The gorgeous little state on the western coast of India, Goa, is the world’s party destination. Nothing gets better than Goa! The beaches, the shacks, the people, the sunsets, the food, the music, there is nothing from Goa that is not known worldwide. But more than just being famous for the unbelievably beautiful sea-sides, the trippy music and cheap alcohol, Goa has some of the best terrains to trek, some of the best places to live with nature and also do things that you had never thought of doing before.
So if you are planning on that trip to Goa anytime soon, let us help you with some of those off-beat feats that most people who visit Goa aren’t really aware of.
1. Watch some Crocodiles
Who knew Goa had crocodiles, right? Before you freak out and start imagining crocodiles on beaches, let’s get this staright – the crocodiles are not on the beaches! To find these cold blooded aquatic reptiles sunbathing on the shores, you have to canoe your way into the mangrove jungles around the narrow creek near the small village of Cumbarjua, situated to the east of Panjim at a distance of 20 kilometres.
So once you make your way there, you can find someone who will help you travel through the 15 kilometer long canal that connects the Zuari and Mandovi, Goa’s biggest rivers. The Crocs you will find here are fresh water species but are famous for the rare characteristic of adapting to the saline waters found around Goa. They are also quite used to the usual human presence around them and no cases of them harming a human has ever been registered!
So if you are fascinated with crocodiles, head to Cumbarjua and see the crawling reptiles.
2. Float around in a floating tent
Goa has beach shacks, boat houses, cruise liners and now a floating tent too! So head over to Mayen lake, located about 20 minutes from Panjim. The lake is surrounded by thick greenery all around and provides the best spot for lakeside living. The lake has floating tents, which are essentially a room that floats on the lake. What could be better than waking up right in the middle of the lake? You do not have to bother about going all the way to the shore to get food either, as there is a floating bar and restaurant as well, where you can park your boat and go get a drink! What more do you need on a lazy morning?
3. Watch a Konkani play – Tiatr
Tiatr is konkani for theatre. So if you have never watched something as good as Konkani plays, make sure to head over to one. Konkani plays are quite a treat to watch as most of them are funny and quirky that mocks the socio-economic lifestyles of the present day. Tiatr is worth a visit, if you are into the artsy lifestyle and more interested in exploring the culture and lifestyles of local Goan residents. The only issue with Tiatr would be that if you do not know Konkani, the local dialect, then probably you will need to take along someone who does.
Besides the regular commercial shows, tiatrs are also held as part of the celebrations of nearly every church and chapel feast in the State. The Goa Kala Academy organises a state level Tiatr competition every year while the Tiatr Academy organises a Popular Tiatr competition for dramas.
4. Explore underwater shipwrecks
Goa was a Portuguese colony for a very long time in history. The Portuguese had visited Goa by ships and these ships were the major mode of transport for people and cargo. During the second world war, and also much before it, many ships have sunk around the Goan coasts. Today, these historic vessels decaying on the sea beds have turned into tourist destinations. So if underwater explorations are your thing, make sure to find one of the many ships that lay under the tranquil waters.
Shipwrecks are not the only point of interest while scuba diving in Goa, as the underwaters are quite beautiful with vibrants flora and fauna. So the next time you visit Goa, make sure to pay a visit to the sunken history.
5. Go bird watching
This one requires extreme amount of patience and some good knowledge on birds. But for people who are not so well versed about these flying beauties, you can just listen to them chirping at Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary. Named after the late Dr Salim Moizzudin Abdul Ali, India’s best-known ornithologist, this sanctuary is an estuarine mangrove habitat spread over 178 hectares on the Island of Chorao along the river Mandovi. This is one of the best known bird sanctuaries in India. It has a paved walkway inside the sanctuary, where one can walk through thick mangroves of various species of flora. Species of birds found here include the striated heron, the western reef heron, the little bittern, black bittern, red knot, jack snipe and pied avocet.
6. Walk with the butterflies
Who doesn’t love butterflies! The Butterfly Conservatory of Goa, an NGO, has started with Mystic Meadows, a safe haven for butterflies located at Ponda, around 30kms from Panjim. The conservatory, designed by ordinary citizens, stands on a once barren patch of land spreading over 4000 square meters and is habitat to over 133 species of butterflies. It is possible to spot around 25 species on any given day.
The observatory was started by a couple, Dr. Jyoti Heblekar and her husband Yashodan who manage the place along with their two children, three dogs, and few cats. So if you are a nature enthusiast and an animal lover, you know where to head to.
7. Bathe with elephants and watch how spices are grown
India was a land that enchanted people around the world with the aroma of its spices. The state of Goa is also famous for its spice plantations. The major spice plantations in the state are the Savoi Spice Plantation, Sahakari Spice Farms and Tropical Spice Plantation, that are also engaged in organic farming.
Savoi Spice Plantation has existed for two centuries and grows different kinds of spice plants and fruit trees like cloves, nutmeg, cumin, curry, cinnamon, pepper, vanilla, coriander, turmeric, banana, coconut, pineapple, mango, pomelo, jackfruit, bimbli, guava, papaya, cashew, citrus. An informative tour for visitors are also arranged where people can watch and learn how spices are cultivated.
In Savoi one can get advice from a doctor and a specialist in Ayurveda, here one can buy a variety of spices in a spectacular gift box. The farm also offers accommodation in guest houses, and there are evening music and dance programs and festive events on request.
The best part of a trip at Sahakari Spice Farms is that they also offer the guests a chance to bathe with elephants. All the plantations are at Ponda which is around 30 kilometers from Panjim.
8. Meet the ‘Baba’ and get to know some hippies
The exact location of this place is in a dense forest with a 1.5 km long path that leads to a banyan tree. To reach this path, one needs to cross the ridge at the end of Arambol beach and reach a stretch of sand near a Fresh Water lake. The path continues behind the lake into the forest. After a few minutes of walking through the narrow path through dense forests, what you see there is probably out of the world. A saint who the local residents call ‘Baba’ sits under a Banyan tree. One can also find lots of people sitting there for hours, with majority of them being non Indians. Groups of people meditate, share stories with the ‘Baba’. The ‘Baba’ is also known to speak to birds and share his life experiences with visitors. A must go place if one is looking for the real hippie culture and an adventurous experience.
The list of off beat things that one can do at Goa is not limited to the ones mentioned here. Goa is quite vast and extends a lot beyond the beaches and churches and party destinations.
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