Wandering Weekends

Monsoons are a great time to explore Goa. Every where you see, the green catches the eye and the wind plays with your hair.

Weekend by ourselves

São Jacinto

It is a quiet island located in the Murmagao bay. Mining ships still lie abandoned by the port.

There is a bridge which connects it to the mainland.

On the Bridge

People dot the sidewalks – either fishing, chilling with friends or clicking away on their cameras.

The Church on the island rests besides the waters of the river.

There is also an abandoned lighthouse on this island somewhere but we didn’t get to visit it as we had heard that the roads to it are not quite good.

Japanese Gardens, Vasco

The garden is more like a park and it is on a hill that overlooks the sea. That makes it ideal for sunsets.

There are steps which lead down on to the beach below. The beach, normally dubbed as Japanese beach, is also called as Grandmother’s Hole.

Weird name but a story goes that many years ago, when the Portuguese ruled Goa, an old woman used to wait on this beach for her sons and grandsons to return from the sea.

But the beach is pristine.

There is also a small Durgamata Shiv temple on the beach.

Heart Lake, Vasco

No use trusting GPS on this one’s location. We had to ask around quite a many locals till we reached this spot.

We ditched the bike at the base of the trail and walked all the way up to the view point of the lake.

Up the Hill

It was perfect. The sun was setting down at that exact same time and it made that moment kinda….. romantic.

You have to click the lake at a particular angle to get the exact heart shape, but well, here goes my not-so-perfect-but-wonderful shot.


Weekend with friends

Assolna

Assolna is the place to go if you want fish for lunch.

There are a string of restaurants here – Starlight, Seaman’s, Joe’s River Cove. All of these overlook the river, so you can grab a seat right by the banisters.

We hit Starlight, it’s very comfortable for a lunch that will span hours and no one will look at you pointedly indicating non verbally that you have to vacate your table.

After our lunch, we stopped by the Assolna Bridge to click some pictures.


Betul Lighthouse

Betul in itself is a very cheerful village and full of so many many coconut trees!!

The lighthouse is located on top of the hill next to the Holy Cross Church.

It is quite a hike from the church but the view makes up for everything else.

They say you can see the entire Betul and Quepem from up here. I don’t know if that’s true but I definitely liked all that I saw.

Also, the spiral staircase up the lighthouse was quite fun!!

You can also visit the dilapidated Betul Fort and the Betul Beach, if it doesn’t rain too much.

There is so much more to explore and I hope I get more weekends such as these where we can just hop on a bike and take off for an entire day!!

The Lost Village

Curdi is a village in Sanguem that resurfaces once every year. Very less people knew about this deserted spot, but over the last few years it has been attracting a lot of tourists.

Our weekend mission

I had always wanted to explore this place since I find the story behind it quite alluring as well as disturbing.

Long ago, Curdi was a highly fertile land. It had a population of over 3000 people who lived off it by agriculture and fishing.

In the 1960s, the Government of Goa took the decision to build the Selaulim Dam to supply water to South Goa. The price of this decision, however, was paid by the Curdikars. Thier houses and lands would be submerged by the ambitious project. The villagers made this sacrifice for the greater good of thier fellow Goans and they were relocated to Valkini were till date they face water supply issues.

Today, if you visit this village, you will see echos of the past. Lots of houses and structures have crumpled away leaving behind only thier porches and front doors.

In some places, the houses no longer stand but the Cross and the Tulsi still stand tall.

It is kind of eerie for me when I look around at the landscape and try to imagine what this village must have been like in it’s prime.

The old police station
An abandoned well

The villagers still celebrate thier roots here. Every year when the water recedes, they return for the Someshwar temple Utsav and the Feast at the Chapel, which lies above the water line at a hillock.

Someshwar Temple

A few kilometers away from the Someshwar temple was the Mahadev temple constructed during the Kadamba period. During the evacuation, the temple was systematically dismantled, over a period of 11 years, stone by stone, and relocated 17 kms away.

Dark clouds gathering

Barren soil

There is a calmness to this place that is hard to explain. It is not exactly at peace but it has sort of resigned to it’s fate.

Exploring Andaman

Spread across the Bay of Bengal are the palm lined white beaches of Andaman Islands.

It is a quaint place so there are some things you need to be prepared to expect if you are used to a metropolitan life.

Things to Expect:
– No cellular network except for Airtel and BSNL and absolutely no internet if your hotel doesn’t provide you wifi.
– Rains anytime anywhere.
– Weather conditions to change your plans. Travel between islands is by water. So if weather is rough, boats get cancelled and also water activities are suspended.
– Again as most of the travel is by sea except some sway. Carry motion sickness tablets if this affects you.
– Card transactions are limited so also are ATMs. Carry hard cash with you.
– Also, day starts early by 4.30 am and it gets dark by 5 pm here. So plan your day well.

We had quite a flight hop to reach Port Blair as we had booked our vacation via a tour agency. If you are planning your own trip, try direct flights.

Port Blair

The capital city of Andaman and Nicobar is just 16 square kms long. At best, you will need 2 days to explore the city completely.

Rent bikes for quicker navigation and do download your maps before hand. The locals can also be asked for directions.

Places to see in Port Blair

The day you arrive in Port Blair, it is better to visit the Cellular Jail.

The Cellular Jail was used as a prison by the British. The name is derived because of its structure. It has a central watch tower and had seven wings spanning across capable of holding 696 prisoners at a time.

The prison is also known as Kala Pani because once a prisoner was brought to the remote island, there would be no means of escape. Prisoners often died due to the brutal treatment meted out on them. The main task in the jail being the oil grinding ‘Kolhu’.

Prisoners were expected to churn out oil in a day that even buffaloes could not and upon failing so were tied to the machine and forcefully pulled along.

The famous revolutionary Vir Savarkar was held prisoner here.

If you are a history buff, you can hire a guide or you can get the whole story told in a very interesting way in the Light and Sound show.

The concept of the Light and Sound show was very unique – the monument speaking to the audience about it’s horrific past – the lights and sounds are amazing but a visual would have added to the appeal.
You need to book your tickets for the show in advance.

Next to the jail is the Vir Savarkar Park
In the evening, enjoy a stroll along the Marina Park

The Jogger’s Park offers an airport view. And also a Yoga point.

Better to visit it in the morning as it has no much shade and you don’t want to be caught in the sun.

Visit the Gandhi Park

This Park has a Japanese temple and bunkers built during the Japanese invasion.

Japani Mandir

Then you could do a museum visit. Club all the museums in one go.

Zonal Anthropological Museum
Samudrika Museum
Fisheries Aquarium
Forest Musuem

I would say do visit the Samudrika Museum as it is worth Fisheries and Anthropological Museum combined in one. Plus it allows photos and has an emporium. 😜

Visit the Forest Museum to collect wooden souvenirs and later drop a visit to Chatham Saw Mill.

For the night, we enjoyed a dinner cruise.

Food: The taste of fish is something that doesn’t leave Goans soon. We tried some local fish but the taste wasn’t much satisfying.

Shopping: Aberdeen Bazaar isn’t quite the Bazaar you would want to visit because everything here is imported and quite frankly not something that you would not find from where you came from.

Souveniers here are mostly coral stuff and you will get them along the beaches or in Sagarika Emporium. Cost wise, the Emporium is way more expensive than the local shops.

Look out for this Clock Tower in Aberdeen Bazaar

Places around Port Blair

Chidiyatapu via Cobryns Cove Beach

Hire a four wheeler for this as it outside city limits and through forest reserve area.
Stop by at Cobryns Beach and enjoy water activities.

Cobryns Cove

Proceed to Chidiyatapu and first visit the Biological Park.

Then enjoy the sunset at the Sunset Point at Chidiyatapu beach.

Wandoor beach is situated at Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, around 30 Kms from Port Blair. From here, you can travel to Jolly buoy and Red skin islands. These islands are known for their coral reefs and sea life which is viewed by a Glass Bottom Boat Ride. However, permission to access these beaches is given very less.

North Bay, Ross and Viper Islands
Take a early morning ferry ride from Aberdeen Jetty which is located at Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex to these three islands.

North Bay Island – for water sports

Ross Island – This island once used to be the administrative capital of the British and was a beautifully constructed city until the earthquake that hit the island and left it in ruins.
Again, this island is for history buffs.

Viper Island – Before the Cellular Jail was constructed, the British used to hold their prisoners at Viper Island Jail.

Havelock

We traveled between Port Blair and Havelock on the Makruzz boat.

It swaysss!!

Havelock is a beautiful place. I liked it more than Port Blair. Bonus: People here are way more friendlier.

Places to see in Havelock

Elephant Beach – You must visit this beach. It’s a water activities place and it’s like so alive with the buzz. You will have fun, trust me. I did, that too not being a water baby.

Snorkeling

Radhanagar Beach
It is 7th best beach in Asia. I’m no beach expert but the sand here is so soft and compact and even when waves wash over it, it is left almost untouched. The water is so white and stretches limitless.

Look at the gathering black clouds

Do enjoy the sunset here.

For scuba diving, they say the more early the timings the more clear the visibility. Do try the sport at Govindnagar beach.

Confession: I panicked and chickened out

Other Islands to Visit:

Neil Island – has beaches known for coral reefs and sunset views. The Howrah Bridge is a natural rock formation. The island is also a sanctuary for turtles.

Baratang Island – known for it’s limestone caves and mud volcanoes.

Other geographic attractions:
Barren Volcano, the only active volcano in South Asia.

Mount Harriet, the second highest peak in Andaman. The picture on the back side of ₹ 20 note is taken form Mount Harriet National Park, which offers a breath taking view of the Port Blair city, Ross and North Bay Islands.

The most frequent question we got asked on this trip was why being Goans we came to Andaman. Well, I’m glad we came here and explored these tropical delights. It’s being home away from home.