Sun, sand, surf, parties and pure fun are just a handful of things associated with India’s tiniest and most vibrant state, Goa. Flanked by the glistening Arabian Sea on the west, Maharashtra on the north and Karnataka to the east and south, Goa is one of the most popular states in the country. Ruled until 1961 by the Portuguese, Goa offers an eclectic mix of culture, history, landscapes and tradition.
Blessed with a sunny, tropical climate all around the year, the state has a plethora of diverse sights including churches, temples, beaches and forts. A haven for water sports like jet skiing, parasailing and water gliding among others, Goa is synonymous with beaches, music and adventure. However, there is a lot to see and do in Goa beyond merriment. The state offers varied experiences that showcase its unique spirit through its heritage, flora and fauna.
So, steer away from the typical tourist beaten path and consider these five equally engaging and incredibly unique things to do in Goa.
1. VISIT A SPICE FARM
India is well known as the land of spices and it is not uncommon to see visitors taking them back as souvenirs. While in Goa you can actually visit a spice plantation and see how these spices are grown. These tours are a great opportunity to learn about the nuances of spices like nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon and pepper. There are several farms located near the capital city of Panjim such as the Savoi Plantation, Tropical Spice Plantation and Sahakar Spice Plantation. You can also see how native species like coconuts and cashew nuts are grown. Some of the farms even have medicinal herbs growing on their premises. Most farms welcome you with a refreshing cup of herbal tea after which you will be taken on a guided tour. You can also savour an authentic traditional meal on a banana leaf. This is not just an educative tour but also one which is insightful, giving you a lesson in ecology and rustic life.
2. BIG FOOT
Also called Ancestral Goa, this is a museum dedicated to rural Goan life in the quaint village of Loutolim. Located about 25 km from Panjim, it is run by artist Maendra Jocelino Araujo Alvares. Sprawling 9 acres, this open air exhibition is the perfect choice for the discerning traveler, taking you back to the life and times of Goa during the yester years. There are numerous sections including one that is modelled on a house and has several artefacts like clocks, wall hangings, porcelain plates and even a palanquin. There are several life size models that reflect the native culture. In fact, there is a model that depicts the process of extracting Feni or local alcohol. The highlight of the place is ‘The Big Foot‘ which is an impression of a big human foot that was found naturally on a rock. Highly revered, it is deemed sacred and believed to bring good luck and prosperity to anyone who stands on it. You can also visit the souvenir shop to pick up some locally made Goan handicrafts as a memory of your trip.
3. VISIT AN OLD HISTORIC HOME
When the Portuguese colonized Goa in the early 1500s, they brought their culture, tradition and distinctive style of architecture. They ruled for about 450 years and even though their reign ended in 1961, the legacy of the Portuguese is evident even today. There are several Portuguese mansions that have stood the test of time and are still inhabited by the descendants of the immigrants. Visiting these houses is a step back in time to experience life in the colonial era. Fontainhas, which is the state’s Latin Quarter in Panjim, is replete with heritage houses and Portuguese mansions. It is a charming locality with vintage houses painted in cheerful hues of yellow, green or blue with projecting balconies. One of the grandest houses you can visit is the Braganza House in Chandor village, south Goa. A sprawling mansion with 28 balconies, this place is over 200 years old! With tiles, artefacts and furniture dating back to the colonial period, this house is a must visit if you are a history and culture buff.
4. ASHVEK VINTAGE WORLD
If you love automobiles (especially the vintage variety) head to Salcete. Located in Nuvem, Ashvek Vintage World is a place that will transport you back in time. The vintage cars on display include: a 1940 White Morris 8, 1931 Peugeot 301, 1939 Morris 8, Chevrolet Fleet master, Morris Minor Pickup, Vidall Tempo, DKW 1959, Black Ford Prefect and a 1939 Mercedes Benz 170 model. The collection belongs to Pradeep Naik from Margao who restores and preserves the vintage cars. The museum also houses the 1936 Vidal Tempo that belonged to the Maharaja of Sawantwadi and happens to be the only car in the world that has two engines; it’s also the world’s first four wheel drive too! And if you want to own one, albeit a scaled down version, there are scale models of cars on sale, so you can purchase the perfect souvenir.
5. RIVER CRUISE ON THE MANDOVI
If you are looking for a perfect way to end a day in Goa, take off for a serene sunset river cruise on the beautiful Mandovi River from the Santa Monica Jetty at Panjim. A typical cruise lasts between one and two hours and you can see lovely views of Panjim city. The best part however is the carnival feel on the boat when local artists sing and dance to various local songs. The DJ keeps you entertained and the atmosphere becomes completely interactive. The local Tourism department runs a variety of cruises across the day but the sunset cruise is great as the weather is cooler than in the day and the magnificent scene of the setting sun against the river is a compelling sight.
This article was originally published on Travioor.com