My last trip to Goa was quite an unusual one – one where I almost did not go to any beaches. I say “almost” – for it was only on the last day, we hopped onto the Fort Sinquerim that is along a beach. Again, we did not get onto the beach but just gazed at the sea from atop a bastion. For all the time that we were here, we were busy discovering the other part of Goa – the one that I have been calling – Goa Beyond Beaches.
I have shared quite a bit of my trip of Goa beyond Beaches in my earlier posts. This one is merely to summarize it for you and give you a list that can help you include a few places from Goa beyond beaches in your holiday itinerary.
Why Goa beyond beaches?
Alright – so Goa is beautiful. Beaches are good enough. Why should anyone look beyond it?
If this is what you are thinking, then my reasons below should be able to convince you –
- Goa has a very unusual history – one that is not just interesting, but has a made Goa as you enjoy today. It is quite illuminating to know about it all.
- Goa is a lovely blend of Eastern Indian Culture with the Western Portuguese world. This blend is still visible in Goa. Once you discover these roots, you are bound to enjoy Goa even more.
- Goa is a state, not a city or region. Thus, it is time we look at it as a larger region – one that has so much natural beauty that takes you beyond its beaches. Discovering it is truly refreshing.
If you need to know some more reasons and are not completely convinced, my 7 picks of things to do in Goa beyond beaches will definitely do its trick. Take a look –
Heritage Walk in Panjim
The heritage walk through the Old Latin Quarters or the Fontainhas area of Panjim is a colorful and quite an illuminating experience. Here you can get glimpses of the shared connections with the Portuguese, discover the various facets of the Indo-Portuguese homes, find wishing wells while you pass through their old cafes and bakeries. You will also, be able to see the Fresh Water spring – on the basis of which this area was named as “Fontainhas” or the “Fountain of Phoenix”. Truly an unique and vibrant experience.
It is not enough that you use and enjoy spices. It is always good to know where they come. Goa’s spice plantations are truly a delight for your senses. A lush green paradise with fresh spices growing around, a tour of this plantation is bound to refresh you. You don’t just see these spices, but also, can taste them in the fresh lunch that is served here. Also, you can meet the gorgeous fauna residing in the gardens. Take a peek at this post for my other reasons on why you need to take this tour.
Not too fast, nor too slow, the River Mhadei is a great place to experience some River Rafting. A well-organized and safe adventure sport, river rafting is available only during the monsoon months. And it is not just the adrenaline kick, but also, a soothing and refreshing experience, thanks to the lovely woods along the banks of the River Mhadei. So, if you are headed to Goa around Monsoons, make sure you try this one out.
Indian Customs and Central Excise museum
Experience the battle of wits as the customs officers play a chess game to beat the smugglers . Here you can also, see the goods that were saved from being stolen from India as well as case studies of how they were being smuggled out. One of its kind, this museum is definitely a recommended visit. If you want to know more, click here.
Houses of Goa Museum
Another exceptional museum that is not just unique in the way it is built but also, showcases the various aspects of the Indo-Portuguese homes. Built by a local architect Gerard Da Cunha, this museum explains the various traditions and signature styles and symbols of the Goan homes. And while you are here, take a tour of the cheerful and eco-friendly schools that have been built by the same architect.
Relics of Old Goa
The Old Goa region in Ponda is full of stories and heritage monuments. Be it the age-old Mangeshi temples that were built elsewhere earlier and then, shifted to its current location owing to the Portuguese invasion or the famed Basilica of Bom Jesus that holds the mortal remains of the St. Francis Xaviers. It is a delight to see the elaborate architecture of these places. A day spent in Old Goa definitely brings alive a different perspective to this lovely place called Goa.
Besides Ponda, if you visit the smaller villages and the capital city of Panjim, you are bound to find some really gorgeous churches and temples – that are bound to mesmerize you with their architecture.
Unusual festivals of Goa
The little towns and villages of Goa have some really unusual and vibrant celebrations. I had the fortune of attending one of them – the Touxeachem or the Cucumber festival of Goa which you can see for yourself here. And then, there were others that I was keen to attend – like the fun Chikal Kalo festival where you play with mud or the Bonderam festival that took place in an island off Goa. The Bonderam Festival has some really creative floats and games and I for one, would love to be a part of that. Almost every month, Goa has some festivals that you can visit and be a part of. To find this calendar of events, you can refer to the Goa Tourism website.
With this list, I am sure you are convinced that there is more to Goa than just its beaches and am sure, you would be keen to explore this part of Goa beyond beaches. On how to get to these places, just click on the links that I have included under each suggestion.
Which one of these appeal to you? And if you are still want more options, check out my fellow blogger Sid’s post on his blog Sid-thewanderer to know what else you can do in Goa beyond its beaches.