“Straight edge is a subculture whose adherents refrain from using alcohol, tobacco, and other recreational drugs.”
I have been to Goa quite a few times earlier. But this time I finally understood why people fancied going there. Beaches, Churches and nightlife are the main highlights of the place. Though we weren’t ever able to reach a consensus, I had been planning for the Goa trip with my office friends since quite some time. Finally, I pitched in the dates of Oct 5th, 6th and 7th as a part of my 10 day trip covering Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan. Three of them finally agreed and we did planned a little for the trip in the week (which eventually proved futile). I usually have a habit of exploring the place in maps and hence did my homework this time too. Goa is perceived as a combination of the happening North beaches and the calm serene beaches in the South. To add a dimension to the trip, I intended to add trekking and visiting the temples in east in the to-do list (out of which trekking sadly had to be dropped).
I had a nice chat with a colleague in the bus to Majestic on the evening of 4th October and met my friends at AnandRao Circle, Bangalore from where we commenced our journey. The conductor of the VRL bus we boarded was planning to play the movie “Son of Sardar”. We convinced him to play Aashiqui 2 instead (which happened to be the best movie in the lot). Our initial plan was to stay in South Goa, but a conversation with a Goan on the bus changed our choice to Calanghute. I enjoyed the bliss of sleep for barely four hours in a thirteen hour journey.
As we neared Ankola, I sat in the cabin to enjoy the coastal view from the front seat. The ride was eventful watching the mountains play hide and seek. It was raining in Goa and I just realized the possible disaster we would have faced if we had chosen South Goa as our temporary residence. On reaching Panjim by 9.30, we rented an Activa and a Wego and set for Calanghute with a hope of finding an affordable stay near the beach. The rains put a damper on the sports activities my friends’ had in mind. On asking a person for cheaper alternatives than to stay at Calanghute residency he directed us to his guest house nearby.
The guest house had an open terrace with one room and a 2 roomed house around it. Rooms had A/C and were decent enough for stay. Both had balconies open to swimming pools which made Chaitanya crave to jump into the water and relax. As it was off season, the owner agreed for Rs800 per day per room. We had brunch and went to beach to face the waters. It was an intermittent play in the beach as the rains played hide and seek. It was fun nevertheless. Then we went to a hilly Aguada fort. The level of excitement I had was comparatively less as I had been to all the places before. The only change this time was the fact that I was with my friends riding on a 2 wheeler navigating through the narrow roads of Goa. Aguada fort has a beautiful, calm shoreline to adore it. We just sat there and allowed the natural beauty to sooth us. Our next stop was the Sinquerium beach which more or less had same view but with lower altitude. There we saw a trial run of para-sailing which raised my friends’ spirits. But the joy was short lived as we encountered rains on the way back to our rooms.
As we had no plans for the evening, I started to search online for nightlife nearby. I browsed through casinos, parties and finally decided to go to Cape Town Café to enquire about the DJ party. This is when I found Tito’s lane, something I never knew existed in Goa. I was taken aback by the Non-Desi colourful hotels, cafes and clubs. The tiled path heightened the liveliness of the ambience. Without second thoughts, I called my friends and decided to go to Cape Town Café’s DJ night after dinner. To kill time, we went for a walk on Baga beach. Even at night this beach had many visitors, although hardly any in the water. There were line of shacks on the shoreline serving food, drinks and hookah. This is when I realised why Goa is so sought for a vacation. As a bunch of non-drinkers we passed all these to just enjoy the beach in the night. Post this, it was party time. After making rounds to the rooms due to improper dress code, we finally entered the DJ night at around 11.30 PM. Deloitte parties had made us used to such places and we danced to the trance enjoying the crowd. My friends called it a day and went back to rooms but I stayed back. I saw people grooving to the music rising from bass speakers, passionate couples lost in their own small world, and a few dancing right in front of DJ. It was exciting dancing in such an environment. As my friends had taken the vehicles I had to walk to the room. By now almost all the places in the lane had similar atmosphere. It was 2.30 AM and crowd hadn’t had enough. The crowd got thinner and was virtually inexistent by the time I reached the room.
I woke up to a sunny morning the next day and went to beach to enjoy the waters shimmering under the sun. People there were enjoying the force of waves and it seemed similar to the way the people grooved to the beats the previous night. The people at the beach waited eagerly for each coming wave to hit them. I realised that I belong to this group of adventurists more than the night-clubbers. After playing to my heart’s content I left with friends for Baga beach for sports activities. On the way we passed by the deserted Tito’s lane which had a stark different atmosphere than what I had seen the night before. As my friends went for para-sailing I took a stroll on the beach. On seeing the “Bumper Ride” I badly wanted to try it. The organiser wasn’t ready to put it to action due to rough seas. After around 30 mins of asking and convincing he finally unleashed it. It essentially was a two-seater tube where the one end of the rope was tied to a motor boat to drag it in the wavy seas. The ride was very exciting, we had a nice bum massage. At Tito’s lane, I got inked with a temporary custom-made “Om” tattoo. I thought it would be best suited as I intended to visit the temples the following morning and in Gujarat later. After this, we spent some lazy time on beach playing catch-me-if-you-can. Chaitanya kept slipping and fell in the water. I had read about enjoying the sunset from the top of Chapora fort near Vagator beach and thus we hurried on our two wheelers to reach there. Unfortunately, clouds had hidden the sun but had left us with a splendid view from the top of the fort. We could see beach with black soil in the left, a small mountain extending to the sea in the front and a river joining the sea on the right. We retired for the day after few relaxing moments at Baga and Calanghute beaches in the evening.
I really wanted to visit the temples in Goa during Navaratri for a personal reason and set to Ponda on a two wheeler again on the following day. The sunny ride from Panjim to Old Goa was right alongside the course of a river on a smooth narrow road. It was an exciting ride. The route near Ponda was hair-raising too, with twisted roads going downhill midst the greenery. We visited Mangeshi temple which had explicit mentioning of few rules for prohibition in the temple. Then it was Mahalasa temple which prohibited the foreign visitors and we saw a board in Shantadurga temple which said “No entry visitors, please use the main gate”. This progression of prohibition amused me. I liked the secluded Nagesh temple the most where I saw a snake, fishes, duck in the pond infront of the temple. We visited at these temples during 12 to 1 PM during which the Mangalarthi took place. Mahalasa temple had a big “deepa” tower which I wished to see it lit in the night and there was sari auctioning going on. After the visit of Shantadurga temple, the last one for the day, I found my Activa’s deflated rear tube. I don’t know what it signified but lost time I lost in fixing the puncture could have been used to visit the churches in Old Goa.
I had a train to Mumbai at 3.45 from Madgoan and was in Panjim at 2.45. I was thinking of taking a pilot to reach the station in time, but the locals advised me to go to the next station which was much closer to Panjim instead. This gave me ample time to travel. I happily took that advice and marched to Karmali station. I was taken aback with the facilities present in such a small station. Drinking water, a waiting room with switches labelled for fan/light, washrooms, a garden and clean floor. I got into the train and slept as I really needed some rest. I had to alight the train at Dadar, but overslept and reached CST. As my dad commented I boarded from different station and alighted at different station unplanned. From here the next chapter of the trip started which is documented in the blog in a different post : Rann of Kachchh.
So this was the itinerary for my Goa trip:
Beaches in North Goa(Calanghute, Baga, Sinquerium)
Aguada fort in the evening.
Tito’s lane in the night.
Sports activities at Baga beach.
Chapora Fort near Vagator beach for the sunset.
(Anjuna beach can be included.)
Temples near Ponda.
But I would recommend visting churches in Old Goa, going for a trek at Tamblisurla and temples by evening.