Beaches, shacks and parties are what come to mind when anyone mentions Goa. But to experience its true essence, you have to dig deeper. Here are a few hidden gems you simply must visit!
Heart-Shaped Lake: A short walk from BITS Goa’s favorite beach, Bogmalo; lies a place frequented by lovers. The heart-shaped lake is nested against a sheer cliff and is beside one of the few rocky seashores in Goa. The top of the hill is easily accessible and sitting on the edge of the cliff, overlooking the lake and the sea, makes for a memorable sunset indeed. As dusk fades to night, you will observe people speeding away on bikes,with long fishing poles strapped flat against their backs.
The Goa Carnaval: The Goa Carnaval, which was introduced by the Portuguese settlers, takes place every year in the month of February, before the month of Lent. The parade, led by King Momo, takes place in major cities and towns across Goa. It celebrates the unique culture and cuisine of Goa. The parades include beautifully decorated floats, electrifying music, acrobats, dancing troupes and revelers wearing costumes, with each troupe having a different theme. The carnival is attended by a large number of locals as well as tourists.
Reis Magos Fort: Located on the north bank of the Mandovi River, the Reis Magos Fort is the oldest fort in Goa. It has been restored to serve as a Cultural and Heritage Centre. The architecture of the fort is a fusion of the Hindu and Portuguese styles of architecture. From the top of the fort, one can get a splendid view of the surroundings. The fort now houses art and history galleries. At the foot of the fort is the Reis Magos Church, which is dedicated to the three wise men of the Bible.
Arvalem Caves and Waterfall: The Arvalem Caves are located in the Sanquelim village in North Goa. The caves are excavated from red laterite hill and date back to the 6th century. It is believed that the Pandava brothers lived here during their 12 years of exile. Some believe the cave to be of Buddhist origin due to the Buddhist architectural style of the caves and the discovery of a huge Buddha statue nearby, but the presence of Hindu shrines, including a Shivalinga, in a few of the caves implies the opposite. Located near the caves is the secluded Arvalem waterfall and the famous Rudreshwar temple. The magnificent fall forms a pool, which is a beloved spot for swimmers.
San Jacinto Island: Located a few kilometers away from the campus, San Jacinto is blessed with lush greenery and natural beauty. The route to the island is a jogger’s delight, with many BITSians jogging to the island on Sunday mornings. The sights on the island include a beautiful old church, known to the locals as the St. Hyacinthi Cathedral. You can also find an old Portuguese lighthouse on the island. The breathtaking view of the Goan coast from the top of the lighthouse is one of the main attractions of the island.
Chorla Ghat: Located near the Goa-Karnataka-Maharashtra border, Chorla Ghat is a tangible reminder that there is more to Goa than its beaches. This tropical forest is a sought-after destination by nature lovers. With smooth roads surrounded by thick forests and enthralling landscapes, a road trip here is truly a blissful experience. The place is also home to a number of small waterfalls, which are all the more beautiful in the monsoon. It is also a popular destination for bird and butterfly watching.
Salaulim Dam and Kurdi: The construction of the Salaulim Dam submerged the old village of Kurdi, nearly three decades ago. It is a story of sudden loss and forced relocation, of people disconnected from a land that they held sacred for generations. However, every year the waters recede for a few months and Kurdi resurfaces like a fond memory. The natives of Kurdi undertake a pilgrimage to revisit their ancestral home and rekindle the connection to a past they held so dear. A land so punctuated with emotion, Kurdi’s native allure will leave you with the experience of a lifetime.
Savoi Spice Plantations: Head to the Savoi Plantation for a touch of Goan hospitality and traditional Goan Saraswat food. The tour of the plantation lasts up to an hour and is followed by delicious food. The use of freshly ground spices and natural produce is apparent and truly allows the cuisine to shine.
Butterfly Beach: More accessible by sea than by land, Butterfly beach is a hidden cove famous for, well, butterflies! Home to crabs and the occasional dolphin sighting, this beach is one of Goa’s best kept secrets and has a view to incredible Goan sunsets. It’s found just north of Palolem.
Spring Hunting: Goa hosts dozens of natural springs and there’s quite a few in the vicinity of campus, in Sancoale and neighbouring areas. As you travel all over Goa, this turns into an easter egg hunt of sorts and it’s always a delight to chance upon a new spring. In recent years, these springs have been endangered by negligence and misuse, however, they continue to be quaint but familiar spots where you can spend lazy afternoons.
Island Hopping on Mandovi River: The Mandovi River which courses by Panjim is populated by small islands. Ferries ply along the waters and allow passengers to board with their vehicles. With its fair share of ascents and descents, the entire area makes for a very fun exploration on wheels. The Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary on Chorao Island is another nearby attraction. Home to numerous bird species, it is a natural delight mere kilometers from the cityscape of Panjim. The Mandovi River is also famous for crocodile sightings.
The Goa Carnaval: The Goa Carnaval, which was introduced by the Portuguese settlers, takes place every year in the month of February, before the month of Lent. The parade, led by King Momo, takes place in major cities and towns across Goa. It celebrates the unique culture and cuisine of Goa. The parades include beautifully decorated floats, electrifying music, acrobats, dancing troupes and revellers wearing costumes, with each troupe having a different theme. The carnival is attended by a large number of locals as well as tourists.
Goan Tiatrs at Panaji Kala Academy: An artform over 125 years old, the Goan Tiatr is performed in Konkani and follows a 6 to 7 act structure, each act followed by a few songs, some integral to the Tiatr, some completely independent. For many tourists, these plays have served as an intimate introduction to Konkani and provide insights into social, political and religious issues of immediate relevance. As speakers of another language, much of the enjoyment lies in discovering how the universality of art cannot be bounded by language.
Grandmother’s Hole Beach: Grandmother’s Hole Beach is located near Vasco and can be reached by walking down a small hill from Japanese Gardens. From the top of the hill, one can get a breathtaking view of the sun overlooking the ocean. The path to the beach is camouflaged by tall trees and bushes. You can also find the ruins of a fort while walking down. The shore is dotted with rocks and boulders. The beach is calm and secluded, with no shacks.
Cumbarjua Canal: The Cumbarjua Canal is a narrow stretch of brackish water connecting the Mandovi and the Zuari rivers. This place is popular for crocodile spotting. It is also home to a few uncommon species of birds and a wide variety of butterflies. A backwater cruise through the thick mangrove trees and marshes of this canal is a relaxing way to spend the day.
Sunday Evening Quiz Club (SEQC): The SEQC consists of a group of quizzing enthusiasts that meet at least twice a month to quiz. The main aim at SEQC is to have fun and you don’t have to be a hardcore quizzer to participate. The Panjim monthly is held on the first Sunday of each month. The Margao monthly is held on the last Saturday or Sunday of each month. In addition to these, SEQC organises at least one other quiz every month. Most of the Panjim quizzes are held at the International Centre Goa in Dona Paula, and the Margao quizzes at the Urban Health Centre.
Cola Beach: 54 kilometres from campus and a half hour trek from the main road, Cola is one of the secluded wonders of Goa. For those who seek serenity, it offers peace like no other. Boasting a beautiful backwater lagoon, it gives you the opportunity to swim around or just frolic in the water.