By Somali K Chakrabarti
After it rained throughout night, the sun showed up the next morning. As we had ventured to the South of Goa on the earlier day, we decide to head straight to the forts and beaches of North Goa.
The remnants of the forts that once guarded the coastline still attract many visitors.
Though the Portuguese forts were mostly functional forts, without the architectural finesse or ornate carvings found in the Mughal forts, yet one can’t help marveling at their construction. The sturdy bastions have withstood the lashing of the sea waves for over 4 centuries and still continue to do so.
Fort Aguada (meaning Watering Palace in Portuguese) was constructed in 1612 to defend the Portuguese from any attack via the sea route, and offer a safe berth to the Portuguese ships.
The fort had an underground water storage chamber, a lighthouse, room for storing gunpowder and bastions.
The unobstructed view of the sea from the top of the fort is amazing.
With a host of beaches, Goa is a beach lovers’ paradise.
Near the Fort Aguada, is the Sinquerim Beach, one of the first tourist beaches of North Goa. The pleasant weather makes it possible for us to explore the coastline of North Goa.
Calangute Beach, a favourite among the beachgoers in Goa is a sandy beach. After a brief spell of the shower as the sun shone on the sand, we stepped into a spacious open restaurant on the Calangute beach.
The restaurant, known as Destination One, has a nice seating arrangement facing the beach. The food served is delicious and we enjoy a leisurely lunch by the beach.
Anjuna and Vagatore are rocky beaches, where the waves come crashing against the rocks making a delightful view.
Baga beach is a sandy beach where river Baga meets the sea. As the beach is close to the hotel where we had put up, we go up to the waves coming on the shore to get the feel of splashing waves and the ticklish sensation as the sand shifts under the feet with the receding waves.
On the last day of our trip, we head South again before leaving for Mumbai
Located on the National Highway, 18 km from Panjim is the Marine Fish Aquarium. We find statues of Goan fisherwoman and men in front of the aquarium.
The aquarium houses an impressive variety of fishes that are found in Arabian Sea, Lakshadweep islands, Indonesia, Australia, Japan and China. A lady explains us the characteristics of the fishes including the star fish, puffer fish, clown fish, the playful kissing fish that responds to human gestures, the deadly Piranha, poisonous eel fish, and many others. She holds a lobster in her hand and asks us if we would be interested to hold it. I prefer to click instead.
One of the most intriguing places that we visited was the Three Kings Church in a village called Cansaulim in South Goa. The place bore a deserted look, with a huge banyan tree lying uprooted next to the locked church. Anil Bhai who drove us around tells us that the church (known as Bhootachi church among the locals) is considered as one of the most haunted places in Goa. The church is opened only on a few days in January and a banquet is planned on the 6th of January every year. Not a soul resides there after sunset.
However, it is also one of the most scenic spots from where the entire stretch of the coastline of south Goa can be seen, with a green cover of palm groves bordering the coast and villages in the valley below the hill.
The other highlights of the trip were the O Coqueiro restaurant where Charles Shobraj was nabbed by the police. The statue of the tourist killer sits in front of the restaurant, whose management had informed the police of his presence.
We caught a glimpse of the famous (?) Kingfisher villa on the way and picked up stuff from Pastry Cottage, a small but well-known bakery in Panaji, famous for its cakes, pastries, macaroons, and snack food.
And how could I not mention the cat who came and sat on the floor next to my chair in a shack? All the while I was having some snacks, she continuously tried to endear herself in the hope that I would give her some grub, thus leaving me with no other option but to oblige. Here she is.
By the evening we were heading back to Mumbai, recharged after going around Goa on the short trip.
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