Goa: Seven Secret Sacred Spots!

        This blog post is dedicated to my friend Chandrakant Shinde (Chandu). Chandu, you are the one who inspired me, not once, but twice, to take the off-beat path when it comes to the beautiful state of Goa!

       Being a resident of Goa, Chandu would often say during our University days, "Whenever people think of Goa, all they can imagine is beaches, babes, and booze. But my Goa is much more than that! We are blessed with nature's bounty! We have dense forests hosting a huge biodiversity, serene villages, a rich history, temples, churches, winding roads leading to nowhere...come explore that once and you will never feel like going to the rowdier parts of Goa."

       And explore, we did! I'm sure the list below is going to be on the top of your bucketlist for your next Goa trip!

       So here we go!

1. Nature's Nest, Tambdi Surla

A cabin in the woods! That's the exact feel you get when you enter this place. Deep inside the jungles of Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary, this eco-friendly resort is a dream come true! Amazing food, big cottages built with eco-friendly material and the feel of being inside a forest and away from all human civilization!
They organise birding tours, waterfall trails, trekking, cycle tours and a lot more.
Be ready to welcome some wild guests while at this hotel! ;-)

This is a natural spring located inside the resort. Here you can simply immerse your feet into the magical waters and let the fish treat you to a tingling pedicure and foot spa! 

2. Mahadev Temple, Tambdi Surla

Located inside the Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary, this 13th C temple was built by the Kadamba dynasty who ruled over Goa then. It is just 11 km away from Nature's Nest Resort. A stream runs by the temple, making it an ideal place for relaxing and enjoying some fresh air!
The Archeological Survey of India as done some brilliant work here in restoring the stone structure.

3. The Bondla Zoo, Ponda

Let me make one thing clear, I'm not a big fan of zoos. They are nothing but slow torture for animals. I would rather see these beautiful animals in their natural habitat.
Yet, Bondla zoo is an example of how a zoo should be  conceptualized and maintained if animals have to be kept in captivity.
Huge area for the big animals, limited timings for visitors and animals on display and a semblance of their  natural habitat!
The only disappointment was the jungle cat that was kept inside a tiny cage...what would the poor animal do in such a small space for his entire lifetime??

Don't forget to watch the tall trees while walking through the  zoo. You might catch a  glimpse of the Indian Giant Squirrel!

4. Tropical Spice Plantation, Ponda

Another gem for us city-dwellers is this beautiful spice plantation. After crossing an eco-friendly bridge over a quiet lake, you will enter the world of spices!

Coffee pods

Peri Peri Chilli

Look at these traditional serving pots. Aren't they beautiful?  Here you can enjoy a delicious veg and non-veg meal served in bamboo plates. 

5. Fernandes Heritage Home, Chandor

Ok, this 450-year-old Portuguese villa can surely give you the creeps. 
The huge, heavy entrance door closes on you as you enter the ancient villa, giving you a feeling of being trapped in another century.  Old artefacts, relics, paintings of the Fernandes family members starting at you with a piercing look, all of this can be pretty overwhelming.

Yet, you realise, that this is a piece of history that has been so well preserved.

Victorian love chair sofas, four-poster beds, old Chinese and Egyptian artefacts are just a delight to see.

The best part of the house, however, is the secret passage that will take you down to the basement! A steep stairway, and winding narrow passages later, you will reach a secret hideaway of the Fernandes family. This was used by them during battles and skirmishes as an escape route to the nearby river. Today it is a home to bats, measuring chains and a few other old equipments.

6. Big Foot Museum, Loutolim

Welcome to Old Goa! Take a voice guided tour of this village and you will get to learn a lot about the old and new ways of life of Goa. The statues and displays look very lively. This is one experience that will leave you feeling proud of this small state of India.

7. Chorla Ghat

If you are on a road trip to Goa, do take this route at least once! Dense, probably evergreen forest, might give you a chance of spotting a wild animal or two. The road is just perfect, less used and hence sparsely populated by vehicles. Be careful while driving through this patch, though. Let the perfect setting for driving not give you a false sense of  security.  We came across a terrible and fatal bike accident in the same patch.
Enjoy the beauty of this route only during daylight. It will take you to Belgavi (Belgaum) from where you can take the superfast highway to Kolhapur and ahead to Pune.

       So there it is, add these places to you bucketlist asap! I hope you enjoyed reading this blog as much as I enjoyed writing it. 

Keep travelling!
And keep your Geography ka Chashma on!



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