Known for its golden sands, sun kissed beaches and beautiful sunsets, Goa is a major tourist attraction in India. With number of hotels and resorts offering great holiday packages, family holidays in Goa has become very popular today.
We, along with my wife and son, reached the Tivim railway station on 3rd March morning! Though I have made several official trips to Goa, this is my first ‘family retreat’ in Goa and this visit reminded me of many ‘bachelor’ days spent earlier in Panaji, the capital and other cities like Mapusa, Ponda, Vasco Da Gama. Our first day started by checking in to the ‘Ginger’ Hotel at Panaji – a chain of Auto-hub hotels – run by the TATA group across India located on the major highways leading into the cities. After a quick wash and sumptuous lunch, off we went into the Panaji City to visit the 450 years old Panaji Church and a ‘lazy’ trek onto the streets of Panaji.
‘Panaji’ means “the Land that never floods”. Panaji is the capital of Goa State and also headquarters of North Goa District, located on the left bank of the Mandovi River, piled up against terraced hills, a jumble of concrete buildings with whimsical balconies and red-tiled roofs, bleached clean churches and a riverside promenade, with red-roofed houses built in Latin style. It also has modern houses, well laid gardens, statues and avenues lined with gulmohar, acacia and other trees. The Baroque church on the main square, pretty villas, cobbled streets and interesting buildings give Panaji a Portuguese ambiance.
We had already planned ‘right at the start’ what we wanted to do on the next (second) day – a South Goa ‘package’ Coach tour followed by long stay at the Calangute/ ‘Dolphin’ Colva/ Sequerim/ Baga beaches on the third day! Mainly Calangute Beach! The third day would be the exciting one – because of water sports adventure! ‘Para-sailing’ is a thrilling sport popular in Goa. Also known, as ‘Para ascending’ this sport requires a speedboat and a parachute. The parachutes are tied to the speedboats. A rope about 300 feet long is attached to the ‘Parasail’ ( that looks like a parachute) harness at one end and to the speed boat at the other. As the speedboat speeds off, the Para sailor is hauled up in the air. The Parasailor has little or no control over the parachute. It is fun to look at all others from the top, nearly 200 to300 feet above the ground!
Adventurous individuals who love to be on the edge and love the risks needed to enjoy the speed of life may find ‘Water scooters’ a very thrilling experience. Water scooters are high-speed water sports. The scooter accommodates two people and zooms through the water surface at great speed. Now, the thrill of water scooter sports need not be just restricted to the thrill of watching ‘Baywatch’ serial on the television.
Other places of interest include: the famous ‘Bom Jesus Basilica’ church in Old Goa! There are many more churches and temples in South Goa while North Goa is dominated by ‘only’ beaches!! There is a Fish aquarium worth visiting; located in the Verna industrial area, South Goa and another interesting place is the ‘Shanta Durga Temple’ on the way back to Panaji. There are advantages of taking a package tour Coach – you get to visit more places in shorter time but when it comes to visiting beaches, it is better to opt for a private vehicle so as to avail the leisure of time and privacy.
At the end of everything, we decided, it is better to spend a quiet day in the hotel – a ‘lazy’ morning breakfast and watching world cup cricket match on the tube – within our suite! Then we were Off – back to Mumbai!!