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Goa, God's Own Paradise
by Ankita Kumar

Less than a thumbprint on the map of India, Goa has been enchanting people of all ages and races by its scenic beauty and ambience. By its beautiful beaches and idyllic charm it has captured many a heart and is one of the very few places on earth which are not spoilt by man yet. People still get to see clean beaches, lovely scenery, brightly colored old-fashioned houses with sloping roofs and surfaced roads winding right up to the numerous hilltops.

Goa is known all over the world for its wonderful beaches. The most popular are the Calangute beach (16 km from Panjim) known for its enthralling beauty and the Dona Paula beach (7 km from Panjim) which has water-scootering facilities. The Dona Paula has a suicide point where we get a splendid view of the water below. According to me whoever wants to commit suicide must go to that point and I am sure seeing the view there, the person will completely forget about the mere idea of ending his life. The Arambol beach (50 km from Panjim) is a unique beach which has a sweet water pond right on the shore and hundreds of shops lining its entrance selling typical Goan shirts with floral designs and bright colors. Some of the other beaches are Anjuna, Bagha, Colva, Miramar and Vagatore beaches.

Apart from the beaches, Goa is known for its two most important rivers Mandovi and Zuari. Every evening there are cruises on the Mandovi, the most popular being the Santa Monica and Paradise cruise. In the cruise the people dance to typical Goan and Portuguese folk music and at the same time enjoy the scenic splendor of Mandovi river. Even though dancing is not my cup of tea, I simply freaked out. Terekhol is the place where the river Zuari meets the sea and is popular for its picturesque magnificence.

There are also many churches in Goa mostly built by the Portuguese. The most famous is the Bom Jesus Basilica. This is the only church built in honor of the Infant Jesus. It is highly and heavily decorated, the interior being the richest of the rich in Old Goa as it is built in pure gold. The other famous churches are Reis Margos church, The Church of Mae de Deus at Saligao and the Church of St. Alex at Curtorim.

Among the numerous temples in Goa, one of the most sacred is the Vodgeshwar temple. It is very unique because the God accepts every kind of offering including fish, meat and pheni (liquor made by the fruit of cashew nut, which grows there in abundance). According to the priest of the Temple, this is so because the God feels that whatever business a person does is sacred to him/her as long as the offering is made with a pure heart, it doesn’t matter what the offering is. The other very famous temple is the Temple in which Lord Ganesha is worshipped. It is said that once a truck driver had a dream that if he digs at a particular place he’ll find an idol of Lord Ganesha and the dream came true. He did find the idol and it was at that place that this temple was built. Two years after the temple was built, a rat’s idol was found buried at the same place where the Lord’s idol was unearthed. It is believed by the people that the idol of Lord Ganesha grows by a few inches every year. Some of the other temples are the Sri Manguesh temple and the Shri Mahalaxmi temple.

Situated 60 km from Panjim is the Dudhsagar waterfall which is the second highest in India. On the way to the waterfall there is the Bhagwan Mahavir wildlife sanctuary. We have to go through the sanctuary in a government vehicle as private vehicles are not allowed due to security reasons. The road is un-surfaced and journey is tiring and grimy. But when we reach the waterfall the mere sight is so breathtaking that it makes us forget our weariness. The waterfall is the lifeline of the ecosystem in the sanctuary. It forms a kind of natural pool where the people are allowed to swim in the cool and refreshing water. The pool is full of dangerous slippery rocks and the sheer fear of crashing into a rock while swimming can frighten even an ace swimmer. But, the cool water looks very inviting especially after the scorching heat and exhaustion and it becomes very difficult to resist the temptation. The greenery of the place adds to its charm.

Goa is a cosmopolitan place and the people have a very cheerful and disarming style. Unlike most of the tourist spots in India, the people are genuinely helpful and soon put the tourists to ease. They take interest in making the tourists’ stay in Goa memorable and not robbing them off their money. They have truly made my stay in Goa a memorable one.
Goa according to me is the best place for holidaying in all seasons and for all reasons. It could be said that if Kerala is God’s own country, Goa is God’s own paradise.  

Images under license with Gettyimages.com

1-Nov-2006
 
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