Goa is one of the most favourite beach destinations across the world. With pristine beaches, unique Portuguese influenced culture and exotic food -Goa is like a big refrigerator & everybody comes here to chill. For most of the Indian tourists, Goa means a North Goa trip of Baga- Calangute- Candolim beaches, a short stint with churches of Old Goa & a Panji city tour. I have been to Goa again & again. As the number of my trips increased, I started exploring the hidden Goa which is very rarely visited by the tourists. There are many hidden gems & many fascinating “Things to do” in this little state. So here is my off beat Goa guide.
1. Walk in the Fontainhas
During my recent visit to Goa, I ticked off one of the long pending point from my travel bucket list. I walked in the Latin Old Quarter known as The Fontainhas in Panji. This walk transported me into the Portuguese era. I enjoyed the walk for its old & finest architecture. The bright coloured old houses with narrow but neat lanes make it a must do experience for everyone visiting Goa.
2. Tiracol Fort & Querim beach
Tiracol Fort also known as Terekhol Fort in Marathi & Konkani is a fort on the northernmost tip of Goa. It can be reached by a ferry from Querim beach or by entering into Maharashtra border by crossing a bridge on Terekhol River. The fort offers beautiful vistas of Arabian Sea, Querim beach & Terekhol River. It has got Portuguese influence on its architecture. It also houses century old church of San Anton or Saint Antony. Though it has been converted into Fort Tiracol Heritage Hotel, it is still open for tourists.
3. Salaulim Dam
Salaulim Dam near Sanguem town is one of the best kept secrets of Goa. It is built in the Zuari Basin on Salaulim River. You can see the serene reservoir dam with few submerged islands & dense forest perched hills on the backdrop. There are no touristy attractions like boating here but you can spend hours just looking at the water. Watching the overflow on ‘duckbill spillway’ is a real stress buster. You can also visit a centuries old temple near the dam.
4. King’s Beer, Bebinca & Port Wine
Goa is known for its exotic liquor Feni. A Feni bottle is very popular as a souvenir among the tourists but there is Goa beyond Feni. King’s Beer is for Goa what Guinness is for Ireland. King’s Beer is very popular among the Goans for it’s smoky, malt aroma & it will cost only few bucks to your pocket. Also don’t forget to taste the Bebinca which is rightly called as the queen of Goan sweets. It is a traditional 16 layered Goan pudding. The sweet taste of Goa’s Port wine will also linger in your memory for a long time.
5. Church of Saint Augustine Ruins
Many people who visit The Basilica in Old Goa are unaware of this hidden gem just across the corner. St. Augustine Tower is one of the most spectacular monuments in Goa. One of the songs from the movie ‘Singham’ was shot in these ruins. The tower & church were built in 1602 by the Augustine followers. The church was abandoned in 1835. The St. Augustine Tower is the remaining part of a building which once was one of the grandest in Goa.
6. Take a ferry ride
Every tourist takes the touristy Mandovi River Cruise with folk dances & other attractions. When in Goa, do as the Goans do. Ferry is the local mode of transport to cross the rivers & creeks. This ferry is totally free for the people & bikes. Four wheeler owners have to pay Rs. 10-15.
7. Goa’s countryside
Goa is not all about the sun & sand. Wandering aimlessly in Goan countryside will surprise you in many ways. Lush green paddy fields, coconut trees, villages, old traditional houses, people doing their daily chores & much more. This is the real Susegad Goa. Recently released Hindi movies like Finding Fanny & Drishyam have beautifully portrayed this quaint side of Goa.
8. Beaches of South Goa
The golden sunset on the Arabian Sea