Goa – Paradise, beaches, and history

A few weeks ago, some friends from Europe came to visit and we went on a road trip to Goa. The week before we left, the car air con started behaving erratically, and as a result a lot of the trip (10 hours long) was completed with the windows open and no cooling. At a place called Yellapur, it was 39oC, so you can imagine it was a sweaty trip. As soon as we arrived, I was into the water- there is nothing better than swimming in the sea, at sunset, after a long hot car journey.

I had previously been to Goa but really didn’t leave the beach, so this time, I was keen to explore the history of the area. The Portugese lived in Goa for a long time, and one of our guests was from Portugal, so it was really great to have some of his culture popping up over India. There’s a lot of architecture, food, and cultural remnants of the Portugese, making Goa a unique place in India.

I was also working while on holiday- a lot of time was spent like this.

A lot of working, swimming in the clear warm water of Palolem Beach, then back to my ‘desk’. Rinse, and repeat.

However we did stay over a weekend and I planned two days of sightseeing. First stop: The Basilica of Bom Jesus. This church was constructed from 1594, and consecrated in 1605. It’s pretty amazing, and not what I expected to find in Goa. Inside, it’s gorgeously carved and a beautiful space. The chapel on the right holds the body of St Francis Xavier.

Basilica of Bom Jesus
Interior of Basilica of Bom Jesus
Body of St Francis Xavier

We then walked over the road, to the church of St Francis of Assisi. Another beautiful church, not as grand as Bom Jesus. At my Grandmother’s funeral, Granddad requested I read the St Francis of Assisi prayer, so I felt some level of connection here.

 

 

St Francis of Assisi church interior

We then went to the tower of the church of St. Augustine. This 46m high tower and ruins are all that remains after this church was abandoned. Built in 1602 by Augustinian friars, the vault collapsed in 1842, and then the facade half the tower collapsed in 1931. A very cool place to explore but it was just too hot to hang out there too long.

 

The half of the remaining tower. It seemed a bit precarious- I’ve lived through too many earthquakes and wasn’t keen on getting close!
The ruins, a lot of work being done here to preserve this.
More ruins, with the tower in the background.
More ruins, these ones well-preserved.
Lunch stop… an amazing restaurant with delicious Greek food…. and the view!
The view from our lunch stop. AMAZING.

Then, we headed off to visit one of the local forts. Fort Aguada was built in 1612 to guard from the Dutch and Marathans. It has a lighthouse and a freshwater spring that supplied water to the ships stopping by, hence the name, aguada, Portugese for water. It could store up to 2,376,000 gallons of water- huge.

The walls of the fort
The walk into the fort… I look purposeful here but I was in a hurry to get out of the heat and find some shade.
Self indulgent post of me. Once again… very hot.
The walk up the fort interior, the steps worn by hundreds of years of people walking up and down.
The side of the lighthouse, as the sun slowly sunk down to dusk
Loved the long straight walls in here, I got a bit click-happy until my camera ran out of batteries (you should all be grateful for this).
The interior wall
The lighthouse. We weren’t allowed inside it, sadly.
The view from the fort.

Then, we went down to to the beach. The fort actually includes the beach too.

The beach, complete will fort wall

 

We also constructed a fort. While the original idea and construction was a joint effort between an Indian and a Portuguese, the fine detail work and underground tunneling was left to the New Zealander. The UK slept.

We then went to the night markets, in town. These are just what you’d expect. Hot, sultry, a confused chaos of vendors and tourists. We meandered, the guys purchased their wives some gifts, and just soaked up the atmosphere.

Spices for sale
An aisle of cacophony
The night market
Night market- corn being cooked. DELICIOUS

We headed back a couple of days later. Of course, if I told you that paradise existed, and it was in India (and CHEAP) then I’m sure you wouldn’t believe me… however, we found it. I know why everyone in South India refers to Goa almost reverentfully… because the place is magic.

I personally would avoid the noisy, polluted, ‘party’ of North Goa and just head stright to South Goa. The seafood is out of this world (crab, lobster, prawns, fish…. all ultra fresh) and the view… well….

Heaven.

3 thoughts on “Goa – Paradise, beaches, and history

  1. Hi Paula, my partner and I will be visiting Goa for the first time in September this year. I really enjoyed reading about it. Thanks very much. Best wishes, Freeda

    1. LOVE Goa. I don’t think I’ll get back this season but I’ll be back for sure. Who knew paradise was so cheap? Let me know how you get on over here.

  2. Fantastic read! Glad u r loving it in India. You must visit Goa during winters, especially during New Year. Lot of crowd (as u wud have already figured out by now!) but great time to enjoy- the weather and the atmosphere!

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