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Off-beat Goa

There is so much to see other than the beaches

1.       Fontainhas and Mala
The only Latin quarters in Asia, this area will transport you to a bygone era with its Mediterranean appearance, narrow streets and overhanging balconies of the ancient Portuguese style houses.  The entire area is laid out at the base of a hillside known as Altinho and the natural springs on the hillside gave the name Fontainhas to the area. While Mala, an adjoining ward is a predominantly Hindu area with a beautiful Maruti Temple. The old world charm of the pretty old homes, smiling grannies and vintage cars makes for a pleasant stroll and a photographer’s delight. We felt drawn to this neighborhood and found ourselves there on all the days we were in Goa. Every time you walk through this area, you will find another hidden gem, another beautiful house or a small balcony or a unique name plate or some other cute detail worth going through the neighborhood again.

                  The area is quite close to Panjim bus stand. Go up to Maruti temple in Mala on your vehicle and park your vehicle there and walk around the neighborhood covering Panjim Inn, Panjim Pousada and Gitanjali art gallery, Velha Goa Galeria (good place for souvenirs),  Saint Sebastian Chapel, Ourem Creek, Sao Tome Chapel at the Tobacco Square, Mint House - Casa de Moeda and the ‘Fundacao Oriente' a center for cultural learning. Alternatively you can go for a heritage walk conducted by GHAG (Goa Heritage Action Group). Contact ajit_sukhija@yahoo.com/ghaggoa@gmail.com.

 Houses in every hue and color in Fontainhas area

The run down houses have a character of their own :)

2.       Goa Chitra
Goa Chitra is a tribute by its founders to his ancestors and to their way to life using age old wisdom passed through generations. It is an ethnographic museum housing a unique collection depicting the material culture of Goa before the electricity era. It is a project to promote awareness and appreciation of the traditional agrarian lifestyle, of the eco-friendly techniques that were practiced. There are various sections displaying the traditional tools and implements used by farmers, carpenters, black smiths, gold smiths, stone masons etc. It also has a separate section on kitchen implements, food storage and various old measures and scales. Highlights of the place are a 16 foot coconut oil extraction apparatus and a section on ancient mode of transports with old carts and buggies from all over the country on display. It is a brilliant effort by a single person to conserve the heritage of his region and also spread awareness about it. You can read more about the founder and his vision on the official website.

                                  The museum is in Benaulim (near Margaon) and marked on google maps. It is quite a drive from Panjim, but the drive through the beautiful countryside is an added bonus! Interesting fact about Benoulim is that the place derives its name from Banavalli (which means sequence of arrows in Sanskrit) or Banahalli (Bana is arrow in Sanskir and halli is village in Kannada). It is supposed to be the place where the arrow fell when Parashurama shot an arrow into the sea to reclaim land and that’s how Goa or Gomanta or Gomantaka or Gorashtra or Govapuri was created. The mythological tale of creation of Goa is an interesting read. 

 Traditional oil mill on display

Old weights and measures

Vintage horse cart on display

 Pickle jaadis (jars)

3.       Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary on Chorao Island
The bird sanctuary is along river Mandovi and mangrove swamps cover this bird-watchers' paradise aptly named after India's best-known ornithologist. I have read great reviews about the same and had added it to my agenda but as I mentioned before you absolutely cannot stick to an itinerary while in Goa. You too can add it to your radar if you are interested in a guided canoe trip through the Mandovi River and sight some rare and stunning birds.

                                 We had contacted a guide too but could not tear ourselves from the beach during this trip. You will have to report to the sanctuary early in the morning around 6 AM for best sightings. You can contact Mr. Uday and book a day in advance: +91-9822583127 or +91-9545062069. He will guide you on how to reach the sanctuary.

4.       Braganza Mansion in Chandor
The Braganza house is a sprawling mansion located at Chandor, 13 kilometres from Margao, in Southern Goa. Built in the 17th century, the Braganza mansion was the home of Luis De Menezes Braganza, the champion of Goa's freedom. This house is replete with elaborately ornate and antique furniture and curios garnered by the inhabitants of the household over time. There is also a chapel, ballrooms, dining halls and several other utility rooms which are a statement on the flamboyant lifestyle of the past and it is the only mansion with a private library with a large collection of books to boast.

                                 This too was on the agenda this trip but we could not make it because of the distance. We will include this when we travel next time for a South Goa exclusive trip J. There are quite a few heritage homes in South Goa which are definitely worth visiting and go in my bucket list straightaway.

 The lush green countryside

Local football match

 There are a lot many places to explore in Goa other than the beaches. Just zipping through rural Goa itself is a delight. The lush green countryside with the typical quaint Goan houses creates picture perfect eye candy. And the occasional abandoned Portuguese style villa transports us to a different era as our mind conjures up its former glory. Football is the more popular sport and you will come across quite a few local matches being played albeit with all the seriousness and passion and loyalty for the game and the team. Just join in with the cheering crowd and you are guaranteed a good time J. People in Goa are warm and friendly and very forthcoming with help and information. It was heartening to see a tender coconut vendor lady reply back to our question in Hindi in crisply enunciated English. I can never forget the glee on her face when we were a bit taken aback by her casual yet every bit correct English…That’s Goa for you, surprising you always with its many facets J


  1. nice.. I have ever been to Goa.. We planned twice but did not worked out.. Hope it will not be zinxed for third time too and we will go this year

  2. Hey..ya and do let me know how you liked when you go :)