Thursday, December 29, 2016

Travel: Goa - Portuguese India

This continues my accounts about a recent trip to India. Please read these earlier blog entries:

From Shimla, we spent a night in Chandigarh, then caught a plane to Goa. It had been cold in Northern India, especially up in the hill stations, but now Goa was 80 degrees F with 60% humidity. This was weather that I understood. 

Goa is in the south-western coast of India, the richest state which has the best quality of life in India according to the National Commission on Population. Literacy rate is very high.

Goa was occupied by the Portuguese in the 16th century and it remained a Portuguese territory until 1961. Goans who qualify can acquire a Portuguese passport.

We stayed at the Taj Fort Aguada, which is in Northern Goa. Before booking this I had no idea that Goa was split into North and South Goa.  All I knew was that it's famous as a party town, and I had been warned to make sure our travel agent understood we were not keen on loud all-night carousing. So we were booked in elegant and serene Fort Aguada that fronted the Arabian Sea and was the perfect place for us to relax.

We did go sight seeing.

We visited the four-hundred-year old Basilica of Bom Jesus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where the remains of St. Francis Xavier are kept in a silver casket above an altar. The church is Baroque and reminds me of some of the churches built by the Spaniards in the Philippines.

We also visited a spice farm where we had a tour and lunch. I had been to a spice farm in Kerala but this time I understood where these spices that we cook with come from.  Peppercorns, for instance, come from a vine and the peppercorns look like this (see picture):

We visited the old Portuguese section with 400-year-old houses, many of them still well-kept and painted in bright cheerful colors. Many displayed Christmas stars that look similar to the Philippine "parols" -- (star lanterns made of paper).

We also did a bit shopping in a tourist trap place, but bought rubies anyway. (I spent too much, but never mind, my purchase is my souvenir of Goa.)

Mostly, we rested, enjoyed the weather, did a bit of swimming, walking, watched the sun set into the Arabian Sea, and just had a great time in Goa. (There is so much more of Goa that needs to be explored so that'll be for next time, God willing.)

A small shrine of Our Lady of Velankanni at the Fort. I belong to a group of devotees to Our Lady of Velankanni, so I was quite excited when I saw this shrine.

I'll be adding pictures so please stop by again.

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Tags: travel, India, Goa, Portuguese India, Arabian Sea, North Goa, South Goa

This is all for now,

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