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Beautiful Goa

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					                  Beautiful Goa
                                                      Nestled along the warm and boundless blue of the Arabian
                                                      Sea, Goa is breathless and mesmerizing.




                                                                                          By: Subhasish Chakraborty

I dropped by at my travel agent’s       Thali comprising of king fish curry        actually knows the source of the
office for my air tickets to Goa.       and rice. But before grabbing my           water, and I was told by my guide
But I was politely told that there      dinner, I wanted to try the vintage        - Krish that this particular spring
were no seats available for the         Goan wine, Feni, which is made             is 700 years old, which is indeed
next 15 days, this being the peak       of cashew and about which I had            mind-boggling.
tourist season in Goa. Ultimately       heard a lot. After a sumptuous Goan
the travel consultant, with great       meal, I finally rested for the night.      Our next stop was Dona Paula,
difficulty, managed a rail ticket for   I left my windows open so as to            which is about 7 kms away from
me. I would have to travel to Pune      allow the sea breeze in. That night I      Panaji city. The drive is beautiful
by train, and from Pune by road to      slept like a log. The sea breeze was       and there are Portuguese style
Panaji, the state capital of Goa.       blowing at full blast and since I was      villas/houses on either side of the
                                        a little inebriated with Feni, I felt as   road.
The journey was indeed tiresome.
                                        if I was floating in thin air.             Dona Paula is a secluded bay that
It was evening by the time my
bus reached Panaji’s Kadamba Bus        After a good night’s sleep, I woke         offers a magnificent view of the
Terminus. Though I was dead tired,      up to the chirping of the birds. I         Mormugao harbor. This idyllic rocky
the sheer salubrious air of Panaji                                                 tourist attraction lies at the spot
                                        could clearly see the red molten
invigorated me. I hopped into an                                                   where the Mandovi and the Zuari
                                        ball slowly rising up across the
auto-rickshaw and straight away                                                    Rivers meet the Arabian Sea. It
                                        Miramar beach horizon. It was truly
went to Miramar beach, which is                                                    is easily one of the most popular
                                        an ethereal setting, but I could
just 4 kms from Panaji city center,                                                spots on the itinerary of tourists
                                        not spend much time at the beach
and my hotel, Miramar Residency                                                    visiting Goa.
                                        since I was scheduled to go on a
was right on the beach.                 sightseeing trip of Panaji city.           We could see a few ferries taking
When the clock struck 9 I thought                                                  passengers across the bay. The
                                        My car arrived on time and we first
it was time for dinner. I was hungry                                               more adventurous ones were busy
                                        visited the Boca De Vaca Spring
as well. The bellboy told me that                                                  with water sports activities. By
                                        located in the heart of Panaji city.
room service was available. So I        The spring is located next to the          the way, water scooters, boating,
called up Foodland - the in-house       Mahalaxmi temple.                          parasailing, yachting, windsurfing
restaurant of Miramar Residency                                                    and fishing are available in this
-- and ordered a traditional Goan       The most fascinating aspect of             area.
                                        Boca De Vaca Spring is that nobody

            www.CityMasala.com                             7                  July 2011
There is a romantic
legend behind the
name Dona Paula.
Dona Paula is the
village where the
lady of that name,
Dona     Paula    de
Menezes is believed
to have loved, lived
and died - a gory
death in the second
half of the 18th
century.
The fishermen of
the area have a
marvelous collection
of    ghost    stories
about Dona Paula.
On moonlit nights,
they say - on pitch
dark    nights,    say
others - at the stroke
of midnight, she
rises from the sea
and roams the area,
wearing a string of
pearls and nothing
else.
It was 4 p.m. and
Krish,      my    guide
politely asked me
if I would like to                         Mulgaonkar and began learning            and freshened up, and like every
venture out a little from Panaji city      the art of painting with pencils and     other Goan, I went out to have my
to a fishing village close by. I readily   watercolor.                              fill of Feni at a local bar.
agreed because it would provide me
with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity      Namdev Phadte speaks chaste              The following day I was to go on
to visit an authentic Goan fishing         Portuguese. He had spent nearly          a whistle-stop tour of the world
village. Krish suggested we go to          35 years with the Portuguese             famous beaches of North Goa. Our
Wadwad where his ancestral house           administration     at    Goa.     He     first stop was at Fort Aguada. Fort
is located and his father, a painter,      nostalgically recalled that in those     Aguada is just 10 kms from Panaji.
still lives there.                         days the Portuguese Government           This magnificent fort was built by
                                           had brought cameras to shoot a film      the Portuguese to keep a watch over
So off we zipped towards the sleepy        on Goa but alas there was nobody         enemy ships. There is a lighthouse
fishing village of Wadwad, leaving         with the skills to operate those         built by the Portuguese adjacent to
the narrow lanes and by-lanes of           cameras.                                 the fort. From the northern ramparts
Panaji. Wadwad is just 8 kms away                                                   of the fort you can see the turquoise
from Panaji, and the drive was             With the passage of time, the
                                                                                    blue Arabian Sea right below. The
beautiful. We encountered a steep          Portuguese in Goa somehow came
                                                                                    Governor’s     residence,     Caboraj
hill, and once we crossed that, we         to know about Namdev and he was
                                                                                    Niwas can be clearly sighted on a
reached Krish’s place.                     soon summoned to shoot the film
                                                                                    clear sunny day.
                                           on Goa on behalf of the Department
His father who is all of 75 years          of Tourism. The film was made in         A little distance away from Fort
came out to greet us and offered me        the Portuguese language and was          Aguada is the queen of all beaches -
a glass of Coconut water. And then         extensively sold in Portugal.            Calangute. The moment we reached
we started our conversation.                                                        Calangute we could sense the
                                           After the Portuguese left India, he
Krish’s father, Namdev Phadte                                                       ethereal laidback ambience of this
                                           started working from his modest
nostalgically  recalled   that   he                                                 world famous beach made popular
                                           home at Wadwad as a painter.
went away to Mumbai in 1944 for                                                     by the flower children. The streets
                                           Today because of his hard-earned
higher studies. In those days he                                                    are narrow and on either side of
                                           reputation as a painter he is often
used to travel by ship. His passion                                                 the road we could see a number
                                           requested to paint portraits of people
was photography and he got an                                                       of departmental stores, cyber
                                           from Goa as well as foreigners who
opportunity to work under the                                                       cafes and traditional Goan open
                                           visit Goa.
tutelage of the well-known Parsee                                                   air restaurants. Foreign tourists on
photographer, Nusarwanjee. He              After an eventful day, I finally got     motorbikes were zooming past us,
came in contact with Raghubir              back to my hotel at Miramar beach        probably going towards Calangute

             www.CityMasala.com                              8                 July 2011
                     42
www.CityMasala.com   9    June 2011
beach where     there   was   much     the opinion that Arambol beach was     clothes and souvenirs.
activity.                              by far the most spectacular beach of
                                                                              The breaking wave height at Arambol
                                       North Goa and very quiet - not many
Calangute beach is about 4 miles                                              is 0.8 meters; the foreshore slope
                                       tourists venture towards Arambol.
long and covered with palm trees.                                             in September is a moderate 1 in
It used to be a hippy hangout          Arambol is indeed stunning. It has     30. Judging from the number of
during the 60’s and 70’s. Even         a charm of its own. What is more,      swimmers in the water, they felt
                                       there is no commercialism. It is at    that this was a safe beach.
today, the beach is unchanged
                                       the center of the longest stretch of
- pristine, serene, golden sand                                               After spending close to two hours
                                       Goa’s northern strand stretching
and sun. The beach is filled           from the mouth of Tiracol River to     at Arambol chatting with friendly
with sun worshippers and their         the mouth of Chapora. Backed by        tourists at the beach shack and
children. Fresh seafood is on sale                                            endless glasses of Feni, we returned
                                       swaying palm trees, it offers rocks
everywhere.                                                                   to Panaji. By the time we reached
                                       in some parts, sand for the most
                                                                              Miramar Residency it was pitch dark.
                                       part, and a fresh water pond close
After breakfast at Cafe Pedro, we
started our onward journey. By         to the sea. The sand on the beach is   I was totally immersed in the
afternoon we had covered Baga,         soft and white and very popular with   romance of Goa. The more I traveled,
Anjuna,   Vagator,   Morjim    and     foreigners. A beach shack called       the more I fell in love with the
Mandrem beaches. We didn’t spend       itself a Menzes Moa’s Corner and       laidback Goan lifestyle. In Goa life is
much time at any of these beaches      a board proclaimed “Scuba Diving       unhurried. There is no rat race, and
because we found them to be a little   School”. The approach road to the      the Goans abhor competition and
too crowded. My guide, Krish was of    beach is lined with shacks selling     pressure cooker situations. Here in


           www.CityMasala.com                          10                July 2011
Here in Goa, life is one big party.
Goa is not just about beaches.
Historically too, it has a lot to offer.
Goa is well known for its magnificent
whitewashed churches, temples and
mosques, which are centuries old.
The ten-kilometer drive to Old Goa
or Velha Goa is an interesting one.
The most famous churches of Old
Goa lie to the right and left of the
road from Panaji: the Basilica of
Bom Jesus and the Se Cathedral.
The Bom Jesus was constructed in
the year 1594 and completed by
1605 by the Portuguese. In this
church, three architectural styles
have converged -- Corinthian
(Greek), Doric (Roman) and Ionic
(Italian). The dead body of Rev.
St. Francis Xavier is still preserved.
Every 10 years the body is opened
to the public for 45 days starting
from 25th of November to the 10th
of January. Probably the body of St.
Francis Xavier will again be open to
the Christian world in 2004.
Across from the church of Bom Jesus
is the Se Cathedral. Se Cathedral is
the biggest cathedral in Asia built
by the Portuguese in the year 1650.
Legend has it that St. Catherine
was a beautiful Egyptian lady. But
she was a nun. The king of Egypt
wanted to marry her but since she
was a nun she refused to marry the
king. So later on, the king captured
her and killed her brutally. The sheer
brutality of St. Catherine’s killing by
the king of Egypt is visually depicted
in the main altar.
The importance of Se Cathedral
is the Miracle Cross. The cross is
still preserved and people who are
sick or are suffering from incurable
diseases still take away small pieces
of the wooden cross to place on the
mouth of the patient.
I have always been fascinated
by Indian architecture and my
admiration for the South Indian
temple architecture is immense.
Here in Goa, I never imagined
I would be able to witness the             authentic Goan ambience inside the     Kempinski hotel is that it is a compact
very best of fusion architecture,          hotel. As we sat in the lobby facing   5 star luxury hotel spread over 75
wherein the famed South Indian             the stunning beach I was told by       acres of impeccably landscaped
temple architecture blended so             Mr. Pascal Dupuis (the manager)        topography offering the very best of
harmoniously with Goa’s very own           that the Leela Kempinski Goa was       Indian hospitality with a tinge of the
Portuguese architecture at the             a landmark hotel with an exclusive     fabled Goan warmth and generosity.
magnificent Leela Kempinski hotel.         12 hole, par 3 golf course and ever
                                           since its inception the hotel has As we made an informal round of
Since I was invited to visit this          endeavored for sustainable tourismthe hotel’s plush interiors, I was
magnificent hotel, we headed                                                 impressed by the hotel’s impeccably
                                           practices by gainfully involving the
towards Mobor beach via the                locals.                           appointed suites – Lagoon Suite,
beautiful Goan countryside. I was                                            Lagoon Deluxe Suite, Royal Villa,
simply stupefied by the sheer              The unique feature of the Leela the Club Suite and the truly opulent
           www.CityMasala.com                            11             July 2011
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Presidential   Suite.    While   the     that’s the best time to romance at        flights from Mumbai. One can reach
Lagoon Suite is conspicuous by its       the Leela Kempinski Goa. As the           Mumbai by Indian Airlines, Jet
traditional Portuguese ambience,         dim lights came on at the hotel’s         Airways and Kingfisher etc… from
the Royal Villa with its master          exclusive Riverside restaurant, which     Mumbai and take a connecting flight
bedroom and an exclusive guest           is located in a truly idyllic setting     to Goa.
room was the very epitome of royal       – by the banks of the shimmering
indulgences complete with Italian        Sal River, everything was perfect –       There is another alternative:
marble bathroom, sunken baths,           the locale, the ambience, the food        From Mumbai you may travel by
Jacuzzi, exclusive living and dining     (authentic Italian) and the starlit       Konkan Railways to Goa (Karmali /
rooms, a private pool and terrace        night sky. The only thing missing         Margao).
that offers uninterrupted views of       was my girlfriend.                        Accommodation:
the golf course and the bay.
                                         We settled for an early dinner as we      In Goa you will find a wide range
Being a Travel Writer, I have been       had to reach Panaji for our journey       of accommodation starting from
fortunate enough to visit some of        home. We were ushered in to the very      budget to 3-star, 4-star, 5-star
India’s most opulent hotels but here     laidback “Susegado”, which means          and 5-star deluxe. Many domestic
at the magnificent Leela Kempenski       relax and live a little in Portuguese     tourists     prefer    government
Hotel in Goa, I was completely           and this idyllic restaurant does live     accommodation and so Goa Tourism
bowled over by the sheer richness        up to that adage every bit. I feasted     Development Corporation (GTDC)
of the artistic heritage that was a      on the day’s freshest catch from the      has set up hotels and resorts in all
blend of Indian and Portuguese.          sea and being a fish-eating Bengali,      the tourist spots of Goa. The rates
                                         I kept things pretty simple and truly     are competitive without being too
And when it comes to cuisine, I
                                         savored the Tiger Prawn curry with        extravagant.
make it a point to gobble only the
                                         plain rice.
local delicacies and here at the Leela                                             For further information and
Kempinski’s signature restaurant –       I was now coming towards the end          reservations, please free to
“Jamavar” that offers both Indian        of my blissful Goan vacation. But         contact:
as well as local Goan delicacies, I      the best part of being in Goa was         Goa Tourism Development
found the Prawn based dishes to be       that I was unhurried. There was           Corporation Ltd,
of a very high quality. The best thing   no tension and no stress. Simply a        Trionora Apartments,
about Jamavar is that it is never        laidback style of living which helped     Dr Alvares Costa Road,
too crowded and what impressed           me recharge my batteries for the
me the most was the elaborately          rough grind of city life.                 Panaji, Goa- 403001
decorated wooden screens and rare                                                  Tel: 0832 2424001/ 02/ 03
old-fashioned Jamavar shawls.            Fact File:                                Fax: +91-832-2423926 / 2420779
                                         Getting There: Dabolim Airport in         Email:
On the advice of Mr. Pascal Dupuis,
we waited for dusk to descend, for       Goa is well connected by regular          reservations@goa-tourism.com
           www.CityMasala.com                             14                   July 2011

				
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