It takes all of two hours to change the course of your holiday in Goa. Set against a backdrop of the lush green Sahyadri Hills and enfolded by laterite headlands, the beauty of Canacona augments with a string of pearl white coves and sweeping beaches that scoop its indented coastline. It is this virgin quality that has attracted enervated tourists – tired of rave parties, chattering cruises and beach bums – to the green carpeted hills of Canacona, nestling at 37 km from Margao. And why not? You can find a virgin coast, off-the-beaten track destinations and to your surprise, some unusual festivals. It is only here the village pigs still clean the toilets, hand-painted boards tell of taxis-on-the sea adventure and shacks on stilts make up a homely ambiance for your stay. What else do you need to enjoy your vacation in this picturesque stretch of sea-air kissed palms? Perhaps, friends that fly high in the air or dancing dolphins in the waters of the Arabian!
Experience The Shortcuts To Fun At Canacona
Go Green With The Wilds At Cotigao
Till the early 1990s, Canacona was just a disdained Goan backwater. Palolem and Agonda beaches and the desolete Cabo de Rama Fort remained the only places where one could ever think of a holiday. Over the decade, the thirst to unveil the virgin beauty of nature led many travellers to the green hills of Canacona. Nestling on the basin of the shimmering Talpona River near the Karnataka border is the stunning 86-sq km sanctuary of Cotigao. Applauded as Goa’s second-largest wildlife sanctuary, Cotigao is credited with some of the tallest trees in Goa – some even 30 metres high! Seeing varied species of wildlife in the dark, deep patches is an all time adventure here. The sanctuary affords its own accommodation at the Eco-Tourism Cottages at Hattipal. You can also enjoy a memorable stay in the Forest Department’s scenic but simple resthouse on the Poinguinim highway, some 4 km away from the sanctuary.
Canacona Beach – An Adventure In Itself
Go to Chaudi market and ask for Little Cola or Butterfly Beach. Chances are that nobody knows what you are talking about. These beaches, known to backpackers from all over the world who’ve cultivated their own demand and supply chain from the villages, are kept hush-hush so that village folks won’t disturb the tourist reverie. Enjoy a thrilling stay in the fishermen cottages at Canaguinim, the best known of Canacona’s beaches. Relax in your own private beach with a bottle of home-made fenny, stranded without a soul in sight. Ah! what a holiday it would make! Take your spirits to the heights of Cabo de Rama, from the top of which you can get magnificent views of Quepem to the north and the shifting white sand beaches of Canacona to the south.
Trek down to Agonda Beach past St. Anne’s church to give the last colours in your fun-filled adventure holiday. This is a quiter version of North Goa’s Anjuna sans its clamourous and non-stop full moon parties. From here a different course of trek will welcome you. Getting down to Xendrem Beach is a maze which only a sure-footed goat or an expert villager can manage. To get to Vaturem, you need to cross a tiny footbridge made out of coconut trees, and navigate a 2-ft wide rough path and go by some ant-hills, till the beach mysteriously emerges to soothe your weary eyes. Well, your holiday in Canacona cannot be signed off without meeting the glistening dolphins. Travel to Polem, the last beach on Goa’s golden coast. Fringed by craggy black rocks, Palolem Beach is a little dangerous for swimming during low tide and because you might get distracted to see a couple of dolphins playing beside you, who come right up to the shores.
A Tour To The Temples
The temples of Canacona have some of the most pristine locations in fragrant forests on the hills here. Once a year, the gods step out from their sanctums for the ‘zatras’, when they ride on wooden thrones borne by devotees. It is a great experience to be a part of the processions, wherein you can see people irrespective of cult and creed are driven by faith. The whole of atmosphere reverberates with merriment. The roads spring up to life with shops selling toys and food, acrobats showing games of skill, and ‘sadhus’ organising religious discourses. Drive to the Shantadurga Temple in Fatorpa in Quepem which holds its ‘zatra’ on the ninth day of the Hindu month of Margashirsh (December-January). Both Hindus and Catholics make their way to this remote village, 5 km from Cuncolim for the ‘zatra’. You can see a tall, intricate, decorated, three-tiered wooden chariot (rath), carrying the deity and is drawn by male devotees in a night procession during the ‘zatra’. Another interesting place of worship is the Mallikarjun Temple at Shristhal in Canacona, 3 km from Chaudi. Devotees head here for advice from the ‘kauls’ (oracles). Remember to attend the grand ‘zatra’ of Mallikarjun, when the deity is carried down to the beach for an annual dip amidst splendid pomp and show.
Choose Your Way
You need your own transport to reach many of the points of tourist interest in Canacona, since buses are few and far between. Autos are available, but these talukas close early. The Dabolim Airport is 62 km away and you can get pre-paid taxis from the airport to reach downtown. If you plan to come by rail, board the Konkan Kanya Express which departs Mumbai CST at 10:50 pm and reaches Margao at 10:45 in the morning. From Margao, get into one of those shuttle bus services (Kadamba) and you can reach Canacona quite comfortably.
Location : Goa
Attractions : Pololem, Chaudi, Agonda.
Climate : Moderate throughout the Year
Best Time to Visit : November to March
Languages : Konkani, Marathi, English, Portuguese and Hindi
STD Code : 08346
Canacona is located in Southern part of Goa. As a result of a treaty in 1791, the Raja of Sund ceded it to the Portuguese. Canacona and the surrounding areas have retained a distinctly Hindu feel. The region has some of Goa’s most outstanding natural beauty and scenery. The Sahyadri hills form a backdrop to a string of pearl white coves and sweeping beaches in Canacona, making it look more beautiful.
Prime Attractions of Canacona
Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary
The Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary is situated 10 Km southeast of Chaudi. It was established in 1969 to protect a remote and vulnerable area of forest along the Goa- Karnataka border. The Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary encompasses 86 Sq Km of mixed deciduous forest. The main attractions at the sanctuary are a few species of Monkey, a couple of Wild Boar and Gaur. The ideal time to visit the sanctuary is between October and March.
Situated in the southern part of Goa, the Palolem beach is the most famous and well known in the southern part of Goa. It is nearest if you are driving from the state of Karnataka, which flanks Goa from the south. The beach is just 3 kilometers from the Konkan railway station and you can reach there from just about anywhere in Goa.
The Cavelossim beach in Goa is relatively cleaner and is home to a couple of shacks. Cavelossim is more famous for its beach resorts and the facility it offers for dolphin watching. If you are planning to venture out into the sea for dolphin watching at night, then some hotels at Cavelossim beach offer a special facility to call for the boat service.
The Agonda beach is a beautiful stretch of land, which is flanked by the ocean on one side and the small hills on the other side. If you are looking forward to some adventure and fun, you can hire a tent and spend the night camping on the beach, under the starry skies, listening to the crashing of the waves against the shore. That makes your Agonda experience more adventurous.
How To Reach Canacona
You can reach Canacona by direct Express trains from Mumbai, Panjim and Mangalore.
Bus and taxis from other parts of Goa are easily available for Canacona. Bus services between Canacona and Margao are quite frequent.