Saturday, September 24, 2011

Goa



Goa has always a unique place in mind of a tourists. Goa means fun, frolic and just chill out.....

This was my second trip to Goa, first one, I took during new year time way back in year 2001!! I feel angry on myself, why I am so poor planner. Goa commands much more respect through frequent visits.

Finally this year during Aug-Sep, the plan was made.

A total of four days to just relax, thats what meant by Goa!

Situated on the western side of India, in between Maharashtra and Karnataka, with Arabian Sea on its western side, Goa is famous for its beaches and relaxed surroundings.

In the "Bhishma Parva" of epic Mahabharata, the Goa has been referenced as Gomanta, which means the region of cows. Skanda Purana (Sahyadri Khanda) mention Parashurama, as its creator. He is said to have setteled ten sages in this land and performed fire sacrifices. Another legend has that after performing the penance, the seven sages or the Saptarshis were blessed by lord Shiva therefore known as Saptakoteshwar. Further Lord Shiva is believed to have taken up temporary residence after having tiff with his consort Parvati. Hari Vamsha Puraan says that Lord Krishna defeated Jarasandha the king of Magadha on Gomanchal mountain in Goa.

Lord Parshuram with Saraswat brahmin settlers commanded Sea God Lord Varuna to make the Sea recede to make the Konkan region.

There is evidence to support this theory as indicated by presence of marine fossils, buried seashells and other features of reclaimed topography in the coastal belt. The evidence provided by the conch (Shankh) at Surla Village, fossilized marine conches discovered in 1863, petrified roots, fossilied ranches have been found later in many villages on the foothills of the Sahyadri dating back more than 10,000 BC. Thus the geologists concluded that Goa has risen up from seabed.

During mideavel times, Goa came under the governance of the Delhi Sultanate and then to Vijayanagara empire. The Vijayanagara monarchs held on to the territory until 1469, when it was appropriated by the Bahmani sultans of Gulbarga. After that dynasty crumbled, the area fell to the hands of the Adil Shahis of Bijapur who established as their auxiliary capital the city known under the Portuguese as Velha Goa.

In 1510, the Portuguese defeated the ruling Bijapur kings with the help of a local ally, Timayya, leading to the establishment of a permanent settlement in Velha Goa (or Old Goa).

In 1843 the capital was moved to Panjim from Velha Goa. By the mid-18th century the area under occupation had expanded to most of Goa's present day state limits. Simultaneously the Portuguese lost other possessions in India until their borders stabilised and formed the Estado da India Portuguesa, of which Goa was the largest territory (which included Daman and Diu).

After India gained independence from the British in 1947, Portugal refused to negotiate with India on the transfer of sovereignty of their Indian enclaves. On 19 December 1961, the Indian Army commenced with Operation Vijay resulting in the annexation of Goa, Daman and Diu into the Indian union.

Goa, along with Daman and Diu was made into a centrally administered Union Territory of India. On 30 May 1987, the Union Territory was split, and Goa was made India's twenty-fifth state, with Daman and Diu remaining Union Territories.

Goa is well connected to different part of India via rail, road as well as by air.

From Bangalore, Goa is about 650 KMs. It takes about 14 hours by road as well as by rail.

The road route can be either of these:

1.Bangalore-Hubli-Ankola-Goa
2.Bangalore-Tumkur-Shimoga-Jog-Honnavar-Goa
3.Bangalore–Tumkur–Chitradurga–Davangere–Sirsi-Ankola–Karwar-Goa

The train route is via Tumkur-Davangere-Hubli-Londa-Kulem-Madgaon.

For me, Rail journey is always more comfortable than by road.Though it is always a bit difficult to get train reservation, but we should plan in advance particularly if travelling with family.

The train from Yaswantpur (Bangalore) reached Madgaon at around 0530 AM.

Thanks to Mayank, We had got booking at Nanu Resort, Betalbatim Beach. As we alighted at Madgaon, Nagesh from Nanu Resorts was waiting for us with his Tavera.

In next 20 minutes we were at the resort. It is very beautiful, with very comfortable amenities.

We had four days at Goa.

I planned in following manner:

Day 1: South Goa
Day 2: North Goa
Day 3: Panjim City
Day 4: Any other place of interests or nearby beaches to the resort.

Day 1:
=====
We took some rest and then got ready for Goa.

Our room was quite good with balconey facing the swimming pool as well as a view of Arabian Sea at Betalbatim Beach.

My wife had fast on this day so except she we all did a good breakfast.

We started for South Goa places through a taxi. The list included Dona Paula Beach, Miramar Beach, Old Goa (Church), Mangesh and Shanta Durga Temples and then Colva beach.

In between we halted at Panjim city for about an hour to take lunch at "Moti Mahal" at 18th June Road.

Dona Paula
=========
Dona Paula is the place where river Zuari meets the Arabian Sea. It is nestled on a rocky, hammer shaped headland.

Dona is the title given to married women according to Portuguese customs. And Paula Amaral Antonio de Souto Maior is the lady on whom this village was named as Dona Paula.

Dona Paula was a woman of charity and is known to have helped the villagers and worked a lot for their betterment, so after her death, the villagers decided to re-name the village as Dona Paula. Initially the village was called Oddavell.

The weather was nice with a clouds and nice breeze. A few showers made the things even better.

We roamed for some time there and ascended to the view point, which provides a spectecular view of Arabian Sea and surrounding area.

As it was a monsoon season so the Sea was not in good mood, the angry waves roaming and roaring on all the stones, telling them I have powers to dislodge you.

There are a lot of shops there selling from cloths to sea shells. Overall it is a very nice place to be and spend some quality time with family and friends.

Next stop was Miramar beach.

Miramar
=======
The word 'Miramar' in Portuguese stands for viewing the sea. This is an excellent beach with wide view of Arabian Sea. It lies adjoining the estuary of the river Mandovi as it opens into the Arabian Sea. It was originally known as ‘Gasper Dias Beach’, named after Gaspar Dias, a prosperous landlord.

When we reached here, it was drizzling a bit so we waited for some time for rain to subside. The beach was not much crowded, it offered peaceful surroundings.

The Life Guards were there closely watching each and every activty of toursits. During this season, Sea is dangerous and so its not allowed to go into waters.

It is located close to Panjim.

From Miramar we headed to Panjim City. It was about 2 PM and we needed lunch.

After lunch, we roamed for some time through the streets of Panjim, trying to feel the pulse of Goa.

Now the time was for some spiritual things.

First we headed towards Church of Bom Jesus. This place is more famous as "Old Goa".

Old Goa Church
============
Construction work on this world famous "The Basilica of Bom Jesus" (Bom menas "Good" in Portughese.) church began in 1594 AD and was consecrated in May of 1605 by the archbishop, Dom Fr. Aleixo de Menezes.

It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Basilica is famous as it holds the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier.

Francis Xavier died on Sancian Island while enroute to continental China on (December 2, 1552). His body was first taken to Malacca and two years later shipped back to Goa. The remains of the saint still attract a huge number of devotees from all over the world, especially during the public viewing of his body every ten years (last held in 2004).

This is said to be one of the oldest churches in Goa, as well as in India. The floor is of marble inlaid with precious stones. The church also holds paintings of scenes taken from the life of St. Francis Xavier.

This is a peaceful place to be and to observe the power of the Almighty.

Then we headed towards Mangesh (Mungeshi) temple.

Shree Mangesh
============
This famous temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is located on a hillock surrounded by lush green hills, 22 KMs from Panajim at Priol Ponda Taluk.

The history of Shri Mangireesh or (Shri Mangueesh or Shri Mangesh) dates back to the Puranas. The Sahyadri Khand of Skand Purana says that Parshuram invited 66 Panch Gaud Brahmins belonging to 10 gotras from Trihotra (believed to be Tirhut in Bihar) to Kushasthal (now known as Kutthal, Goa) for performing the Yagna after wiping out the Kshatriyas.

Each group had brought with it the idol they used to worship and installed it in the villages donated by Parshuram out of the land reclaimed by him from the sea.

Those belonging to the Vatsa and Kaundinya gotra received Kushasthal as "Graam Daan" and installed in the village their family deity, Shri Mangireesh. The Purana explains that the Bramha had established the Shivalinga at Monghir in Trihotra and it came to be known as Mangireesh or Mangeesh.

His temple at Kushasthal was a place of pilgrimage till the Portuguese took over this part of the territory in Goa in 1560. It is said that on the site of the temple, now stands a church.

The devotees had moved Shri Mangesh Shivalinga from Kutthal to a safer place under a Hindu prince. Surrounded by hillocks and covered by forests, the Shivalinga was kept at a place, which now is known as Mangeshi.

The Maratha Peshwas donated the surrounding village to the temple in 1739 AD.

Since then this little village on the Panajim-Ponda road has become a place of pilgrimage for the followers of the Lord and an attraction for the tourists from all other places.

Known for its natural beauty and pleasant surroundings, Mangeshi is a center of culture and the musicians from this place have earned countrywide reputation as master singers for several generations.

We spend some very peaceful moments in the aura of devotion and this powerful place. Let the mercy of Mahadev flow on everyone!!

Now we went to Shri Shanta Durga Shrine.

Shree ShantaDurga
==============
Situated about 33 kms from Panajim, Shree Shantadurga temple has an impressive idol of Goddess Shree Durga. She is flanked by Vishnu and Shiva on both the sides.

The original place of Shree Shantadurga devi was at Keloshi. From there devi was shifted to Kavlem during the rule of portuguese government.

This current temple structure of Shree Shantadurga devi was built during the period from 1713 AD to 1738 AD.

It is said that the original idol of the Devi was stolen by Pathans from the temple during 1898 AD. In 1901 a new Idol was sculpted by Shri Laxman Krishnaji Gaitonde which was installed on 19 March 1902.

Just being in temple of mother, one becomes free of all stress. Mother is so blissful and always showers blessings on her beloved children.

Evening was descending now and so we proceeded towards our last attraction, planned for the day, the superb Colva Beach.

Colva
=====
This is the most important beach in the South Goa.

This beach is said to be one of the longest in the world ( about 24 km).

This beautiful beach has coast line dotted with palm and coconut trees. And this makes it one of the most beautiful beach in Goa.... very beautiful but still calm and serene. Ideal for walking along the coast line with family and friends!

After spending good quality time there we were back to our resort. A good dinner and a sound sleep was what required to take away all the tiredness and to get ready for further exploration the next day.

Day 2:
=====
We started early and were ready by around 8 AM. A good breakfast at resort and we started for attractions in North Goa.
The plan was to cover Vagator, Anjuna, Bagha and Calangute beaches as well as Fort Aguada.

Vagator
======
This beach is very beautiful with breathtaking surroundings. It has cliffs looking down on the shore.

This Beach is split into two main beaches by a seaside headland which holds the car park and lots of stalls selling clothes, soft drinks and snacks. As you face the sea, on your right is North Vagator Beach (Big Vagator) and on your left Ozran Beach, more commonly known as Little Vagator Beach.

Here you can enjoy the view either by sitting on the benches at the cliff or can go down through stairs to the waters. I dont know why there is no fence at the cliff, it might be dangerous to go near.

We went down to the Big Vagator. The sea was rough and Life Guards were alert. We sat on some stones viewing the roars and powers of Varun Dev. The place is surrounded by greenery besides the waters. Not many people were there at that time and so the environment was very calm except the sound of breeze and
water waves.

Then we ascended back to headland and sat for some time on the bench at cliff just mesmerised by the beauty of nature.

Next destination was Anjuna Beach. This beach can be seen from Vagator headland.


Anjuna
======
To the south of Vagator is Anjuna, one of the first hippy haunts of Goa. This beach is known for its breeze-catching palms, soft sand, and the unusual rocky formation.

This beach is located in the village of the same name. I heard that it is the hub of the rave parties that Goa is world famous for.

We went down to the beach, there was good crowd mostly involved in photography and enjoing the weather made even better by cool breeze from the Arabian Sea.

The whispers and sweet smell of wind coming from palm leaves, cloudy weather and breathtaking view....... even a highly stressesd person will get relaxed.

And thats what Goa is famous for.

As we were coming out from there, my wife purchased some fruits for kids. As she was carrying them towards the taxi, was ambushed by two cows, She had no option but to gave up and run away.

Now we were on the way to Bagha.


Bagha
=====
Bagha is an extension of Calangute beach, which is 2 KM south of it. Bagha is known for its soft sands, and Creek.

Bagha Beach is one of the most popular beach in North Goa.

The beach is named after the Bagha Creek, which merges into the Arabian Sea at the north end of the beach.

Bagha Beach is also famous for its water sports and Dolphin cruises.

Here kids enjoied most. Sea was not that rough and weather was perfect. They just ran towards water when it recedeed and ran away as water chased them. We were there for quite long.

Now we proceeded to Calangute.

Calangute
========
Calangute is the most popular beach in north Goa with thousands were there thronging it. Water was very rough here due to ongoing monsoon season and the Life Guards were having tough times to keep away the enthusiastic people trying to jump into waters. The waves were rising high above suddenly forcing people to run a bit away.

When we reached here the weather was a bit hot and humid and as we had a great time at Bagha so were a bit tired to enjoy this otherwise wonderful beach.

With long stretch of white sand and open surrounding makes it one of the best beaches in Goa. Thats why, this long, sweep of sand, is also called as the "Queen of Beaches".

The village here was originally named Kolongutt, though with the invasion of the Portuguese, the word probably got distorted to Calangute, and has stuck until today. The name Cal is probably connected with the Hindu Goddess Kali, worshipped by the fisher folk. There was a temple in the area of Motth.

Another possibility is that it comes from Kalyan-Gutti, which means a village of art, a beautiful village. this is quite a plausible derivation. A third possibility is from konvallo-ghott, meaning a coconut with a strong pith, since coconut trees are believed to possess strong pith as the "marrow" or soft substance in the center of the plant.

Though badly tired by now and a bit exhausted due to hot and humid weather at Calangute, we decided to visit Fort Aguada.

I love forts as a student of history..and by no means have any doubt in my mind to skip it.

Fort Aguada
==========
We took the route to fort Aguada from Calangute. On the way, we passed through the "Kingfisher Villa", a palace for Kingfisher Owner Vijaya Mallya.

Fort Aguada and its lighthouse is a well-preserved seventeenth-century Portuguese fort on Sinquerim Beach, overlooking the Arabian Sea.

The fort was constructed in 1612 AD to guard against the Dutch and the Marathas. It was a reference point for the vessels coming from Europe at that time.

This old Portuguese fort stands on the beach south of Candolim, at the shore of the Mandovi river. It was initially tasked with defense of shipping and the nearby Bardez District.

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, meaning Water in Portughese.

On the fort stands a four-storey Portuguese lighthouse, erected in 1864 and the oldest of its kind in Asia.Though its no more in use, it is also not allowed to go on top of this. There is a new lighthouse behind it at some distance Intersetd people can go up there and have a good view of surrpundings from that height.

During the Salazar Administration at Portugal, Fort Aguada was repurposed for use as a prison primarily, some claim, for Salazar's political opponents.

The surrounding view of Arabian Sea, hillocks and bay are very beautiful. The cool breeze and the wonderful view, took away all the tiredness and made us fresh again.

We spend good time here roaming on the moat walls and enjoing the surrounding view.
This brings an end to our Day 2 exploration.

We returned back to comfort of our resort.

Evening was cool and refreshing. The most quality time that I spend in Goa was sitting in Balconey of my resort room for hours from evening till late nights, watching and feeling the Arabin Sea at Betalbatim beach and sipping the hot tea.

Day 3:
=====
As per my plan the next two days I had kept aside for just some walking, sitting or sleeping on nearby betalbatim beach or nearby Colva or Majorda beaches. So after breakfast we proceeded towards Betalbatim beach.

Betalbatim
========
North of Colva is Betalbatim Beach, which begins a long string of beaches with Majorda, Utorda, Arossim and Velsao at the north. It is a long stretch of white sand and very less crowded and so clean, calm and serene.

The beach is beautiful and is surrounded by greenery from the land side, wherein mango as well palm grove adding to beauty and serenity with cool breeze and waves from Arabian Sea.

Betalbatim is considered to be one of the finest beaches of Goa that offers serenity and seclusion. For all those who want a peaceful and truly relaxing place to enjoy in their Goa beach holiday, Betalbatim is the place to be.

We just sat there in peace relaxing for quite long, while kids were busy playing with sand. Then we took a walk on both directions, towards south (Colva) and then towards north (Majorda).

Then came back to resort for a good lunch.

Now we had two options, to go again to Betalbatim or plan something else. We decided to have a trip to Candolim beach and Panjim city.

Candolim
=======
The Candolim Beach is not very crowded even though its very near to Panjim. This beach is very famous among foreigners. There is a big ship stuck in the sands here and authorities are dismantling it piece by piece.

We roamed on the beach for some time, which did not had many people and weather was excellent. Clouds were dominating the skies but no rains and cool air.

Then we went to Panjim city and roamed through it for some time. Some shopping and some snacks made our trip complete.

Rver cruise at Mandovi river is very famous here. Dring my last trip to Goa, perhaps I had taken that, this time with kids and apprehensions of bad weather, I did not appreciated the idea of having it. Though its quite good.

It was getting dark as we returned to resort. But in between we visited a small aquarium, which kids enjoied most. It also had a hooror show, but did not went to it, the skeleton at gate it self was horrifying to my daughter.

A good dinner and relaxing in balconey with tea till late night completed the good day.

Day 4:
=====
Day started with a trip to Betalbatim beach again. We were there for quite sometime just relaxing and enjoing the breeze, Sea waves and peaceful surroundings.

Post lunch we were at resort only, packed the things and relaxed at the balconey overlooking the pool and Betalbatrim beach, marking to completion of our wonderful Goa trip.

Our train to Bangalore was at 2130 hrs. It satretd raining heavily but the resort had arranged a taxi for us. The Margao station is about 20-25 minutes from resort.

The station was packed as it marked the end of long weekend. But as we had reservation so did not faced any issue.

Morning at around 1130 AM, we were greeted by Bangalore.

Do's and Dont's.
============
1. Dont enter into waters, particularly if coast line is flanked by red flags or Sea is rough.
2. Carry water bottle always with you as it becomes quite humid sometimes.
3. It is always good to have proper planning.
4. November to February is peak season here and so previous booking is essential atleast during this time. Goa becomes costlier also during peak season.
5. Have a good sunscreen cream or lotion to avoid sun burns.
6. Most of the famous beaches are in north Goa, so one can prefer to stay there. Panjim may be a good option.
7. South Goa is more peaceful.

***************************************************************

August 2012, I got another chance to visit Goa. This time we stayed at Majorda resort in south Goa.

We took the train from bangalore (Yesvantpur) at night, it was scheduled to reach madgaon at around 12 afternoon. Though I was not happy with this as with kids with me, I always think, it will be good to reach destination in morning.

But next day morning I was surprised to see the greenery of the Sahyadri moutain ranges in Western Ghat sestion and the beatiful train route as the train crossed over from Karnataka to Goa at Castle Rock.

It was monsoon season and so lush greenery and a lot of falls. This route also has 16/17 tunnels making trip memorable.

The most beautiful aspect however was the fascinating view of the famous DudhSagar Falls.

The water was roaring down for more than 300 meters, breathtaking view... I thanked my decision to take this train which crossed this strtech of nature in day time.

The falls lie high up in the Mandovi River's watershed and not particularly spectacular during the dry season. During the monsoon season however, the falls are transformed into one of the most beautiful falls in India.

Legend has it that a beautiful princess lived in the forest near present day, Dudhsagar Falls. She loved and enjoyed bathing in a lake nearby and used to drink "sweetened milk" from her "Golden Jug" after finishing with her bath. One day while enjoying her jug of milk she found herself being watched by a prince, who was standing amongst the trees. Red with embarrassment at her inadequate bathing attire, she poured the jug of milk in front of him to form an improvised curtain to hide her body, while the maids rushed to cover her with her dress.

It is said that, it is that sweetened milk that cascades down the mountain slope to this day as the "Dudhsagar Falls".

The falls is in the border of Karnataka and Goa and the roads leading to it are maintained by the Goa Forest Department, and are closed in the rainy season. The roads are again opened from the month of October. The Waterfall is located inside the Bhagwan Mahavir Wild Life Sanctuary at Collem in South Goa.

The surrounding area is surrounded by a deciduous forest.

We alighted at Madgaon at about 1215 noon. Car was waiting for us from resort. In next 15 minutes, we were there.

Next 3 days were full of relaxation and fun with family and kids.

Beaches have always attracted me. They give the sense of Serenity and Tranquility, so many ripples outside and very serene inside. This is what the message the ocean gives us.


Majorda beach is very peaceful place, not as crowded as calagute and Anjuna etc. The soft white sand adds to the beauty of this beach. It is about 5 KMs north of fampus Colva beach.

We just use to roam on the beach every morning and evening. If it used to start raining, we just used to sit down there with umbrella open.

North to Majorda is Uttroda beach.We just walked till there.

Utorda makes for a pleasant afternoon. This is a long and isolated strip of sand, with its palm fringed shores. Further north to this is the Arrosim beach, but we didnot walked there. Kids were with us and we did not wanted to get tired.

Lifeguards were on the watch. There presence gave us the feeling of safety and comfort. Though we did not ventured far into waters. We should all respect the mighty ocean!

Second day afternoon, the resort had arranged a small trip across Goa. Though we had already visited those places, still we took the cab. It took us to Mangeshi Temple, Old Goa (Church) as well as a drive through the Miramar beach.

That day evening, we decide to take a cruise at Mandovi river. This goes till, where the Mandovi river merges with ocean and then comes back. The cruise was big and there was quite an excited crowed to enjoy the ride. There was also arrangement of live music on ground floor and they also presented a Portughese dance.

Mostly we spend our time on the deck at first floor. As the cruise reached near the mouth of the sea, there was more ripples and I felt some vomit feeling (dont know if it was Sea Sickness) anyway it subsided as the Cruise returned back.

During this trip, we also got oppertunity to explore Madgaon market. It was a bit crowded and I felt that things were cheaper here as compared to Panjim.

Spending good days there, we took the train back to Bangalore.Unfortunately, on the midway, the train got stopped for many hours due to a technical issue to another train standing on same track a few KMs ahead. Due to this I missed another chance to have glimpse of "DudhSagar".

Krishna wish, will have many more such visits!!

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