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Best offbeat destinations near panaji
The konkan coast historical structures is excellent for forts to visit in Goa that dates to the majestic rule of the Maratha rulers and the Portuguese settlement in Goa. The coast boasts of the most famous fort in Goa. While driving from Mumbai to Goa we will be encountering many forts to visit in Goa across the coast of Arabian sea but as we arrive in Goa the style of architecture changes as the famous fort in Goa were mainly built by the Portuguese. Among many such forts to visit in Goa, one of the most famous fort to visit in Goa from where we can get a stunning view of the Mandovi river and the Arabian sea is Reis magos fort.
View from a fort to visit in Goa.
Recently restored by the government this famous fort in Goa lies few kms within the heart of the capital city ,Panjim and gets overshadowed from the tourists due to the fame of Aguda and Chapora fort. Let me tell you I have visited other two famous fort in Goa but from this famous fort in Goa the panoramic view of the vast river and sea water is exquisite and stands out much superior than any other famous fort in Goa. The entry fee to this famous fort in Goa is 50Rs per head with 250 RS extra for a single camera. This famous fort in Goa is very much visible from the Panjim side of the Mandovi river while Panjim can be seen from the Eastern terrace of the fort guarded by three canons.
This famous fort in Goa was a residential place for the viceroy’s travelling to and from Lisbon but was later converted to a prison ,the reminiscence of which can be seen just at the entrance. There are three large rooms inside this famous fortress that displays the brief history of the fortress built in the 16 th century which has been well preserved by the tourism government of heritage Goa. This famous fort in Goa was never captured by the Maratha rulers but was briefly conquered by the British army. Though smaller in size than other forts to visit in Goa,this famous fort in Goa stands tall with elegance depicting the architecture brilliance of the Portuguese and how they used to prevent the conquests from the nearest estuary of Mandovi river.
Old Goa was the first capital of the Portuguese colony in India and the resemblance of the importance of this beautiful city can be seen through the beautiful architectures built by the Portuguese governors. Church of St. Cajetan which is also known as the church of Divine Providence is a roman catholic church that shows the brilliance of architectural designs in Old Goa. As I was exploring the more offbeat destinations near Panjim so I selected some particular places which have delicate uniqueness in its location and history. As far as location is concerned the church is located near Mandovi river with beautiful plantations of coconut trees creating a serene atmosphere along the road.
The coconut avenue in front of the exquisite riverside of Mandovi river provides an ideal opportunity for capturing the Riverside promenade of Old goa. This church is now a world heritage site which looks like the famous St. Peter’s Basilica of the Vatican city. This is because the church was exclusively designed by the Italian architects and was completed in the year 1661. It was believed that the dead bodies of the Portuguese soldiers were kept in a vault inside the complex of the church before they were being transferred to Lisbon. Visiting this place in monsoon helped me to capture the Mandovi river in its greatest capacity as the water was in high volume while the coconut trees were greener due to the new leaves that matched perfectly with the clouds in the sky. While covering the places in Goa, the forts to visit in goa should be covered as well.
The realm of the historical heritage buildings and famous fort in Goa can be seen in several parts in Old Goa,a heritage city. Though there are many famous churches but I chose to visit the remains of the St. Augustine tower due to its stupendous historical significance and ecstatic structural remains that still boasts of a delicate church of the past. The church was built in 1602 and now the remains belong to the society of world heritage site.
In the early 19 th century the church collapsed owing to negligence of the then Portuguese rulers who were on the verge of rigorous repressive religious policies. The bell from the tower of this church was moved to the our lady church of the Immaculate in Panjim. The church finally collapsed in 1935 and till date the haunting remains of the complex is the most visited tourist spot in Goa due to its sheer fame among photographers. The church has also been a famous location for the shooting of numerous Bollywood films. Of the four towers only one remain now which is made of laterite bricks and has a height of a four storeyed building. Other than that the complex had eight chapels and four altars.
Old Goa is famous for some gorgeous architecture of churches, famous fort in Goa and chapels which has always been the most favoured location for the shooting of Bollywood films. Every single church in Old Goa is creative and different from one another in its design and history. As such from the numerous churches I chose to visit three churches that provides some unique sense to any traveller, with respect to its location and architecture.
Above picture:- Chapel of the Lady of Mount
Chapel of the Lady of Mount in old goa is a 16 th century chapel which was built by Afonso the Portuguese general after his conquest over the Deccan king, making it one of the oldest chapels in old goa. Every year in the month of November the music festival is celebrated in this chapel projecting the Indian and western classical music. In other times the place remains isolated with the stairs leading to the chapel covered with green grass or algae. The chapel is located on a hilltop providing panoramic views of Panaji town, Mandovi river, and Divar island. Due to its isolated location, the place is ideal for the tranquility of mind, especially in monsoons when it is not much visited by the tourists and we get suitable time to capture the dark clouds floating over the flooded plains of the Mandovi river. Although there are a number of stairs to climb up and reach the chapel, but after reaching that the front of the chapel the panoramic views of old Goa and Mandovi river is worth of every inch of hardship to climb the stairs. I was fortunate enough to reach the chapel just before the arrival of the rains and capture the most astounding scenery of old Goa under the moisture-laden clouds.
It is hard to find freshwater lakes in the middle of a city but Panaji has proved how it can sustain its tourist-friendly vibe along with a green environment. Carambolim lake is situated just a few kilometers near Old Goa in Panaji and has now turned into a home for numerous species of exotic birds and plants. The government has declared into a sanctuary in Panaji due to the numerous species of birds that visit this lake in the winter. As it was monsoon when I have visited the lake, it was raining heavily so I couldn’t see any birds but fortunately, I was able to capture the immense greenery in the vicinity of the lake.
The surface of the lake near Panaji is covered with numerous exotic plants like water lilies, hyacinths and and nymphs. In the distance, as shown in the second picture, we can also see running trains emerging in between the green trees and rice fields of Carmali. Every year in the winters the surface of the lake in Panaji gets covered with colorful water lilies and the sanctuary around the lake gets active with numerous species of birds which is a delight for bird watchers. Even flamingoes that thrive in the Great Rann of Kutch can be seen flocking here in Panaji in the winters. Being near to Panaji the communication to this lake is very good so this exotic place can be easily visited by tourists of any age. Due to the vastness of the serene lake near Panaji and the surrounding green landscape, Carambolim lake is a must tourist spot for a traveller willing to explore the subtle side of offbeat Goa, especially Panaji.
Many parts of central goa consist of river islands of which St. Estevam island is a uniquely rich cultural and agricultural place .In ancient times this island was known for the unity of the villagers and the highest GDP among all the places in Goa. This island is also known as Zuem, Xhakecho Zunvo’ (Island of Vegetables) and Ilha de Verde (Green Island). These are all local names but mainly this island is famous for producing a special variety of seven ridges green ladyfinger due to which the villagers were known by the name Bhendi.
Chapel in St.Estevam island, on my way to forts to visit in Goa.
The island in Panaji has a fort with the same name constructed by the Portuguese in the seventeenth century is situated on a hillock providing magnificent views of the nearby Divar island and flooded plains of the river. In the monsoons, the nearby plains get flooded by the cumburjua canal and the backwaters of the Arabian sea due to which the entire plains of the nearby Vanxim, Divar and Chorao island looks like green plants floating over a river. Besides the fort, there is also a small church called Christ the King monument church which has some exceptional delicate arc-like structures protruding from the top of there church below the statue of Christ. This fort is not much famous in Goa and there are neither proper signboards leading to the location of the hillock. It is better to take the help of the locals to go to this village. After a certain point, the road becomes rough and narrow and so steep trekking for about 10 minutes is required to go at the top to reach the fort. There are many other forts to visit in goa. The design of both the forts and the church is definitely unique than any other structures in Goa which can easily be recognized if a tourist takes a complete tour of exploring forts near Panaji. In the monsoon due to stunning views of the lowland plains and the green grasslands that cover the hillock, the Estevam fort is a must-visit place for enjoying moments of tranquility in the heart of Goa. There are many forts to visit in Goa.
Goa is also a famous destination for honeymoon couples due to its vibrant beaches and romantic streets with amazing restaurants. Most of the tourists choose Anjuna and Miramar as the romantic destinations in Goa, but very few people do not know about the charming Fontainhas. Fontainhas is the area at the base of Altinho hill in Panjim which is considered as a world heritage site. Portuguese named it as Fontainhas after a natural spring from the Altinho hill which means Fountain of Phoenix. It was this area where the Portuguese lived after they shifted their capital from Old Goa to Panjim, so one can find numerous heritage buildings of the Portuguese era. The blend of both Indian and Portuguese architecture in the buildings that lay on either side of the lanes in Fontainhas, makes this place so colorful and most sought out place for photographers.
We stayed in Hotel Maetus in Panaji which is a heritage building, renovated in Portuguese style situated in the heart of Fontainhas in the vicinity of best restaurants of Panjim like the Riverside and Soho. Small cafes and pubs with bright colored walls and white window panes make the lanes a perfect ambience for portrait photography. At the night this heritage place becomes illuminated with neon lights from the European style architecture walls, the best of which can be captured when we go towards the Old Patio bridge in the circle facing the Down the road riverfront restaurant. A walk down the memory lane of the most heritage and colorful place of Panjim is a must activity to imbibe the romantic vibes of Goa.
From Panaji, there are numerous breathtaking destinations which will show us the real versatile geography of Goa. Within 2 hour drive, we can explore some historical caves and astonishing waterfalls. The most famous of such examples is a small village called Sanquelim in Rudreshwar colony, which is just an hour drive from the capital city. The waterfall which is the second most famous in Goa after Dudhsagar waterfalls is known as Harvalem or Arvalem waterfall, and the best time to visit this waterfall is during the monsoons. The water falls from a height of 50 meters from the Cudnem river creating heavy mist in the vicinity which is a wonder to watch. The smoke arising due to the stupendous force of the water creates a marvelous experience for the tourists as it seems like a local drizzling rainfall.
At the downstream of the waterfall, there is a temple called Rudreshwar temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is famous among the Hindus for offering rituals to the departed souls on the 12 the day of the funeral. Just a 15-minute walk will take us to the 6th century B.C old ancient cave where it is believed that the five Pandavas of Mahabharata had taken refuge during their exile. While according to other locals it is believed that the caves belong to the Buddhist monks who travelled south and have stayed in the forests of Goa. A trip to Harvalem combines a spiritual and historical experience that greets a traveller with an astounding waterfall and concludes with the mythological stories with the blessings of Lord Rudreshwar. While travelling to and fro from Goa, the forts in Goa is a must to cover.
Rudreshwar temple in Arvalem.
Arvalem Pandava caves.