5 Must Do Things in Goa

Arjuna Beach Flea Market: Not one of the most beautiful beaches in Goa, Anjuna Beach is still one of its most visited, primarily because of its community feel and budget prices when it comes to food and lodging. The beach is North of Baga and Calanguta – two of the more popular and uptown areas of Goa and is fairly secluded from the hustle and bustle of regular city life and this is one of the most important reasons for the beach being so popular with tourists. Known for its laid-back nature, Anjuna Beach also receives a sizable number of hippies and backpackers. The Wednesday Flea Market is a major draw for visitors. The Tibetan, Kashmiri, Gujrati and Lamani tribes’ souvenirs are well sought after. Besides these handicrafts and clothes you can pick up books, jewellery, T-shirts, wooden carvings, spices, and just about any old thing that has made its way to the stalls. The market starts at 08:00 in the morning and it is best to visit it then. Not only will you get a pick of the best that the market has to offer, but you will also beat the heat of the day. Follow just one simple rule when shopping here – bargain like your life depends on it. Most of the merchants tend to start with high prices so halve the rate they quote right away. 

Churches: There are many churches in Goa – a legacy of its colonial past. You must visit a few of them. While they are generally dotted all over Goa it is a good idea to see the largest and oldest ones which are (thankfully) all situated in Old Goa. These can usually be visited on the same day. These include Se Cathedral the largest church in Old Goa whose construction began in 1562 and ended in 1652. Then there is the Convent and Church of St. Francis of Assisi which has the most interesting mural from the life of St. Francis. The interiors are very ornate and well decorated. The Basilica of Bom Jesus contains the tomb and mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier. It is famous all throughout the Catholic world for the body that refused to rot. Even today, despite all these years the body is very well preserved. The faithful get to see the body in a silver casket every 10 years. The next showing is due in 2014. The Church of St. Cajetan is modeled on the St. Peter’s in Rome. Its construction began in 1655 by the Italian friars of the Order of Theatines who were sent by Pope Urban the Third to Golconda. Since they were not allowed to preach in Golconda they settled down in Old Goa. The Church and Convent of St. Monica is a relatively newer building. The old church was burned down nine years after construction and the new building made of laterite was completed in 1627. The ruins of the Church of St. Augustine are also worth seeing. The only part that survives is the old tower and belfry that formed a part of the façade. It’s all far more interesting with a guide who knows the history of the place.

Dudhsagar Waterfalls and Springs: The Dudhsagar Falls are the most imposing in Goa and the second highest in India. The Western Ghats are littered with a number of smaller falls that are a lot easier to reach, but the Dudhsagar falls are worth the difficult path to get to them. They are at their best during the monsoon and just after the monsoons. If you are heading there make sure that the path is accessible by asking the locals. There’s no point in heading for an incomplete trip and sure-shot disappointment. There are full-day tours available out of both Panaji and Calangute.

Goa Carnival: The annual Goa Carnival takes place in the month of March to welcome spring. Much rejoicing and revelry takes place in the streets and the parties last all night for three consecutive days. This is the time to literally run wild on the streets with gay abandon. The locals will eat, drink and be merry for the duration of the carnival with many of the visitors joining in on the fun. You will get to taste some of the finest Feni during these days. Feni is the liquor brewed locally out of cashew kernels.

Old Goa: This is the part of town that the Portuguese developed to such an extent that in its glory it was said to rival Lisbon. Today, unfortunately not much glory remains, but it makes an interesting day trip to view all the churches, cathedrals and soak up the atmosphere. Try and avoid going on the weekends as it is crowded then. The ten days leading up to the Feast of St. Francis Xavier on 3rd December each year can be totally chaotic, so maybe it’s best to skip these days. Other times of the year the place bears an almost deserted look and you can get your sightseeing done in relative peace. Try and see if you can spot a couple of old men speaking Portuguese.

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