Goan by birth until death 🙂 Yes you read it right , I am a proud Goan and will be for the rest of my life.
Today I just thought about sharing my thoughts on my favorite city/hometown and the only place in this world where I feel more homely even when compared to my current city Mumbai. My idyllic holiday destination is characterized by a tantalizing illusion of emerald, green and blue- my ideal holiday destination is Goa. Its golden sand washed by a dash of blue waters, the sky reflecting the sea underneath and swaying palms along with beautiful monuments. In all aspects, Goa is an embodiment of perfection, a perfect place to spend loving moments with the family. Goa is a beautiful sun-soaked tourist paradise surrounded by abundant water, golden beaches and lush green trees all together in 3700 sq. km. It is also known as the ‘Pearl of the orient’ and ‘The Rome of east’. Goa was affirmed a state on May 30th 1987 making it India’s 25th state. Goa is a melting pot of different cultures and ideals all across India.
Fun, food and feni! When vacation plans are tossed around, few Mumbaikars can resist the lure of Goa. For those who’ve only wistfully watched Bollywood versions, the Bombay-to-Goa road trip ought to rank among the best of its kind in India.
Lets read on more 🙂
From mid-December to end January, the world beats a path to Goa’s beaches; if this is your chosen time, make advance plans for accommodation. Tourist traffic touches smaller peaks in October-December and February-middle June. For the rest of the year, you can drive down on a whim. Goa in the monsoons is cheap, emptied of tourists and enchantingly green; driving down however, presents challenges.
Drive: This beauteous state is flanked by the “western ghats” that undulate on its east and the Arabian Sea that spreads out over the West, as it sprawls over 3000 sq. km^2. It takes me away from the daily hustle of city life. NH 17, the west coast interstate highway is among India’s best (expect some bad patches during and after the monsoon), so all your trusty vehicle needs beforehand is basic servicing. Double check your brakes, since you’ll be travelling through the Ghats and negotiating plenty of bendy bits. Are the lights and indicators in order? Don’t forget your toolkit should you need to change a wheel. A little TLC for your car in the form of rubber matting will save it from the undesirable effects of salt water and sand in Goa.
The trip takes between 11 and 15 hours, depending on how many pit stops you make. The 500-odd kilometres virtually fly – mostly a delightfully scenic drive, with paddy fields, coconut palms and areca nut plantations zipping past your window.
Ideally, start around 6.00 am or earlier to skip heavy morning traffic. Mumbai to Panvel is a signal free zip over flyovers. After Panvel, NH17 to Goa is your typical two-lane highway; it’s in fairly good shape, but watch out for treacherous corners. Early morning, this is a pleasant stretch, lined on both sides with forest. If you’re a birdwatcher, you may not be able to resist stopping off at Karnala Bird Sanctuary, home to over 150 species – Drongos, Paradise flycatchers, Red-vented bulbuls and more. You’ll probably zip uncaringly past Pen, little knowing this was historically an important port city and is now a major centre for making the huge Ganesh idols worshipped during Ganeshotsav.
Chiplun in Ratnagiri District is a popular halfway halt for most Bombay-Goa travellers. The Western Ghats are soon upon you, affording magnificent views below of the marshy tracts around the Vashishti River. Exhilarating as the ghats are, stay attentive and use your car horn liberally.
Ratnagiri is mango country; if yours is a summer trip, you’ll want to look out for mango-sellers en route offering Ratnagiri Alphonsos at throwaway prices. Past Talera, NH17 enters Sindhudurg District. On to Sawantwadi, a final stretch of the ghats and soon, you’re at the Goa border. From here, the road narrows; at night, massive trucks flash blinding beams into your eyes. An hour out of Sawantwadi, it’s journey’s end at Panaji and a welcome night’s rest.
Design: The most interesting aspect of Goa is its architectural splendor found in churches and other monuments. The best architecture was that in the Bom Jesus Basilica, one of the oldest churches, which also has a saint’s body preserved in it. A perfect blend of gentle nature with extreme adventures along with a tinge of warmth and affection from the locals has made Goa a tourist magnet, attracting several tourists regularly, with me being the most faithful
Connect: A best time of the year where one can truly enjoy and celebrate the spirit of Goa is during the ‘Carnival’ or on 25th December, Christmas. During Christmas the entire atmosphere screams “celebration” as Goa is lit up with stars and lights. On Christmas Eve, all the family members gather for a traditional dinner that offers an opportunity to strengthen family bonds. Another very famous festival in Goa is the Carnival. Huge parades through the cities are organized with bands, floats and dances and balls in the evenings. The Carnival is typically Goan and is not celebrated anywhere else in India. Folk songs are sung from door to door in villages inviting, one and all to be a part of the celebration.
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