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Museums, Wildlife & Ancient Caves: Goa Beyond Beaches & Shacks

Think that Goa is about beaches and little else? Well then, think again! The smallest state in India {at least in terms of area} sure can pack in a range of experiences. History lovers can explore museums, ancients caves, and architectural marvels, while nature enthusiasts can roam wild and free at Goa’s many sanctuaries and national parks. Bustling markets, verdant spice plantations, and waterfalls can also be part of your itinerary. LBB explores Goa to bring you experiences that ensure that you are more than just a beach bum when you next visit the holiday paradise. 

One of North Goa’s largest towns, Mapusa sure can show you what Goan life is all about! While flea markets at Anjuna and the likes are for tourists, the market at Mapusa attracts locals in large numbers. While there’s a market every day of the week {except on Sunday}, it is the lively one on Friday that you should watch out for. Roam the streets checking out fresh produce brought in by farmers, rows and rows of spices, and other knick knacks. The market is a great place to pick up strings of Goan sausages, homemade masalas of the Recheado, Xacuti, and Vindaloo kinds, and to snap up bargains on junk jewellery and souvenirs.  

Travel to the interiors of Ponda, to spend a quiet and relaxing day amidst lush, green plantations. Farms like Tropical Spice Plantation and Sahakari Spice Farm offer highly-rated tours. They showcase locally-grown spices, tropical fruit trees, cashew and betel nut trees. A traditional Goan lunch usually follows. And you can also while away time bird watching {Tropical Spice Plantation is home to over 70 species of birds} or bathing elephants at Sahakari Spice Farm. Both these farms are close to the Butterfly Conservatory {or Mystic Meadows as it locally known}. There, they have recreated a slice of tropical forest to allow more than 100 species of butterflies to roam freely.

Best visited from South Goa, Dudhsagar Falls, which sits on the Goa-Karnataka border, might take an entire day to cover but is so worth your time. There are many tour operators that offer day trips to Dudhsagar. It’s a bumpy ride to the falls and it’s unlikely your car will be able to handle it. Pile into jeeps and travel through small and big towns for a view of the splendid waterfalls. Plan your trip on a sunny day during the monsoon so that you can catch the waterfall in full force. You can also sign up a for a trekking trip around the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary {the falls are part of the sanctuary} before you stop by the falls.

Want to travel back in time and take a sneak peek into life in old Goa? Then, a trip to Chandor is a must. A short ride from Margao, Chandor is a tiny village that’s best known for its old-world Portuguese architecture that’s highlighted across its houses and churches. The star attraction here is the Menezes Braganza House, a 17th century mansion that looms over the town square. It has now been converted into a museum where you can marvel at all kinds of antiquities and treasures.