2019 began on a really high note! much awaited wedding of a dear friend’s daughter in Goa and the company of the bubbliest of friends, the trip had to be a complete fun trip.
Golden sun, glistening waters, cool breeze from the sea and the comfortably warm sand on the Morjim beach during the winter month of January was soothing as the dazzling bride and the debonair groom walked down the aisle and took their wedding vows. Yes, the destination for the wedding was sun, sand & waves glory, Goa. 2 days just rolled past with dancing, eating and making merry – well, we believe in staying true to the Goan life. Anagha ji and Anand ji, we had landed there as friends but very grateful to you both for making us a part of your family. The hospitality extended to us is unmatched. Our best wishes to the newly wed couple.
Do we at all need an introduction to this vacay destination called ‘Goa’? I think I will skip just that part for now. Goa being synonymous with beach, we had a fair share of beach stay and walks. It was time to explore some lesser known places and least visited places in Goa. The gang of 5 that we were, it wasn’t our first trip to Goa, which meant we had all done the regular touristy sightseeing during our previous trips. Skip the churches, visit a gorgeous Portugal heritage bungalow, forget the regular street shopping, walk up the Chapora Fort, drive down the roads of the wildlife sanctuary and listen to the music of the birds chirping even as you discover centuries-old temple nestled amidst the thick woods, visit one of the mosques which doesn’t appear much on the touristy map…go out and just explore the hidden side of this beach destination known as Goa.
Day 1 of Sightseeing: North Goa – Post wedding, we shifted base to North Goa and stayed in Candolim, Bardez. It was but natural that we explore the places of interest close by.
Chapora Fort – An evening walk along the rampart ruins of Chapora fort can be relaxing. Though nothing much to explore in this fort, a panoramic view of the beach below and the setting sun would be the main attraction if one intends to visit it. Vehicles are allowed until the foothills and parked in the ample parking area. An easy 10 minutes climb takes us to the fort main entrance.
Sunset at Vagator: Drive down the Chapora fort and reach the rocky beach of Vagator for a mesmerizing view of the setting sun. The drama in the sky lasts for just a few minutes before the entire place is engulfed by darkness.
Back in Candolim, enjoyed a simple dinner at Tony’s Place, Restaurant and Bar. The streets of Bardez is a shoppers’ paradise and a foodie’s delight.
Day 2 of Sightseeing: South Goa Drive
With an entire day at our disposal, it was time to hit the road and visit some unique places of interest. A Portugal bungalow was a priority and in this quest, we drove down towards Quepem. But en route, it doesn’t make sense to miss out on visiting a simply beautiful mosque in a serene garden complex by the highway – Safa Masjid. A 16th-century Islamic monument this, is close to Ponda. It is believed to be built by the Sultan of Bijapur, Ibrahim Adil Shah. A leisure walk and some photoshoot is highly recommended here.
Distance from Candolim – around 45 Kms.
Entry fee: Free
Palácio do Deão: This elegantly unique bungalow is a blend of Hindu and Portugal cultures. The inviting lush green garden, huge portico, the rich and tasteful antique furniture, calm and peaceful interiors and most interesting of all – the location of this heritage structure, on the banks of the Kushvati river in Quepem makes it worth visiting. With an 11,0000 sq ft floor area and beautiful garden around this palatial house, Palácio do Deão was constructed by a Portuguese nobleman in 1787. A walk with Mr. Ruben (the current owner of the property), and understanding the history and stories of the bungalow is most interesting.
Distance from Candolim: about 64 Kms
Entry fee: A nominal 150 INR per head is charged which is used in upkeep and maintenance of the bungalow. One can also enjoy a typical Goan meal at the property with due notice. Please check for the rates online.
Mahadev Mandir: Further one hour’s drive from Quepem to Mollem through the roads of the Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary and national park brings us to this less known 12th century Shiva temple also known as the Tambdi surla temple, right in the heart of the national park. A small but relatively well-maintained temple, it has some beautifully carved pillars inside the temple and sculptures on the exteriors. The temple is still in worship.
Distance from Candolim: around 75 Kms.
Entry fees: No entry fee to drive into the national park or to visit the temple.
Lunch options: Before entering the National park, one can take a break and enjoy the meals in the hotels along the highway. Limited number of hotels though were seen.
Day 3: Checkout and walk the colourful street of Panjim
A relaxed morning, street shopping in Candolim and checkout to catch the evening flight at leisure. A couple of hours still on hand, had some plans to walk the streets of Panjim and get a taste of the Goa’s Latin Quarter, Fountainhas. Panjim may be the busy capital and the commercial centre of Goa but the narrow and colourful winding streets of Panjim is a reminder of the rich Portugal influence. The small cafes dotting the streets, the colourful balconies of the buildings, the heritage villas, church, and many structures of the yesteryears – showcases the architecture and traditional Portuguese influence.
Early morning or late evening walk is recommended to enjoy the silence of the streets.
- Goa is a wonderful vacation destination round the year. But summers can be harsh.
- Dabolim airport is around 30 Kms from Panjim. An hour’s drive is what it takes to reach the airport
- Party anywhere in Goa but an evening in Thalassa, The Greek Taverna, will add the zing to the trip.
- The cafes by the Fountainhas streets are worth visiting.
- One of the interesting bakeries to visit while in Panjim has to be 31de Janeiro. Apart from other bakery products, one could purchase fresh Bebinca (Goan dessert) here.
- If pressed for time and still long to have a Goan thali (veg/nonveg) before you catch your flight, drop in at Sheela Bar & Restaurant at Vasco da Gama, on your way back to the airport.
- For the entire stay, a four-wheeler was at our disposal which made travel easy.