The Last of Goa…
Before I begin, I apologize for delaying this post but I have been travelling and I just couldn’t find the time to write it. So here it is, the last bit of our Goan holiday. Enough to make you hungry enough to plan your next trip here. I hope I have got you excited enough to visit :).
We went around North Goa. Dressed in white, we headed towards the forts. Breakfast was ‘garam-garam’ Aloo ka Paratha’ ( hot-hot flattened bread stuffed with mashed potato) with loads of butter, spaghetti made with Indian spices, fresh yogurt, fruits, cakes, ‘idli-sambar’ ( steamed rice dumplings with a curry made of lentils and vegetables).
It was a bright, warm, sunny day which was a good thing as today’s trip involved some walking. Also, since, like most others, we were at the forts, to take pictures and pose like the movie stars, the absence of rain definitely helped. At the end of the day, though, we returned looking like burnt cookies ( all that posing on the rocks on the top of the hill overlooking the sea with the sun blazing down did take it’s toll). That’s a shout out to all those who love getting a tan- Goa is your place!
Goa has a number of such forts built in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, by various rulers. Though a part of India, Goa got its freedom from the Portuguese in 1961, much after the rest of India. The smallest state of India has been ruled by many – Portuguese, Mughals and the Hindu Rulers. Most of the invaders came in through the sea route.
The van had to be parked outside the Aguada fort which is on the south of Candolim beach. A 1 km gravel- walk led to the Portuguese fort constructed in 1612 against the Dutch and the Marathas (Indian kings). From the outside, one can see just the fort walls which are around 5 meters high. A flight of 50 odd stairs cut into the rocks, leads you to the top of the fort, from where you can see both land and sea. It’s easy to imagine how it must have been to look from the top of the fort at ships coming in, some for a re-fill of fresh water as the fort had the largest storage of freshwater in Asia at the time ( Aguada means water) and others, which belonged to the enemy and had to be destroyed by the 79 canons stored in the fort.
There is a smaller fort overlooking the Sinquerim Beach and was constructed in 1612. The property currently belongs to the Taj and is worth a visit. Much smaller in size than the Aguada fort, the fort is surrounded by sea on three sides. It was meant to keep a watch on vessels coming from Europe. Climb to the top and get blessed by the sea as the waves hit the rocks with so much energy that the spray falls on the people standing on the top. Visitors stand around waiting to be showered by the raging waves.
The fort is not as scenic as the Aguada fort and is in ruins but has become famous because of the Bollywood movie “Dil Chahtha Hai” which was a super-duper hit. Most people visit the fort to pose like the heroes in the movie. We were no different- age no bar! A rugged, steep path, created more from constant usage than any man-made endeavor takes you up to the fort, from where you can view land and sea like you were the ruler of both. The fort was made by the Portuguese to defend themselves from the Marathas (Indian kings). The gate to the fort is rather small and it’s only once you pass through it, you see the vast space enclosed by the fort walls. Around the fort, is a unassuming mountain slope with rocks here and there and trees growing wild. Every rock becomes a pedestal to pose on. It’s funny how you walk past rocks otherwise but when one is on holiday, one can’t help finding beauty in every stone. People were posing like they were on the Titanic on one rock and the other like they were falling off a cliff.
Well, we were so busy clicking ourselves that none of us actually got a picture of the fort so I have taken the liberty to download one from the net and put it here and the others have been taken my father-in-law who really couldn’t understand why we kept getting on top of all the rocks to pose. Let’s just say, nobody’s camera-shy in my family :).
A road with a difference
This road was different, not because it was the road on which Shahrukh Khan cycled on, in the movie “Dear Zindagi”, but because it was ‘bifferent‘ (beautifully different- a word coined by me during the Naporimo Poetry challenge NaPoWriMo : Day 18 -I Come from a Land that’s Bifferent!).
Paddy fields on either side maybe a common sight and coconut palms too but here was a road, that in that wilderness, was structured with palm trees planted in an orderly manner, in the midst of open water-filled fields. It was the sudden order in the midst of natural chaos that made it different.
We were to leave Goa at 8.30 p.m. by train. After checking out of the hotel at around 11.00 p.m. we decided to spend time exploring the newest of the malls in Goa – “Mall De Goa”. The Mall like any other mall had quite a few good national and international brands, a food court, a horror house (which we entered, extremely scared at first, thanks to the sound effects and the complete darkness inside; only finding the entire thing silly at the end which happens in most cases when you go to a Horror house), movie theaters and a salon. Sometime while we were having lunch, we received a message that our train was delayed by 4 hours. The best way to kill time was to watch a movie. Fortunately, there was none worth watching and this is why we decided to get out of the mall and visit Dona Paula.
I can only say, “Thank God the train got delayed for leaving Goa without seeing Dona Paula would be a shame”. For all those who visit Goa, please make it a point to tell your tour guide to take you to this place for it’s like no other.
A street filled with tourist shops overlooking the sea may sound ordinary but it isn’t just a street. It’s where the Mandovi and Zuari rivers meet and then join the Arabian Sea. It’s one of the most expensive residential areas in Goa. There’s a statue here which is easy to miss out in the Monsoons when the rains are beating down, if you’re not really searching for one but one that our camera manages to capture. As per the Goa Tourism website, it’s called the “Image of India”, as there are actually two statues, one depicting Mother India and young India. Dona Paula is also home to the National Institute of Oceanography. Water sports lovers will love Dona Paula.
It’s easy to sit on the benches at Dona Paula and just gaze at the sea for hours, only to feel humbled at the enormity of it all.
Like galloping horses,
They rise and fall,
Against the rocks,
Or is it rage?
Rushing back and forth,
A minuscule, you…
And it fuming and seething,
Dona Paula was indeed the perfect end to an amazing holiday and even if the train got delayed by another 6 hours, thanks to the Monsoons; it didn’t matter. Instead, it provided us an opportunity to travel back by road in our twelve- seater van and nobody was complaining…Dinner on the highway, a beautiful 6 hour drive on the highway, to our next destination- the coastal town of Mangalore, heavy showers mid-way, a little fear when the vehicle jerked and shook over a rocky patch and we were fine.
In case you missed reading the first two part of the Goa trip, here’s the link: