Take the route less travelled to some of Goa’s prettiest places.
By Nicole Suares
Goa has no dearth of places to visit. While the spice plantations, beaches of North Goa and eclectic nightlife are at the top of every visitors list, there’s plenty for those looking to do something different.
The Island of St Esteve
The island is located 20 minutes away from Panjim. The drive will take you along the beautiful River Mandovi, across Asia’s oldest bridge-the Fonte de Linhares, to Goa’s old capital and across a ferry. The route via Old Goa is easiest to access from Panjim.
St Estevam or Santo Estevao or Zuem is also called as ‘Xhakecho Zunvo’ (Island of Vegetables) and Ilha de Verde (Green Island). It offers some of best scenic landscapes and a great drive. There are boating excursions for those looking to do something on the island.
It was an important historical place and has the oldest chapel in the village, the Chapel of our Lady of Boaventura.
But that’s not all. There’s a small fort at the hill top that offers breathtaking views. As you drive by you can spot the old sluice gates still in use to control the tides and prevent flooding. Let me not spoil you with all the details. Some things are best left explored.
Chapel of Our Lady of the Mount, Old Goa
If you’re doing the Old Goa rounds, don’t miss the Chapel of Our Lady of the Mount located on a little hillock. It’s not on the usual tour route, but it’s definitely worth the visit. The best time to visit is at sunset because of the views.
It was built soon after the conquest of Goa to mark the site where Adil Shah positioned his forces to take down the Portuguese forces. Construction first began in 1519 and it was subsequently rebuilt twice.
In recent years restoration work has brought it back to it’s former glory. The yearly Monte Music Festival organised by the Fundacao Oriente has catapulted the old place in focus in recent years.
The views are breathtaking as the important monuments of Old Goa peek up from the tree tops against the stunning backdrop of the Mandovi. You can spot the islands of Chorao and Divar across.
The quiet crowd are moving further North to the quieter beaches of Keri. It’s the northernmost last beach along the stretch and about 33 kms off from Panjim.
There are places to stay in the adjoining beaches of Mandrem, Ashvem and Keri is just a hop around the corner. The main stretch is a long stretch of pristine sands and azure waters unlike the murky hues of the rest of Goa.
Apart from the main beach, the stretch near the Keri ferry that leads across to Tiracol is un untouched spot. Across you can see the Tiracol fort and the sea converges with the river. This confluence is clearly visible.
Mauxi Rock Carvings
Goa is dotted with rich pre-historic evidences found at many places across the State. Sometime ago a fresh set of ancient rock carvings came to light at Mauxi with the help of the archaeological survey of India (ASI), Goa and locals. The stark engravings on the rocks are clearly visible and it’s fun to decipher what the pre-historic man tried to say. The carvings of animals vary from a zebu to the carving of a deer. It will take you about an hour and half to get there as the area is remote close to Valpoi.
The Arvalem waterfall is a beautiful fall gushing down a height of 50m. It’s specially a treat in the monsoons and also goes by the name of Harvalem. It’s closest city point is Mapusa and the villages of Bicholim, which is 8km away and Sanquelim which is 2km away are even closer. Once you’ve had your fill of nature, you could walk to the old arched bridge which is close by and you get a good view of the walls. The Arvalem rock cut caves are in close proximity too.