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Published: August 7th 2007
Why Goa? As I stood outside the airport waiting to catch a cab to the hotel, I couldn’t help but wonder why. The airport itself was small and dingy, seemed unwelcoming yet was teeming with local and foreign tourists, most of who were unperturbed by the strong stench of urine emanating from the parking lot. If Goa was one of India’s hottest tourist destinations there surely must be a better reason for these planeloads of arrivals - as I was soon to learn first hand.
They say, first impressions are the best impressions and my first impression of the drive through the city left much to be desired. The place itself seemed to be in neglect in spite of all the revenue pouring in from tourism. It took us an hour to get to the resort in Cansaulim. Once inside the gates, aloha - you were in a whole new country! The planned layout with pockets of swimming pools and ponds surrounded by cottages, painted copper red to give them a red limestone effect; interlinked with cobblestone pathways was impressive and this was yet another vista of the many façades of Goa.
Over the years, Goa’s long sandy beaches
beachside coconut groves, Goa
where there are coconut palms, there is 'pheni' - the native Goan drink!
have allured many a traveler across the continental spectrum and it was only fair for us to reach out and experience what millions have done before us - head to the waters! The sun was beginning its downward descent when we finally made it to the beach. The sunset was fabulous and strong waves lapped the shore as we walked along. The texture of the sand was powdery and felt soft beneath our feet and as the waves relentlessly continued their exercise, it was for man to stand on the shore and admire Gods creation in its entirety. Surely, the power of nature supersedes man made attractions and it’s this magnetic pull that attracts people from all over the globe. A beautiful, long and clean beach coupled with a great resort only added to the marketability of the place. My initiation thus complete, we headed back to the man made vagaries of our holiday.
The next day, a sightseeing trip was planned for the hotel guests and we hopped on for the outdoor trip! We stopped by the St. Xavier’s church where St Xavier still lies in a glass coffin. Our guide with a slur in his speech and
clean, sandy beaches, Goa
holiday revelers - distant view
a slouch reminded me of the Goan characters from Bollywood cinema! He informed us that it took ninety years to build the basilica and it was a revered tourist destination here. Opposite the basilica was the Se Cathedral, the largest in Asia. All the churches and cathedrals reflect the Roman Catholic Portuguese heritage and their influence is still around even to this day.
Lunch was planned at the Colaso home. The place owned by the Colaso family (most of who had migrated back to Portugal) was managed by a member of its fourth generation. The house was complete with its original antique furniture and wall hangings and had its back to the Arabian Sea. Ms Colaso who was the sole resident of the place informed us that during her great grandparent’s time, people would come visiting by boat and were received on the lawns facing the sea. An interesting Bollywood trivia is that the movie ‘My brother Nikhil’ was shot on site. Ask Ms Colaso if she would favor more movie shootings in her home and she exclaimed in her soft, low toned voice, “they dirty the place and move the furniture around!”
All in all it was
mid day, Goa
the sun, the sea, the surf, the sand - but hey, where are the sun bathers?!
a short and sweet trip - not the conventional touristy holiday but then again there are really only two types of tourists who visit Goa; those who succumb to the pull of the ocean, for whom primarily; an ideal holiday is one spent doing nothing by the beach - the view of the ocean itself being the best elixir and those who come searching for Goa’s Roman Catholic heritage, its churches, its colonial aura and its hybrid ethnicity. The best time of the year to visit would be December as the weather is most favorable then and for seafood lovers, the Goan cuisine is an added bonus. The pristine beaches indeed deserve a big thumb’s up! Go Goa!
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