French Crepes, Old Chapels And Villa Living: Champakali Offers The Best of Culture And Goa


Velha Goa, Goa


Far away from the shacks and beaches of Goa, Champakali presents a slightly less frenetic pace of life and plenty of culture at its lovely location in Old Goa.

Rooms With A View

If the name Champakali {Hindi for frangipani} doesn’t intrigue you enough, then the two villas called Bamboo and Teak should. The three-bedroom villas have been constructed in consultation with an Goan architect by owners Bindu Sethi and her husband Bunty. The rooms here have bird names such as Bul Bul, Kabootar and Kauwa among others and are done up in colour schemes related to the birds. Every room has its own personality with tasteful furniture, eclectic knick-knacks and floor rugs — all done up by Bindu with help from Sanjaya Garg {a good friend} of Raw Mango.

The property is lined with teak and plenty of frangipani trees and slopes down to a lovely pool, with a handy massage room. Breakfast is served at the patio {should be perfect during monsoons}, and though there is no room service, the pantry is open for you to come and make your own tea, coffee or ask for a snack any time of the day.

Old Goan Charm

Located in Old Goa the cultural and religious hub, a dekho of the several iconic churches, basilicas and chapels is a must. After a big breakfast of freshly-baked Goan poi {brought to the table from the bakery down the lane} mopped up with Goan sausages and heavenly French crepes {you will go nuts over these} slathered with locally sourced honey or homemade jams, we set out for a walk up to the Chapel of Our Lady Of The Mount {see photo above}. Though not functional. it offers brilliant views of the Mandovi river, the Holy Hill and Old Goa — worth an uphill walk to see a sunset. We then walked down to Goa’s most iconic Basilica of Bom Jesus, and the Church of St Francis of Assisi Velha Goa.

Of Art And Museums

If visiting so many churches and chapels overwhelms you, head to the well-maintained Museum of Christian Arts, where if you can make an appointment {Champakali can arrange this} with curator Natasha Fernandes, who took us on a museum tour to show us how Indian influences affected the art and architecture found in several religious places in Goa. Across the museum lies the stately ruins of St Augustine, somewhat re-constructed by the Archaeological Survey Of India.

If your heart doesn’t sing at the thought being a culture vulture in Goa, Champakali will happily arrange a day at the beaches, where you can dine {La Plage in the north to Ze Bop By The Sea in the south}, relax and spend the day being a beach bum.

Since Panjim is a mere 9 kms away, you must go and stroll around the heritage Latin Quarters  of Panjim — Fontainhas area here you can look at lovely old houses, have a coffee at Hotel Venite and admire the colourful exteriors of Viva Panjim. A ride up the picturesque Altinho hills will lead you to Sunaparanta, Goa Centre For The Arts. Plus, you have access to Panjim’s buzzing food and drinks scene. The Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary and Diwar island are just a ferry away too.

Thalis, Crepes And More

We have already waxed eloquent about Champakali’s delicate crepes {the resident French manager Mathew has something to do with this apparently}. Champakali also does a good fish thali {the prawn curry is excellent} and grilled fish in banana leaves. Their coffee is single origin and served in a French Press, and their teas are fantastic {sourced from Mittal Teas in Delhi}. Do ask for a pot of Darjeeling to be served by the pool at dusk, served with dainty coconut cookies.

So, We’re Thinking…

Champakali is a great place to relax and kick back and its location is perfect to discover a side of Goa, which is usually given second preference to the beaches and the nightlife scene.

Price: INR 25,000 for an entire villa. A single room occupancy can be negotiated at the discretion of the owners.

Find the property on Airbnb here.

The writer was invited by Rare to Champakali, Goa.


Velha Goa, Goa