I was in Goa for Publishing Next conference and was staying at a retreat in Vainguinim Valley in Dona Paula area. Day 1, I went on a mini adventure to buy a book on walking tours of Goa that took me roughly 4 hours and involved hitchhiking, walking for about 3 km’s, riding a local bus and then riding a motorbike. Last day along with some fellow bibliophiles I went walking with this book in hand around the area. Dona Paula is a village and tourists area with a popular beach. It is named after a 17th CE affluent couple that lived here and who’s withering white statue stands on the rocks near the jetty.
Sunset View Point at Dona Paula, Goa
We started our walk in the rain by walking towards the Raj Bhavan, the residence of the Governor of Goa. You pass through the National Institute of Oceanography before reaching the tall guarded gates of Raj Bhavan. There is an old British cemetery that is located just outside the Raj Bhavan and has graves of British soldiers from early 19th CE. As it was raining heavily we could only see the entrance gate from a distance and could not enter the unpaved area.
Just a few steps ahead of a cemetery on the opposite side is a designated viewpoint. From here you can see the vast coastline and beach with small and big boats floating in the sea. The curved beach makes a pretty picture through the trees and electrical wires. This is one of those places where your eyes are very happy but your camera is not.
Usually, the entry to Raj Bhavan is restricted, but on a Sunday morning, it is open for those who want to visit the chapel inside for Sunday mass. As luck would have it, it was a Sunday morning, so we were allowed to go inside with strict instructions that no photography is allowed. A long walk through the long tree-lined avenues with many trees carrying a biographical board took us to the white chapel that stood almost at the corner from where all you could see is the sea. Inside this extremely well-maintained chapel, the mass was in progress and we sat through for some time, sang a few hymns with the choir and then went down to see the grotto.
The grotto is a small cave that belongs to St Paula who very conspicuously wears a pearl necklace over a gaudy blue dress. It is believed that any wish made here comes true. I have asked these wishes at so many places that even if a small percentage of them works I would be on top of the world.
As we were preparing for a long walk back to the main road, a gentleman offered us a ride back just like another one had offered us out from Vainguinim valley. I wondered why this is not prevalent in any other part of India that empty vehicles let other people join them. Maybe it is this trusting trait of the people of Goa that makes it so popular with the tourists. From the main road, we started walking towards the jetty.
On the way saw this very old church in white and blue that had again many people for the mass. I had visited this church after my book adventure. Spent some time inside the church where school kids were practicing a dance with umbrellas. They stopped to let me take pictures, but more than that it was fun to see them play with umbrellas.
Dona Paula Jetty
Jetty is a typical tourist place surrounded by tourist lodges, dirt roads, a row of vendors. Selling Goan T-shirts & other touristy materials and hawkers selling Kokam based drinks. There is a viewpoint that you can climb up to and walk around the Jetty. It is a one-time visit kind of place and even if you avoid, you will not miss much. There are some small beaches like Vainguinim, that are almost like private beaches. Though as far as I know there are no private beaches allowed in India. Try and visit one of them for a quiet evening or an early sunrise.
A quaint little place that will stand out in my mind for people who gave us lifts with a smile and totally trusted us for no reason. How you wish we could do this everywhere in India.
Recommend you read following travel blog on places to Visit in Goa.