My previous blogs were just a preface of my ordeal in GOA. Nevertheless should have mentioned that the heart of GOA beats in the Night.
Along with two other friends of mine we checked into a couple of happening places in Goa with in limited time frame we had in North Goa, which is the all-night partying place, compared to calm and serene South Goa. I remember an old man giving us direction from a junction, saying ‘take that road and follow the crowd, you will reach Curlies’. Soon we reached Curlies which was like very different with few human souls here and there. The restaurant waiters and street food vendors were more in number awaiting the tourists in the beachside shacks. Needless to say the about the crowd in night clubs and beaches. I was getting many calls from my friends asking for places for the night, but something strange we were not lucky on the first and second days of our stay. Tired of the search like us were two guys in shorts, with radium party bands on their hands who came close to us and enquired about locations to party. I suggested them Anjuna, UV bar, Monkey bar and Lilliput to which, they replied remorsefully,”bhaai kuch nai hai bhaai, purakaali, ye dek…woh saare jagake entry stamps se haath bhi bar gaya..”LOL!
One more reason for the less number of people around might be the Saturday Night Markets, happening for the first time in this season. We first visited the Meckey’s Night market in Arpora, a well organised market space with ample parking, security frisking and sign boards at all points. The stalls where in horseshoe form within a perimeter of half a km with colourful shops on either side of the narrow lane filled with garments, handicrafts, and food joints. The small lanes led us to a central area with a huge food court spread around an open amphitheatre where some acrobat artists were displaying their skills. Having spent around an hour at this market, we next visited the much bigger Ingo’s Night Market.
The first view at the entrance of gate No 3 and the parking lot gave us a clear picture of where all the crowd had disappeared that day. The market was spread in a huge area with four entrance gates and exits, much similar to some exhibition or a trade fair. It has a stage for live musicians playing in the centre along with two night clubs located inside. All the shops are lined up in a spiral, towards the top on the small hillock. This night markets are a must visit place to learn about the Goan local crafts, art and culture. Here one can bargain to get the best deal. In general the goods are expensive where I still remember a Masala dosa priced at RS 250. My friend picked up a hand crafted drum for Rs 150 after bargain, which initially was quoted at Rs 750.
We were still left miles away from “other side of Goa”. At times I feel to explore some places it is better to go alone than in a group. One such place is the Monkey Valley. Uninvited guests are not welcomed to some of the parties happening here. A friend of mine who had been here already warned me from entering with an Indian group. It is always safe to have foreigners in the group to enter such places. Since we had none in our group marked this place for my next visit.
Arambol: The northern beach of Goa, the province of the Hippies. The hippie culture which started in the 1960s and 70sin US and UK, spread far off places even to Goa. These communities which many think of as psychedelic music, sexual liberation and drugs gatherings, but there is much more to these communities like spirituality, yoga and meditation. During the hippie trail, these sub cultures moved over land into India, mostly Goa and South East Asia. Currently they are moving to other Southern locations like Gokarna, Kodaikanal, Varkala, Hampi and Northwards to Manali, Kasol or Puri.
Arambol beach was a pretty nice place to loaf around with less crowds comparatively than the other beaches. I found gymnastics, people doing Yoga and meditation here. Apart from the normal shacks on the beach and the hippie population around, this shack ‘Laughing Buddha’ has interested me. After a while, I was about to return, and I could see a small lane near the market, from which quite a few people were going in and coming out. That was not a beach, or are there any shops over there. I quickly checked with one of the person, who told me it is the way to ‘Sweet water lake’.
Next to the shack , in between the trees was this small lake of fresh water, which was formed by the streams from the small hills and natural multhana mitti lumps nearby. Though it was written as ‘Private property, we could see many people taking a dip , by now we could hardly see any Indian crowds, looks like as if we are in some other land. Beyond that was this place, is the ‘Banyan Tree’, which very few would venture. Heard few things about this place like Indians are not allowed sometimes, police would be raiding once in a while, etc. You need to trek for around three to four km to reach the banyan tree. We were crossing small streams of water where you have this multhanamitti, few people were even bathing in the stream close by. Thanks to shambu, he took us in some short cuts, if not him it would have been difficult for us to navigate, in between those dense trees and rocks. First we met this Chota babaji on the way under a tree again. He was living with a lady from Russia since two months now and preparing for the Maha Kumbh. The way he lit a smoke saying ‘bam bam bhole and the way he passed the fag around, I so far have only seen in some dark movies. My other friend who came with us was almost scared with all these and after sitting there for a while, we gave him some money as offerings and proceeded towards the main babaji. He was a German, but now a sadhu again in his fifties, sitting under a banyan tree, with idols, trishul and mats around for people to sit. It was mostly Russians around him in the first circle, doped up and then the second circle, a bit on a top view with us and few other travellers from UK and some riders from the Rider Mania. By now, we are almost in some different world and seeing all this and would want to get back. All of us got down the hill and Shambu introduced me to this girl, Aksana as she had to be dropped to the next beach, Morjim. It was not very comfortable to ride in those streets as we could hardly communicate and that too she was sitting in a swim suit while riding all the way. Dropped her at Morjim and headed back to Vagator for the bikers event.
Goa might not be the same as today: It used to be 2, 50, 000 tourists visiting every year till recently. With the devaluation of the Russian rouble, ever increasing prices by the local hotel and restaurants, Goa is losing its charm similarly like the Leh Ladhak regions. The recent, Russia striking out India from the list of safe travel destinations is another major blow to the decreasing tourist population in Goa.
My next visit to Goa would wish to be and share about Morjim, Kerim and Palolem and not to miss Monkey Valley too. Cheers!!