How to reach Goa
Go to Goa, Simply Relax!
Summer holidays are approaching. For most Indians, it is travel time too. People love to travel during January-May period, especially in April and May. The closure of schools and colleges in India for summer vacation is one of the main reasons for the family rush during these seasons to the travel destinations. Foreign tourists also arrive during the period.
Where to move? As India has a large variety of exotic places for a summer holiday, your confusion is justifiable. Let me suggest a very different destination. Interested? Then, be ready for a trip to Goa, the land of beautiful beaches. Historians too have something to learn and explore from this tiny land as it was a Portugal colony for centuries.
Considering the climate situation, it is a wrong choice, I admit, as Goa is so hot during summer season. Nevertheless, for solitude, if you love it, and to feel some different travel experience, Goa is the best bet. So you have decided and are planning the arrangements for a Goan journey. Good. Congrats on your decision.
Before moving to any unfamiliar place, you need to grasp some basic knowledge of the land you head for. It would help you in many ways during the stay there. So here is the Goa-profile.
Capital: Panaji (Panjim)
Area; 3702 sq km.
Neighboring states: Karnataka & Maharashtra
No. of Districts: 2 (North & South)
Chief Languages: Konkani & Marathi (English & Hindi also spoken)
Major Religions: Hinduism & Christianity (5% Muslims)
Main Towns: Panaji (Panjim), Margao (Madgaon), Vasco, Mapusa & Ponda
Now let's think of how to reach the Goan coast and how to move on to various places around. Please note that I love budget travels. I mean an economy package. So it would reflect in my suggestions naturally.
Also note, I don't try to offer you a point-to-point colourful explanation on Goa tourism. There are scores of websites and blogs to help you on that count. You can check the official website of Tourism Department, Govt. of Goa. It gives you a neat and helpful description. So I need not spoil my energy on giving you a complete 'guiding' on Goa. What my attempt is to give you some information, which you can't gather from the internet or in Travel Guides. What I felt during my recent two visits are recollected and shared here.
To explore Goa, where you need to reach is Madgaone. You can find different trains to Madgaon from Mangalore. All trains passing through Konkan route to Mumbai or Delhi cover Madgaon. I advise you to make a day journey from Mangalore. You will know why I insist on this point soon from this article. Since there are a number of direct trains to Madgaon from different parts of India, the idea of catching one from Mangalore can be ignored. What to ensure is you have a day journey from Mangalore and reach Madgaon by evening. Late arrival may mess up all our travel plans and give you some troubles too.
You are now at Madgaon railway station. As you reach by 8 pm or even earlier, it is easy to plan our further movement conveniently. Matsyagandha express is a good option to reach around this time. Now comes the major part of our mission- the discovery of Goa!
To make things clearer, first you need to aware of the geographical composition of Goa. As already stated in Goa-profile, the state has 2 districts or parts, namely North Goa and South Goa. Tourist attractions and activities are abundant in both regions. So you only need to decide where to go first. Should I try south or north, what are the specialties of each region, which one is good and how can I pick up the best? Your restless mind asks all these questions. Again I say be calm. I am here to guide you safely.
If the beach is your choice, then north Goa is fine. Goa is the only state in India with so many beaches. Though south Goa also beaches, the north is the best pick for fine beaches. Some of the popular beaches in the region are
- Fort Aguada beach-Sinquerim (water sports & boat jetty)
- Anjuna beach (rocky beach)
- Vagator beach
- Calangute beach (known as "Queen of Goa's beaches")
- Candolim beach
- Dona Paula beach
- Arambol beach
- Baga beach
The famous beaches in south Goa are
- Varea Cavelossim Mabor
Try to see any 2 or 3 beaches or maximum 5 beaches. Tour operators mainly take you to Fort Aguada, Anjuna, Vagator, Calangute and Colva beaches. Of course, these are marvellous.
Beaches are fun and fine for travel activities. You can have some activities for fun, adventure and pastime. What offered under the brand 'water sports' could make you engage and cheerful. Water-scooter, Parachute ride over the sea, Boating etc won't fail your spirit. But covering all beaches is a waste of time and monotonous. That is why I suggest you to limit your beach visit. Besides to two or three, Goa is so hot during day time. So more exposure to the sun will dampen your mood and affect your body. It is advisable to reach beaches before 10 in the morning and after 5 in the evening.
Precautions: Keep plenty of drinking water handy. Sun-glass and caps are must. Before you start, apply sun lotion on the body. Avoid using shoes and socks. Wear some loose dress and simple footwear. Beware nudity not allowed in any beaches in Goa. You can, however, come with wearing underwear only.
The pleasure of train journey
The real pleasure of any tour is not reaching the destination but the journey itself to the destination. This journey is what makes your trip more enjoyable, exciting and energising.
To reach Goa, the best option is the train. It is economical, convenient and comfort. A journey through the Konkan railway in itself is a different experience. To see and enjoy the west coast landscape rich with greenery and sleepy villages, make sure you pass through this route during daytime. To save time, some prefer night travel. Wrong choice. You are closing the door to a wonderful panorama. The beauty of Konkan coast is a treat to your eyes. Don't miss it.
For A Spectacular Day Time Journey
Since the Konkan Coast is so beautiful and really an enjoyable experience, you need to travel during day time. Now, there is some happy news to help you. The newly introduced (from Feb, 24, 2014) Mangalore-Madgaon ( up and down) Super Fast Express Trains will give you a good chance to watch the spectacular scenery along the route.
Train No. 22636 Mangalore-Madgaon Super Fast Express (320 km distance)
Leaves Mangalore Central at 8.15 am and reaches Madgaon at 14.00 Hours (2 pm)
Train No. 22635 Madgaon-Mangalore SF Express
Leaves Madgaon at 16.15 Hrs (4.15 pm) and reaches Mangalore at 22.00 Hrs.(10 pm)
The trains can be made use for your journey to Udupi, Murudeshwar and Goa and back.
For train travel, you can book tickets directly from IRCTC site (the official website of Indian Railways) or from your nearest railway station. Get a ticket for 'Madgaon' ('MAO' is the code). There are direct trains to Madgaon from all major stations like Calicut, Ernakulam, Trivandrum, Coimbatore, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Howrah, Delhi and other major towns in India.
Reaching Mangalore, you can get into trains heading for Kurla (Mumbai) or Nizamudheen (Delhi) to reach Madgaon. It is 657 km from Mangalore and takes approximately 6 to 7 hours or even lesser. Matstyagandha Express, Mangalore-Verna Passengers are some of the convenient trains. towards the Madgaon journey. You will pass through some major stations like Suratkal, Udupi, Kundapuram, Byndoor (Mookambika Temple Road), etc.
What to do from Madgaon station
Taxis and drivers are there at the entrance of the railway staton. Fix a price and hire a taxi for Colva, it is just 6 km away. You can bargain, the charge will come down. Drivers follow Hindi and English though their mother tongue is Konkani.
A word of caution: The public transport system in Goa is not in a good shape. it is mostly minibuses on many routes and the comfort level is not appreciable. Still they are cheaper. Bus services are not frequent either. The notable feature here is the two wheeler taxis, which may accommodate maximum 2 persons. Hence hiring a taxi, be it a car or any vehicles, is a vice choice.
A Night at Colva Beach
To make our sightseeing an easy task, head for Colva. Colva beach is very famous and most of the tourist spend their holidays here. Camping there, they tour to different locations of tourist attractions in Goa. Plus, accommodation is not an issue here normally except during peak season of December/January.
You can try "Colmar Beach Resort" (CBR), opposite the beach. It is rated 2 star. Their Contact Nos. are : 0832-2788135 / 2788043 / 2788053
Mobile: 092094 87587 / 09422395771
Check out time is 12 noon. This resort has a good bar and restaurant. They have a wonderful swimming pool also. Room rent is within our budget level. it may vary according to season. If you want, you can try the nearby hotel run by Govt. of Goa or other hotels around. But my experience and observation compel me to vote in favor of CBR.
Sight Seeing Trips
The resort conducts sightseeing trip every morning in their minibus or van. For sightseeing, they have 2 plans each costing Rs.180/- per head (roughly $ 3). One trip to the south and the other to the north Goa. You can't combine it. Opt one side one day. To feel real Goa, you should visit both parts staying at least 2 days there. After each trip, you are taken back to the resort. The trip is worth and covers all important picnic spots. To relax well enough, a minimum 4 days' stay is desirable as otherwise it may be a hectic and tiring schedule for someone. Those who stays at other hotels also can book for sight seeing at the above numbers.
Food & Beverage
Goa is a paradise for non-veggies and foodies as a large variety of Goan cuisine await you there. Since it has a long coastal area, fishes are available everywhere. The main food is rice. Goan food are tasty and enjoyable. Give a try. What makes you perhaps disappointing is the prices. It is high when compared to other tourist places in India. 'Know the price before you pick one' is my advice. Food of all regions is available, whether it be national or international.
And for boozing? Cheers! Plenty of outlets, cheap prices and unlimited freedom to taste from anywhere. No restrictions are imposed on alcohol. You can sip from anywhere. Goa is very different. Try some chilly tin beer, wine or the land's own Fenny, a country liquor. For support, you can pick some cashew nuts. It is popular here. What surprised me more is no one exploits this freedom and all behave decently. You won't face any problem from a drunkard there. They are decent users!
People & Culture
The Goans are calm and quiet, but once provoked, you will know who they are. Silence and discipline are notable Goan feature. But the evenings are for entertainment and enjoyment. the Goa after the sunset is a different scene. Vibrant with disco, live fire performance, dancers and musicians, the nights are so colorful here. People rush to night clubs and pubs for partying and grand celebration. Don't worry you wont witness any kind of sexual activities anywhere. It is mere allegation about Goa. What happens inside the room is a different case and not a topic for public discussion. it is very private too. it happens everywhere, where large chunk of tourists arrive.
A Quick Tour Plan to Goa
- A Quick Tour Plan to Goa
Please read this article by the same author to find a quick tour plan to Goa. It gives you the required inputs clearly and gives you tips on how to arrange a budget travel without any headache..
People often ask this question: Why Goa? What Goa has other than beaches? They are wrong. Goa has a lot more to please a traveler. Though Goa's USP is its sandy beaches, it has other attractions too. The scenic landscape, sunset, different culture, Portuguese influence, remains of colonial culture, historic monuments, forts, ancient churches, temples museums... the list may go so. Above all, it has a rich flora and fauna attracting any nature lover.
When you tour both north & south part of Goa, your concept on Goa will change; the misunderstanding vanish. The diverse features of this tiny state may surprise you beyond your imagination.
Go to Goa; simply relax!
Dev borem koruv! ('Thank you' in Konkani language)
- Is Goa a wrong choice for visit?
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- A Candlelight Dinner at Palolem Beach, Goa
Palolem Beach, Goa takes you to a different experience. It is one of the most beautiful beaches in India. The hills, forest, all inside the sea are so nice. Also try a candle light dinner on the beach Besides Palolem is unpolluted and calm.
© 2013 Sunil Kumar Kunnoth