Rural Goa Drive
Have you been to Goa anytime during the off season? Typically, during the monsoon time, the tides in the beaches are so wild, that getting into the water is strictly prohibited. And obviously, most of the beach water sports are also not available! At this time, you can also observe that most of your favourite beach-side shacks would have disappeared! While some of the shacks may still exist, you may observe scantily populated beaches, which otherwise is very unusual at Goa. So what to do if you happen to visit Goa during that time? Whether you are aware or not, Goa has more attractions than just beaches, party and booze! You don’t agree? This post will take you through one of those offbeat things to do in Goa. A half a day ride into the rural side of Goa that can not only recharge you with Vitamin Green (yes, you can see a lot of greenery), but also takes you through some of those villages where you can feel that time has come to a stand-still. You can start your rural Goa drive from the famous landmark of Post Office at Panaji / Panjim, and ride over the Mandovi River bridge!
Panjim to Pomburpa
A few kilometers into the drive/ride, you can take a deviation from the highway towards the right that takes you to ‘Museum of Houses’. Museum of Houses is a unique museum of its kind which introduces you to the different styles and architectures of the houses built in this area over a period of time.
Museum of Houses
If you drive a little further from the Museum of Houses towards a small village called Pomburpa, you can really start appreciating the green beauty of Goa. The narrow road initially dwindles down through tall thick trees, and then later passes through one of the greenest agricultural fields that I have ever seen! The whole sight of the green cultivation, against the blue sky is so mesmerizing that I just fell in love with the place! It was so very different from the usual concrete jungle that I spend my daily routine life at! Breathing such a fresh unpolluted air was so refreshing! Moreover, with not a single soul around, the whole beauty was at my mercy! 🙂
Road next to River Mapusa
The road to Pomburpa runs next to River Mapusa. The road passes through several villages whose main earning comes from fishing in the river! On the other side of the river, you can observe thick tall trees located on the beautiful island called Chorao Island. The access to this island is through a ferry that can be taken from Ribander (midway between Panjim and Old Goa). The island also has variety of bird life. In fact, one section of the island also has Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary!
Road to Pomburpa
Aldona Cable Bridge
From Pomburpa, you can then drive towards Aldona, and further towards a secluded Corjuem Fort that is located near a small village with the same name. Historically, the fort has changed few hands, and it gained importance when it was under the Portuguese control, when the fort was used as a military school!
Beautiful Corjuem Fort
The square shaped fort was built using the locally found laterite stone, with bastions at each of the corners. From the bottom of the fort, at each corner, there is a ramp that takes you to the top of the wall, and to the bastion. The walls are thick, and has multiple holes that could be used to shoot the enemies! The bastions are connected directly through the walls, so soldiers could walk from one bastion/corner to the other without getting down the ramp.
Bastion at every corner
Wall of Corjuem Fort
Corjuem Fort also has an interesting legend of a brave female Portuguese traveller named Ursula e Lancastre. The legend dates back to the times when numerous restrictions were imposed on women, who were not even to get out of the house! The brave Ursula, who was obviously unhappy with all the restrictions, decided to travel the world by disguising and wearing men’s clothes. This was working out well for her until she joined as a soldier at Corjuem Fort. Unfortunately for her, she was identified after she was caught as a prisoner of war! Legend also has it that the captain whose army caught Ursula was so impressed with her bravery that instead of punishing, he decided to marry her!!
The fort today is totally abandoned. Though the walls of the fort and its internal ramps are intact, there is nothing much that can be seen here. From the top of the fort wall, you can get some beautiful and nice views of the village. The fort also has a small chapel inside it!
Mayem Lake / Maem Lake
After travelling back in time, it is time to get back to present, and continue the journey into the greens. From the Corjuem Fort, you can further drive towards Mayem Lake (or Maem Lake). The drive through this lake is, again, a narrow road with thick green trees on both sides of the road.
Road near Mayem Lake
Mayem Lake is a beautiful yet calm lake surrounded by greenery on all the sides. You can find a small shrine dedicated to Lord Taleshwar which is built on the lake. Next to the temple is a well maintained hotel that is run by the Goa Tourism board (GTDC). A walk through the paved pathways in the hotel premises will show you some of the best views of the lake. You can occasionally spot some abandoned paddle boats, which indicates that boating used to be organized here at some point. Perhaps the lack of “tourists” at this place made the organizers turn away from this idea!
Boating? No, not anymore!
GTDC Guest House on the banks of Mayem Lake
Taleshwar Temple on Mayem Lake
Reaching Diwar Island
After spending quality time at Mayem Lake, it is time to explore yet another route that can enrich you with more greenery! The drive from Mayem Lake to Diwar Island, is very exciting, as you drive through the narrow road amidst thick greenery. Suddenly you reach the banks of River Mandovi, and there is no road! If you wait there for few minutes, you can see a ferry coming towards you (or it may already be there when you arrive)! You just drive/ride your vehicle into the ferry, and within minutes, you would be on the other side of the river!!
Route from Mayem Lake to Diwar Island
Ferry to Diwar Island
Ferry, ferrying vehicles and people 🙂
Welcome to Diwar Island
Diwar Island is a small river island that is formed when River Mandovi forks on the eastern side of the island, and joins on the western side. The access to this island is only through ferries (one from Naroa, the one you took above), and the other from Old Goa. The island, as with the rest of the drive so far, is filled with greenery. There are few churches within the island, and few houses too. The island is very less populated, but is abundant with natural beauty. It is really an amazing experience to just ride through all the lanes within this island!
Roads in Diwar Island
The people living on this island are extra sweet and friendly! They live a very simple life. They comfortably engage you in the conversations, and are more willing to share their way of living! The natural beauty of the island, and the interaction with the locals would make you want to stay here always!!
Fields in the island
Ferry to Old Goa
The drive from the main market area of Diwar Island, to the ferry to Old Goa, is yet another addition to your green journey. You can see the thick grasslands on either side of the road. Imagine a straight road of 2 kms, with thick grassland on either side, and the blue sky!!
Road to Ferry to Old Goa
After you get down the ferry at Old Goa, you can visit the places that Old Goa is famous for! The churches! Old Goa was the ancient capital of the Portuguese. Numerous churches were built here in the Portuguese style, some still stand tall and vibrant! The churches of Old Goa would be a different post in itself, but until then, here are few glimpses of those!
Welcome to Old Goa
After you have visited the churches in Old Goa (detailed post on it soon), you can drive along River Mandovi to get back to the starting point, the post office at Panjim. If you are the one who would like to explore the unexplored, avoid the regular tourist hotspots, see the beauty in nature of any form, I would strongly recommend to drive/ride through this route! And if you already have, do let me know how you liked it! 🙂
Total Driving distance 55-60 km, plus few more to explore surrounding areas!