Your Guide to Goa – Panaji

Panaji is the capital of Goa, which is also called as Panjim, very prominent place for it is the main city that connects several places. Here is a the main bus terminal, which is the state run transportation and is very affordable! There is an old church in the middle of the Panjim city with several commercial places, tour organizing offices, restaurants and shops found on either sides of the roads as we get into the interior.

For a first time visitor it will be rather confusing to navigate through the town, since most of the roads are one way. And believe me, almost all the roads are clean and tidy! Smoking in public places is prohibited in Goa and so is ghutka. So there is enough breathing spaces left!

A Visit to Dona Paula is recommended as it holds some prominence. There is a story about a woman named Dona [daughter of a Viceroy] who was in love with a local fisherman and wanted to marry him, and threw herself from over the cliff since her dad denied it. So you can feel the sweet pain of love when you visit this place. It has also been quite popular among many indian movies as the location is beautiful with the view into the sea that stretches as far as your eyes can see.  You can spot big steamers and ships in the sea and it’s a bustling place with many local vendors selling everything between eatables and clothes. The water sports are popular at this place. One can try the motor bike ride into the waters.

Always remember, when in group we can bargain on cost. The road to Dona Paula is easy: from the Panjim circle, take left to the main road which goes past the Miramar beach. It’s just about 10 min drive and we can spot many boats on the river Mandovi connecting to Miramar, which take people for a trip into the sea with music and dance performed aboard, where we can have drinks and enjoy the sights and sounds.

As we all know or might have heard that liquor is inexpensive, rather affordable. We can spot many wholesale shops in Panjim and anywhere in Goa. One evening, we were on our way to North Goa where there are two bridges that connect from Panjim to North Goa over the river Mandovi. We stopped at one of the Wines Stores and we guys just wanted to pick a Vodka, but after knowing the price of Smirnoff full bottle, which was for Rs. 350/-, we were astonished and each one started picking something; a Rum, a Scotch and something or the other of our choice. Mahesh and I, the wine lovers, picked a white wine bottle 🙂  We couldn’t wait any longer to open it and started sipping the wine while driving, and we finished the whole bottle on our drive towards Bagga beach, which is about 19 k.m., approx.. We were little cautious of police and at traffic signals but, as long as you are driving safe and normally, no one stops you.

The North and South of Goa are on the Same coastline of the Arabian sea, but are separated by Panjim, Mandovi river and Dabolim airport or the far end of Vasco DA Gama.

Your complete guide to Goa!

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Your Guide to Goa!

There was a good response for the Goa Travelogue I published last month. Few added comments right here, few others shared their excitement in chat and a couple of them called on mobile for intricate details. And, there is of course Ravi Varma, co-author on this blog who shared his own experiences. Well, he now wants to take it one step forward and compile a guide for anyone who wants to visit Goa. Of course, veteran party animals may have their own stories to tell, however, at least this might help someone like me who needs some insight for the first visit. I already received few requests to provide information to plan a Goa trip. Well, this is for you!

So, the series of posts that follow with ‘Your Guide to Goa – xxxx’ as title are all written by Ravi Varma, and edited by me. He actually wrote one big post (8 pages approx. in Microsoft Word!) but you know, I am trying to keep it simple and publish in digests.You can bookmark this post. I am planning to update this one with all the subsequent post links as and when published. It could be useful to you or for any others planning for a vacation in Goa.

The intent of the series? Read the intro: When we talk about Goa, most of the people are in a wrong assumption, they only think of Booze and Beaches! Of course the booze is always there in loads, and the beaches aren’t a miss. However, there are several other places, which are quite popular and worth visiting! One has to spare some love for history and culture too. For when travelling, what I get from that journey is also important!

A tip: Instead of providing dry information like a boring travel book, Ravi includes his experiences as and when possible to give you his perception of the place/ event. This benefits the readers to place yourself there and live the moment. As said, this is only his perception. Everyone might have different ways to look at the same fun events and places in Goa. If you are one of them and like to add more details, you’re welcome!

Update:

Your Guide to Goa – Panaji

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Goa Trip Day 1: Dampened spirits?

The recent trip we made to Goa inspired me to start ‘Travelogue’ on my blog. Though not as a regular feature, I will pen down details of my memorable trips from now on. All the best to me, but before that, congratulations for completing the Goa trip successfully!

Day 1: Dampened spirits?

October 1st, 2009: All of us were in high spirits for the fun we could imagine in Goa, an international tourist destination and a vacation favorite for many. We were 8 in all starting from Hyderabad, including a professional hired driver for Toyota Qualis. One another friend would start from Banglore and join us directly in Goa. All packed and set, we said hi5 (Goa, baby!) to the tour we were planning for years and kicked off our journey around 12 noon.

The plan was actually to start a little early and reach the destination by midnight. Well, online itineraries we planned showed an estimate of about 12 hours and we were not much bothered by a couple of hours delay to start our journey. However, there was something else lingering in everyone’s mind – the weather conditions and the impact of heavy rains and floods in Andhra Pradesh, Maharastra and Karnataka. First news – we had to change the route as few roads and cities/ towns we would pass through were already cut off. Enjoy maddy!

Couple of hours into the journey and we stopped for lunch. We reviewed the situation, planned our route based on whatever news and information we could gather and set off to Goa. Well, of course after a lot of adventures in between. You will need to review this route map to start with. This is the path we traveled, not the one we planned. Not much deviation on the big picture with respect to route; but definitely a good deal on the experience.

It started to rain normally in the evening but then poured like anything after that, we don’t know till what time. It probably was the first time we got scared of rain, being in a four-wheeler. The navigator in the front seat had the best of experience compared to all the others. It was raining against us (the opposite direction of our movement) and it was too damn heavy. We experienced Star Wars for a moment- except those particles and meteors in space, it was huge, powerful water balls hitting the windshield. Cats and dogs is too lite a metaphor for what we witnessed. We can probably call it ligers and rhinos, no kidding. We had to switch off the movie ‘Manmadhudu’ and just look at the nerve gripping, nail biting scene around us.

We crossed Manvi and were heading towards that red dot in the map above. For about half an hour, not even a single vehicle could be spotted on the road, in either direction. That does indicate something is wrong. And, to top that not even a single person or business in sight to confirm we were in the right route. After about 30 minutes, a TATA Safari overtakes us and we breathed easily for a while. We were following the tail lights in front of us as blind indicator for road ahead. Well, nothing much was visible too in the dark surroundings and heavy rain. Our visibility otherwise too was less than 10-15 meters.

And then suddenly something happened. The Safari in front of us slowed down drastically, and so did we. Before we realized, we were in waters about 2-3 feet high. You can see the water level against the Safari in the picture below. The bottom of the spare wheel is almost touching the water. And then to our fate, we realized we were on a bridge or a culvert. Either situation is bad. If it’s a bridge, and the water is flowing 3 feet above the bridge level, that is enough force to wash off a Qualis. On the other hand, if it’s a culvert, well, there is no water flowing under the construction so all the pressure is on the top itself, where we were placed exactly then. Getting down to analyze the situation is not an option – if we put one foot down we will be washed away. Even opening the door in that situation is a an invitation to danger. Backing up or fiddling with gears is not an option to even think of. We have to just keep moving and that is exactly what we did. First the Safari and then we, got out of the water stream safe! But, that is an experience I would remember for a long time!

Goa trip Safari crossing an overflowing bridge (floods)

After such an encounter, we decided to stop in the next town Sindhanur, the red dot in the map above. We roamed all over the town for a hotel/ lodge without success. Apparently many were stuck in that town as it was surrounded by water and all roads cut off. We managed to have dinner in a tiffin center and were looking for a place to stay. We went to a fuel station for halt but we were evacuated within 10 minutes as water level on that side of the town was increasing and the place could be a mess anytime. We then searched for few places and halted at a government inspection bunglow, or that’s what we thought, for the night. Some of us took short naps in the vehicle itself, while the others were playing with cams and smoking, wandering around the campus, exploring.

A brilliant and energetic start to Goa has come to a dampened halt. Dampened in a literal way- our clothes and bodies more as a result of looking for a place to stay and our efforts to have dinner in heavy rain, NOT our spirits much!

Goa, baby!

Continue reading: Day 2: Mission accomplished.

Wallpaper for October 2009

Goa, baby!

That was the theme and spirit which kept us going throughout the trip. Due to the heavy rains, floods and many other encounters in between, our pleasure trip has become an adventure trip. Neverthless, we had our fun and returned home safe.

More on the adventures in the posts to come. For now, have the Goa beach on your desktop. I clicked this view of Anjuna (?) beach from atop the Aguada Fort (remember the scenes in Dil Chahta Hai?)

Enjoy!

P.S.: Check out the ships in the far end!

oct09

Update:

As per Ravi’s comments below, the beach is Vagator Beach and the Fort is Chapora.