It’s great to be back with you again. Got up in the morning today remembering a very funny incident which happened many years back. I was in college then and was waiting for my train, Kalka Mail to reach Gaya my hometown. Was on my way to Pilani after our summer holidays. It was 4 AM, the train reached on time and I soon settled down on my top berth in an AC 2 tier compartment, courtesy my student pass being a railway employee’s son. When it was time for the train to leave, there walked in this middle aged man with a few cops in tow. What struck me was his height. He was shorter than the shortest person I had ever seen. I crashed soon.
I got down for breakfast and Mr. Cop-in-tow’s first sentence addressed to me was, ‘I am the Member of Parliament from Gaya’. I smiled and then he asked, ‘Where are you from? I replied, Gaya. Oh Goa. What a great place. Me and my family went there last year and we just loved it. And then he went on for the next five minutes talking about the great time they all had, the fish, the beaches,….As he took a pause, I told him “I am from Gaya”. Oh Gaya, I thought Goa and looked at me totally pissed. I was bubbling with laughter inside but just flashed a smile. But that day I told myself. You must go man. Go go, let’s go 🛫 Goa.
It had been a relaxed evening once again for us yesterday enjoying nature. And some great sea food. There are amazing varieties of dishes available in Goa and they are all very reasonably priced. Shrimps, prawns, crabs, king fish, red and black snapper, squid, tuna, oysters, shellfish, lobster, sea bass, tiger prawns, black and white pomfret and mackerel are some of the fish and seafood that you can enjoy while in Goa. Amongst them the fried pomfrets are one of our favorites.
Love to have few days during our holidays where we do nothing except lazing around, read books and go for short walks to explore nature. Today and tomorrow will be such days and our Dona Paula resort perhaps the ideal destination to do that. Let me take you around here and let’s relax a while.
Come let’s now take a walk to Dona Paula beach. The place is named after Dona Paula Amaral Antonia de Souto-Maior, a historical figure in Portuguese India. She was related to the Portuguese Viceroy of Jaffnapatnam, in Sri Lanka. She and her family arrived in Goa in 1744 and she married a Fidalgo from Spain in 1756. Her father was D. Antonio Caetano de Menezes Souto-Maior. They were an extremely affluent family, and the entire property from the present day Cabo Raj Nivas (Governor’s House) all the way to Caranzalem belonged to the Souto Maior’s. Dona Paula was a woman of charity and is known to have helped the villagers and worked a lot for their betterment, so after her death, the villagers decided to rename the village as Dona Paula. Initially the village was called Oddavell.
Both the days when we were relaxing in our resort we went for a walk to Dona Paula to chill out, enjoy a boat ride, have our lunch and on the second day to visit the famous and one of the most curious attractions in Dona Paula, a whitewashed statue perched on the rocks near the popular ferry jetty.
Sculpted in 1969 by Baroness Yrse Von Leistner, there are different versions to its purpose of origin. According to Goa Tourism Board’s, it is named “Image of India” and depicts the figures of Mother India and Young India, one looking to the East and the other to the West. The Wheel of Ashoka is in the middle half, buried in stone, to represent the ancient culture that nurtured this blend of ideas and emotions. While in the book ‘Walking in Goa’ it is said that the Baroness had actually sculpted statues of philosopher Robert Knox and his wife because she admired him. It is also believed that Dona Paula threw herself off the cliff, when refused permission to marry a local fisherman, Gaspar Dias. The myth says that Dona Paula is entombed in the Cabo Chapel of the Raj Bhawan and is supposed to be seen emerging from the moonlit waves wearing only a pearl necklace.
The Dona Paula Sports Club at the beach offers water-scooter, cycle, and motorboat rides. Other water sports include windsurfing, para-sailing, water-skiing, toboggan ski-biscuit, skibob, sports fishing, snorkeling, harpoon fishing, kayaking, and yachting. You could also have a sunbath and buy cheap seaside goods from local vendors including varieties of hats. There are some good eating joints available offering Goan delicacies and cheap alcoholic drinks.
Our evenings were spent in our private beach at the resort enjoying a bit of the sea, the rocks and the sunset.
One of the evenings we were off to experience the Casino magic hoping for a good fortune. The only other time I had ever visited a casino was in Sun City, South Africa couple of years back but then I had not played any game and only watched others playing. There are many casinos in Goa with most of them on ships on the sea shore. We went to the hugely popular ‘Casino Pride’ which is a bit cheaper on the wallet. It attracts Indian high-rollers who come to play Teen Patti, and also hosts big poker tournaments and has Bollywood-style live acts. There are three floors, spread over 30,000 square feet, with a 10,000 square foot Weather Deck (great for parties!) and around 40 gaming tables plus slot machines. In addition, there’s a special Kid’s Zone with games to keep the children entertained. We walked out lucky having made a cool Rs 2,500 ( USD 35 approx). Let’s have a look.
Goa is famous for it’s beaches. There are over twenty five beaches in north and south Goa put together. And one can probably spend a month moving from one accomodation to another, one beach to the other and each offering you a unique experience. So today let’s go beach hopping. But I am going to take you to only a few renowned ones, leaving the others for you to come and experience in person when you are here.
There is more to Goa and a very interesting history. The first settlers of Goa are known to be Brahmins called Saraswats. They were so called because they inhabited originally banks of the River Saraswati in North India. Goa became the part of the Mauryan Empire in the 3rd century BC. It was later dominated by the Satavahanas of Kolhapur. Then it was handed over to the Chalukyas of Badami. In 1312, Goa was under the control of the Muslims for the first time. But they were not fond of the beaches and thus left the place in 1370. To carry Arabian horses for the Vijayanagar cavalry through ships, Goa’s harbors were well known as the major landing place.
The seafaring Portuguese arrived at Goa in 1510 with a target to take control over the spice route from the East. It was an ideal place for them as it was blessed with wide rivers and natural harbors. The Portuguese had an influential control over the state as they expanded their provinces and were there in Goa for quite a long time. Most of the buildings of the city resembles the Portuguese architectural style as they constructed several Churches and Forts during their administration. In the later part of 18th century, the Portuguese were defeated by the Marathas. Trade of the Portuguese came to an end in 1961, after the Indian army entered Goa. After India gained independence from the British in 1947, India requested that Portuguese territories on the Indian subcontinent be ceded to India. Portugal refused to negotiate on the sovereignty of its Indian enclaves. On 19 December 1961, the Indian Army invaded with Operation Vijay resulting in the annexation of Goa, and of Daman and Diu islands into the Indian union.
To understand the culture and history of Goa a must visit place is The Big Foot. It’s an educational center for preservation of Art, Culture and Environment. Let’s look at the Legend of Big Foot. Blessed with a deep sense of duty and unending goodness, a wealthy landowner by the name of Mahadar always helped the poor. Greedy neighbours wishing to take advantage of his good will kept on asking him for help till one day fleeced of all his possessions and destitute with the loss of his wife, he made do with what he got. The Gods seeing this good faith asked him for a boon, he asked for a small place to stand and pray. He was given a hot rock where he stood on one foot and prayed. Seeing his devotion the Gods took Him to heaven leaving his foot print behind with a boon“ Anyone praying with a pure heart, will be blessed with luck”.
It was a wonderful learning experience and this place took us back years into the culture and traditions of Goa. Goa is also famous for spices and a visit to Spice Gardens should not be missed out. 🏃Let’s go.
You could round off your trip with an Elephant ride through the garden followed by a sumptuous vegetarian meal at the sit in restaurant inside the complex.
Goa, a wonder destination. Just some tips for my reader friends coming from outside India. Avoid guides, you have all information on your fingertips through internet anyways. Do not spend late nights at beaches as booze is cheap and you may have some pleasure seekers always there who have consumed a little bit more. Also avoid public transport like buses and auto rickshaws and instead use your own hired cars, if it is after 10 PM.
Goa. There is much more. But you need to be here to experience it.
Come to Goa. Experience a different India. Experience India Beautiful 🇮🇳