Goa is one of my favourite states on the west coast of India. After spending much time in the bigger cities in the country where there are massive crowds, vehicles, traffic jams and honking, Goa is a respite from all that congestion and noise. Back in 2014, Goa was a place where I had sought solitude and relaxation at awesome beaches on lovely coastlines amid towering palm trees.
Spread over 3,700 square kilometres, Goa is divided into two districts: North Goa and South Goa. I had stayed for four days in South Goa, after which I moved on to the north. Accommodation is aplenty ranging from luxury resorts, homestays, beach shacks and Treebo hotels in Goa.
Comparing the two districts, I preferred the south for it’s more laid-back than the north and has picturesque landscapes of pristine beaches, fishing villages and historical Indo-Portuguese heritage homes inland.
If you wish to explore South Goa, here are some of the places to visit:
Colva and Benaulim Beaches
Although South Goa is known for its quietness, Colva Beach is an exception. Just like its counterpart Calangute in the north, tourists flock to Colva for its full moon parties.
However, Colva might not be the place to relax in peace solitude seekers. Fortunately, just a short walk from Colva is Benaulim where the beach is quieter and fantastic for delicious seafood! For an inexpensive place to chill out, to read or to have a beer, go to Xavier’s Bar and Restaurant which has an expanse view of the beach.
Margao is the administrative headquarters of South Goa and Goa’s cultural capital. It may sound like a big city but is actually a provincial town compared to the large sprawling cities of India.
Margao is known for its Indo-Portuguese style mansions and many to be seen especially on Abade Faria Road, just ten minutes’ walk from the municipal square. The Indo-Portuguese mansions are brightly coloured in ochre, red, blue, green or yellow; balcoes (covered porches) bordered by ornamental columns and decorative white windows and railings.
You can also visit the Church of the Holy Spirit, a towering white-washed baroque church originally built by the Jesuits in the 16th century. Inside the church, you will find carving ceilings and altars in gilt crystal.
Margao is the Portuguese name and spelling but is called Madgaon by Indian Railways, so do take note of the name and spelling if you’re planning to travel by train to South Goa.
Palolem is often labelled as the most beautiful beach in Goa because of its long stretches of white, pristine beach. Palolem is also the place where you can stay in a shack room where the beach is just right outside your door. How cool is that!
South Goa is a delightful destination for those who wish to explore sleepy villages situated among rice fields and swaying palm trees, immaculate beaches, and heritage towns…at an unhurried pace.