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15 Offbeat things to do in Goa – Travel Guide


15 Offbeat things to do in Goa – Travel Guide

When thinking of Goa, the first thing that comes to your mind would be the beaches and the parties. I do not blame you as that is pretty much what most people perceive. But there is a less explored hidden side to this Konkan state. If you are a real traveler (and not a tourist), I have for you 15 little-known offbeat things to do in Goa. Do explore these offbeat things to do in Goa.

1. Goa state museum – the exploration of the offbeat things to do in Goa starts from here

If you are a history buff, Goa state museum has an impressive collection of artifacts.

The museum throws light on the ancient historical and cultural traditions of Goa and thematically exhibits them. There are many interesting art objects and antiques of cultural importance in the museum, which depicts different aspects of Goan History and Culture. The lottery draw machine has to be my favorite amongst them all.

Visit the museum if you are interested to see the:

a) Glimpses of Goan culture

b) Goa through ages

c) The Portuguese phase

d) Goa freedom struggle

Unfortunately, the museum has not been able to draw crowds, with only school and college students visiting it for their school assignments, etc. I would recommend visiting the state museums first before anywhere else. It allows you to do a crash course on the state/ city, which you would be exploring for the next few days.

Opening days: Monday to Friday

Timings: 9:30 am – 5:30 pm

Entry fee: Free

2. Indian Customs and Central Excise Museum

This museum is the first of its kind. It depicts the smuggling history of India and showcases unusual items uncovered by keen-eyed customs officials. I was amused to see the smuggled items and elaborate lengths smugglers went to conceal their activities. See the pictures below, and you would get amused too. Well, that is not to give you ideas but to warn you of what the men on duty are capable of finding. It is to convey to us not to mess with them. A big salute to them…

Opening days: Tuesday to Sunday

Timings: 9:30 am – 5 pm

Entry fee: INR 10

Indian Customs and Central Excise Museum

3. Fontainhas

If you have been to Goa before, you must have visited or crossed Panjim umpteen number of times while exploring Goa. Little you must have thought that the capital city tells probably one of the richest histories of Goa and houses some of the best offbeat things to do in Goa. Goa has enthralled us with its gorgeous beaches, so much that we often overlook the fact that it has such a rich history.

Fontainhas meaning little fountain in Portuguese), is the oldest Latin Quarter in Goa, flanked by brightly colored houses having a strong Portuguese influence. The entire quarter has stuck in time. Fontainhas is best to explore on foot, so buckle up your shoes and wear your hat. Taking a stroll in the quarter would make you realize how powerful Portuguese influence was on Goa.

Good to know: During the Portuguese colonial rule, the residents were mandated by the law, to paint their houses every year after the monsoons. This practice is followed even today in the Latin quarter.

Geetanjali Gallery, Fontainhas Goa

4. Maruti Temple

Overlooking the Fontainhas, the Maruti temple is situated on top of the Altinho hillock. It is dedicated to Lord Hanuman, the monkey god, and enshrines Lord Hanuman as the presiding deity.

Painted in bright orange color, the Maruti Temple is one of the most beautiful temples in Panjim. The locals say that the idol of Lord Maruti (Lord Hanuman) in the main temple can be seen even from the main road, through an opening in the basement wall of the temple. You can see the beautiful octagonal Deepastambha or Lamp Tower at this Temple.

If you visit during February, enquire about the 10-day long annual festival celebrated at the Maruti temple.

Timings: 5 am – 8 pm

Maruti temple, goa

Maruti temple common area

5. St. Sebastian Chapel

While exploring Fontainhas, do visit St. Sebastian Chapel. The chapel was built in 1818 and is a popular tourist attraction in Goa. In earlier days, people were troubled with the disease of pests and plagues, which was very frequent in the Salcette area. They turned for help to St Sebastian, who treated them through his mediation and miraculous interventions.

This white-washed church has a striking crucifix, which originally stood in the Palace of Inquisition in Old Goa. In the crucifix, the eyes of Christ are open. Locals say that the crucifix is magical and has the power to punish troublemakers and reward good people.

St. Sebastian chapel Goa

6. Parra Road

Lined with lush palm trees and overlooking fields on both sides, Parra road is the one you have seen in many movies (remember Alia Bhatt cycling in Dear Zindagi?). It is one of the prettiest roads in Goa. This side of Goa is breathtaking, especially during the monsoon. 

7. Anjuna Wednesday Flea Market – one of the best offbeat things to do in Goa for the shopaholics

Honestly, I had first thought that the flea market would be just another market full of stalls where I would get clothes for cheap. But, how wrong I was! It is one of the best offbeat things to do in Goa.

In the Anjuna flea market, you would find clothes, bags, souvenirs, and other accessories. The price ranges from INR 200 to INR 2000. The quality of the clothes is quite good. The Anjuna market is a must-visit for travelers.

Good to know: Park your vehicle only in the designated parking area (parking fee – INR 100/-), because if you park in the wrong space, the villagers there might make you come back to a flat tire.

Good to know: The Anjuna Wednesday market starts at 7 am, and the stalls start closing by 7 pm. So, plan your day accordingly. I recommend going there in the evening, as that is when the market comes to life in the evening, and the entire market seems bustling with the hippie crowd.

Opening days: Wednesday

Timings: 7 am – 7 pm

anjuna wednesday flea market

8. Menezes Braganca House 

Now that you have already taken a stroll in the Latin quarter of Goa, wouldn’t it be nice to have a look at one of the Portuguese houses? Menezes Braganca House is the place to go if you are interested in taking a tour of a 17th-century Portuguese-style mansion. The mansion has antique furniture and historic artifacts. The house owner Mr. Braganca, the 15th generation of the family living in that mansion gives the guests a tour of the property.

The exquisite ballroom, almirah embellished with mother pearls, years old piano, 400 years old chairs, a partner chair (see the picture below) displayed around seven rooms in the mansion would surely give you some chills. There is also a big room with historical artifacts, which were gifted to or bought by the late Mr. Braganca (who was the vice-chancellor of Sweden).

Mr. Braganca later pointed to a white tomb-like structure from the balcony and explained to us how the remains of the dead members of the Braganca family are buried in that structure.

Good to know: Do spend time in the small charming garden in the mansion.

Good to know: If you feel hungry, here is a restaurant named Cuzinero at a distance of about 4 km from the mansion.

Opening days: All days

Timings: 9 am – 5:30 pm

Entry fee: INR 150

Menezes Braganza House (Chandor) GOA

9. Sunset at Fort Aguada near Sinquerim Beach

How can you leave Goa without witnessing a lavish sunset? You simply cannot. So, go and soak in the setting sun near Sinquerim beach while sipping on some coconut water.

Sunset at Fort Aguada near Sinquerim Beach

10. Calangute Beach

Everybody perceives North Goa as a crowded touristy part of Goa, which is true, to a large extent. However, if you chose the right time to visit the beaches, you would be amazed to see how clean the beaches are with clear waters.

During my trips to Goa, I make it a point to visit the Calangute beach when I stay in the touristy North Goa. But, I ensure to visit during mornings (between 6:30-8 am), and the beach has never failed to impress me with its soft breeze blended with just the perfect amount of calmness.

Go a little offbeat in Goa, and you will see only the beauty around you.

Calangute beach goa

11. Heart-shaped lake – Instagram popular offbeat thing to do in Goa

Yes, that is the same heart-shaped lake, the pictures of which have been storming your social media accounts lately. However, the cliff point, which was the photo spot for the tourists is now a private property. But, do not lose heart. Do visit the lake as it is still hidden away from the tourist crowd. Moreover, the coastline near the lake is panoramically beautiful.

Here are 5 reasons to visit the heart-shaped lake in Goa. This post also includes how to reach the lake as it is a little difficult to find the exact spot through GPS.

12. Aldona

One of the prominent villages of the state of Goa, Aldona is known for its scenic setting and creatively built houses. Travel-writer Anuradha Goyal quotes villagers as believing that it is “the most beautiful village in the world” and notes that “a lot of literary giants” choose to live in Aldona. The villagers are simple in love with their village.

Do make a visit to the village for the charm that it offers, but not without a guide. I did it with Soul traveling and I am so thankful for the insights that tour gave me about Aldona’s history, culture, and the past communal issues, some of which exist even today.

One of the best highlights of the tour was a brief visit to the 90-year-old house of Mrs. Dsouza. She served us delicious snacks and told us many interesting stories about her family and the vintage house. She makes flavored wines at home – Ginger wine, Pineapple wine, Black grape wine. You can buy them if you wish to.

Good to know: During my visit to Aldona, and other parts of Goa, I came to know that after 3-5 years of being buried inside the grave, some bones like the arm bone, jaw bone, etc. are take out and put inside a small box called as niche outside the cemetery itself. The rest of the bones are disposed of off into a deep bone well (it is near the cemetery), to keep the animals and birds away.

Good to know: I am not sure if it is with every cemetery, but the ones I saw at Aldona and Divar Island had a board at the entrance that says – AIZ-MAKA-FALEA-TUKA, which means – today for me, tomorrow for you. That reminded me that death eventually awaits everyone.

St. Thomas church aldona goa

Corjeum fort goa - one of the offbeat things to do in goa

teen maanos goa

Goan house

13. Chorao Island – one of the best offbeat things to do in Goa

There is no direct road that can take you to the island of Chorao from Panaji or the other tourist areas. The farthest you can go is till Raibandar jetty at Ilhasm, which is 3.2 kilometers from the outskirts of Panaji by the Ponte de Linhares Causeway. You have to take a ferry to reach Chorao island from here. Several ferries are leaving throughout the day, every few minutes. The ride takes about 15-20 minutes.

The ferry will take you to the border of the bird sanctuary. On the right, you will see agricultural fields and the villages, and on the left, there will be the mangrove area and the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary. Once on the island, you will see the main road running through the middle with several smaller roads meeting it.

The island is adorned with nature that you would not have anticipated to come across in Goa. I did a tour with Soul traveling.

Highlights of the tour

The first highlight of the tour is the Devaki Krishna temple there. There is an idol of Devaki with baby Krishna in her arms. The door of the temple is a delight for the photographers.

The second highlight is the boat tour in the mangroves. Words cannot explain how soothing that ride was. The boat ride is a delight, particularly for the bird-lovers and photographers.

The third highlight is a nature trek along a small hillock. The end-point of the trail is where exists the ruins of an ancient seminary.

The final highlight is, of course, Feni and Urak tasting. I did not quite like the Feni, but I loved Urak. My young guide made a cocktail mixing Urak with Limca and spicy green chilly. Honestly, I have not had tasted such a refreshing soft cocktail ever before.

Good to know: The ferry has enough space to park your two-wheeler or the car.

Good to know: There are no charges for the ferry and two-wheelers. If you are going by car, you need to pay INR 10.

shree devki krishna temple, chorao island, goa

boating in backwater, chorao island backwaters - one of the offbeat things to do in Goa

nature trail, chorao island

Feni tasting goa

14. Divar Island 

You have to take a ferry to reach the Divar island from old Goa. Several ferries are leaving throughout the day, every few minutes. The ride takes about 15-20 minutes.

I would highly recommend doing the tour of Divar Island with Soul traveling. I will explain later why.

Highlights of the tour

The first highlight is the white-washed Historic Piedade Church, also known as the Our Lady of Piety Church. You would get a beautiful panoramic view of the village from the church.

The second highlight of the trip is again Feni tasting, but with a twist. The young guide poured us 5-6 different flavors of Feni one by one, and we had to guess the flavor – coriander, cinnamon, clove, masala, etc.

The third highlight was the Porne Tirth, meaning the old pilgrimage place. That was the original site of Saptakoteshwar Temple. But now, it is an archaeological site that belongs to the Kadamba dynasty era of Goa, which would take you back to 10-12th CE. What you see now is an irregular-shaped tank with 108 small temple-like niches all around it. These niches have no idols now. However, if you go closer, you can see the holes at the base where the idols would have been.

The final highlight of the guided tour is a visit to the home of a famous personality, and this is why I recommend taking the guided tour with Soul traveling

I visited the home of Marius Fernandes, popularly renowned as the Festival Man of Goa. Despite having been born in Kenya and having worked in the UK, Marius had imbibed from his mother that it is important to stay close to our roots.

More about the Festival Man of Goa

Marius promised himself that after the age of 40, he would come back to Goa. And Marius did keep his promise. After coming back, he saw how locals of Goa were losing the meaning of the cultural heritage that they are still breathing on. With a thought to bring radical cultural change in the state, he has introduced many festivals and has organized about 25 festivals, all celebrating Goan culture, and all without a chief guest, sponsor, alcohol, or politicians. It is the village people who get together, and through crowdfunding, set up various fests. These fests showcase authentic Goan cuisine, drinks, arts and crafts, traditional occupations, musical instruments, indigenous plants and their uses, dances, music, and so on.

Some of these fests are Ghumtachem Fest (Ghumot festival), Poderanchem Fest (Baker’s festival), Cajuchem Fest (Cashew festival), Abolienchem Fest (Flower festival, etc.

Good to know: The ferry has enough space to park your two-wheeler or the car.

Good to know: There are no charges for the ferry and two-wheelers. If you are going by car, you need to pay INR 10.

Piedade Church/ Our Lady of Piety Church

Porne tirth

Festival man of Goa

15. Vibrant Marche’ Des Cre’ateurs – an offbeat thing to do in Goa for the shopaholics

It is a luxury market at Ashwem beach. Next to La Plage restaurant, Shiva cottages, this exclusive open-air bazaar mirrors the tented stores and exotic articles of clothes, bags, and other accessories. You can browse through the clothes by some of the top national and international designers in Goa. I was delighted to come across this market, and it is definitely one of the best offbeat things to do in Goa. The clothes are a little on the expensive side, but worth every penny.

Vibrant Marche' Des Cre'ateurs goa

vibrant marche goa

Goa Travel Guide

How to reach Goa

Air

Goa International Airport is well-connected with major cities across India.

Rail

Goa has two major railway stations — Margao and Vasco-da-Gama. They are both located in the southern area of the state. The South Central Railway terminus is at Vasco-da-Gama, and the Konkan Railway terminus is at Margao.

Bus

The state is well-connected to its neighboring towns like Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Mangalore, etc.

Road

If you are traveling from neighboring towns like Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, etc., the best mode to reach is by taking the road route. The simple reason is that it allows you to explore many things on the way.

Conveyance From The Goa International Airport

Riding by taxi is without a doubt the best way to reach any part of Goa. The estimated prepaid taxi fare to get to Calangute, for example, would be INR 1200.

Good to know: There is no Uber/ Ola in Goa.

Commuting

Public transport in Goa is less developed, and residents depend heavily on their transportation, usually motorized two-wheeler and small family cars. The best bet is to hire a self-drive car or a two-wheeler as soon as you reach Goa. The average rent for a two-wheeler and car INR 400 and INR 1200 per day respectively. However, if you take the vehicle on rent for 3-4 days at one go, you can try negotiating to reduce the rent.

Good to know: Avoid commuting by local taxis here (apart from conveyance to and from the airport), as they would surely burn a hole into your pocket.

Foreign Exchange

The safest is to buy local currency from any bank. There are many reputed forex dealers as well. But, a bank is the easiest to locate anywhere.

Best Time To Visit Goa

Although Goa is a round-the-year destination, the best time to visit Goa is from November to February, with temperatures hovering between 21 ⁰C and 28 ⁰C. The pleasant weather is perfect to laze around on the beaches of Goa, and also to immerse yourself in offbeat things to do Goa.

Four days would be enough to cover the major attractions in Goa.

Accommodation

You would get a 3-star hotel within INR 3000 per night if traveling on a budget. I stayed at The Park Calangute and Span Suites and Villa. Both the properties do not come as very expensive if booked well in advance.

Conclusion

These were some of the offbeat things to do and explore in Goa.

While Goa is popular for its shacks and party vibes, don’t restrict yourself to just partying wild in Goa. There is so much more to do than just hopping from shack to shack. Enough of beaches, casinos, and parties, this time make your friends and family wonder by telling them stories about the other side of Goa.

Please join my mailing list (at the bottom of the page), and stay tuned for more stories. You can follow @bulbulonthewing on FacebookTwitterInstagram to get regular updates.

 

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