Category Archives: Exploring Goa

Exploring Goa – XIX – Tiracol Fort

Kartik Kannan, continues taking you on his Goa trail, and the next destination in the series as we go further north, is the magnificent fort-hotel by the Arabian Sea- Tiracol Fort.

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Once you have boarded at the Tiracol Side of the land, you need to find a way to get to Tiracol fort. There are 2 places that the boat can leave you, depending on whether it’s a public boat or a private boat. The private boat leaves you in a slippery part of the land, from which the fort is about 400 metres by walk, and it costs anywhere between 200-300 for 3 people in a boat. The public ferry is free if you’ve come vehicle-less. My suggestion is to bring your 2 wheeler on the ferry, and drive your way back to the fort. This is the best option to commute, else you can take a private taxi/auto and pay 200 Rs for a round trip. 2 kilometres and 10 minutes later a wonderful fort opens up.

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The Orange all over welcomes you, and the slender chairs in black against the Orange walls, subtly lets you know the classiness of the place.

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As you walk out of the entrance, you see the kitchen on your right and…

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….The rooms on your left. The rooms are curiously named after every day of the week. You can book your rooms if you like the place, through Stayzilla.com.

7The Fort has this area for a foyer where guests can meet up. It looks very Portuguese in its architecture.

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Exploring Goa – XVII – The Photowalk in Kerim Continues

By Kartik Kannan

-3The ocean seems like an endless canvass over which you can paint your fantasies!

Kerimbeach1If you’d like to see how your food is prepared and engaged in some conversations with the locals, nothing like walking over to the shack’s kitchen, in between a couple of siestas! You may actually end up going there to find out why the beer ordered 20 minutes back has not yet come J. Goa is generally pretty relaxed and chilled, and the waiters are in no hurry to maximize revenue on your table by giving you a fixed time to eat. You can basically finish breakfast by lunch time! No problem!

Kerimbeach2Going for a dip, every now and then helps you appreciate the chillness of the water in the searing humid Goan heat. The locals inform me that this beach occasionally has a few skinny dippers, when there are not too many people around. As in every other beach in Goa, Top less sun bathing is visible in Kerim too, but it’s been a few years since Keri’s had the nude hippies romp about, ever since the exodus happened from Anjuna to beaches more north.

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When its Sussegad time, you just only do Sussegaad!

16One of the other things, one can do in quaint Keri is to drive through the forests overlooking the lakes that empty out into the Arabian sea, to catch the Free Ferry across to Tiracol

Journey To The Alphonso Land

By Sudhir Verma, Avanturas

Vada pav with hot tea at a road side joint. Perfect start to the Pune trip!

Monty looked slimmer, younger, and happier. I was glad to see him. Over the last 2 years, since he moved from Bangalore, our lives had come a long way trudging through somehow. But that’s a long personal story we’d rather keep buried.

After a few days in Pune, Ratnagiri was next, which is an 8 hour, 350 kms journey from Pune. Monty suggested I take his car, or whatever remained of it.  The blue Maruti Esteem had withered almost 13 years of interstate travel. Now the AC hardly functioned, the driver side window was stuck, and the left headlamp wouldn’t glow. Yet, in the Avanturas spirit and raised eyebrows, I agreed to take a chance. The engine was still powerful. It easily touched 140 km/h and the brakes were equally responsive.

Road to Lanja

An early start from Pune to avoid the rush hour office traffic and I had hit the highway by 8 am, en route an Alphonso orchard 50 kms south of Ratnagiri. I had intended to take a break for lunch around 1, but the road and the superb drive through the ghats didn’t make me want to stop. It turned out to be a good call when the orchard owner, Mr. Ranade, warmly welcomed me with yummy home-made Konkani lunch and an unlimited Alphonso supply.

After a quick 30 minute snooze I took out my Nikon D5100 and stepped out to explore the vast orchard. Mr. Ranade had given me a free hand. I could eat as many mangoes as I could handle, from those that had just fallen from the trees, or plucked fresh if I were athletic enough to climb the trees. I was certainly not going to let go of this opportunity. The last time I climbed trees, explored farms, or plucked fruits must have been a decade ago.

Alphonsos

Let me not even begin to count how many mangoes I had. I was acting like a shameless child who had never seen mangoes before. What fun! Over the next two days, Mr Ranade hosted me graciously and took me around his village to see the ice factory and paddy fields, taught me to milk the cows and treated me to some delicious Konkani dishes. The eating area is on the open terrace overlooking the entire orchard, with a mild sea breeze through the day making it a perfect place for a relaxed meal.

Beach

What made this whole experience even more exciting was this beautiful secluded beach just half a km from the orchard. One has to walk down for about 5 minutes from the hill to access the beach and it seemed like an easy child friendly walk. Over the few hours that Mr Ranade and I spent at the beach, we didn’t see a single soul venture out. If only I had my gang out there!

On the return journey to Pune, while I was reflecting back on the two refreshing days I had spent at the Orchard, I had no idea that the most exciting part of this trip was yet to unfurl. Let’s scroll up a little. Remember the Esteem’s left headlamp wasn’t working? Since the latter part of the drive was going to be at night, at 5:30 pm I stopped at a garage near Lanja, some 50 kms from the orchard. It was already 6:30 pm by the time the mechanic finished the job. I had tea at the small local joint and hit the road again. Just after Lanja, the ghats get denser. It must be 8 pm and deep inside the ghats when suddenly both the headlamps went off. Damn, what the hell just happened? It took me 4-5 seconds to come to a screeching halt. I got out of the car in pitch darkness and found myself just a few inches from the edge of the road. Slightly delayed reflexes and who knows!

After 15 minutes of futile effort to get the lamps up again, I decided to seek help. But who would stop to help a stranger in the middle of darkness? I assumed at least the truck drivers might, but I was wrong. By 8:45, with no help, there were only two options I could think off. Either park the car on the side and sleep the night off OR follow a bus or a truck slowly till I reach the next town. The second was going to be very tricky and perhaps dangerous, but I wasn’t going to sleep the night off in the ghats for obvious reasons. So after almost 30 trucks and buses had zipped past me, finally a truck came to my rescue, heavily loaded and slow enough to follow. The idea was to drive within 2 meters range behind the truck and follow its front headlight to navigate the turns, but it turned out to be a bad call. The truck was so wide that I could barely see its front lights and only one of its back red lights was working, so it was even harder to judge its edges. Within 2-3 minutes I was back to a halt. With nothing else seeming like a wise option, I took out my phone to dial for help. And as you rightly guessed….no signal!

Epic! I was so totally stuck.

While the first attempt at following the truck was useless, I decided to give it another shot, but this time perhaps a car. Finding a slow car was going to be much tougher, but luckily I found one, slowly working the ghats’ turns. For the first time ever I was happy to see what I saw next, an L (Learner’s) mark at the back of the car. No wonder the car was so slow. While it was slightly easier following a car than a truck, it was still a risk. If you are ever driving on a dark road, try it maybe. Switch off the headlamps for a few seconds. Just for the kicks! You’ll know the feeling. For the next 30-35 minutes, I followed the car and reached Malkapur. It must be about 10 pm, but the town still had some life. Yet, what were the chances that I’ll find a garage open? Nil. They were all closed. Disappointed, I walked up to a tea shop to ask if there was any lodge I could spend the night at.  The tea shop guy was a young boy, Ashok, who was in a mood for a chat. And I needed someone to crib to. He started to brag about this world famous mechanic in their town who could repair anything. You bet! I told him I once had a dog that could wash clothes.

But he insisted and offered to take me to the mechanic’s house. Thinking that this could help me get back to Pune tonight, I accepted the offer. We waited for his father, who had gone to get some dinner, to get back so he didn’t have to shut the shop. While we were getting into the car, two more boys jumped out of nowhere and got into the rear seat. For the first time that night, I felt the “oh shit’ feeling. They were Ashok’s friends and joined in since for them it seemed like an adventure to take me to the mechanic’s house. But I wasn’t feeling that adventure, especially on a night that had already been too strange. I took my time starting the engine, giving myself time to think if I wanted to bail out of this. I decided to go ahead with it. If these boys meant harm, they were already in the car. I had to deal with it now. They guided me towards some dark by lanes and I was scheming on how I’ll jump out and grab the tool kit if the need arose. Eventually, they lead me to the mechanic’s house as they had promised. We had to wake up the mechanic but he very amicably helped me out. Turns out that previous mechanic at Lanja had used an inferior fuse which gave up.

The Saviours

Within 5 minutes the lights were on and I was back on road, but not before I had captured them all together with my Nikon. I dropped the boys back to the tea shop and offered them some money and a box of Alphonsos for having been so kind. They politely declined the offer saying it was their duty to help someone in need. With a promise to stop by for tea whenever I visited their world again, I put some Floyd on and accelerated towards Pune.

One of the most memorable trips in Avanturas’ journey.

PS: The Orchard is 190 KMs from Baga Beach, Goa. If you are travelling to Goa, it’ll be a good idea to add this experience to the itinerary. 

Best season: Jan-April.

For details, connect with Avanturas.

Exploring Goa – XVI – Kerim

By Kartik Kannan

-4Kerim opens out to a wonderful vista, that leaves you spell bound!

-3Try getting into the sea to visualize the view the sea has of the land, and you’l realize what a charmed life the Arabian sea has!

-9Try to find your spot in the sun/shade, in getting a shack for resting. The whole agenda at Kerim is best suited for Sussegadoing! Sleep, Eat, Walk in the sand in an infinite loop.

-8Nothing better than welcoming a sun rise or sunset from your beach bed!

-7If you’ve rested enough, climb up the mountain again to jump off it from with your paragliding equipment. It feels sublime to float over the Arabian sea!

Exploring Goa – XV – The Road to Keri!

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As you start the hill ascent, you leave behind beautiful memories of the Sweet Water Lake beach.

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As you trek along the edges of the mountains, you realise the Arabian sea is a a couple of wrong steps away!

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There’s always time for rest and taking time off to take in the breathtaking scenery during the trek! I’ve lost a lens cap and been stranded on a sunset trek once here.

 

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And if you are confused on which path to take, do check with fellow travellers and if you have no one for company, do follow the dogs. Nobody knows the paths better than them.

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And an hour of trek later, this vista of Paradise opens up-Keri has arrived!

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If you follow religion, it’s a good time to say thanks to the deity, who chaperoned you over the mountains!

Exploring Goa – XIV – Hippie Days Are Here Again

Kartik explores the northernmost stretch of Goa’s beaches, and brings to you the pleasure and joy of finding Keri, the last Goan beach, before Maharashtra tourism welcomes you!

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For all the beaches that I have explored in Goa, I have never come across a flat beach, that is protected by mountains on the left, and has the tallest trees chaperoning the curvy art forms of the waves all day. If you happen to see this sublime sight of the colours of twilight punctuated by art forms in wood above the soil, you’ve made it to Keri.

Keri can be reached down a mountain trek from the sweet water lake beach. If you happen to get lost in the path to take, keep your eyes on dogs that make the daily trek between the beaches in search of food. In exchange for a couple of biscuits, you could have yourself ‘chauffer navigated’ up the mountain. We invested our faith in the dog, and it helped when we reached the other end of paradise.

You could also chose the scenic 12 km ride from Arambol to Kerim, over undulating slopes as the roads curve into the forest, while the trees block radiowaves from mobile towers. You first encounter the Keri Ferry, and as your curve to the left you’d reach the Keri beach, overlooking the Ajooba temple. If you do manage to shake of the scare of a lonely night drive, you would do the bike ride well past midnight on a full moon night, and nothing can quite beat this experience.

If you recently watched the Bollywood flick ‘Go Goa Gone’, this beach features in a couple of places in the movie.

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Keep a lookout for the trek to Kerim in the next part.

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Exploring Goa – XIII – Baga Creek

Kartik Kannan, continues his series on Goa, moving Northward from Condolim to Baga Beach- The beach where all of India lands up in search of a party in the night, and banana boat rides during the day! This write up however will steer clear away from the beach, and focus on the path around the Baga Creek.

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If you’ve seen enough scenery on the road, then it’s a good time to get into a restaurant and connect with all the sporting action happening around the world. This was taken at a restaurant opposite, the famous Cavala restaurant on the road to Baga beach.

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If you look deeper through the Green, you are bound to see some fancy designs craving for your attention. I saw a Flintstones type resort as I ambled across the creek for a lazy morning walk in search of a brunch.

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Baga has a lovely creek adjoining its beach that empties out into the Arabian Sea. The greenery around the creek gets amplified during the monsoon season. This is the quieter part of Baga, away from the loud noise and market vibe that otherwise dominates an experience at Baga.

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It’s always a good time for siesta, or as the Goans call it – ‘Sussegaad’. The idyllic surroundings with the creek below, and the laid back trees in the background, is just the kind of surrounding, you would want to stop, rest and admire the Goan greenery on offer.

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The Baga Creek is home to quite a few pricey resorts, which cuts out the noise and mayhem that one associates with the road leading to the beach. It’s a good place, if you need your space in Goa for a relaxing vacation, while you are a quick 5 minute Scooty ride away from the chaos of Baga Beach.

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The Baga creek’s ending features in the bollywood movie ‘Dum Maro Dum’ (in a scene where Pratik Babbar meets Anaitha Nair, when he learns of her admission to a foreign university). While one end empties into the Arabian sea, the other end takes you on the road to Anjuna and Arpora.