It’s true to say that after just one day at the Alila Diwa Goa, we were in a very peaceful and almost sedated state, floating from our room to the pool, to the Bistro to the Beach. I’ve never felt so relaxed, but before we could slip into an all day snooze in the sun we made ourselves have a day out and actually experience the cultural landscape of Goa.
So, we dared to take a taxi and travel 40 mins away from our comfortable resort and boy we were thrown right into the hustle and bustle of daily Goan life! The drive was picturesque to say the least, each road dotted with painted houses, like sweets poking out through heavy green vegetation and the smells that wound down every road were heady and new. It was another world and one I very much wanted to stay in.
After some 45 minutes driving, pretty much in the middle of the road (it seems to be acceptable out there!) we arrived at Panjim around 11am and were thrown right into it. We were left to wander the beautiful and intriguing undercover markets that led you into the heart of the fruit & veg and flower stalls. Women & men lined each stall sitting crossed legged stitching flowers together into rainbow bouquets and necklaces, all entranced in their craft.
After passing by the many beautiful flower stalls, we regrouped outside where our transport awaited. The Tuk Tuk!
At first my heart was in my mouth, beating with nerves at the thought of putting my life in the hands of this fast moving, wobbling vehicle! But I actually loved darting around in our little Tuk Tuk! It nipped down the streets on Panjim, weaving through traffic and revealing all the sites that stood around us. The harbor, the buildings, the Churches and the Temples. We were told by our driver that the Goan population is split between 3 religions, the main being Hinduism and Christianity making up 95% of the population. With this in mind we were taken to some of the main religious sanctuaries in Panjim to see how these religions differed.
First stop was Altinho Hill, upon which stood a beautiful white church that has been the focal point of many a Bollywood film and now quite the tourist attraction.
The beautiful white stone setting was due to be flooded with people in a few days at the host of an annual feast held at the Church and for that reason, we couldn’t go inside, however the site of it from the outside was enough the excite our tourist needs.
Onto the next and we were back in our Tuk Tuk delving into the depths of the houses that surrounded Altinho. Another white stone church sat between houses, tucked away from the main road.
Chili’s had been set aside in silver pans, left to dry in the sun. Dogs roamed around happily as the locals sat, just watching as we passed by.
Tucked away in corners and off the road were elderly women, selling fruit and veg to passers by and without realising I managed to snap this picture.
Here these women really are the supermarkets of Altinho and they sit out all day tending to their stock. It’s a totally different way of life out here, there is no imposing media, no glaring digital hand book and everyone is happy and very very relaxed. There seemed to be no note of stress in the air just people, getting on with life peacefully.
There was something truly peaceful about their places of worship and there home streets, something resting and calm which couldn’t have been more apparent when we reached the high point of our journey.
We had reached a beautiful Hindu temple at one of the highest points in Panjim with a spectacular view that stretched out for miles, over the trees and houses snuggly set between them and the sky line of Panjim. The Temple itself was painted a burnt orange col our inside and out with white edges. Sat on the top step was a very old lady, just monitoring everyone and smiling as the passers by and those who had come for solace.
Everything was quite and warm. Each person that walked up the stone steps was silent in thought. We took off our shoes and joined them outside the Temple door where Hanuman, one of the India Gods was situated. Before entering the temple you had to pay your respects to the God by placing flowers on incense around him, before a short prayer.
I stood at the temple entrance looking out at the view and the place around me. My bare feet felt warm upon the stone floor and I thought to myself there is no way we could ever be this calm and civilized in the UK!
So maybe we should all try and take some time out of our day to just relax. Sit down, close your eyes and just stop thinking about anything and everything. Or better yet, book an adventure to Goa and experience it first hand!
Don’t miss out on the next installment…