“On behalf of Honda2Wheelers & Goa Tourism, we invite you to discover the unexplored side of Goa on the fun filled Honda Navi, at the Goa Hunt.” When I received this invitation my interest was piqued and the first thing I did was to look up the Honda Navi. And I was not disappointed for here is a vehicle that is like a cross between the scooter and motorcycle! With the same engine as the Honda Activa, this is a 110 cc two wheeler that looks like a bike but is still a scooter – a brand new category in itself.
The two day event involved navigating Goa on the Navi and the best part for me is the spotting of numerous mangroves (yes, you read that right) when I was on the road. According to Nikhil V Desai, MD, GTDC, “the first ever Goa Hunt in association with Honda Navi that has found much acceptance in Goa is a good way to explore the lesser known side of Goa.” Something that Yadvinder Singh Guleria, Sr. VP (Sales & Marketing) echoed. “It has been a year since the Navi was launched and it represents the vibrancy of youth. Likewise Goa is also a fun destination loved by the youth so this association makes perfect sense.”
Day 1 of the event flagged off with a visit to the Mae De Deus Church at Saligao, a pristine white structure that dates back to 1867, per a stone foundation on the floor of the church. The structure resembles a castle and is straight of a fairy tale and is built in Gothic style and has the statue of Mae de Deus or the Mother of God. Photography is only allowed from outside the gate and the best part is that the white facade magically transforms at night when the church is light in different colours. Our next stop was at the bustling Mapusa Market that has all things local. I suggest you certainly check out the fresh cashew fruits (from which the local drink Feni is made) as well as the cotton fruit or churna, a peanut sized mildly sweet berry that is available from the forests near Assagoa for some time during April & May only. The market is also the place to pick up sea food and salt granules too. Do check out the terracotta market here as Goa is well known for the same and you do find some unique shaped pots and masks that make for interesting home decor items too. After some retail therapy here we headed to the Nyex Beach Club the northern most part of Anjuna Beach where you can see a beautiful stretch of the ocean that comes straight out of a postcard with beautiful palm trees, pastel blue water and dark brown sand. The best part are the rocky ledges and huge stone boulders that cut the force of the water as well as the large number of huge crabs you can see here.
Day 2 started in the heart of Panjim in the stunningly beautiful Latin quarters Fontainhas that is a secret tucked right in the heart of Goa. The narrow, windy lanes here transport you to another world as most buildings here are several hundred years old. The best part is that each of the houses are coloured in bright hues of yellow, red, maroon, blue, green, teal and even white. The best way to explore this place is on foot and you will come across some quaint cafes and art galleries that give you a great insight into the food and art scene of Goa respectively. However it is the Portuguese architecture of the homes that take centre stage as you walk around and notice nuances like shell windows, tulsi plants in the Hindu homes and a cross in the Christian homes. There is an old well coloured in bright pink, little roosters atop homes and name boards in blue patterned tiles that are hard to miss. After this I head for some more old world charm to the churches of Old Goa. The Basilica of Bom Jesus which houses the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier is well known but I suggest you hop over to the opposite complex that houses the Se Cathedral de Santa Catarina among the largest in the country and has Corinthian interiors. Photography is allowed inside the church but you are not allowed to click people praying. On either side of the church are ancient paintings and several altars that are very interesting. The Church of St Francis of Assisi is a Roman Catholic Church that was built in 1661 by the Portuguese and has a museum as well that has paintings and sculptures. My last stop was at the busy Dona Paula Ferry that is a spot frequented by locals and tourists alike and my task here was to ask a tourist what makes Goa what it is. I spoke to Bhaskar a tourist from Pune who summed up the Goan experience perfectly. “Goa is a place that has everything – good people, good food, good climate, it has less traffic and its laid back attitude helps us relax our mind. In fact I suggest that you must visit Goa at least once in three months for the perfect vacation that will help you rejuvenate.” Now that is something that is impossible to argue with. After all, Goa has an appeal that is endless and many more secrets waiting to be uncovered. So when is your next trip to Goa?
This story appeared in the May-17 issue of Spice Route Magazine here: Goa