Goa’s 63 mile long coastline offers a long expanse of exotic beaches. The water is always lukewarm and the sand is soft to touch. The beach is studded with tiny sea shells and starfish. I found it best to enjoy the beaches early in the morning at dawn or around sunset because during the day time the heat is almost unbearable.
Unless you are staying at one of five star hotels don’t expect to find the shacks to be glamorous. Personally I loved their rustic beauty. I was never disappointed with the food and the amazing scenery for pennies on the dollar.
A local shack
I enjoyed going to the local market with my dad and we bought a variety of fruits like passion fruit, pineapple, kiwi, gooseberries, dragon fruit, raspberries and many more. The Goan soil is so fertile it is a haven for fruit and vegetable lovers. Goa grows bananas (sweet as sugar), papayas, coconuts, cashew, sugarcane, bamboo, rice, Pineapples, chilies, betel nuts and much more. The locals also sell homemade coconut oil. While coconut oil is said to have many therapeutic qualities one does need to be conditioned to its smell. Some people may find the smell to be offensive. I am into all kinds of organic beauty products and found coconut oil to be an excellent hair conditioner. I applied it at night and washed out my hair the next morning so I would not reek of coconut oil during the day. The results were very satisfying 😉
Given below are pictures of Tambdi Surla a 12th century Hindu Temple one of the oldest temples in Goa, India. The temple is situated in thick forest and there are small villages surrounding the temple. When I visited Tambdi Surla last year (2014) I was greeted by a flutter of butterflies at the very entrance of the temple. The sight was absolutely unforgettable. It was so sudden and unexpected that I could not even take a picture. This year I was especially looking out for the butterflies but did not find any. I did catch a quick glimpse at these birds flying away the moment our car approached.
Shown here are pictures of St Michael Church Orlim Goa one of the oldest churches in Goa. I loved the austere beauty and serenity of this church. Every second Sunday of October, the little village of Orlim in South Goa brightens up with festive fervor at the St Michael Church. The village feast brings together a crowd of around 2000 locals who attend the service and pray to their patron saint. This year, October 13 will see the feast of St Michael celebrated with joy.
Varca is one of the most touristy beaches in Southern Goa. But in the morning you can have the beach almost to yourself. If you are lucky, you will be able to catch dolphins playing by the shoreline. There is a row of wooden fishing boats seen on the beach that belong to the Christian fishing community.
Popular beach resorts in Varca include the Radisson White Sands Resort, the Club Mahindra Varca Beach Resort, and Serenity Residency. On the way back there are plenty of small stores where you can shop for clothes, Indian Jewelry, carved furniture, brassware and other souvenir type items if you so choose. Be prepared to bargain. As far as clothes are concerned I found some name stores such as Fab India and Biba to have the best quality products. I enjoyed the Tulsi Chai Masala and sampled some of the beauty products at Fab India (I am a bit of a skin care fanatic and always try out local beauty products everywhere I go!)
Here are some pictures of Miramar Beach, one of the most populous beaches in the capital of Goa: Panjim. This beach is situated at the confluence of Mandovi River and the Arabian Sea. Boat rides offered at very reasonable prices will take you through a pleasant boat ride where you may be able to capture some beautiful coastal scenes as well as water life.
While Goa is beautiful because of its rich history, beautiful beaches, exotic cuisines, lush greenery it is not void of faults. Be prepared to see a lot of trash and waste carelessly discarded by people all over the state. I was surprised to see that the beaches did not even have a single trash can to allow people to discard their waste. I also noticed that visitors carelessly throw their beer bottles on the beach which is a big safety hazard. The government is implementing a much needed “Swach Bharat” (Clean India mission).
But if you are open to an adventure and an exotic vacation on a tight budget then definitely consider beautiful Goa as your next stop; a haven of natural beauty, a vibrant culture, peace and spirituality.
Some of these pictures are from Hampi a village in Northern Karnataka – India, said to have been built around AD 1336-1570. As you can see the craftsmanship on these artifacts is intricate and unique and has stood the wrath of time warranting to be called signature specimens of the timelessness of art.
There are counted few moments in everyone’s life when you feel like you are in the midst of something so grandiose and majestic that it’s almost surreal. If you have visited the Red Rock Mountains or the world-famous Grand Canyon in Arizona then you probably know what I am talking about?
Recently we drove to Arizona, on an arduously long drive (8 hour-long drive to be exact). By the time we reached Sedona we were thoroughly beat, and the rear end of our anatomy was crying out loud in pain. However the moment we entered Sedona we started seeing the picturesque Red Rock hills that assured us that our long odyssey was indeed worth all the pain.
The Schnebly Hill formation which is a major component of the Red Rocks of Sedona are sedimentary rock formations that were created 300 million years ago, in part by the erosion caused by sea and in part shaped by the sand blown in from coastal area beaches. The color of the rocks ranges a varied hue of white, tan, orange and bold red. Furthermore, erosion from flowing waters have created famous hills that have been named after their unique shapes such as Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, Kissing Rock, Big Bear, Coffee Pot Rock and so on. It sounds like almost everyone who looked at these Rocks had their own interpretation of the shape and coined a name for them.
Here are some pictures to quench your appetite for this insanely beautiful Red Rock country. Feel free to play “I spy” and identify the rocks by their names if you can. But beware pictures just don’t do justice to this natural marvel.
The pink Jeep tours in Sedona are an absolute must and the experienced drivers will show you some spots that are extremely hard and dangerous to reach by hiking. The Jeep tour is a little adventure in itself, because it tours through some really rough and hilly terrain. There were a few moments when the jeep was angled perpendicular to the earth nose-diving straight down or straight up so that I must admit my heart missed a few beats. But rest assured it is perfectly safe and guaranteed fun. One of my favorite hills was what they called the “chicken point” so named because the faint of heart would offer to get off the jeep before reaching it. The view from the Rock is insanely beautiful and it feels cool and refreshingly breezy in comparison to the other spots. As far as I am concerned any vortex could not be more peaceful and serene than this place is.
So what is a vortex? Vortexes are places that create positive, negative or neutral releases of the Earth’s energy and evoke balance. I believe, places like people have an aural energy and invoke emotions that are unique and personal to everyone; especially historic places such as Sedona.
Looking at how dry and arid this place is, it is almost impossible to believe that this land used to be under water. The best time to visit Sedona is in spring or fall and is way too hot in June (as we can testify first hand). Most of the hiking is best done in the wee hours of the morning. I thought even as early as 10 AM the heat was already too oppressive to warrant any real hiking. The best thing to do by noon is to find a pool and relax with a glass of wine or visit the open market.
Sedona has rows of art galleries, exquisite art shops, restaurants, resorts and of course the historic Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts village. Unfortunately the village was already closed when we reached and there was private party going on at the time, so we could not really enjoy it, but from the looks of it, it is a delightful hang out.
On our way back to Los Angeles, we visited the Grand Canyon. The Canyon is the very definition of grandiose. This 277 miles long and 1 mile deep canyon reminds you of a gigantic monster sleeping with its mouth gaping open. The canyon is so wide that you can’t even take a picture that would cover the entire width of the canyon (unless you have the advantage of shooting from a helicopter). A look at this “wonder of the world” makes you see yourself in a different perspective; a mere speck in the grand scheme of life. It makes you mindful not only of the fragility of human life but the shallowness and insignificance of humanly worries and troubles.
Millions of people visit the Grand Canyon every year. It is a Mecca for the brave of heart who backpack their way to the Phantom Ranch inside the womb of the Canyon. This hike is certainly not for the faint of heart and numerous books have been written accounting the accidents that have taken place in the Canyon. However those who dare, will certainly be rewarded with an unforgettable experience and superb photography opportunities. Sadly, I am not one of them. I enjoyed the overwhelming beauty of the Canyon from the comforting safety of the South rim which is what 90% of travelers do.
Arizona has left such an indelible mark on me, that I am sure this won’t be my last visit. Who knows next time I will be one of the back packers trekking my way down the winding, path into the belly of this giant monster called the Grand Canyon or hiking my way to the top of the Devil’s Bridge. Here’s to Arizona! Ditat Deus!
Inspired by Weekly Pictures Challenge