules like those of the Satavahana’s, Chalukya’s, Silhara’s and Kadamba’s in the 11th century.
The Portuguese first came and settled in Goa in 1498, led by Vasco Da Gama. They established trade that flourished with the discovery of Cape of Good Hope. Goa came under Portuguese rule in 1510 with the invasion of Alfonso de Albuquerque.
Historical Spots to Visit
The Basilica of Bom Jesus is a remarkable church displaying the grandeur of baroque architecture. I found its peaceful atmosphere and rustic pillars extremely charming. It is also home to the grave of St Francis Xavier and the various paintings depicting his life. The simplistic interiors of the church, with the exception of its jeweled altar, set it apart in its own unique character.
Right opposite to the Basilica is the Archaeological Museum and Portrait Gallery. Located in the former Portuguese colonial capital of Old Goa, it holds many items spread out over eight galleries. They depict the history of Goa, including its Portuguese rule as well as its prehistoric and early days.
A Wide Range of Cuisines
One of my favourite things about Goa was the food. The staple diet of the Goan people includes fish and rice. Rice, cashew and coconut are the main crops cultivated.
Some of the most delicious and popular dishes include prawn curry and rice, crab xec xec, pork vindaloo, sorpotel, sannas and a delectable dessert item called bebinca. It is an Indo-Portuguese sweet made of 'ghee', flour, sugar and coconut milk.
One should also try out the chorizo. These are sausages, dried and cured with the addition of various local spices. My favourite is a homely shop called Pedro Pao, which also delivers outside Goa to various parts of the country.
Goa also has a wide variety of national and international cuisines. I believe the large number of international tourists over many years has encouraged the state to adapt and improvise various gastronomies.
I loved the steaks and roasts as well as the authentic Goan sorpotel, cooked with care. A restaurant called Meiphung offered some traditional food from Nagaland which I found delectable.
Shopping in Goa
But of course, shopping! One of the most important and popular activities while travelling, is to visit the best shopping venues. Goa has a list of various markets one can visit depending on their purchase needs. Let's take a look at the following spots.
Flea market at Anjuna Beach: This market is a makeshift one that covers the beach every Wednesday (confirm day to be sure) with a variety of goods ranging from apparels and shoes to food and spices.
Night Market at Arpora: A wide variety of items—from simple little things to more utilitarian items—is available in this night market.
Mapusa Fish Market: If you love fish, this is a must-visit place in Goa. A wide variety of seafood is available. From Pomfrets and King Fish to prawns and lobsters, it is a hub of fresh fish at very reasonable rates.
Tibetan Market: This market is open from October to May and is a place to find some unique jewelry for both men and women.
Panjim Market: An ideal place to take home some delicious Goan food items like cashews, spices and feni (local alcohol made from cashew).
The locals are generally of a calm and friendly disposition. They like to take life as it comes and concentrate on living happily. The common people have an inherent sense of honour, thus making the roads and the tourists feel very safe and relaxed.
Being a hill person myself, I usually plan my tours towards the Himalayas. But Goa is somewhere I would like to frequent as many times as I can in the future. For me, it was a trip of many experiences, from fun and frolic to a sense of spiritual self-discovery.
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© 2019 Tiyasha Maitra