South GoaFor many years, North Goa played prima donna, stealing the show from the relatively unassuming South. She flaunted The Strip – from Arambol to Vagator – and drew sun-seekers to her glorious beaches from all over the globe. Now her south sister is catching up. With tourist infrastructure fast developing in South Goa, visitors are discovering the charms of this tiny state all over again. But, hurry, because the party on this side of the Zuari has already begun!
With the North still being Goa’s pleasure centre, South Goa is more popular with families, honeymooners, and spa and premium travellers because this is where you find the luxury resorts. But don’t get us wrong. Taking a leaf out of North Goa’s book, South Goa also boasts accommodation to suit all types of budgets and you can comfortably drop anchor anywhere along the 25-km-long coastal stretch.
Apart from white sands, stunning sunsets and waving coconut palms, there’s a lot more to the south-side story. Traditional bazaars, sleepy hamlets, ancient Goan villas, ruined forts and sumptuous local cuisine promise to make your vacation a memorable one.
Journey Back In Time
Surrounded by paddy fields and plantain groves, Margao is the capital of South Goa. It is a cosmopolitan city and doesn’t offer holidaymakers very much. But a half-hour drive from Margaon is Palacio do Deão, a splendid 200-year Portuguese mansion in Quepem on the banks of the wildly beautiful Kushavati River. Built by a Portuguese clergyman, who was also the founder of Quepem town, the mansion exhibits an unusual blend of Hindu and Portuguese architecture. Its gardens are known as ‘the most beautiful pleasure gardens in Goa’. The mansion has been magnificently restored and you can take a walking tour of the estate topped by a delicious Indo-Portuguese meal. But let them know you’re coming in advance!
In different directions, the villages of Loutolim and Chandor are studded with ageing Portuguese homes, most of them empty, and driving around the countryside is a nostalgic experience. Loutolim is among Goa's prettiest villages, with narrow village roads meandering through green fields and a thick canopy of trees. The spice gardens here are worth visiting.
If you’re up for another delicious slice of Goan-Portuguese architecture, get ready to be wowed by Brangaza House in nearby Chandor, another amazingly preserved Goan country house. This is a 400-year-old piece of living history, with each of the two wings still occupied by two branches of the Braganza family, the Menezes-Braganzas and the Braganza-Pereiras. A treasure-trove of period furniture and Chinese porcelain, this mansion will give you a glimpse into how the landed gentry in Goa once lived. Again, give the family a heads-up before you turn up.