My friend recently promised me a trip to Goa like I had never experienced before. North Goa was the place to be in my twenties and South Goa is where I end up more often now a days. However this Goa trip was about neither, and I was intrigued.We both love taking the less discovered path and knowing my friend, I figured we were going to enjoy new experiences on this trip and boy, was I right!
Goa has so much more to offer than beaches and parties. This trip was all about exploring the beautiful island of Divar on the Mandovi River.
Our journey to Divar from South Goa took about an hour on the bike. This time of the year it's a beautiful ride though green paddy fields and small ponds. We had to pass through Old Goa as the ferry is situated near the Viceroy's Arch at Old Goa.It takes about five minutes to cross over and is free for two wheelers and pedestrians. These ferries are huge and accommodate cars and tempos.
It feels like you are transported back in time once you cross the Mandovi. The water bodies are great for fishing and one can spot locals chilling with their wooden fishing rods for hours on end. The village of Piedade is absolutely beautiful will heritage homes in a multitude of colours. From the top of the hill, superb panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, including Old Goa, the capital of Goa, Panaji, the meandering Mandovi River, and the bridges across it can be seen.
Historical Significance: A popular festival, named as Bonderam festival, is celebrated here in the month of August. People from nearby villages also visit the island during this time. We missed it by a few days, unfortunately! :(
The huge bell which today adorns the Se Cathedral in Old Goa was originally donated by the master of a sinking ship who'd made a vow that, were he to survive his fate, he would donate the ship's bell to the first church village, town, or city his vessel touched. It so happened that that island was Divar. He kept his promise and donated the bell to the church of Divar. Unfortunately though, every time the bell was struck, it shattered the windows of the church and the houses in the vicinity, so a deal was struck and the bell was exchanged with that of the Se Cathedral.
Legend has it: The Portuguese left crocodiles around the waters of the island of Divar and cut all food and other supplies in order to persecute the locals to get converted.
Portuguese Villas and rolling hillocks: The village is quaint, charming, clean and very green. The houses have Portuguese names and are massive villas. It makes one wonder why we choose to live in pigeon holes in our cities. The locals are warm and welcoming. This is not a regular tourist destination which makes it ideal for travellers looking for quiet scenic destinations. One can never get lost on the island, all roads ultimately lead to the main 4 way crossing where locals gather to but their provisions or just chill.
There are only 2 homestays listed on the island. We stayed at the Divar Island heritage guest house run by Aarti and Jan Bostocks. The home was filled with antiques and was warm and welcoming.
The couple gives you your space and is aided by good staff. I would like to mention Luku who takes complete care of you and ensures you are drowning in good food. We gorged on amazing sea food made by the chef; be it Kingfish in Thai sauce to fish and chips to chicken curry and rice!
We went fishing later in the evening on the island. I was not very successful but my boyfriend managed to catch quite a few fish. Apart from fishing, one can also explore the island by cycle or choose to walk. There is nothing as satisfying as staring at the stars on a quiet island in a beautiful house and a cozy room!
This is a place to visit for the evolved traveller who is looking for unique experiences. From fishing to exploring the quaint village to just curling up with a book. And if you ever feel the need for some historical exploration, one just needs to cross the ferry to old Goa to visit the Baslica of Bom Jesus and Adil Shah's summer palace.
One doesn't need to worry about being stranded as the ferry service is frequent unless there are bad weather conditions. Divar is a small piece of heaven nestled between the hills and is only accessible by boat making it the perfect holiday destination for lone travellers to families looking to take the road less travelled.
Did you know?: Divar is one of few places in Goa you will find Urak (mild version of Cashew Feni) all-year round?
And now to the boring details... some inputs on getting there:
By Train: The Konkan Railway passes through the village and the nearest stop to the village is the train station at Carambolim.
By Air: Dabolim Airport Goa is located just 26 kms from Velha (One of the 3 ferry points to Divar). Pre-paid taxis are readily available at Goa airport.
Ferry: There are 3 entry points to this island through ferries. Old Goa (Velha) Ribandar & Panjim.
By Road: Old Goa is well connected through north and south Goa by road. Driving through Goa on the narrow road with lush greenery can be a delight. Buses and Private cabs are another mode of transport in Goa.
So if lush hills and greenery beckon you, this is the place for you!
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