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Monday, February 14, 2011

SHIGMO


The Shigmo festival of Goa , also known as Shigmotsav is celebrated in a grand manner with much joy and fervor among Goans. It takes place every year in the month of March and the dates vary according to the Hindu calender.

GULAL
People enjoy this festival by spraying colored water as well as coloured powder known as 'Gulal'  on each other. This day is known as Rang-Panchami and is celebrated to greet the coming of spring.

During this festival large fairs and parades are organized in Goa. Shigmo, besides being an amazing form of entertainment, is also a cultural exhibition of Goa's history from time immemorial upto the present day.

The Shigmo parade begins with the brass bands reminiscent of the Maratha conquerors. Tribal women of Goa then perform a series of Kunbi Folk-Dances .

The women are decked up with gold and brightly-coloured sarees. One can also witness some regional dances from the Northern and Southern talukas (counties) of Goa.

Men dressed up in a colorful attire march with poles to the beat of drums and dhols, while others dance to the tune of traditional music with decorated umbrellas.Some are seen parading in elaborate costumes representing various Hindu deities.


Similar to Carnival , Shigmotsav also consists of a series of hand-made floats. These floats depict regional mythological and religious aspects. During this festival , hundreds of people irrespective of religion, caste and creed gather to get a glimpse of this parade. 
 
 
The celebrations span around a fortnight; and different days are allotted for celebrations in different areas of the state. 

So the next time you are in Goa during this season, do not miss to be a part of this festival! 

Friday, February 11, 2011

GOAN MAIN COURSE

PRAWN CURRY AND RICE
The majority of Goan population consists of the Hindus and the Catholics. Goa earlier being a Portuguese colony , the cuisine is a blend of the Portuguese ,Hindu and the Catholic cuisines. Being a coastal region, basic Goan meal revolves around Coconut, Fish and Rice . Most of the Goan recipes will have coconut as an ingredient in some form or the other.

GOAN FRIED FISH
The people of Goa are gourmet seafood eaters and use prawns, lobsters, crabs, and jumbo pomfrets to make a variety of delicious soups, salads, pickles, curries and fries.

Rice is eaten in different forms.
Rice is boiled in water and drained. This kind of rice is eaten during lunch and dinner.

A canjee is also made of rice. Canjee is prepared by boiling rice for a longer time than the meal rice, till it becomes soft and a little mushy.

The water is not drained out. Salt is added as per taste.
In the past canjee was cooked in a earthen pot called modki and was eaten as breakfast or as a light meal when ill.
MODKI

Rice flour is also used to make a variety of roasted breads.

Puffed rice is also used for preparing a variety of dishes during occasions such as diwali,  ganesh chaturthi , etc.

CHICKEN XACUTI

Fish 
Some of the popular fish varieties  are :
Pomfret , Prawns , Mackerels , Crabs, Oysters , Shell Fish, Kingfish , Cat Fish(Goan name:Sangta).

Indian Salmon (Raus) , Squids (Kalamari), 
Bombay duck (Bombil) ,Giant Sea Perch(Chonak) , Lobster, Tuna .This is only a small part of the never ending list !
SQUID(KALAMARI) MASALA

Fish is prepared in a variety of ways

Some of the popular dishes are:
CRAB XEC XEC
Fish Rechaedo , Fish Vindalo(onion, tomatoes,fish) , Coconut Fish Curry, Shark Ambot Tik(a spicy form of fish curry ),


Fish Fry , Butter Garlic Crabs, Masala Kalamari , Crab xec xec(coconut milk, masala and crabs), Fish Uddamethi (fenugreek, mackerel.A tasty gravy dish!) , Kismur (coconut , dry fish , onion), Fish/Prawn Balchao .
PRAWN BALCHAO

Apart from fish and rice , Chicken xacuti and chicken cafreal are also equally famous!.




This is only a small part of the Goan Main Course. There are a lot of traditional vegetable recipes prepared too!

This blend of various cooking styles and influences is what makes Goan food so unique among the cuisines of India. So the next time you visit Goa ,do not refrain yourself from savoring the mouth watering dishes of this exquisite cuisine!!

Till then Ciao!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

GOAN HANDICRAFTS



Goan Handicrafts are one of the most valuable assets of Goa. They are mostly made of natural material available such as clay ,seashells , coconut , palm leaves, pebbles ,bamboo, etc. Handicrafts are available in various forms , right from show pieces to hair clips , spoons ,etc all made from the above mentioned resources.


The creative and ethnic nature of these handicrafts surpass many expensive items of the present age. Unique Goan history is depicted clearly through these handicrafts. Apart from the materials mentioned above, wood, lacquer, jute, fabric and stone are also used to create some truly exquisite works of art.

Some of the art and craft items include colorful masks, wooden toys, jute bags, chandeliers, sea shell mirrors, bamboo craft, Crochet and embroidery, Artistic weaving, hand-painted ceramics, Azulejos, papier-mâche craft, etc.

Azulejos are a typical form of Portuguese or Spanish painted, tin-glazed, ceramic tile work. This art was introduced in Portugal, via Spain, by the Moors (Muslims), who had learned the craft from the Persians.

Papier-mâche (French for 'chewed-up paper'), sometimes called paper-mache, is a substance that consists of pieces of paper.

It is sometimes reinforced with textiles and fixed together using a wet paste (e.g. glue, starch, or wallpaper adhesive). The crafted object becomes solid when the paste dries.Beautiful artifacts of papier-mâche are sold in various beach markets of Anjuna and Baga.


These beautiful handicrafts are available at various shops across the state.


To buy this authentic piece of Goan art at the most reasonable price you may visit the showroom of APARANT , a Government of Goa undertaking. It has its outlets at various places across the state. One outlet is right in the heart of Panjim city Near Tourist Hostel.

 
 














So the next time you visit Goa , do not miss the opportunity of visiting the handicraft emporiums and above all carry a souvenir of Goa back home! Hope you enjoyed this handicraft tour! Meet you tomorrow, till then Ciao! 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

CARNIVAL


King Momo
Carnival in Goa is one of the most popular and colourful events. It is often referred to as Viva Carnival and goes on for 3 days . It takes place in around February, before Easter. The word Carnival has been derived from the Latin word 'carnelevarium' meaning 'removing the flesh' or 'raising a gala storm'. The main focus of Goan carnival is to enjoy by indulging in singing, dancing, feasting, etc.
The history of carnival takes us 500 years back. Goa was earlier a Portuguese Colony. It is a pleasure-seeking feast of ancient Rome and Greece.

It made its emergence in the Spanish and Portuguese colonies, gradually untouched into a very Latin style of singing, drinking and dancing stints.


It is during this time that the whole of Goa, irrespective of caste , creed and 
religion unite to be a part of this event.

The entire state is decorated with paper ribbons , balloons, etc. Throughout the state, many fun parades are organized and people belonging to different communities and areas prepare their tableau's with different representations and themes. These are often referred to as "Floats".

On the opening day of the carnival, King Momo presides over the festival and "orders" his subjects to party and indulge in merry making.  All the floats then take place.
Troupes of masked revelers take immense pleasure in attiring themselves in stunning costumes. They sing and dance in delight to dynamic music that is usually performed live by famous singers and artists.
The best floats are given generous prizes, for the hardwork done by float creators. The liveliness of Carnival is maintained throughout the 3 days.

So if you want to get a feel and be a part of this fantastic and colourful event , its not late yet!! Hope you enjoyed reading ! keep reading  and be back tomorrow! Ciao!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Getting around in Goa!


Getting around in Goa is not at all difficult.You have a lot of options to choose from depending on your budget and comfort.The people around are friendly and always ready to help.This does not mean that you should avoid being careful and also exploit local hospitality.Goa being a popular tourist destination,transport service plays a vital role to help this industry grow.

Following are the options:

Getting around by Bicycle

Goa is a beautiful state with lots of greenery ,spice plantations,villages and temples and churches and of course coastal routes and beaches.So bicycle is a good option for people who love to ride.

If you want a quality bicycle it is worth carrying your own.How ever be careful about thefts.
Hiring is another option but getting a good bicycle is not so easy.This is easily available option in most of the beach areas.

But i suggest if your stay is going to be a long one say 2 or 3 months then its better to buy one.

Getting around by motorcycle taxis


Goa is the only state in India where you have the option to hire a licensed two wheeled taxi.These motorcycle taxi riders are popularly known as pilots.The licensed ones ride black motorbikes with yellow mudguards.

You will find them at important points in towns and cities.They are a quick means of transport and best for short distances.However,please negotiate the fare in advance to be on the safer side and avoid any confusion.

Getting around by rented scooters and motorcycles


This is the best option if you love to ride a bike or scooter.It is also very cost effective.If you want to move around the place,follow the parties,check out interior places and different restaurants or at times go to the city, I bet this is the best option.

One needs to provide ones id proof like Passport, a refundable deposit and stay details while renting a bike.

You should carry your driving license and it also better to carry a copy of insurance of the bike and evidence of rental to avoid problems with cops.Rental rates vary depending on the season and type of bike.

Getting around by Auto rickshaws
 

This is a good option for short trips and is cheaper than a taxi. An auto rickshaw is a yellow-and-black three-wheeled vehicle powered by a noisy engine. It has a canopy, a driver up front and seats up to three passengers behind.

These run by the meter and charge per kilometer. You will find them at important points in towns and cities including bus stands and railway stations.

Getting around by rented cars
Both self and chauffeur-driven cars are available on rent in Goa.To find this,its best to go to any travel agency or your hotel desk.Typical cost for 1 day sightseeing with chauffeur ranges from INR 800 to 1500 depending on the type of car.You can also opt for self drive option and weekly rental instead of daily.

Getting around by taxis 

Taxis too are a common sight on the roads of Goa. The taxis in Goa are recognized by their distinctive black and yellow colour. 

The taxis here don't run on meter,hence it is better to negotiate and fix the fare before hand. Fare can vary depending on the amount of luggage.


Getting around by Buses


This is the cheapest option and is a unique experience.Since most of the roads are motorable,travel by bus becomes comfortable. Buses in Goa are operated both by the state and private corporations. The Kadamba Transport Corporation (KTC) is the state government's bus service.They also run 25 seater buses called as shuttle service connecting major routes like Panaji,Margao and Vasco.

Please check out the time of the last bus as most of the buses don't run after 9.00 pm.


Getting around by Ferry boat

These are on flat-bottomed passenger/vehicle ferries used to travel across rivers.Its an unique experience to travel with locals.


Ferries have been commuting people across waters for decades, but of late are gradually being put out of business by bridge-building projects.

 The most frequented river crossings in Goa are Panaji to Betim, across the Mandovi (every 15 minutes); Old Goa to Divar Island (every 15 minutes); Querim to Terekhol over Tiracol river (every 30 minutes) and Cavelossim to Assolna (every 20 to 30 minutes).


That's all my friends! Hope this helps you getting around Goa with ease. Join me tomorrow for some more interesting topics about Goa. Till then Ciao!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

RIVER CRUISES-GOA




If you are on a holiday to Goa then your tour will remain incomplete without experiencing a River Cruise.They are among the major tourist attractions in Goa.After spending the day visiting different places for sightseeing, a river cruise is an ideal way to relax and spend your evening.River cruise as well as Sea cruise are on offer.



Panjim which is the capital of Goa is along the bank of River Mandovi and serves as the perfect location for such cruise tours.There are number of cruises for you to choose from - daytime, sunset and moonlight.  

Kunbi Dance


Day cruise

These operate during the daytime.Basically there are two such on offer.The first one takes you down the Mandovi river and enters into the Zuari river and back while the second one takes you up the Mandovi river to Aldona and a mineral water spring.While on a river cruise you can view historical architectural monuments like Reis Magos Church, the Reis Magos Fort, the Aguada Fort and the Cabo Raj Bhavan.


Dance on the cruise








Sunset Cruise

There are a lot of sun set cruises starting from 6.00 pm every evening on the Mandovi river.They take you on a one hour trip on the Mandovi river and while on this cruise you can watch the sunset.

You can enjoy the cultural performances on this cruise performed by professional troupes.Some of the cultural dances are the Dekni Temple Dance , the Fugdi Dance and the Corredinho Dance(Portuguese peasant dance).You can also shake your legs a bit on the dance floor if you like.
Corredinho Dance

There is a bar on this cruise that serves some of the best available cocktails and mocktails. You come across a few monuments like Reis Magos Church ,the Reis Magos Fort, the Aguada Fort and the Cabo Raj Bhavan to name a few while on the cruise. Goa Tourism Development Corporation operates one such cruise called Santa Monica.There are a lot of private cruises as well
Reis Magos Fort
like Paradise cruise,Royale cruise etc.


Reis Magos Church










Sun Down Cruise 
This cruise starts off at 7. 15 in the evening after the sun sets and is also an hour's trip. Cultural entertainment programmes are the same as in the Sun Set Cruise. 


Full Moon Cruise or Special Cruise
Aguada Fort
This one is ideal for newly weds and romantic couples.It allows you to enjoy the excitement of cruise trip for a longer period of two hours or so.As the name suggests,you can enjoy the moon light falling over the river Mandovi while on this cruise.The cruise service begins by 5.30 in the evening and continues up to 10.30 in the night.

Apart from these, there are many operators that conduct cruises with interesting themes , like you can pick up a cruise that takes you to spot the crocodiles in the backwaters.
So..if you are on a tour in Goa,dont miss this wonderful and exciting  experience...!!!
That's all for now friends! Catch u with me tommorow with some more exciting facts about GOA!
Ciao!    Au revoir!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

GOAN REFRESHING DRINK-FENI



Today I am going to tell you about the famous and popular traditional drink of Goa..FENI also known as FENNY...u should definitely experience this if you happen to visit Goa.

Feni is synonymous with Goa just as much as Scotch is synonymous with Scotland, Tequila with Mexico, or Champagne with France!
It has a strong aroma and can get you drunk in no time...

There are 2 types of feni that are originally from Goa.....Cashew feni and Coconut feni.
Cashew feni is distilled from the juice of the cashew apples, whereas Coconut Feni is distilled from the toddy collected from the coconut trees.



CASHEW FENI


This feni is more popular as compared to coconut feni.The process of making the cashew feni is very tedious and involves great amount of effort. First, the cashew apples are crushed manually.This juice generated is collected in an earthen pot which is then buried deep inside the ground and allowed to ferment. 

During fermentation, 4% of the juice gets transformed into alcohol. This juice is then collected in copper pots and distilled. During distillation process the juice is heated and the alcohol vapors are collected in a cooling condenser.

 The distillation process is repeated three times. The first fraction of distilled juice that is obtained is known as Urrack or Hurrak. This is less strong and less intoxicating.Best to have it with lime soda and lots of ice.

The second fraction of distillate is known as Cazulo which is slightly stronger than Urrack. Cazulo is not so popular, hence not sold in market. 

The third and final fraction that is distilled is known as Feni.This is very strong and highly intoxicating.
Feni has a long shelf life and the more it is left to mature,the better it is.Feni has a strong distinct aroma which also determines its quality.


It is best to have it neat but some people also like to dilute it with lime juice or soda water.A popular cocktail is also made from feni and served in most of the restaurants in Goa.It is bottled and sold in all wine shops. Price varies from INR 100 to 600, depending on the quality and maturity.

So if you happen to visit Goa,dont miss to taste this drink and enjoy the beauty more by getting intoxicated....However if you are a person who does not enjoy alcohol then you could enjoy cashew apple juice which is called as Niro..However its a seasonal drink..and is available from late March upto May. 

So without wasting anytime just book your flight to Goa and enjoy the taste of this refreshing traditional drink "FENI"...............Thats all for now .....Happy Weekend ! Ciao ! Au revoir!! :)

Friday, February 4, 2011

CASINOS IN GOA

CASINOS ON SEA IN GOA -  FOR THE WEEKEND


Hi Friends , for all casino lovers and those who love to gamble a bit n "lot" :) here's something very interesting about GOA---- and they are the amazing casinos in Goa. So here we go on a 'Casino Tour'

Goa is the only state in India where gambling is legal.It is still in the emerging phase but one can find some of the best casinos here! The ambience , the feel , the money ....wow! Casinos in Goa are not only restricted to "LAND" but you can also find many floating on the deep blue "SEA" !!

CARAVELA

 Goa's first casino on sea is the "CARAVELA". It is India's first LIVE GAMING CASINO , to meet International Standards.  

The Caravela is an entertainment destination nobody in India can offer. It takes you on a breathtaking and amazing journey from the harbour (River Mandovi) to the Renaissance Goa Resort Panaji and back.
Games offered at the casino are  American Roulette, Black Jack, Rummy , Poker, Ponton,Slot Machines etc.Entry fee starts from 1500 INR.

Casino Royale
Next we have , Goa's largest and most popular casino "Casino Royale".

It is located on a huge ship anchored to the 
Mandovi River. It has 5 operational decks and 3 Gaming floors with around 50 gaming tables and approx 30 slot machines.

Entry fee varies from 2500 to 4000 INR . IT is open 24 x 7 for all the year round. Popular games are American Roulette, Black Jack, Poker.
This casino also has three Suites, Elevators, Helideck, Amphitheatre, World-class entertainment and Bars Aqua Bar Top Deck. 
It also has a  lounge for you to step away from the action and relax . You can also relish  a multi cuisine buffet meal to tempt your taste buds at their  restaurant 'China Garden'.
 
So these are the most famous casinos on sea in GOA. Hope you all are gearing up to visit Goa and the casinos as well!! :) Thats all for now ! See you tommorow  with some more fascinating casinos . Wish you all  a "HAPPY WEEKEND" !!!!!!!! Ciao  !! Au revoir!!!!!!!!!



Wednesday, February 2, 2011

North Goa Beaches




Miramar Beach:This beach is nearest to the capital. It is a lovely clean beach with its golden sand attracting a lot of tourists as well as locals. Many tourists gather in the evening to get a glimpse of the beautiful sunset. We can see old and young enjoy the soft touch of the sand. There is a small park sitdown for those who would like to enjoy the cool and fresh air. There are many food stalls available. The most famous and flocked one's are the "bhelpuri" stalls. We all Indians will know very well what bhelpuri is. Buses/rickshaws ply from the city busstand to miramar. Rickshaws may charge Rs 100 or so.....the prices keep on changing!!! If we reach in the evening we may get some fresh fish too !!


From Miramar one can get a glimpse of Fort Aguada and the Raj Bhavan(Governor's residence).

Hotels nearby : Foodland, Temptations, Hotel Mariott, Goa International to name a few. Around a kilometer from miramar , there is a park for children with various activities for them. It is a well maintained park with lots of greenary and some good piece of architecture.
Arambol beach: This beach is situated around 50 kms from the capital(Panaji). It has a combination of rocky and sandy ambience. It is a quiet beach....for those who are in search of peace and calm. People can hire a cab/bike to reach this destination. Buses are a bad option though!!
At a walkable distance there is a fresh water lake as well as some sulphur springs close to the sea. There is a spectacular banyan tree adjoining to which is a stone sculpture created by an American Conceptual Jacek Tylicki. This particular sculpture is also known as the "Money Stone".

Chapora & Vagator beach: These beaches are surrounded by coconut groves. There are among the most beautiful beaches in Goa. The old Portuguese Chapora fort stands on a hill , overlooking the tiny Chapora village.Vagator beach is around 22 kms from Panaji. From the beach you can see a 500 years old Portuguese fort.If you are an art lover then this is the right place for you. You could also taste Goan delicacies like bebinca,dodol at some outlets here.

Anjuna Beach : This beach is a major hub for foreign as well as local tourists. The soft silver sands attracts everyone. Anjuna is well known for its "Flea Market" which is held every Wednesday. You could pick up trinklets, get a tattoo done, buy some materials with heavy embroidery / mirror work done or just hang around and enjoy the colourful and entertaining atmosphere.


Calangute and Baga : Like the Anjuna beach , these beaches are also a major hub for tourists. There are a lot of shacks, shops, There is a tidy fish market at Calangute which is worth a visit.


Cabs are easily available at almost all the beaches. So transport is not at all a problem!!

Sinquerim and Candolim Beach: Sinquerim is located around 13 kms from Panaji. It is a stunningly beautiful and calm beach.A lot of hotels are present nearby.There are a lot of buses that play from Mapusa to Calangute and Sinquerim.You could also visit Fort Aguada which is nearby!!


If you are tired of crowded beaches then Candolim beach is the best for you. If you want to experience some fishing activity then you could try your hand at this place. Some hotels near the beach offer yoga and meditation session in order to provide you with a sense of relief from stress and fatigue.

Dona Paula Beach : This is a quiet beach with lot of palm plantations. It is a popular picnic spot with some beach resorts and beach cottages available. One could take a ferry from here to Vasco-da-Gama , just for a ride through the splendid waters. You could even visit the Dona Paula jetty which is worth a visit. There are many water sport activities available at the jetty.


Vainguinim Beach: This is a neat and tidy stretch of silver sands with a crystal blue bay!It is very close to the Miramar and Dona Paula beach. It is surrounded by a lot of greenary. You could spot many species of birds near the plantations. This place has also proved to be trekker's delight. Star resorts are also available as means of accomodation.


So thats about the North Goa beaches! All beaches are well connected , so there is no need to worry! All you have to do is visit the beaches........ and I am sure that you would want to visit them again and again!!


See you tomorrow and Do not forget to leave comments / queries if any :) Ciao!!!!!!!!!!!!