Featured Image: St.Augustine Ruins in Old Goa
Look up magical realism in a dictionary and it’ll describe something full of unsolved mysteries and untouched natural beauty. Goa is where it begins. And only someone who hasn’t spent some real time here will tell you otherwise. It’s a place full of magical wonder, lush fields, sun kissed beaches, and mouth watering delicacies that a lifetime would be too short to conquer.
If your perfect vacation day only includes soaking up the sun, playing in the sand and swimming in the ocean then you are most certainly missing out what North Goa really has to offer. 15 lesser known places in North Goa whose beauty have remained forgotten through the sands of time await you.
15. Chorla ghats, North Goa
Located at the North eastern border of Goa 50 km’s from Panaji it is truly a place lost in time. Stunning landscapes… its vibrant colours… and the fragrance of wet mud <3 Herald its aesthetic values and intricate life forms. Relatively untouched by civilization, it shies away from Goa’s ever so sunny climate and engulfs one with drops of mountain mist and utter silence.
Home to most of Goa’s wildlife, Chorla ghat offers one a true sense of wild Goa. So be cautious of your surroundings. No one likes privacy invasion, especially not wild animals.
Best time to visit: Monsoons and Winter (anytime before it gets too dark). During summer the Virdi waterfall gets reduced to a trickle and it’s not so green 🙁
How to reach? Chorla Ghat for the most part does not have any proper roads. However one can enter the dense forest after traveling along NH-4 A. There is a small resort right next to the said highway so you can park your car there.
14. Cumbharjua Canal, North Goa
Hidden within the mangroves lie Cumbharjua – a beautiful island village located 20km from Panjim, which can be entered via Banastarim Bridge. The canal links the two biggest rivers of Goa – the Zuari and the Mandovi. The said mangrove provides a safe haven for the local fishes, prawns and mollusks to live long and prosper. Crocodiles are a common sight in these parts. The muggers are freshwater crocodiles, who have adapted well to the salinity of the waterway, astonishingly these reptiles are found nowhere else in India.
Best time to visit: Summer
How to Reach? Cumbarjua is well connected via the Gandaulim – Marcel Road. You may however have to board a local barge if you want the most out of the experience.
13. Torda lake, Porvorim, North Goa
Traveling from Panaji to Torda lake via bike is an experience that everyone should have a take on. Calming winds, clean roads and blue skies – what awaits when you get there is a dazzling spectre of clean water, cute fishes and a soothing breeze. Lie down with a special someone or just enjoy some much needed solitude with yourself and a fishing rod.
Locals will be happy to take you along for a boat ride. Just ask 🙂
Best time to visit: Monsoons
How to Reach? Getting to Torda lake is no problem. It’s in close proximity to Mall de Goa. Well connected via roads like the rest of Porvorim which makes it easy to get there..
12. Saturday night market, Arpora
One of the most unique experiences you can have in Goa. Shopping, cultural performances and nightlife, the Saturday Night market in Arpora has it all. As the night passes by, tourists from all over the world dive into exotic range of spices, penny baubles and trinkets and also with the high-quality branded products and jewelry. Prices usually tend to be high in comparison to regular shops and day markets, but you’ll still have a great opportunity to test those bargaining skills.
When to visit: Operational from Oct-May & only on Saturdays
How to reach? One can get here via car/bike. However expect heavy traffic. Just travel along the Aguada-Siolim road.
11. Behind Kala Academy, Panjim, Goa
Kala Academy – one of Goa’s most famous theatres, behind of which lies a soothing scenery straight out of a block of canvas. A lesser known empty stretch of rocks and gravel, accompanied by a magnificent lighthouse. Frequented by a few elderly folk who sit down and reminisce about days gone by. The view of the Mandovi from here is by far one of the best and also the most underrated one.
10. Vanxim Island – The Island in North Goa that most forgot
Alone and forgotten lay a deserted island in the River Mandovi not measuring more than a few square kilometers. Ilha de Capao (Island of Capao) or Vanxim as it is locally called. An effective two hour road trip and two ferries later, one can find themselves lost in the absolute silence amidst an island that Goa forgot. The island is pretty much unheard of and in fact off the map.
A church and a chapel built hundreds of years ago, a number of water bodies, a sea of mangroves, old Goan houses surrounded by papaya, coconut and jackfruit trees plus a sense of peace and serenity is what this little island has to offer.
How to reach? After travelling along Bicholim road you will need to hire a ferry to get across the Mandovi river. Beyond that you will have to traverse the island on foot as the roads for the most parts don’t exist or have broken down.
9. Suicide Point, Donapaula, Panjim
Shrouded in mystery and legends lie the tale of why this place was named ‘suicide point’. Dona is a title given to a married Portuguese woman. The woman in question and Paulo, a local fisherman were lovers separated by their caste and nationality and with no other option left, they resorted end their lives, by jumping off the cliff. The Statue on the rock is said to be dedicated to them. A truly gut wrenching story.
Nevertheless, suicide point definitely has a romantic aura, and is a wonderful spot if you want to escape the crowds, feel the wind on your face as you unwind, watching at the sun set behind the statues, watching fishing boats come and go.
Best time to visit: Winter, especially early morning as you can catch a glimpse of the beautiful mist. P.S. DO NOT MISS THE SUNSET 😉
How to reach? After arriving at Dona Paula just keep going along Jetty road till the end of the line. Its right next to the Dona Paula jetty.
8. Pomburpa Springs, North Goa
Having been blessed with a number of fresh water springs. Pomburpa Spring happens to be one of the best springs in Goa. Locals and foreign tourists alike come here for a bath. Known for its medicinal values, the spring water is used for bathing by ailing men and women who throng the spot throughout the year. The joyous atmosphere will make you feel right at home. Expect frequent visits by groups of tourists in these parts.
The place has been built up now with cement and stones. Two water pipes are fitted in through with the spring water flows and makes it more convenient to have a bath. 6 Km from the capital is as far as you have to go for an experience of a lifetime.
Best time to visit: Monsoons, as the water level is at its peak.
How to reach? Travel along the Pomburpa–Quitla-Aldona Road and you shall reach the Pomburpa Ferry terminal. From there on it’s a half kilometer walk from the main road, east.
7. Odxel Beach, Panjim, Goa
A lesser known gem in Goa. Serene and uncrowded even during the peak season.
Read a book, Jet Ski or perhaps conquer your childhood legacy of climbing a coconut tree if that’s more your thing. There’s just so much you can do here. Expect no nightlife here, instead just start up a camp fire, grab a few buds perhaps some beer and spend the rest of the night cooking up horror stories under the stars. The possibilities are limitless.
Best time to visit: Summer (It’s a beach duh ! 😛 )
How to Reach? Travel along Dr E Borges road and head towards Bay 15 to reach the Odxel beach
6. Maruti Temple, Altinho, Goa
The Maruti temple situated on top of of the Altinho offers a clear view of the Fontainhas district and is a lovely experience. Dedicated to lord Hanuman, the monkey god and enshrines Lord Hanuman as the presiding deity.
Nearby the Maruti temple on the southern edge of Fontainhas, the Fontainhas of Phoenix spring is situated from which it derives its name. This spring has three tanks where water collects from the mountain before flowing into a reservoir. It was once the lifeline of the area and even today it is in use. Beautifully lit up after dusk, The Maruti temple is a treat to watch at night too.
How to reach? Travel via car/bike along Nanu Tarkar Pednekar Rd and you should be there in a jiffy. In case you get lost, just ask for directions. The temple is pretty well known so you shouldn’t have any difficulty finding it.
5. Harvalem Falls, North Goa
Isolated far away in lush jungles of Sanquelim and in close proximity to Sanquelim village, Harvalem is amongst the most beautiful waterfalls in Goa with milky white water cascading down tough scenic boulders. And the best part – the waterfall remains concealed from the eyes of the world, which allows visitors complete privacy. Theres plenty of untouched natural beauty in these parts to be looked at.
Best time to visit: Monsoon
How to reach? Getting here is a bit tricky. Sanquelim as a whole is not particularly well connected with roads. After separating from Hathkadamba-Goa Road keep heading straight after the Vasant nagar ground.
4. Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, North Goa
If multi-storeyed forests with tall trees and rare plants, where hardly any light reaches the ground and some animals that are found nowhere else in asia are your thing then Cotigao Sanctuary is the place to be. The vegetation is mostly moist-deciduous type, interspersed with semi-evergreen and evergreen patches.
Don’t expect to bump into its more exotic residents (including gaurs, sambars, leopards and spotted deer), but frogs, snakes, monkeys, insects and blazingly plumed birds are in no short supply. A waterhole nearby attracts a handful of animals around dawn and dusk.
How to Reach? Take the Panvel-Kochi-Kanyakumari highway to get to the main entrance. Once you reach there, Proceed through the thick jungle by foot (best thing to do) or you could go to specific areas using a rented jeep provided by the authorities. Do not opt for bikes as the roads can be quiet unforgiving and dangerous.
3. Mahadev Temple, Tambdi Surla, North Goa
The Mahadev temple of Tambdi Surla is the oldest temple of Goa, that survived from the Portuguese as it was set next to a stream in the middle of the small clearing, hidden in the dense jungle.
There is a linga symbol of Lord Shiva mounted on a pedestal inside the inner sanctum and local legend has it that a huge King Cobra is in permanent residence in the dimly lit interior. In February/ March on the festival of Mahashivratri hundreds of devotees assemble here. The area around the temple has soft green grass that dries up in summer but is rejuvenated every monsoon.
Best time to visit: Just Post Monsoon, expect refreshing chilled winds and the fragrance of wet mud.
How to Reach? A car is the best mode to get here. Drive along the Panaji-Belgavi highway and from there on switch to the Dharbandora-Collem road. Expect extreme heat as the area has very little shade.
2. Ruins of St Augustine Church, Velha, Goa
The crumbling remains of the Church of St. Augustine perhaps serve as the perfect metaphor for the fallen era of Portuguese colonisation. All that remains of the old church is a 46-metre high tower which was once the belfry of the structure.
As Old Goa emptied due to a continual series of deadly epidemics, the church fell into neglect and the vault collapsed in 1842. In 1931 the facade and half the tower fell down, followed by more sections in 1938. The tower’s huge bell was moved in 1871 to the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Panaji, where it can be seen (and heard) today. A truly marvelous site worth having a look at.
Best time to visit: Summer, evenings to be specific.
How to reach? Head along the Old Goa road. Once you get the the Basilica of Bom Jesus, take the turn towards the archeological site via foot.
1. Carambolim Lake, North Goa
Carambolim lake is situated just behind the Karmali Railway station in Old Goa. It is a wetland ecosystem hosting a number of wintering visitors as well as some resident birds.
Carambolim Lake supports a large population of herbivorous birds. Some of these birds include Red-rumped Swallow, Little Egret and the Pintail Ducks.
Not less impressive are the beauty and diversity of flora of the lake. Its surface is sprinkled with water lilies and colorful exotic plants.The surroundings of the lake are picturesque, green, covered with rice fields and offers a quick getaway for anyone who desires.
Best time to visit: Summer, many birds migrate to the lake during this time as it is winter in their native countries. Be sure to carry some binoculars. Do not disturb or litter their environment in any way 🙂
How to get there? The best way to go would be by train if you’re anywhere in South Goa. The Karmali Railway Station is at a walking distance from the lake. The Vasco-Kulem local train is the best way to go. However beware of the timings. If you plan on going there by car, then just driving along the Panaji-Ponda-Belgaum highway. It’s not too hard to spot it once you reach Corlim.
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