#OTReadersWrite 36 Hours of Tranquility in South Goa

Exploring the more peaceful and serene side of Goa
Majorda beach in Margaon
Majorda beach in Margaon

Growing up, I had often fancied a trip to Goa with my friends. Perhaps, this had much to do with my love for the film Dil Chahta Hai. Little did I know back then that, years down the line, I would be setting foot on this land and its beach for a relaxing sojourn to connect with myself again, after months of frenzied working.

I have quite the reputation for making impromptu plans, and it was no different this time. I booked my tickets for Goa the night before Christmas Eve, 2021. Since I wanted to avoid the Christmas festivities at Anjuna, Calangute, Baga or Candolim, I ended up exploring South Goa in peace and solitude.

On Christmas, I got off at Margao station at 4 in the morning. My first stop would be my friend&rsquos home in Utorda, a beach within walking distance of its more well-known cousin, the Majorda beach. I hopped on to a cab, but not before having a cup of delicious, hot ginger tea from a nearby tea stall. A festive wind gushed into the cab as we sped past, while the views outside resembled a fairytale land. All along the way, I was quite taken by the small cottages and huge bungalows decorated with colourful fairy lights, bright stars and the occasional Christmas cribs&mdashscenes that oddly reminded me of Diwali.

The first sight at my friend&rsquos place was of the sunrise at the beach. Utorda beach is less crowded&mdashit is excellent if you wish to have the beach all to yourself. Listening to the undulating waves crashing on the shore, with the salty sea breeze caressing my face, I picked several seashells on my walk across the pristine beach. With no one around, it felt exhilarating and peaceful, all at the same time.

I went to Balton&rsquos&mdashThe Reggae Shack and had a beer, along with some crab curry and white sauce spaghetti. The sight of people soaking in the winter sun added a certain sense of calm to the entire setting, while, in the distance, I saw kids making sandcastles and couples enjoying their Goan drinks and clicking selfies. The mellow numbers being played in the background, as I sipped on my beer, completed the wholesome mood.

My friend and I rented a scooty, and then headed out for Cabo De Rama beach in the afternoon. Situated between the beautiful Cavelossim and Agonda beaches of South Goa, Cabo De Rama (a.k.a. Cab De Ram) is a rich slice of Indian heritage. It is said to derive its name from Lord Rama, and according to local folklore, this was one of the places where Rama and Sita took shelter during their exile.

By the time we stood at the gate of The Cape Goa resort near the Cabo De Rama village, the sun had already set. We found ourselves quietly marvelling at the purple twilight sky.

Inside, a musical event and karaoke session took centrestage in the restaurant and bar of The Cape Goa. Every nook and cranny of the place was adorned with lights and Christmas decor. There was a person cosplaying as Santa and dancing beside the DJ who dished out staples such as &ldquoMaria Pitache&rdquo, &ldquoHotel California&rdquo and &ldquoAfrica&rdquo. In the dimly-lit room, people danced in groups, as we ordered some prawn and rocket fettuccine to complement the Christmas ambience. The flavours of white wine, sun-dried tomato and chilli made the fettuccine so sumptuous and delectable that it was gobbled up in a frenzy. I topped it off with some stirring hot cappuccino to get rid of the chill. On our way back to my friend&rsquos house, we went to Al Akbar, a shawarma place on Navelim Road. This place turned out to be our saviour because of its cheap fare&mdasha rarity in Goa at this time of the year.

The seashore beckoned me again after we reached home at 10 pm. With the intermittent tides washing over my feet, I slowly savoured every bit of the red wine I had picked up en route. Sitting alone in the middle of nowhere, gazing at the Milky Way above my head, what I felt was as priceless as it was precious. It was a fitting conclusion to one of the most enthralling nights I have ever had.

Next morning, we headed to Lovers Beach, itself an extension of Betalbatim Beach, located 6 kilometres from Margao. With numerous pine trees along the shoreline, Lovers Beach is relatively deserted with no shacks or hotels nearby. There were small crabs crawling across the white sand, like graceful skaters on white ice. Soon, however, we were on our way to Old Goa.

Set by the river Mandovi, and populated with colourful Portuguese-style homes, Old Goa is a visual spectacle. The moment you enter, you feel as though you have been whisked away to a foreign land. We stopped at a tapri (a temporary shed) situated at the edge of the river for some tea and local food. From there, we caught a glimpse of ferries transporting people across the river. How many people cross each day, I wondered.

Old Goa, the former capital of Portuguese India, is quite famous for its churches. The Basilica of Bom Jesus&mdasha UNESCO World Heritage Site&mdashis a must-visit. It is said to have the remains of St. Francis Xavier, and the entire place looks charmingly idyllic. Built during the European Renaissance period, it is one of the best existing examples of baroque and Portuguese colonial architecture. A case in point is the altar of St. Xavier, where the saint&rsquos body rests&mdashit is incredibly intricate and detailed, and it made me ecstatic enough to make me want to touch it.

After a trip to a nearby market to collect souvenirs, we left for Miramar Beach, a bustling area a short distance away from Panjim, Goa&rsquos capital. It is a palm-lined strip dotted with shacks selling local apparel, jewellery, thrift goods and street food. We devoured some pav bhaji and bhel puri at a stall nearby. I also bought some shell earrings and dream-catchers while listening to an old man playing a melancholic but extremely melodious tune on the flute.

Thus ended one of the most memorable trips of my life. Goa&rsquos aura is remarkable&mdashit has something to offer to everyone. Pilgrims and party people, tourists and troubadours, lovebirds and lonely bards&mdashall can find inspiration in its radiance. Goa is more than its beaches, churches, parties and amalgamation of Konkani and Portuguese culture. It is a living piece of history that has been etched together by people from diverse backgrounds who have contributed to its legacy. Goa is a place that is bigger&mdashmuch bigger&mdashthan the sum of its parts. And I long to explore it again as soon as I can.

Images Rooplekha Das, except where mentioned otherwise.

This article is a submission by one of our readers, and part of our series #OTReadersWrite. Have a great travel story to tell Write to us at&nbspletters@outlooktraveller.com.

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