What’s the fuss about Goa?
‘You came to Goa for the first time just two months ago? Seriously?’ my friend was surprised when I told him during my second trip to Goa in January 2017.
‘Yes!’ I replied.
I never understood the reason for the popularity of Goa. It had somehow never figured in my travel list unlike my friends and the world in general.
Are the beaches in Goa so beautiful? Why do people go there to simply party? Is it because alcohol is cheap? What is it about Goa that attracts millions of youngsters every month? I kept wondering.
Until one day a year ago in November when I was headed there with my friends from college.
|A peaceful low-tide afternoon at Vagator Beach, North Goa, November 2016|
As I arrived to a hot and humid morning at Mapusa bus stand and took an autorickshaw (with a door) to our resort, I sensed the first feel of Goa. The single lane roads were lined with coconut palms and small shops, tshirts, vests and shorts with Go Goa slogans covered all the street shops, colourful buildings, churches and road signs for yet another beach could be spotted every now and then, loads and loads of people on scooties were on the road as if they owned it and the air was clean and fresh, far from the stench of Mumbai air.
|A quaint morning at South Goa's Palolem beach. November 2016|
|First evening of the first Goa trip at Baga Beach in November 2016|
My friends and I were meeting after several months, some after years. Most of them had been to Goa before and hence were well aware of which Goa hotels to book and which beaches to visit. I, for once, had absolutely no clue about anything except recalling seeing the pictures of watersports and huge churches that remained somewhere in my subconscious mind.
In those 5 days, we hired scooties and went beach hopping across Goa. We jumped in the waves at Vagator, sat atop Chapora Fort and saw the sun go down, parasailed at Candolim, went to Titos to celebrate a birthday and play foosball, tried crab burger and a variety of prawn, had tender coconut and a lot of other drinks.
We also rode all the way to Palolem in South Goa with the headlight of my scooty not functioning in the dark and then danced at a silent music party at the beach. I can never forget that evening for all the challenges it possessed under a million stars and a ride through absolute darkness.
I had been to Lakshadweep just weeks before the Goa trip, so the crowded Goa beaches didn’t appeal to me at all. They were thankfully a lot cleaner than the Juhu and Versova beaches of Mumbai. I kept wondering what all the fuss about Goa was.
My second visit to Goa was unplanned and came at the end of my Hampi-Gokarna trip in January this year. It was with a set of friends that I had made during my travels. It was a short two day stay but involved all the similar craze- hiring a Thar and going beach hopping, sitting at Little Vagator’s Thalassa till the tide reached the shacks, looking for food at 3 in the night and spending hours at the beach talking and playing games.
|When you don't plan it and just arrive at Goa. Second trip. January 2017|
|Crowds at the Aguada Fort beach during sunset. November 2016|
In the few days we spent there, I realized what makes Goa so special is the free-spiritedness of the locals as well as the tourists here. Yes, alcohol is super cheap and the rides are through beautiful countryside. But most importantly, everyone’s happy in their own way and going about their lives. The government relies on tourism for its income as much as party-goers want to stay in shacks at the beach and chill.
The tiny state receives more tourist footfall in a month than the total population of some of India’s neighbouring countries like Bhutan. Yet this was just my first visit there and I await another visit to the state for there is a lot more the place has to offer than I have witnessed. On the next Goa trip I will perhaps take the old school route and visit the cathedrals and indulge in some history, and head to the scenic Dudhsagar Falls and click that iconic shot of a train on the stone bridge in front of the cascading waterfalls.
What are your first and craziest Goa memories? What do you think is all the fuss about Goa? Do share in the comments below.
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