Friday, 15 February 2013

Road Trip to North Goa...!!!

For long time I was waiting for my next scuba dive (first dive in Goa). Our wedding anniversary gives us an opportunity to go to Goa which was our next destination and dive site. We were actually planning Goa trip for 9 days but due to office workload we had to manage our trip in 5 days only. Rather than covering entire Goa (As per our old plan) we decided to visit only North part of Goa by our own Car.

Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church
Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church
About North Goa:
           North Goa covers the northern half of the state of Goa state. It is also considered as “Tourist Paradise". Goa is famous for magnificent scenic beauty, churches, temples, Old houses, Beautiful golden sand beaches and vibrant culture. It has it all, from the heady party scene of the buzzing North Goa to the absolute calm of the deserted south Goa beaches.
          The Indian epic Mahabharata refers to the area now known as Goa, as Goparashtra or Govarashtra which means a nation of cowherds.With the rule of the Portuguese for over 450 years and the consequential influence of the Latin culture, Goa presents a somewhat different picture to the foreign visitor than any other part of the country. History of Goa has undergone continual transformation, leaving an indelible impression of its cultural and socio-economic development.

Dona Paula
Dona Paula


           North Goa is colorful and festive all throughout the year. In fact this is the side of Goa that draws in the tourists year after year. Best way to reach North Goa from Pune is, Pune – NH 4 – Kolhapur – Nipani (Karnataka state) – Sankeshwar (Karnataka state) – Gadhinglaj (Maharashtra state) – Amboli ghat – Sawantwadi -  Banda (Maharashtra-Goa border) – Take right turn at Mapusa – road goes towards Calangute, Baga and to other North Goa destinations.
           You can also have shortcut after taking right turn after Nipani on NH 4 (from hotel Kaveri) but road condition (Nipani – Aajara –Amboli) is very rough & poor. Sankeshwar – Gadhinglaj road is 10-14 km long cut but road is wide and smooth (as of year Feb 2013).
           From Mumbai, you can catch North Goa by NH 17 (Mumbai – Goa national highway).  There are number of bus/train/flight services from Pune/Mumbai to reach in State of Goa
Travelers for this trip were me and my wife Renuka.

Day 0: 8th Feb, 13 Pune - Kolhapur: (Total Distance traveled: 235 km):
            As we didn’t want to spoil whole Saturday only in journey, we decided to have split journey. Our halt was in Kolhapur at Renuka’s relatives. We left Pune at around 7:30 pm after finishing our office work. We took our dinner at National Dhaba (Just after Khambatki Ghat). You must try Egg Burji & omelet on Dhaba (cook name: Mohammad Ali Kadri).
            Traffic on highway was negligible so we easily able to cover distance within 3.5 hours. Tomorrow we decided to leave Kolhapur by 5.15-5.30 am.

  • Car petrol: INR 3000/- (Approx. 42 Liter at INR 74.18/lit)
  • Toll on NH-4 (Khed-Shivapur): INR 70/- one way entry
  • Toll on NH-4 (Anewadi): INR 60/- one way entry
  • Toll on NH-4 (Taswade + Kini): INR 124/- one way (You can pay for both toll at Taswade)
  • Dinner: INR 140/- for both (Egg Burji + Omelet + coffee)

Day 1: 9th Feb, 13 Kolhapur - Baga: (Total Distance traveled: 215 km):
           We left Kolhapur at around 6 am after breakfast at relatives place. Now my car’s control was in Renuka’s hand. I was aware that Nipani-Aajara road is in bad condition so we took different route which was 10-14km extra than Aajara road. But Sankeshwar – Gadhinglaj road was wide and smooth enough to save our journey time. As we left early morning, we able to cover maximum distance without facing any traffic issues.  We took pit stop at the top of Amboli ghat and then moved ahead for Goa.
           After driving for around 5 hours (Including small halts), we reached Baga by 11 am. We made our booking at Arpora in AC luxury studio apartment but that booking was from the next day.  So, we had to look around for room tonight. We were searching for good/decent hotel for around hour and most of the hotels were sold out. Finally we got 1 decent room at casa Nelar guest house near Tito’s club. After getting fresh, we went out for Lunch.
           We had our tasty lunch at De Baga Deck restaurant. As we both are non-alcoholic and vegetarian (but I am sea food lover), we ordered Kabab’s, Chinese and cold drinks. We were in Goa during peak season plus Carnival 2013 so North Goa was flooded with all types of tourists. It was my 3rd visit to Goa but Renuka’s 1st visit. She was feeling like we were not in India by looking at massive tourist count.
            It was a harsh afternoon so we decided to have rest in hotel.  After nice power nap, we went out for our first destination i.e. Chapora Fort. After asking for fort address to many people, finally we reached the base. Fort is built on small hill having steep slopes on all side. The fort played an important role in history to defend attacks on Portuguese from Marathas. After small hike, we reached on the top of the fort. There is no fortification left as such but it offers you wonderful aerial view of Vagator beach. Fort came in limelight due to shooting of famous Bollywood movie “Dilchahatahai”. But we were not able to spot the exact location where Actor Amir Khan tells great philosophy about friendship.

Vagator Beach from Chapora Fort
Vagator Beach from Chapora Fort

Chapora fort Gate
Chapora fort Gate

            After fort visit, we went on Vagator beach. From the top Vagator looks amazing with the cliffs on one side and the shore on the other. The beach is split into 2 commonly called as the Big Vagator and the Little Vagator by the rocky cliff. It is a small and beautiful beach, less crowded than other beaches. We spent quality time on beach and saw lovely sunset over the sea. We gave call to Ajay Patil (owner of Dive Goa) and booked our seats for 12-Feb for our next dive. We wanted to celebrate our first anniversary with scuba dive. There were a few beach shacks available but we didn’t had food so cannot recommend any.

Vagator Beach
Vagator Beach

            By 7 in clock, we headed towards Arpora Saturday night Bazar. We heard a lot about this and we don’t want to miss. This market is held from Nov to Feb on every Saturday. It starts at 7 pm and ends at around 3 in midnight. We got space for car parking opposite to Chauranginath temple. It is very difficult to find car parking space after 8 pm. When we entered in market, we feel like entering into different world. Too many shopping stalls, food stalls, drinks, live music show and many more.  We easily spent more than 2 hours just by walking here and there in market. We were hardly able to spot any Indian tourist among the crowd. We were surprised how come Indian tourists missed this place. This place was truly amazing. Shopping wise definitely this place is too costly so your bargaining skill plays very vital role here.

Arpora Saturday night Bazar
vibrant Saturday night Bazar

Saturday night Bazar

Live music at S'day Bazar
BBQ Red Snapper

           After spending 3 hours in market, we went for walk in Tito’s lane. Entry fee including liquor in pubs was around INR 1500/- for couple but as we are non-alcoholic, we skipped our club/pub plan. We had our dinner at Souza Lobo on Calangute beach. I had tasty Red snapper fish and it was worth the price. We came to our hotel by 2 in mid-night.


Ready to eat!

  • Toll on NH-4 (Kognoli): INR 30/-one way entry
  • Parking at Baga: INR 40/- for Car
  • Lunch at Baga: INR 370/- (Kababs, Chinese etc.)
  • Parking at Vagator: INR 50/- for Car
  • Hotel room: INR 1200/- for 1 night
  • BBQ Red Snapper for Dinner: INR 800/-

Day 2: 10th Feb, 13 Baga – Arpora & Anjuna:
            We were tired due to yesterday’s driving and hectic day. We woke up by 10:30 am and then we checked-out from hotel by noon. We drove towards Arpora to check-in in our studio apartment. Owner of apartment is Capt. Deshpande. We loved this AC studio apartment; it had fully working kitchen, washing machine, microwave, and freezer, sit out area and lovely swimming pool. There were around 20-22 bungalows and apartments in the Rivera property.

Studio apartment

Swimming Pool

           To avoid harsh sun, we cooked pasta and had tasty homemade food for lunch. It was difficult for us to resist by entering into swimming pool. We spend most the noon time in the pool. For evening we decided to visit Anjuna Beach for sunset. It was hardly 5-10 min drive from our room. We enjoyed our time at Anjuna beach. It’s a lovely small beach. Lots of shacks welcome you with smile. If you get bored of sea and food shacks then there are lots of shopping stalls to shop cloths with vibrant color and style. Personally I like Vagator and Anjuna beach over Baga and Calangute beach. You can catch sunset over the sea with drinks (as per your choice) in hand. We found sea quite rough in north Goa so better to take care while swimming in the sea. After enjoying swimming in sea, we headed back to our room.

Cooking time!

Sun set at Anjuna

Anjuna Beach

            We took some rest and then went on Baga beach for our Dinner. We heard about Britto's and St. Anthony shacks. Somehow my wife was not happy by looking at Britto’s menu card for vegetarian options and we had dinner at St. Anthony. Food was good. North Goa became alive in the night and you can feel the vibrant atmosphere.

  • Parking at Anjuna: INR 50/- for Car
  • Parking at Baga: INR 40/- for Car
  • BBQ King Fish: INR 600/- (full king fish a.k.s. Surmai Fish in India)
  • Dinner at St. Anthony shack: INR 320/- (Panjabi, Roti etc)

Day 3: 11th Feb, 13 Panji & Old Goa:
            Today we decided to visit Panji city & churches, temple from Old Goa. We left room by 8:30 after homemade breakfast cooked by me. Driving to Panji or in any part of north Goa is relatively easy as you have direction markers everywhere on the road. We reached Panji after 40-45 min drive. Bridge over Mandovi river acts as entrance gate for Panji city. Portuguese style buildings in Panji give you different feel while driving in city.
           We decided to visit old Goa first and then to visit Panji city in the evening. The road from Panji to old Goa is very beautiful as you drive along the Mandovi River to your left. After 10-12km drive, we reached in old Goa at Basilica of Bom Jesus church. This church was built by the Portuguese in the 16th century. The basilica holds the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier. This church looks beautiful from inside and gives you a peaceful atmosphere. If you are truly interested in church history then better to hire a guide which is easily available in church premise. There is a small art gallery showcasing master painting pieces which tells you different stories.

Basilica of Bom Jesus church
Basilica of Bom Jesus church

Basilica of Bom Jesus church

          We also visited Se cathedral, Church of St Catherine which is just opposite to Basilica of Bom Jesuschurch. It’s a massive solid white colored Church of St Catherine. This place is well maintained compare to other churches from old Goa. To have a look of both churches, you need around 3 hour’s timespan.  We also saw Church of Saint Cajetao& then moved ahead to visit temples. Do not visit old Goa on Sunday as all churches are closed.

Church of St Catherine
Church of St Catherine

              After 14km drive, we reach at Mangueshi Temple. The temple is dedicated to Bhagavan Mangueshi, an incarnation of Shiva.  He is a kuldevta of many Hindus in Goa especially of Saraswat Brahmins.Temple is beautifully constructed and most frequently visited temples in Goa. A Temple premise is clean and maintain by the staff. Woman’s wearing shorts and any other cloths above knees are not allowed to enter in temple. There are lots of fruit dish stalls offers you fresh fruits at very nominal prices. Definitely do not to miss healthy food.

Mangueshi Temple

             Within 1 km there is another temple name “Mahalsa Narayani”. It is a grand temple and very peaceful surrounding. Unfortunately temple has recently banned entry of foreigners into the temple. We had Mahaprasad in temple and then left for next destination. On few km drives, there is another temple named “Shanta Durga Temple”. This avatar of Shree Jagdamba Devi which had come to make peace (Shanti) between Shree Vishnu and Shree Shiva came to be known as Shree Shanta Durga Devi. We were little bit tired due to hot weather and now it’s time to move back to Panji city.
             We were around 32km away from city and after 45 min drive, we reached in Panji city. We had coffee at CCD near Miramar beach and meet to our scuba dive instructors/owner of Dive Goa, Ajay Patil. He briefs us about tomorrow’s dive plan and we told him our dive history. We decided to skip the pool training secession as we were aware of all dive tetchiness. Our dive instructor for tomorrow will be Nigel Adamms (He is from UK).
               After discussion on dive we went on Miramar beach. This is a local beach for Panji. Local do visit this beach in evening for walk and to play beach games. As beach was too sandy, this made us difficult to walk on it with shoes. Evening barefoot stroll on beach during sunset was wonderful experience. Cold sea water touching our feet’s makes you feel fresh. As sun dives into sea, we went for heritage walk and to see Panji city church (A.K.S. Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception).

Miramar Beach

            As we covered most of the tourist places, we went back to our rooms after 8 and had dinner in room. Again I was the chef for dinner and menu was different egg dishes and Chinese soup. Once we were finished with the dinner, we went on Baga beach to celebrate out first wedding anniversary with small cake. This was surprise to Renuka and we cut the cake at 12 midnight.

Day 4: 12th Feb, 13 Scuba Dive & Dinner at Thalassa:
              As we had to reach to Dona Paula before 8:30 am, we went in Dive center and met our dive masters Ajay & Nigel. We were total 6 dives for today’s dive trip. Couple from Delhi for their first dive, two members from UK on their 10th Dive (they are certified dives) and we at our 4th Dive.
             For the first time, here we learned how to do all set up like how to fix oxygen cylinder to harness, how to connect regulator and remaining set up. We took our gears and kept them in boat. We did 4 dives but never got a chance to learn how to set up all equipment to how to clean after dive. Even this was not a part of our dive but as we showed interest to learn these things, they trained us.

Dive instructors from L to R: Nigel Adamms & Ajay Patil

            We left jetty by 9 am and after 1 hour journey we reached to Grand Island. During journey, we discussed a lot about dive, dive site & certification etc. Our dive was to be on Goa’s most popular dive site, the wreck of the SS Rita. This 130m long steam ship sunk in the 1950s after striking rocks off Grande Island. She broke in two, with the stern section remaining near the rocks, whiles the bow and mid-section of the ship drifted quite a distance before sinking in a cove off Grande Island.

Grand Island

Dive site: Grand Island

             We were last members to dive. When we were going down in water, my mask was making me uncomfortable. After 2 failed attempts, I changed my mask and then we went down slowly. Renuka was confident whereas I was bit nervous initially due to 2 failure attempts because of masks. This time we didn't wear wet suit as water was quite warn. After few min my confidence level boosted up and we reached at the base. Slowly we swimed towards SS Rita ship. Oh my god!!! This was our best moment when we saw sunken ship infant of us. The marine life on the wreck was quite impressive. We saw Red Tailed Butterfly fish, school of Striped Grunt on ship deck, Blue Ringed Angelfish, Schooling Bannerfish, A school of Hatchet Fish, Spotted Scat, snapper, Blue Lined Grouper, Parrotfish and spotted Grouper. We spent some time on ship deck and observed fish activity for longer time. One Grouper approached towards us many times which was bit scary & interesting. He wanted to convey us like this is my territory. I think, Dive instructor Nigel Adamms became confident on our dive skills that’s why we were roaming around SS Rita for longer time (Obliviously with him). We spend around 40 to 50 Min inside water and overall experience was simply amazing.


It's me...

Renu's scuba dive


Going down slowly with the help of rope

Watching school of fishes at SS Rita ship

Fish around SS Rita ship. from top left: Striped Grunt, plate corals. From bottom left  Grouper & Red tailed  butterfly fish

SS Rita ship

With our Dive instructor Nigel Adamms

             After Dives, our return journey begins for Jetty. Ride was quite shaky due to waves. To our surprises when we reached the center, Ashwini (Ajay’s wife) brought a cake for us and we all celebrated our anniversary by cutting yummy chocolate cake. Scuba dive and then celebration – it was a really wonderful time in Goa. Others left after some time but we (Me, Renuka, Ajay – ashwini & Nigel) spent some time in center. Nigel Adamms suggested us a restaurant for dinner. We promised to join them soon for our next dive, probably at Netrani Island. Thanks Dive Goa for wonderful time.

Our Anniversary celebration. Thanks to Dive Goa

             We were hungry so ate some chaat near Miramar beach and then went to our apartment. We took must needed rest and got ready for dinner. Our destination for dinner was restaurant Thalassa, a Greek restaurant at Vagator. Atmosphere was romantic and location was simply great. When I ordered cake, they asked me the reason and when I told the occasion they offered us nice mild cocktail. We celebrated our dive & Anniversary with sea food and cocktail. It was perfect Day for us.

  • Scuba Dive: INR 4000/- per person.
  • Car Petrol: INR 2300/- (42 Lit at INR 55.20 per lit)
  • Dinner at Thalassa: INR 1000/- for both

Day 5: 13th Feb, 13 shopping at Baga, Anjuna and return journey:
            We spent entire morning in the apartment and enjoyed time in swimming pool. After packing we left apartment by 11:30 am. We enjoyed our stay in this studio apartment. We did some shopping at Baga and then headed towards Anjuna Flea market. In flea market you will find all kinds of stalls. We spent some time here but didn't purchase any items. Nothing special as such about this market as all items from different shops is easily available throughout the north Goa and that to on same prices. All items are too costly and you need to bargain a lot. There are shacks near beach side which plays live music. We had Lunch at Anjuna and then we left Goa by 5 in the evening.

With our apartment friend...Mr Black cat!

Anjuna Flea market

Flea market

              It was too late for us to leave Goa. We decided to take halt at Kolhapur. When we reach at Amboli ghat, it was dark. Ghat section and further road was too lonely. Somehow I drove car too fast to cover maximum distance. My advice is - avoid ghat section after sunset if you are traveling alone/couple or in small group. We reached Kolhapur by 10 pm.

  • Studio apartment Rent: INR 4000/- for 4 days.(We got at discounted price bcos Capt Deshpande is our close family friend)
  • Parking at W'day Flea market, Anjuna: INR 20/- for Car.
  • Snacks at Amboli Ghat: INR 60/- for Vada pav & coffee
  • Toll on NH-4 (Kognoli): INR 30/-one way entry

Day 6: 14th Feb, 13 Kolhapur to Pune: (Total Distance traveled in trip: approx. 1300km):
             We left Kolhapur by 5 am and reached home safely by via NH-4 route by 9 am.It was truly stress–relieving trip.
  • Toll on NH-4 (Khed-Shivapur): INR 70/- one way entry
  • Toll on NH-4 (Anewadi): INR 60/- one way entry
  • Toll on NH-4 (Taswade + Kini): INR 124/- one way (You can pay for both toll at Taswade)
Places which we miss in North Goa due to lack of Time:
  1. Ashwem Beach
  2. Candolim Beach
  3. Arambol Beach
  4. Calangute beach for water sports
  5. Aguada fort
Contact numbers for your reference:
  1. Scuba Diving: Dive Goa (Ashwini: 09325030110; Ajay: 093250300109) Website: http://divegoa.com
  2. Vineet Deshpande for studio apartment: 07875816100.
I heard a lot about South Goa which is full of nature beauty and that part is now on my travel radar. I will try to upload more and more travel blogs. Thanks for reading this Travel Blog.
 Pritesh Kulkarni
Pune


42 comments:

  1. Awesome trip ….I really envy this guy …..lives life to fullest - Sunil (Cybage )

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    1. Thank you for your valuable comment.

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  2. As usual….Fabulous Goa trip 

    Thanks for virtual ‘Road Trip to North Goa’ through your nice blog.

    Really,each & every detail in the blog is much helpful for those who are planning for certain trip.

    Keep continue travelling n nice blogging! 

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your valuable comment.

      Delete
  3. Great blog and photos, thanks for sharing

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your valuable comment.

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  4. Finally got the link, very good my friend, it was great to dive with you two, hope to see you again :-) xxx

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  5. very nice to read ur blog im eagerly waiting for ur next blog thanks

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    1. Thank you for your valuable comment.

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  6. awesome ...the read was enjoyable and informative too...
    great yaar u travel so much...i would love to travel wid u both sometime :)
    keep on the good work buddy...
    cheers!!!!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. hi i enjoyed your goa blog

    my goa blog is here , hope you enjoy too ;-)

    tharobster.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow... very detail blog...I like ur all most all blogs on Goa.
      Happy traveling...!!!

      Delete
  8. I have visited Goa for official work and not like this. This will be definately useful when we will visit to enjoy Goa. It is really difficult to enjoy as well to keep record of everything. This you have achieved in great extend. You both have celebrated Marriage Anniversary in real cense. Waiting for your Raigarh blog.-GP Ghospurkar

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    Replies
    1. Thank You very much...Ya will post my next blog on Rajgad soon

      Delete
  9. Nice blog Pritesh ... i have visited Goa but I wil visit it once again for scuba div for surly ... Madhavi

    ReplyDelete
  10. Awsm Trip.Thanx for sharing your experience with us to Goa through this blog.I also want to share this site which is really very good for budget packages http://www.traveldealsfinder.com/india/goa

    ReplyDelete
  11. hi i wolud like to appriciate your above post that was such a awosome one thanks LTC Package

    ReplyDelete
  12. Visiting Goa is a must for every traveler in India and abroad. Goa Tourism has multitude of attractions. Churches definitely count amongst the most interesting places to visit in Goa.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Awesome photography, Nice details i have been for Goa for couple of days nice holiday spot thanks for the details
    cab services chennai
    http://elitecharters.in/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Vignesh....Happy traveling...!!!

      Delete
  14. very intresting and funnny joyful photos and article u have shared. thank

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks ....Happy traveling...!!!

      Delete
  15. Nice and informational post I must say, you have shared a very much helpful blog with all that is going to help in planning a better tour for them. Thanks and keeps sharing.

    Accommodation in Goa

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thanks Aditi....Happy traveling...!!!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thanks for sharing the post..
    Nice place to seems in goa. There are many churches, temples and monuments in the city and along the Colva and Benaulim beach.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, that true... Very rich state for churches, temples and monuments in the city along with beaches.
      Happy traveling

      Delete
  18. I read your blog. Such a great information.Read more about Goa here

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Rohit for your comment.
      Happy traveling

      Delete
  19. I read your blog. Such a great information. If you wants to enjoy in Agra then come with us and get Taj Mahal Tours.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Prince Raj
      Happy traveling

      Delete
  20. Thanks for sharing such inforamtion , lovely blog, please share more blogs about goa
    Find more information about
    Goa here

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Manav
      Happy traveling

      Delete
  21. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment... Please I request you to avoid an advertisement on blog by sharing any links.
      Thanks and Happy traveling...

      Delete
  22. Hi,
    In case you've received my email please get in touch with me.
    Regards,
    Sanya

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hi Pritesh,
    We are planning to launch an e-Goa guide and we are looking for writers and bloggers, in case this interests you, please get back to me.
    Regards,
    Sanya

    ReplyDelete
  24. Goa is a beautiful city , thanks for sharing you personal experience with us . These pictures are really beautiful . Goa Tour Packages

    ReplyDelete
  25. I’m glad to your BlogSpot information of Goa is a small state India but it is very beautiful, where you can explore its beaches, churches, ancient buildings and local markets. In Goa you will taste the best goa foods in the hotels and stay in the ideal resort to enjoy your vacations. You will avail the package by Shine India trip and enjoy the trip. Goa Honeymoon Tour Package

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hi there,
    I regularly read your travel blogs and you do write it very well indeed.
    I just wanted to ask you one question, can anyone manage to have one day trip to Goa from Tarkarli ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks a lot....Check your mailbox for my e-mail.
      Happy Traveling...!!

      Delete
  27. hi, I like your blog, we are also going to goa between 23.12.2014 to 26.12.2014. Pl.give us detail of good house on per day rent basis.

    vivek

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello,
      Dec is peak time in Goa so little bit difficult to search stay option. i will suggest to you check on Google for hotesl / lodge.

      Happy travelling.

      Delete