Goa, beyond the beaches

The received wisdom of what to do in Goa is find a shack on the beach, and enjoy the sunset with a beer and some seafood, and either chill or party, depending on what floats your boat. Over the years, the restaurant scene has picked up and these days, deciding where you will eat is part of the planning you do before you land in this state.
Goa though, can be different things to different people. And if like me, the beach scene and the food scene are too sybaritic for your taste, it has other pleasures to offer. Here are three of them.

Forts: When I dream of Goa, I dream of forts by the sea. My favourite spot in Goa is atop Chapora fort in Vagator. It’s a short climb up a very small hill. A little effort for some absolutely fabulous views of the shoreline from the top. Fort Aguada is of course the most popular fort in Goa - and if you get there at sunset time, the stone, the sun and the sea can prove magical. There are other forts worth your time as well - Terakhol up north and Reis Magos near Panjim, Corjuem fort in Corjuem and Rachol fort overlooking the Zuari river. One of these days, I will do a fort holiday in Goa, and catch up with all these beauties.  

The view from Chapora fort

The historic district of Fontainhas: A heritage walk through this district was one of the highlights of my last Goa trip. The colourful houses, the dolls on the doorways, the roosters on the roof, the pretty tiled nameplates and the mother-of-pearl on the windows - it might have been a walk through a European small town. A not-to-be-missed experience.

Divar Island: A sleepy little island on the river you can get to, only by taking a ferry. There is hardly anything to see here, except a lovely old church and some paddy fields. It’s quaint and quiet, and if you can get a meal in a local home, you can go back to the mainland replete and completely charmed.

Slow living - a view from Divar island
There are other things to do as well - see the Churches of Old Goa, the prettiest of which in my opinion is the Se Cathedral; experience the backwaters and the waterfalls; go whale watching; and go on a temple tour ( I had just a glimpse of them - and they seemed to made in such a unique style!). So the next time you want to catch up on some susegad in Goa, remember, Goa is more than that shack on the beach or the newest restaurant.


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