‘If Anjuna beach is the temple of trance, then surely the sunrise and the sunset is a spiritual experience’
– Abhilash Mithren
There is something about Goa- for years, people across the world have congregated on the beaches of Goa- swaying, raving, partying- echoing in one voice, the legacy of the flower children born in the 70’s. With coastlines stretching along the Arabian Sea, a state that thrives on tourism, a cuisine influenced by its Hindu origins and years of Portuguese colonialization, countless sites known for their historical significance- Goa is without a doubt, India’s tourism coefficient.
Personally, I have travelled to Goa for numerous reasons; one reason we all have in common is to get away from our robotic corporate lives. We have all been there, haven’t we? The point of saturation- nothing enters your head anymore- all you know is that you need a break. At times, we plan our holidays round about the time an insane music festival looms on the calendar. One thing is for sure- we have all frequented this beautiful paradise of the West Coast more than any other location In India. Goa is not a place which can be experienced in a week or two- let alone- a few days. Which is why, this is going to be the first of many travel diaries dedicated to this paradise of the West Coast. Lets start with- what do I think of,
Arguably, there isn’t much to see in Anjuna that is of historical significance and at the same time- Anjuna is fairly quiet and peaceful. But, after working a “9-5” job in the company of people from diverse backgrounds, spending about 30-45 minutes a day in panic-stricken traffic, the stench of open drains, garbage accumulated by the road sides, noisy traffic, inconsequential curses from fellow commuters- the last thing you need is vacationing a place that is no different..! That is why, to me this is the most quintessential part of Goa.
While vacationing in Goa, I tend to allocate two days entirely for Anjuna and at times even that isn’t enough. I try to stay near Corporation Bank (Anjuna Branch) on Anjuna-Mapusa Road. I find this area to be fairly quiet and they also have a general store (Orchard Stores) nearby where you can pick up all the essentials; especially for a party- liquor, cigarettes, even Goan pork sausages. From here, Anjuna beach is less than 3 km away and Baga is around 5 km. If your a backpacker, I recommend staying at Days Guest House which is beside the road that leads to Corporation Bank. If your thinking about something grand, I heard the Meradan La Oasis next to Cafe Artjuna is quite elegant. Nonetheless, there are more hotels in and around the area but none that I have experienced or heard about (or from friends).
Now that I’ve mentioned Cafe Artjuna (pics above)- do visit this cafe-cum-lifestyle shop for breakfast. They have a decent array of breakfast-combos, beautiful garden and a play area of kids. You can also pick souvenirs or gifts in the form of hand-made leather bags, pouches and jewellery designs from their workshop which is housed in old Portuguese-style home. Having said and done all things sober, lets move towards the more wilder, crazier part of Anjuna- the beach itself- Anjuna Beach!!
Anjuna Beach- “If Anjuna beach is the temple of trance, then surely the sunrise and the sunset is a spiritual experience”- every word continues to revibrate what a location this has turned out to be. It may not be one of the proudest chapter for the local folks but for everyone else it has become the very essence of their trips to Goa. As you walk along the winding sandy path to the beach, it is like transitioning to another world- one that is perfectly locked away from the one we know. To sit in one of the numerous shacks lined up along the beaches, sipping on your choice of poison, listening to music you won’t necessarily hear elsewhere- that is when you’ll know- you’re there.! I think I have given out enough and will leave you’ll to experience the rest. Two of the shacks I recommend you should visit are,
- Shiva Valley
Tuesday nights at Shiva Valley is something you cannot miss- the energy cannot be explained but only witnessed. The party would start around 9 pm but the crowd would pick up by 10 and then by midnight the beach would have turned into a stomping ground. 130…. 140…. 160… 170 bpm and then you dont bother anymore- your shanks move like it has a mind of its own. You loose track of time and its only until wee hours of the following day you start to feel tired but something inside you still wants to continue. [music stops] OK! Where were we? It’s time to catch up on some much needed sleep..! I typically tend to visit Cafe Artjuna for a heavy but less-greasy breakfast and then crash for a few hours. What else can we do in Anjuna? The only other to-do in Anjuna (according to me) is to visit the Flea market which is open once a week on Wednesdays. It is very much a part of the tourist experience and you will find lots of things that you may not find in a regular store (or anywhere else in India).
Vagator is located to the North of Anjuna and is famous for its red cliffs and also the famous ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ fort (most commonly known) or Chapora Fort. The somewhat steep climb to the top of Chapora should be dealt with cautiously. At times, small stones and rubble under your feet can cause you to trip and if that happens- it wont be good. So the point is- slow and steady- trust me, the view at the end is absolutely worthwhile.
Although Vagator is less-crowded compared to Anjuna, it also has a very prevalent rave culture. Disco Valley and Hilltop have near-legendary status in terms of the Trance and Psychedelic parties they host- which have been traced back to the 90’s. There are a lot of websites about the events that happen at these locations so just plan accordingly.
How can I forget about food? There is this amazing Greek-tavern called Thalassa. Far from the boisterous crowd of Baga, Calangute and Candolim, almost at the summit of Vagator with a panoramic view of the Indian Ocean is Thalassa, a resto-pub with a stunning view and elegant interior décor that screams of a Mediterranean atmosphere. Indeed, I have never been able to find (so far) a restaurant with such an unparalleled view. In terms of food the first thing you notice on the menu is the assurance that Thalassa imports most of the ingredients it uses in the dishes served. That itself is music to a foodie’s ear- the thought of being able to taste authentic Mediterranean flavors viz-a-viz the elaborate array of condiments available. A beautiful place to unwind and if possible catch the sunset- make reservations in advance.
Well, that is as much as I can think of in terms of what to do in Anjuna and Vagator but the things I have mentioned in this travelogue would account for about 2-3 days of your holiday. Since the party at Anjuna happens on a Tuesday and the Flea Market is open on a Wednesday and all the other things can be done on any day of the week, I recommend keeping aside Monday-thru-Wednesday. This was about Anjuna and Vagator; the next travel diary about Goa will tell you about the food joints you cannot miss..! So, Stay tuned..!