Goa: India’s favourite winter destination

 by Dr Himanshu Talwar

Being a writer by profession and traveller by heart, out of the many beautiful locations and must-visit destinations across India, Goa is a place which is always on the top. Every time I visit the state, it’s a different feeling altogether.

Lying along the Arabian Sea, Goa is known as the tiny emerald land situated on the western coast of India. Primarily known for its unspoilt pristine beaches, forts offer a beautiful view of the ocean, exciting water sports, and splendid cruising experience. Goa is the perfect destination to visit if you are in need of an escape from mundanity.

Although people travel with a preconceived notion about the state; however, there are many places one must visit apart from the various famous destinations. Sharing herewith my experience of visiting the best of the places in Goa.

To begin with, Calangute Beach and Vagator Beach in North Goa which is about 15 km away from the state capital, Panaji, Calangute Beach is called the ‘Queen of Beaches’ and is a must-visit place. It is one of the busiest and most commercially popular beaches in Goa. Infamous for its water sports activities such as parasailing, water surfing, banana ride and jet-skiing it offers as well as a restaurant serving seafood and clubs.

In addition, considered one of Goa’s most beautiful beaches is the northernmost beach of Bardez Taluka, visiting the Vagator located 21 km from Panaji is always a delightful experience. It is well-known for its soft white sands and magnificent rocky cliffs as well as its sweeping panoramic views, beach shacks and trance parties.

Famous amongst the tourists as well in Bollywood, Fort Aguada, built by the Portuguese at the confluence of Mandovi River and the Arabian Sea whose crumbling ramparts stand on the Sinquerim Beach is a place not to be missed while travelling to Goa. Fort Aguada is an architectural beauty. The fort has a one-of-a-kind lone four-storey lighthouse that offers a stunning view of the sunset.

If your model of transportation is Railways, and it could be by road/ air, Dudhsagar Falls is something which can’t be missed. Located inside the Mollem National Park, the majestic falls are along the Karnataka Border about 60 km from the capital, Panaji. Its name literally translates to ‘Sea of Milk’ as it is known to be gushing white water down 310m in height its surrounding are deciduous forests, a beautiful sight to see.

For a spiritual experience, and to experience the different cultures, the Basilica of Bom Jesus Church, which is known for its outstanding Baroque architecture, built-in 1594 and inscribed in 1605 must be on your itinerary. The Basilica of Bom Jesus, which translates to ‘Holy Jesus’, has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO as it is a site with rich cultural and religious significance.

Divar Island is an area still unexplored and unexploited by tourism, a perfect destination if you want to disconnect yourself from the busy city life. It is connected to Old Goa only through ferry service. It is a cultural delight known for vintage houses built in Portuguese style, traditional churches and the surrounding evergreen paddy fields. Surrounded by dense woods amidst the beauty of nature, it has been termed a ‘village stuck in time.

A state famous for its well-maintained beaches in both north and south; Palolem Beach in South Goa is worth visiting. A white sand paradise known for being calm and peaceful is one of the favourite attractions for tourists. The main attraction of Palolem Beach is the Dolphin spotting cruise. The clean shoreline, lofty highlands, beach shacks and unique souvenir shops as well as its silent noise parties all add up to the beauty of its tranquillity.

One of the most culturally rich states, Goa has unique places like Fontainhas and Sao Tome. It is a stunning Latin Quarter located in Panaji on the banks of Ourem Creek. The quarter is recognised as a heritage site and is popularly known for its charming Portuguese-style houses on the base of the Altinho hills.

If you truly want to experience and feel the Goan culture, shopping in its local markets – Anjuna Flea Market and Panjim Market, is the best form.  Anjuna Flea Market is known to be a treasure trove of trinkets, handicrafts, hippie clothing, souvenirs and junk jewellery. And, Panjim Market is the perfect blend of old and new as the two are juxtaposed through malls and street-side stalls. You could shop locally its nuts, wine, local spices, handicrafts, famous sausages etc.

Goa is the perfect destination to visit to feel nature’s tranquillity and serenity through its white stretches of sand, calm waterfall etc. The city still reflects its Portuguese heritage, shopping locally and trying out its delectable cuisine is a must. Feel the adrenaline rush and try its water sports activities as well as scuba dive into the ocean. Be it winters or summers, although I prefer the winter season, Goa is the best travel destination to rejuvenate and re-energise yourself.


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