Changing Face of Goan Tourism
Challenging the mainstream practice of hitting the beach and fixed sightseeing bus tours, new trends are now emerging in Goan tourism in order to give the travellers an opportunity to experience the local history and culture more closely than ever before. Jay Joshi compiles a few of them.
08th July 2018, 07:59 Hrs
“We offer adventure treks because sightseeing is something everyone does. We have to give the travellers some new experience” says Samrat Katkalware of Off Trail Adventure which offers adventure treks in various waterfalls, wildlife sanctuaries and hilly areas of Goa. For a day-long trek with departure in the morning and return by evening, Off Trail Adventure charges Rs 600 per person. One trekking group consists of maximum 40 people. “40 people can be taken in just one bus. Plus, if there are more people it becomes crowded and unpleasant.” explains Samrat.Apart from the tourtists, many corporate houses too look at adventure treks as tools to facilitate team building and develop leadership qualities. Trekking in the Goan hinterlands rather than hitting the beach is gaining widespread popularity across Goa.
Taking one of the many sightseeing tours is a very touristy thing to do. You rush from one point to another, never really experiencing the city from close quarters . “City-walks give you a chance to witness life in a city as it unfolds.” says Varun Hege of Soul Travellers. “ You can meet and talk to locals, becoming a part of the local community. If you are curious about a particular building, you can go and explore it. Thus, a city-walk offers much more to you as a traveller. In bus-tours, someone plans the itinerary. But in our city walks, we just take you around the city, letting you choose what to take in.” Soul Travelling offers city walks around Panaji, Mapusa, Margao, Vasco, and Ponda for a price of Rs 300 each.
“I have a Master’s degree in archeology and ancient Indian history being my forte, I stick to heritage walks” Says Sawani Shetye of Bhoomij Heritage Walks. Bhoomij has so far organised heritage walks to places such as Kushawati river-bank, Rivona caves, Ponsaimol, and the villages of Kurdi and Salaulim. The firms has also organised a heritage tour of Raigadh fort in Maharashtra where it offered the participants a chance to see archeological excavations up close. “My target audience is mostly locals.” informs Sawani “ I believe that ore than the tourists, the local Goans themselves need to see these things.Our advertising is mostly focussed on the locals.You can earn more in cash if you organise such trips for tourists, but with locals you create awareness, and that is important.” she adds. A question that is often raised about ancient and medieval history is that stories of medieval history seem interesting to an ordinary person, but how do you create interest in prehistoric rock art? “The basic concept of archeology is to study how man adapted to nature.” Sawani responds. “Our history is more about how humans adapted and how ideas evolved. Rick art was the beginning of human expression through pictures. That’s more important” she says.
With changes in technology and the easy availability of better cameras, photography is emerging as a popular hobby giving rise to photo-walks: the idea to explore your surroundings with the sole purpose of photography. Prasad Pankar, one of the leading photographers in Goa has been organising photo-walks for his students of photography for a long time. “We have explored everything ranging from nature to city, but we mostly prefer villages” says Mr Pankar “Because we believe that the essence of Goa lies in its villages. In a village you meet simple, lovely people. Sometimes we also get a chance to cover tribals” he says, adding that the cities of Goa are changing drastically over the years. Pankar’s photo walks generally take place from 6 am to 9 am on Sundays.
Food trails are a recent addition to the diverse tourism opportunities in Goa, and are sought after by locals as well as tourists. Varun Hegde of Soul Travelling informs,“Like for our food trail in Margao, the idea was to explore the city’s food from 1935 to 2018. So, we began at a place which was established in 1935 and went ahead from there.” In the process, the travellers meet and speak to owners of various eateries in the city and there is good exchange of stories and ideas, adds Varun. The Bicycle Trip Goa sticks only to desserts. “It’s because we wanted a shorter trail” says Jigisha Nayyar of The Bicycle Trip Goa “Also, picking a full meal or a broad range of things gets a bit complicated.” she says. The Dessert Crowl, as this desert trail is known, explores the taste, recipes, and stories of various Goan sweets. It is priced at Rs 1250.