Written By Neelam Talreja
Thursday, 5 December 2013
Get Ready To Spend A Memorable Winter Holiday In Goa
If you talk about ultimate winter sun destination in India, Goa is an undoubted name to be mentioned on the list. The picturesque backdrop, including palm-fringed beaches, rosy Arabian Sea sunsets and coconut trees, make it the perfect destination to relax and enjoy in winter. Apart from the beaches in Goa, in the interiors of the state lies a fascinating world of Portuguese heritage, historical monuments, Hindu temples, and wildlife. Here are some of the enticing tourist attractions in Goa to allure you to get off the sun-lounger.
Beaches mark the identity of the state. There are about 22 beaches altogether in North and South Goa. Some of the popular beaches to visit are Baga, Anjuna, Bambolim, Cavelossim, Palolem, Varca, Colva, Morjim, Dona Paula, and many more. Some of the beaches are best known for trance parties, lively shacks and water sports, etc. Additionally, Goa also features some private beaches where visitors can spend some time in solitude.
Mangrove Forests & Birds
The Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, named after the ‘bird man of India’, Dr. Salim Ali, is a paradise for nature and bird lovers. This bird sanctuary could be reached via a short ferry ride (30 min) from Ribander, located close to Panaji. The visitors can spot beautiful birds, such as herons, black drongos, mudskippers, etc., amidst the cool, calm mangroves & marshes. The wildlife here features flying foxes and crocodiles. The winter months are the best time to visit the sanctuary as the visitors can spot various migratory and native birds in the sanctuary.
Spices are the major attribute of Indian culinary delights. Sahakari Spice Farm, sprawled over an area of 130 acre, is a popular feature in tours to Goa and to know more about the pungent spices. Upon arrival, before being guided through the rows of guava, jackfruit, mango, pineapple and papaya, lemongrass tea is served for the guests. Through the guided tour, the visitors come to know about the story of how cloves, cardamom, nutmeg, and curry leaves are farmed and grown. The long walks may be tiresome for little kids. There also are on-site shops that sell fresh spices and oils, which the guests can buy as gifts and souvenirs for friends and family.
Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary is a must-visit in Goa as it features botanical garden, zoo and exotic wildlife in a single platter. Among the attractions of the sanctuary, the collection of mythological Hindu sculptures on-site is also a must visit as it is said to be mysteriously discovered during the construction of gardens. There are about 100 different species of birds found along with Sambar deer, Black Giant squirrel, Indian bison, Indian Peafowl and snakes. To make the trip an exciting vacation, the guests could opt for elephant rides in the afternoon. Please note that some attractions of the sanctuary, such as Deer Park, are closed on a Thursday.
The small Indian state, Goa was under the influence of Portuguese for almost 450 years. The culture, food, people, structures, etc., all reflect the charm of old-world. Moreover, there also are numerous churches that are designed according to the Gothic style of architecture. Some of the popular churches in Goa are Basilica of Bom Jesus, Convent and Church of St Francis of Assisi, Church of Our Lady of Miracles, Church of St Cajetan, etc. During the time of feasts and festivals, there are special mass prayers and processions carried.
A Visit To Ancestral Goa
In the inner regions of Goa, there are numerous colonial mansions, which date to the 17th century. If the guests intend to explore the old-world colonial charm of Goa, Chandor (15km from Margao) is the best village to visit. In this village, the Braganza House is open to the public and provides the glimpse of the luxurious lifestyle of the colonial landlords. The house features Italian marble walls & flooring, and Belgian & Chinese Porcelain chandeliers, which adorn the beauty of the house. Loutolim is again another attraction in Goa to witness the colonial charm of Goa. Here, Ancestral Goa is an open-air theme park, which was designed by Goan artist, Maendra J. Alvares. The park features a miniature of a Goan village. India’s longest laterite sculpture, Saint Mirabai, is also featured here along with different highlights depicting colonial influence in Goan culture.
Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary
Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 1969 with the motive to protect the isolated jungle forest strip. The sanctuary is spread over an area of 85 km and at a distance of 10 km east of Chaudi. The 2nd largest sanctuary in Goa features thick vegetation, which at times makes it difficult for the visitors to spot timid & rare animals, such as flying squirrel, Indian pangolin, four-horned antelope, slender loris, mouse deer, etc. Here, the visitors can also spot the tallest trees of Goa, which stretch to about 30 m. The best time to visit the sanctuary is November or December.
For the shopping spree, Goan markets are best to be explored. Right from the street markets to upscale shopping complexes, there are numerous options to shop for some exclusive commodities from Goa. Some of the major markets in Goa are Anjuna Flea Market, MMC New Market, New Municipal Market, Mapusa Market, Glastonbury Street, Street Stalls, etc. These feature beautiful handicrafts and artifacts that could be purchased as souvenirs and gifts for those at home.
For visitors from all parts of the globe, Goa has excellent accommodation facility to meet the personal preferences. There also are tour operators, who specialize in offering Goa hotel packages to ensure a comfortable and memorable accommodation in Goa. Along with touring, do not miss to tantalize your taste buds with authentic Goan delicacies served at various small and upscale restaurants in Goa.
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Written By Neelam Talreja