THE ROME OF EAST: GOA


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July 13th 2007
Published: July 13th 2007
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Goa has a special place in my memories. It is the place where I met my husband and also because this was my first expedition alone. I had heard that the new year eve is celebrated with much fun and frolic in Goa.As I had been selected as a lecturer in a college and had been saving money for something special, I decided why not take a trip to Goa.I found that people in North India are much intruding and misbehaving towards a lone female traveller. Though I didn't face such problem in Goa.

Goan history:
Often known as 'The Rome of the East', Goa was ruled by a great number of Indian kingdoms and dynasties from the 4th century onwards.The name 'Goa' is derived from the Konkani (The Goan Language) word 'Goyan', which means a patch of tall grass. Myth logically, Goa's origin is ascribed to Parshurama, a God of the Hindu pantheon.Goa became a Portuguese colony in 1510 following the urges of trade and demand of spices, cotton and indigo. Portuguese renovated Goa by erecting one of the great churches like the church of St. Cajetan and Bom Jesus basilica in Old Goa, which is a pilgrimage site for the Christians all over the world.

Goan culture
When you travel to Goa, " The jewel of India" you discover that they enjoy life to the fullest without getting tense about the unfavourable repercussions. 'Siesta' is an important part of life in Goa. I noticed shuttered down shops in afternoon, my host told me that the time from1pm to4 pm provides an afternoon nap to the Goans.Legendary Lata Mangueshkar is from Goa just like the classical singer Kishori Amonkar and the pop singer Remo FernandesThere is a vast representation of the gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon, which testifies to the catholicity of the people's beliefs as well as their mutual tolerance. Indeed, Goa is could be loved just for this rare quality which one feels imperceptibly on even a short visit.

Goa beaches:
Calangute is my favourite beach. It is the most famous and most crowded. if u love music,dance,chitter-chatter of countless people around you then calangute is the place for you. The main road which leads straight to the beach is full of Kashmiri-run handicraft boutiques and Tibetan stalls selling Himalayan curios and jewellery. The high quality textiles from Rajasthan, Gujarat and Karnataka can be bought from here.
Anjuna Beach: Anjuna is known for its infamous full moon parties and for its flea market.
Baga beach:Baga is actually an extension of Calangute beach but it is secluded enough to gain popularity among the topless sunbathers, though it is not among the famous 'nude' beaches. It is difficult to arrange for the transport in the late evenings in the area as there are no buses to the place after the dark and it takes a long walk to the Calangute taxi stand from the beach.
Palolem Beach - is also known as "Paradise Beach". This beach is south Goa is about a mile long and it provides seclusion and idyllic scenery. If you’re looking for a most unhurried and balmy beach experience, complete with the most breathtaking coastal scene, this is the beach for you.
Mandrem or Morjim: This is a place for those seeking peace and solitude. The beach stretches across three hamlets: Mandrem, Ashwem and Morjim. Divided by little creeks, these are spectacular windswept stretches of sand, devoid of crowds of people.
Though Goa is known for its beaches, the over two dozen temples in the town are worth a visit too.

Where to stay:
If you are going for Christmas and new year then you must book well in advance as this is the peak tourist season. Not only all big and small hotels are booked out, you won’t find rooms to stay in family run lodges also. My husband's uncle and aunt were with us on our second trip and we had decided to go there on a spur of the moment. We reached there with all our baggage and confidently knocked at the door of our erstwhile host( we stayed with him previous year) but he had no room! He tried to accommodate us with his relative's but again the reply was "no vaccancy".After an exhaustive search a widow gave us her son's study (she had seen two couples wandering back and forth in the street and worried about the "ladies").The room was very humid and practically a rat hole (our benefactor charged a whopping amount for 2 nights stay). My advice is that if you are going there only for New Year eve then don’t worry about booking. Just enjoy the sun and sand and the whole festive atmosphere of Goa with a feni in your hand. We saw many people who were comfortably sleeping on beaches the morning after New Year eve. But this suggestion is only for those who are travelling alone or with friends. If you have family with you then booking the hotel must be your top priority. Or you can make a deal in local lodges which are equally good. .Hire a bike and go on long drives to explore the Goan beaches and scenery.. From Kinetic Honda Scooter to Enfield. You have a number of machines to choose from.

The Carnival:
Tour of Goa is incomplete if you miss out being a part of the Christmas Carnival. It does not matter whether one enjoys or see others enjoying. There is enthusiasm and happiness all around. . Floats depicting popular lullabies and nursery rhymes make a whimsical and colorful sight on the streets. The three-day festival primarily celebrated by Christians, has absorbed Hindu tradition-bound revelry and western dance forms, and stimulated by the artistry of the Goan genius turned into a pageantry of singular effervescence.

Restaurants:
Tito's on calangute: TITO'S Restaurant is a favourite with locals and foreigners alike.. Stars like Richard Gere, Salman Khan, Sanjay Dutt, Aishwarya Rai (to name a few) have all dined here.
Pagoda (CALANGUTE)
Excellent genuine Chinese restaurant run by a Chinese expat. Situated on the junction of the Baga & C.S.M. Road
J&A's Little Italy (BAGA)
One in the list of most popular restaurants in Goa, this Italian restaurant comes highly recommended and is situated on the charming Baga river promenade.

Shopping:
Shopping in the famous traditional markets of the Mapusa and Anjuna area is a fascinating experience. These markets are a mirror of Goa's ethnic culture and provide a glimpse of the typical Goan way of doing business. The Friday Market at Mapusa, where stalls sell everything from curios and old coins to dried fish and spices. The Wednesday Market at Anjuna Beach started by and for foreigners is an extremely lively spot where souvenirs, beachwear, trinkets and handicrafts are sold at bargain prices. Be sure to sharpen your bargaining skills before you go, the vendors, who’re surprisingly fluent in English, are quite sharp-witted. There are many tattoo shops also. Al’s tattoo studio in goa is the best on baga road opp ronel hotel.

Souvenirs
Feni Feni is the native liquor of Goa famous all over the world and almost synonymous with the region.Goans still believe that any ceremony require the joie de vivre sans, the company of alcohol as they are prefect celebratory of goenchi feni. The birth of a child is cheered with feni, a death is mourned with feni apart from fiesta, football and fish as are the 'famous fours', which go into making any goan happenings.



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