The smallest state and one of the most popular tourist destinations of India is the dream tour of most of the college friends. Is Goa hyped up or does it actually stand up to the glamour it holds? Beaches, feni and cashews are Goa summed in three words, but this small place is much more than that. It’s all about exploring the unexplored.
“Woah! You are from Goa? What a wonderful place! You must be chilling on the beaches and basking in the sun all the time there.” This is the most common response people give when I tell them about it. Indeed, Goa has the most spectacular and marvellous beaches in the country. However, the fact people don’t know is that the serenity, beauty and uniqueness of Goa lie beyond its beaches.
One of the states which got independence much later than the rest of India in 1961, from the Portuguese, the influence of Portuguese culture is still prominent in the city which makes it an important historical site. The wide expanse of the western ghats engulfs the state with lush green forest and rich biodiversity. Contrary to the popular belief, Goa is a Hindu dominated state but it is one of the model examples of communal harmony where Christians, Hindus and Muslims live in peace in its true essence. In this context, Goa is the perfect amalgamation of culture, nature and fun which makes it the perfect tourist destination.
These are the 7 offbeat things you should try on your next visit to Goa!
- GOA CARNIVAL
It’s a pompous parade showcasing the Portuguese festival and Goan culture.
Starting with a grand procession on the Fat Saturday evening, the parade is led by King Momo who sets out with his entourage of dancers, bands, clowns, acrobats and other entertainers to spread the message of merrymaking across the state. If you are lucky enough, you would also get goodies and sweets distributed in the Parade.
It takes place in the month of February in Panjim, Porvorim, Margao, Mapusa and other parts of Goa.
- DITCH THE CRUISE
The dances performed on the cruise are not the authentic Konkani or Portuguese dances. They are a mere result of cultural commodification by the cultural capitalist selling overpriced food on the cruise. If you truly want to see Goa in its real and rural form, head on to a ferry boat. Travelling on the waves of the Arabian Sea and enjoying the cool breeze is sure to provide a romantic experience.
Some of the popular routes are-
- Panaji and Betim for the Back Road to Candolim and Calangute
- Kerim and Tiracol for the Terekhol Fort
- Old Goa and Divar Island
- Gaddotsav, Sal
Trigger Warning: NOT FOR THE FAINT HEARTED
The famous three nights festival of Gade, considered as a game of hiding and seek between gade and devchar, is celebrated with great fervour in Sal-Bicholim. Gade is the residents of the village, who are clad in white dhoti and a black belt around their waist. Goans are deeply religious people and it is believed that the spirit of God enters their bodies when they start dancing around the hole accompanied by traditional music. It is believed that the devchar has supernatural powers and has evoked curiosity since ever about the mysterious dancing light, the unconscious gade and the crying noises of the ghosts. It is reported that many disbelieving people, including journalists and a German documentary filmmaker, tried hiding in the forests and record the events but all of them either fell unconscious or were injured on their way to the forest.
Even I have personally never believed this, but the place surely gives haunted feels and the creepy and dense forest never allowed me to muster the courage to find the truth.
- Dudhsagar Waterfalls
Dudhsagar which literally means “Sea of Milk” is a four-tiered waterfall located on the Mandovi River at the border of Karnataka and Goa. The milky white water cascades down over a steep, almost vertical face of the mountain from a height of 1017ft making it one of India’s tallest waterfalls. The Konkan railway passing through it presents a wonderful sight.
- Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
On the western tip of the island of Chorao along River Mandovi, mangrove swamps cover this bird-watchers’ paradise aptly named after India’s best-known ornithologist, Dr Salim Ali. Goa has one of the densest and virgin forests in India. One can expect to see some of the rare or lesser known species right here.
- Where the river meets the sea- Betul Estuary
Located between the Betul and Cavelossim beaches, this is one of the best possible retreats that you can experience along the River Sal’s coast. One can prominently see the beach on one side and the Sal river on the other and the site is appalling for a perfect evening in one of Goa’s lesser known place.
- Amthanem dam
Amthanem dam is a quiet and peaceful place away from the other tourist hotspots. The wide expanse of the lake along with the cashew gardens and forests surrounding it makes it the perfect place to relax. A glimpse of the sunrise at the dam is one of its scenic views and the tranquillity of the place is the most appealing part of the place.
One of the major difficulties in Goa is to commute. The flamed up prices of the private taxis and autos adds to the misery of the tourists. Moreover, Ola or Uber don’t function in the state. However, Goa has its own app for cabs known as “Goa Miles”.
The destination has a unique experience on offer every time you visit it and fall in love with it. The distinct cuisine, parties and beaches will give you an exhilarating experience. However, the next time you visit the place make sure you explore it thoroughly. Therefore, I strongly recommend not to delay your Goa plans any further!
Feature Image Credits: Her Zindagi