Goa Hunt to discover the undiscovered with Goa tourism & Honda Navi

posted in: Asia, Culture, Goa, Heritage, India, Nature, Tips | 79

For those of you who have been keeping track of me on my social media, a huge apology. I know that you were all waiting for the whole Goa hunt adventure that I was sharing with you and the same has been delayed. Ending this wait for this post as I take you through my two thrilling days of the Goa Hunt with Goa Tourism and Honda Navi. This journey of mine through Goa was no less than an adventure. It was not tough to find these jewels as they are not exactly hidden. They are right there and at some point in time, you all would have either seen them or heard of them. However, the Goa Hunt uncovered facets of these in a manner that I had not noticed or known of before.

Getting ready for the Goa Hunt on Honda Navi

The Goa Hunt was all about exploring the undiscovered parts of the known places in a thrilling and adventurous manner. The ride on Honda Navi to all these places was the big part of this thrill. The team from Goa Tourism and Honda Navi had scattered tasks at interesting places in Goa for us – the participants to complete. These tasks were aimed at helping us uncover those facets of Goa that we might have missed the first time we had seen them. It also, helped us glean insights into the culture and heritage of the Goans. Sharing my entire experience, along with my tasks and what I uncovered over the 2 days of the Goa Hunt –

Day 1 of Goa Hunt

The Goa Hunt being flagged off by the Minister of Tourism in Goa

The Day one of the Goa Hunt started with a flag off by the Hon. Minister of Tourism of Goa – Mr. Manohar Azgaonkar. We were a team of 18 bloggers and journalists that were paired into teams of two. All ready to ride my new red Honda Navi, I was all ready to zoom out to our first destination in Saligao – Mae De Deus Church. And with the flags drawn, off we rushed to the same.

Task One: Mae De Deus Church in Saligao

First Glimpse of Mae De Deus Church

I had missed this jewel on my earlier visits to Goa and the first sight of it had me gasp in wonder. For once, for the safety of the whole troop, I was glad that I was not the one riding the Honda Navi. I for sure would have just slammed the brakes and caused a few mishaps. Our task here was to take a video of the church with us talking about it.

Mae De Deus Church, Saligao, Goa

The Mae De Deus Church is an old 19th-century church that was constructed by the Portuguese. The Gothic architectural style is quite evident when you see the church with its classic arches and ribbed vaults. The name “Mae De Deus” means Mother of the God and the reason for this name is indeed the statue of the Mother of God that was taken from old ruins in Old Goa and installed here. The installation was quite an affair that the Goans remember – complete with a procession across the River Mandovi and a 21-Gun Salute. As beautiful as this church looks in the day time, they say that it reflects, even more, when it is illuminated in the night. While it was closed by the time we reached it, I got a glimpse of the lovely interiors.

The interiors of Mae De Deus Church in Goa

Bright and colorful, the fact that I could not explore it fully, I know that on my next trip, I will return to see it all.The church is still operational and you can visit it on any day between 9.00am to 12.30pm and from 3.00pm to 5.00pm.

The Belfry of Mae De Deus Church, Goa

Thrilling Travel’s TreasureFor me , the church itself was a discovery but even within the same, it was the Belfry that caught my attention. The two bells of the church ring simultaneously!

Task Two: Mapusa Market

With the first task complete, this time with me riding, we zipped off to our next one – Mapusa Market. Now most of us know this market as the famous Friday market of Goa. However, few of us realize what a cultural experience this can be. Our task here was to go inside and buy a fruit. Along with that, we were to take a picture with the vendor.

Our 2nd task at the Mapusa Market, Goa

Mapusa Market as I discovered during the course of my task had a meaning in Konkani. Map means measurement and Sa meant filling up. Putting it together gives you an essence of how this market came to be. All the local tradesmen as well as those from villages near and far, came here to earn their means. This continues even today. On Fridays, you will find it swamped with things for you to buy. From clothes to jewelry, spices, fruits and vegetables to vessels, it is all here on a bargain. Even if you are not a shopaholic, I would urge you to head here to get a complete cultural experience.

While performing our task, we spoke to a few locals. It is funny how when you start talking to them you realize that you never really knew this market. A few of us got some interesting conversations going and a few of us, even managed to buy unique things like Karvana and Churna bought by Priya Ganapathy and Anurag Mallick.

Thrilling Travel’s TreasureWhile talking to a few locals, I figured that the Goan Sausages and Amot (seedless tamarind) are two specialties that people seek from this market.

Task Three: Anjuna Beach

Anjuna Beach, Goa

What is the first thing that you can think of when it comes to Anjuna Beach? Is it rave music, nightclubs or parties? Or a lovely beach? Well, so did I. And as I discovered through my task – it was not just that. It was about the calm and serenity that you can choose to experience on this secluded beach.

My 3rd task of the Goa hunt - yoga on Anjuna beach

Our task was to do some yoga on the pavilions that you see. I sure was fit enough to pose for many of these but while doing so, I realized that the true meaning of appreciation of sunset was to imbibe the peace that the beach brought in with its sounds and sights.

Thrilling Travel’s TreasureLook beyond the obvious on the Anjuna Beach and you will realize what makes it special beyond its party world.

Task Four: Stirring up a Goan Cocktail

Task four must be a pleasure of a lot of you – relaxing with a Goan cocktail – specifically Watermelon Feni. Now as you might all know, Goa is known for its local alcoholic drink – Feni that is generally, made from Cashewnut or Toddy Palm. However, this relaxation also, was a task where we had to learn how to make it from the Bartender at Calangute Residency and then make one for the team.

Last task on Day One of the Goa Hunt. At the bar

For a person who has never tasted Feni or is a non-alcoholic, this was a blind task. And naturally, what I made was a disaster. However, what made the whole task interesting were the little insights that the bartender managed to share with us while divulging the recipe. Feni essentially means bubbles of a froth.  The first type of Feni was made from Coconut but soon they discovered a way to extract it from Cashew nut. Feni is not allowed anywhere outside Goa and thus, if you are a connoisseur of hard drinks and are headed to Goa, it is a crime to not have tasted it all. As to where you can find it in Goa – everywhere! Just remember to team it up with some authentic Goan Food.

Thrilling Travel’s Treasure: The Goa Tourism board has made an appeal to make Feni a heritage brew of Goa

Day 2 of Goa Hunt

Day two of our Goa Hunt began at Panjim. The day was filled with different shades of culture and heritage – and when I say shades, I literally mean so. Read on!

Task One: Fontainhas or the Old Latin Quarters of Panjim

The most colorful task of Goa Hunt - a walk through Fontainhas

This was my favorite part of Goa during my last trip and I was more than happy to re-visit it all. This time with a good amount of background  -thanks to my last visit to Fontanhas and the Houses of Goa Museum. If you have read my last post on Fontainhas, you would know that this was the old Portuguese settlement of Goa. The colorful heritage homes date back to the several centuries and some of them still have the remnants of the original builders. Our task was simple  – to picture ourselves against 5 different colored homes.

Three colors of Fontainhas in one frame

Simple as you can see, because finding 5 distinct colors would never be an issue here. Naturally, my first stop was at the self-named Tricolored chowk, with its three distinct colored homes. Wondering what I am talking about, check out my earlier post on the Old Latin Quarters here.

Thrilling Travel’s Treasure: There is something new that you are bound to spot different from the last time you visited. For me, it was discovering the heritage of the Gitanjali Gallery and Panjim Inn. The centuries-old homes and estates that were converted to its present state and maintained so that one does not lose its old world charm. Some bits displayed on their walls and some told by their ancestral owners.

Task Two: Old Goa Churches

From the colorful heritage homes, we zipped off to rediscover the trio of the Old Goan Churches. Our task here was simple, walk along the three churches and take a picture of the facade of each one of them.

Facade of Basilica of Bom Jesus, Goa

The first church that I did was the Basilica of Bom Jesus, the church that still has the mortal remains of the St. Francis Xavier. The church is over 4 centuries old and has been named as a minor basilica. In fact, this church is known to be one of the oldest ones in India. The description and history of this church merit a separate post – one that I will have up shortly.

The 2nd and 3rd church, Se Cathedral on the right and the Church of St. Francis Assisi
Se Cathedral in Old Goa

The 2nd church and the 3rd church were right opposite the Basilica of Bom Jesus and were interconnected. Note this point before you read my Thrilling Travel Treasure. The 2nd church with its entrance facing the East is called Se Cathedral and is the largest church in Asia. It was built as a sign of victory of the Portuguese over Adil Shahi, a feat that was attained on the Feast of St. Catherine’s. I could not resist going to the church and am truly glad that I did as I discovered so much more about its history and significance. For one, there are some mysterious crypts under the church and for another, there are bones of the original architect hidden within them – more on this? Soon in another post.

The facade of Church of St.Francis Assisi

The third church – Church of St.Francis Assis led to a completely unexpected discovery. Before I get into that, a little of what I felt about this church. This looked more of a castle than a church and it is said that for some time it was a convent.  Right now, it has a museum and the sad part is that I did not have time to explore that. They say that some of the must-see things here are the beautiful murals on the wall and the main altar. What made this church special for me were old ruins and an old cemetery right beside it.

The lesser known but significant Chapel of St. Catherine in Goa

It took me some digging to find out more about it. The old ruins were behind the Portuguese cemetery was that of a small church called the Chapel of St. Catherine. This one is sadly ignored despite a very important event. It is said that the church stands on the very gate where Alfonso de Albuquerque entered the city of Old Goa in 1510. Discovering this and the gunpowder factory near it was indeed, something new.

Thrilling Travel’s Treasure: The undiscovered and lesser-known Chapel of St. Catherine was definitely high but what makes this discovery special is this – Three different facades built by the Portuguese, each different and yet similar. Note that the 2nd and 3rd church – Se Cathedral and Church of Francis de Assisi is joined to form the letter T. It is in fact joined by a small portion that was termed as Archiepiscopal Palace. This is where the Archbishops in Goa resided before they moved to Panjim. The whole T structure along with the Basilica of Bom Jesus – that is all the three churches of our task were in the form of layout that forms a Holy Cross!

Task Three: Dona Paula

Dona Paula in Goa

The last task of our Goa hunt led us to the heritage and beautiful Dona Paula. A picturesque location that has appeared in many movies, there is a fair amount of interesting stuff about this place. Like this statue.

The famous statue of Dona Paula

There are several stories connected to Dona Paula and this statue. Some say it is Dona with her elusive husband Paulo who was a fisherman. She kept waiting for him and he did not return. She kept waiting till she turned to stone. Another story has it that Dona Paulo was a rich daughter of the Portuguese Viceroy who settled here and was known to be very charitable to the villages around. After she died, her tomb was erected close to the Chapel at the Governor’s Palace. And in her honor, this village was called Dona Paula.

Either way, eerie sightings of her wearing a pearl necklace have been reported and that definitely piques everyone’s interest. Today, this area is known for its watersports and its lovely landscape. Tourists and locals flock here and our task was to approach one of them and find out what “Goa means to them”. The answers given by some were quite insightful – from beaches to heritage to party and food. Goa definitely appears as every traveler’s paradise.

Thrilling Travel’s TreasureDona Paula’s statue has a third explanation as per Goa Tourism board. It is none of the legends above but is a depiction of India with one figure symbolizing old and the other young India. This one was new to me as so far I just knew of the legends.

My experience with Honda Navi

Honda Navi - my lovely companion on the Goa Hunt

Goa was fun indeed with this adventure set by Goa Tourism board and Honda Navi. Not only did I uncover the hidden secrets but I found the whole experience exhilarating owing to Honda Navi. This gearless bike initially overwhelmed me for it looked like a heavy bike but once I got onto it, I realized riding it was a breeze. While it looked like a geared heavy vehicle, it was in fact quite light and easy to ride. Maneuvering through those small roads to get to our destinations in Goa was just so simple. I especially felt this when I rode it around the narrow lanes of Fontainhas in Panjim.

Through all kinds of terrains and roads in Goa, Honda Navi made it easier

We tried out the Honda Navi during the Goa Hunt on soft sands of a beach, rugged terrains of the hills of Anjuna, the paved roads and inroads of Mapusa and Fontainhas and the long stretch to Old Goa and Dona Paula. All through, it felt comfortable and light. Not for a moment, I felt the stress of riding or heaviness on my shoulder. The only drawback here was that the bike being light, did feel a little unstable when bigger vehicles overtook us at high speeds.

The seating is perfect for two. We were loaded with two knapsacks – one each, and that is all there was space for. There is no additional storage space on the bike but if you are head out in Goa, the way we were, then that would not be a constraint.

According to me, the Honda Navi is a perfect companion to exploring Goa – with its lovely beaches, unexplored heritage, divine culture and delectable food. Don’t you agree? And what do you think of the Goa hunt and my discovered treasures? Message in and let me know.

Goa Hunt

Travel Tips:

  • There are links within some of the attractions that you can click on for further information. These can give you in-depth travel tips about those.
  • For any other information, you can visit the Goa tourism website through this link.
  • On the technical details of Honda Navi, you can click through the name.
  • If you are exploring Goa like how I did for this Goa Hunt, remember to slather a lot of Sun Tan, pack a helmet and a bottle of water. Drink enough water as it does get warm in Goa.

P.S: I was invited by Goa Tourism Board and Honda Navi to be a part of the Goa Hunt. However, the views expressed here are completely my own.

 

 

 

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