Goa is known for its beaches, churches, temples and the carnival among other things. But, the state also has a beautiful countryside that is never explored by tourists. For starters, the structure of an average Goan village is lined with huge Portuguese style villas that will simple leave you in awe. A large percentage of Goans work and stay abroad. So, more often than not, you will find just one or two people staying in these massive residences. Therefore, finding someone who can rent out a room in one of these houses is not difficult. In fact, several people have already put up their houses on rent on websites such as Airbnb. Many of the people, who don’t plan to return back to Goa, have even sold their houses to foreigners.
The village life
Once, you have settled into a village house for your Goan sojourn, there are some things you have to keep in mind. Life here starts very early in the morning and by 8pm, the streets are completely deserted. But, if you are keen on having a late night out, you can always visit the nearest city, which won’t be more than an hour’s drive, considering Goa is a small state. Also, it’s imperative that you have a vehicle handy. Most villages are connected to cities by private buses, which also end services very early in the evening. So, if you are on a tight budget, you can always avail of this mode of transport, which is even used by foreigners, who visit the state.
A village life also entails eating what’s cooked around you. As the day breaks, you will be woken up by the honking sound of a Poder (a traditional baker), who comes on a cycle. In Goa, local bread is sold this way. One should try the Poee, a bread variety that was first introduced by the Portuguese. You will also find small joints selling food in most Goan villages. But, since these eateries cater to a limited crowd, you should reach there early before their preparations are sold out. So, for breakfast, you should reach the eatery before 9am. These local restaurants also serve very limited dishes, but the authentic food is bound to leave a lasting impression on your taste buds. One should try a local specialty called the Bon, a sweet, deep fried bread. Other than in Goa, you will find the Bon only in Mangalore, where it’s called Mangalore Bun. You will also find different versions of Mumbai’s Batata Bhaji called Kaapa and Mirchi.
A different side
Though Kerala is known for its backwaters, Goa also has a vast network of backwaters that runs through many villages. This is another aspect of Goa which is not promoted because the focus is on beach tourism. Fishing is a major industry in Goa, and in villages, you will find fish in large quantities in the backwaters. So, you can either go fishing on the banks of the backwaters or just chill there in the daytime. In the night-time, with the help of a villager, you can also experience how fish is caught using Chinese nets at the backwaters.
A Goan village market could be another attraction. Here you will get the freshest fish catch as well as vegetables. Another must-visit place is the Banastarim Market, which is held every Friday. Here you can buy dry fish, dry chillies and different varieties of mangoes during the monsoons.
Another village attraction that you shouldn’t miss if you are in Goa between February and May is a cashew orchard. Goa has a thick forest cover, and villages are usually based on its periphery. Cashew plantations are part of these forests. During the cashew season, farmers guard the plantation 24/7. So, help is always at hand. But, always take a local along because these forests are dense and you can easily get lost. Once, inside, you can find out how the fruit is separated from the nut, crushed, the juice collected and fermented. The fermented juice is distilled, first to make urrack, and then feni. Following a hectic day, you may next prefer to relax. Many churches in Goan villages are surrounded by open spaces that are used to stage tiatrs (Konkani plays), play football or to just chill in the evenings. You can always visit one of these spots. And, once the sun sets, the last thing you should do is visit a local tavern. And, if you are not drinking alcohol, try a local soft beverage, which will leave a lasting impressing on you because of its inimitable taste, long after you have left the state. So, in all, at the end of your stay, you will realise that Goa is just more than its sandy shores.