Despite the blue waters, swaying palms and sea breeze, Vasco da Gama doesn’t inspire one to laze around and drink in the views. This is a city on the move, with none of that laidback sussegad of Panjim or Mapusa. Because it is home to Dabolim Airport, Mormugao Port and Goa’s biggest naval base, it is home to people from across India, which makes it a true metropolis.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

Vasco is a planned city with a geometric road network with two main avenues and perpendicular roads. The municipal garden, built by the Portuguese, is pretty, lush, well-maintained and in the heart of the city, like in most of Goa’s big cities.

Pilot Point

The Mormugao Port Trust Road goes uphill to an open space with benches and a concrete deck. This is Pilot Point, which affords a magnificent view of the core of this port city, the bustling Mormugao Harbour. If you visit Pilot Point during the monsoons, watch your step since the mossy floor can be slippery.

Naval Aviation Museum

This museum (Tel: 08322585525), on the road to Bogmalo adjoining INS Hansa, is the only one of its kind in India. The museum, set against the backdrop of the picturesque Bogmalo Beach, has displays of various kinds of aircraft and weapons systems that the Indian naval air arm, which is headquartered in Goa, has operated. The armament room houses different bombs used against surface targets and torpedoes that target submarines. The safety equipment room displays the pilot flying gear in entirety, complete with an ejection seat. There are models and rare photographs of the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971.

Courtesy the HQ
Sushi at The HQ
Sushi at The HQ

The Archive Hall houses a large model of the ship INS Viraat. It also showcases some rare photographs of Indian naval action during the war in Bangladesh in l971.

Among the most interesting displays here are a Super Constellation and a Sea Hawk with folding wings. The most interesting is the virtual reality centre, which offers flight simulator video games and a Sea Harrier cockpit model simulator. And finally is a place of weapons of death and destruction, the surprising Meditation Room.

Entry 20 Timings 9.30am5.00pm, Closed Mondays Photography 20 Videography 50

WHERE TO STAY

The 3-star Hotel La Paz Gardens (Tel: 08322512121; Tariff: 3,600-5,900) is the grande dame of hotels in Vasco da Gama, with large, elegant and clean rooms. The HQ (Tel: 2500015-18: Tariff: 5000-10,000) offers 4-star comforts. The Karma Plaza Hotel (Tel: 2518928; Tariff: 1,370-1,714) has everything – a 24-hour coffee shop, a restaurant and a business centre. The Citadel (Tel: 2512222; Tariff: 2,000-2,500) on Padre Jose Vaz Road has well appointed rooms.

The lower budget hotels include Hotel Annapurna (Tel: 2513375, 2513715; Tariff: 750-1,650) on DD Deshpande Road, Westend Hotel (Tel: 2512689; Tariff: 630-1,260) opposite Hotel Annapurna, and Hotel Nagina (Tel: 6551319; Tariff: 600-1,200), a few metres down the same road.

Vasco has several restaurants that serve non-Goan cuisine. Annapurna Restaurant on DD Deshpande Road is popular for vegetarian food, as is Meghdoot in Colaco Building on Swatantra Path. Try pao bhaji at the latter. Biryani and fish curry rice are the best bets at Royal Durbar in Indira Niwas. Don’t miss a meal at Anant Ashram near the Municipal Gardens. Anant Ashram also has the City Shack garden restaurant.

Amongst the hotels, The HQ has Z-Rooftop Lounge Bar and Grill; Ori for Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indonesian and Vietnamese cuisine; Grapewine for international cuisine and Pleasure Pie Cakes & Coffee for cakes and breads. Karma Plaza has Temptation, a 24-hour food and snack bar. La Paz has The Regency, which serves Continental, Indian and Goan food, Sweet-N-Sour has Chinese and Goodyland serves fast food.

When to go Late October-February Location Vasco da Gama is on the western tip of the Mormugao Peninsula in Mormugao Taluka in South Goa Air Nearest airport: Dabolim Rail Nearest rail: Vasco

THE INFORMATION

Tourist Offices

Department of Tourism

1st Floor, Paryatan Bhawan

Patto Plaza, Panjim, Goa

Tel: 0832-2494200

W goatoursim.gov.in

Central Reservations Office

GTDCL, 2nd Floor, Paryatan Bhawan

Patto Plaza, Panjim, Goa

Tel: 2437701, 2438002-03, 2438866

GTDCL

Facilitation Counter

Goa Airport, Dabolim

Tel: 2540829, 2540031

W goa-tourism.com

GTDCL

Opposite Municipal Garden

Madgaon. Tel: 2715528, 2715096

GTDCL

Mapusa Residency

Near bus stand

Calangute – Mapusa Raod

Mapusa

Tel: 2262794/ 694

GTDCL

Vasco Residency

Near Railway Station

Vasco

Tel: 251319, 2511002

Mollem NP

Deputy Conservator of Forests

Wildlife and Eco-Tourism, Panjim

Tel: 0832-2229701

W forest.goa.gov.in

STD Code 0832