Laze on the beach by all means, and party your brains out too. But then what? Most people don’t realise how much else there is to do in Goa, and it doesn’t even take going far out of your way to do it.
Since its inception in 2000, the Goa Heritage Action, a non-governmental organisation that is “dedicated to the preservation of Goa’s priceless heritage,” has undertaken festivals to showcase various neighbourhoods, listing of heritage properties and sites, and restoration of threatened monuments and markers. Now, it is taking all that expertise public with guided heritage walks across various parts of the city, led by experts in architecture and history.
Bespoke Wildlife Tours
When Rahul Alvares was a baby, his mother reports, a cobra was seen fanning its neck above his crib before gliding away silently. That kind of uncanny relationship with wild animals has been sustained into adulthood by the award-winning herpetologist, wildlife photographer and author, who also makes himself available for outstanding day trips to view birds, animals and butterflies.
Veteran adventure sportsman John Pollard and his experienced team conduct thrilling rapids-surfing trips down the Mhadei River (only during the monsoon) and the Tillari River Gorge (October to April) just north of the state border. For 14-year-olds and above, this is decidedly one of the most fun things in Goa.
Preternaturally calm marine engineer and naturalist Ajey Patil is widely considered India’s best SSI and PADI-certified diving instructor, and is especially effective with children and teens. His diveshop and training centre focusses on personalised attention and small groups, with no compromise on equipment and safety. One of his specialities is overnight trips to Netrani, the island 200-odd km south of Goa, which is considered one of the best diving locations off the coast of India.
Casa Museu Figueiredo
The most extraordinary living document of the heyday of Goa’s aristocratic gentry is the palazzo of the Figueiredo family in South Goa’s Loutolim. Still a family home, but now also a museum, it displays exquisite taste: magnificent furniture, porcelain, draperies, artwork, libraries. Best of all, if you call in advance, the regal octogenarian Dona Maria de Lourdes de Figueiredo de Albuquerque will prepare a Luso-Indian lunch to be served in her family dining room.
Tiny Goa has had an outsized impact on modern Indian art. Francis Newton Souza and Vasudeo Gaitonde were key figures in the Progressive Artists Movement. Angelo da Fonseca was a Santiniketan exemplar. But before them all was Antonio X. Trindade, a star faculty member at JJ School of Art in Bombay, whose portraits earned him the title ‘Rembrandt of India.’ See many of his best works in the heart of Panjim’s Latin Quarter. Fundação Oriente, Fontainhas.