This week, The Musafir Stories speaks to Kaushal Karkhanis aka The Exotic Gringo. Sit back and listen to where this pro traveller and polyglot takes us to today!
Today's destination: Riverside Goa!
Nearest Airport: Dabolim Airport (GOI), Goa
Nearest Railway Station: Multiple options depending on your destination.
Prerequisites - NA, but make sure to plan and book your stay ahead of time if traveling during the holiday season
Packing - Nothing specific, but make sure to carry appropriate clothes depending on the weather
Time of the year - November to March is ideal, but is also going to be busy!
Length of the itinerary: Can be anything from 1 weekend to long term for slow travel
- Kaushal starts off by taking us to the river side of North Goa - starting at the Tirakhol river. Tirakhol river divides Maharashtra and Goa and is one of the lesser explored regions. Tirakhol Fort, which is now a hotel, is a beautiful place and the restaurant is open to public. Make sure to carry your camera along, specially right after the monsoons! Nearby regioins of Keri and Arambol are very popular for their beautiful beaches as well. Mandrem, Patnem and Morjim are some of the other beaches in the vicinity.
- Next up is the Chapora river, which is Kaushal's favorite for its tranquility and calm. It also has a number of rare bird species and other flora and fauna. The Siolim, Chapora and Vagator are some of the villages along the river. Historically, this was the river that demarcated Portuguese India from the rest of India. Goa only became a part of independent India only in 1961! Whaaat!
- Other places of interest are the Chapora fort of Dil CHahta hai fame! There is the fishing village of Chapora (The village gets it's name from Shahpura, its Mughal name from the past!). There are a number of jettys which you can take a boat ride on. A very offbeat destination, ideal for someone who is looking to get away from the crazy crowds of tourists.
- As one heads further south, one can spend time at the village of Colvale, a quaint fishing village, also famous for the Colvale beach. Make sure to lodge at Kaza Colvale while here.
- Getting around Goa is a breeze - one can take the local buses, the most budget way of traveling. Then there are the 'for hire' bikes which is ideal for solo travelers and couples and Bike pilots for someone looking for a cheap alternative to cabs. The government has also tied up to Ho-Ho Goa or hop-on hop-off Goa, for full day tours around Goa for a steal. The newest mode of transport that is going to be commercialized soon will be the ferry service that can fetch you directly from the airport! Woohooo!
- As we continue our journey further south, one can experience the beautiful mainland from the banks of rivers like Baga, Arpora, and Mapusa which have some beautiful flea markets on the banks.
- The backwaters of the river Mapusa have some beautiful and quaint villages of carona, Olaulim, Corjuem and Aldona, non-touristy and super tranquil - just the perfect place to do NOTHING, and relax!
- Next up on the course, is the river Mandovi - one of the bigger rivers of Goa along with the Zuari. Mandovi has a number of commercially active regions along its banks and is also close the the mainland that has the capital Panjim - just the place to get you a sample of Old Goa, with ample heritage walks, fontainhas - UNESCO declared world heritage walks.
- The other regions of note are Reis Magos, Ribandar, Old Goa as well as a handful of islands like Vanxim island, St. Estevam island (the smallest ferry crossing), Divar island (great bicycle trails) and Chorao island (famous for Dr. Salim Ali bird sanctuary)
- Also, FOOOD! The area around Panjim has some of the best places to eat. Check out Anand Ashram (for the fish thali, check out Chonak and Motso fish), Konkani canteen and DTR (for some great local food), Taj Aguada