Goa- the ‘Party Capital of India- is more than beaches, raves and villas. Goa’s naturescape is not limited to pristine beaches alone. There are many waterfalls and natural caves hidden away in lush green forests. The drive up to these spots is mesmerizing and the experience of witnessing history dating back centuries will make you appreciate Goa in a brand new way !
The best way to explore the state’s best kept secrets is to rent a car in Goa. Booking a rental car in Goa is a good way to make sure that your trip is as memorable as it is safe. Go on and boost the Freedom & Fun quotient of your next trip with your favourite self drive car in Goa !
Here’s a look at 10 Offbeat and Unexplored gems in Goa for 2021:
Dating back to the 6th century, Arvalem or ‘Harvalem’ caves (as the locals call it) are a mesmerizing five chambered structure carved in Laterite. Legends refer to the Arvalem caves as the ‘Pandava’ caves where the five Pandava brothers from the Indian epic Mahabharata, took shelter during their exile years. Local folklore also associates the caves’ origins to Buddhism.
The caves are believed to be cut from a single laterite hill and there are 7th century inscriptions in Sanskrit and Brahmi found on the cave walls. Inside the caves are small ‘Shivlings’ and the locals still hold prayers there. There is a small waterfall near the caves, making it a most quaint picnic spot to head out to !
The Arvalem caves are located in Sanquelim which is 32 kms from Panjim and are only open for a few hours on weekdays. The best way to reach there is by road as the drive is a smooth and serene one! Rent a car in Goa and head on out for a nice, calm picnic to Arvalem Caves.
This is a water slide-like waterfall hidden away in the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary in Canacona, Goa. Locals named the waterfall ‘Bamanbudo’ after an elderly man who drowned while bathing here.
The water cascades down step-like boulders and forms a shallow, frothy pool of clear water-excellent for a splash around ! The current is not very strong making it quite safe for people to explore the waters. Ideally, you should visit here early in the morning as the water is cool and crisp- ideal for a dip- and there are very few people around. Pack a nice picnic and pick a spot to enjoy some quiet time in a lush green setting beside a waterfall.
It is 85 kms from Panjim to Bamanbudo and the best way to reach Bamanbudo is by car. Book a self drive car in Goa and head out for a refreshing time !
A site where history and pristine nature merge, Fort Tiracol is simply breathtaking. The 17th century fort stands tall at the mouth of the river Tiracol and is a well-maintained structure rife with tales of Goa’s history. This portugese era fort is now a heritage hotel and houses an ancient yet functional Baroque-style church and a memorial dedicated to Goan freedom fighters.
With the sea on one side and verdant scenery on the other, a visit to Fort Tiracol is sure to overturn all your perceptions about Goa. To reach Fort Tiracol, you need to catch the ferry from Querim Beach, which is located at a distance of 58 kms from Panjim. There are many car rental services available in Goa where you can get a great deal on self drive cars.
Budbudi Tal or Bubble Lake at Netravali
Who doesn’t like bubbles ?! Now imagine mysterious bubbles which appear when you clap faster ! That’s exactly what happens at the temple pond at Netravali, popularly called the Budbudi Tal or Bubble Lake of Goa.
The lake is essentially a temple pond of an old krishna temple hidden away among the spice farms at Sanguem. This artificial pond has an outlet leading to the farms to help with irrigation. According to the locals, there is a sand bed under the lake which helps aquatic plants grow. These plants emit methane gas which rises to the surface as bubbles. These bubbles create concentric ripples on the surface and the lake appears to be perpetually in motion.
It is a beautiful sight and you can make bubbles appear faster if you clap near the surface of the water or even jump or tapping your feet on the rocks near the temple steps.There are small fish in the lake which nibble at your feet if you dip your toes in. The lake is in a sacred temple complex and you can pay your respects to Lord Krishna while here. The village of Netravali is 78 kms from Panjim and you can rent a car in Goa to head there on your next trip!
Butterfly Conservatory, Ponda
Nature lovers! Assemble! Head out to Ponda, Goa and visit an estate with over 100 fluttering beauties around! The Butterfly Conservatory at Goa is a joint effort of a lovely couple with a dream.
The conservatory has documented over 100 species of butterflies and when you visit, you are bound to spot at least 10-15 different varieties of vibrant butterflies! There is also a ‘Butterfly Pub’ which is essentially a mud pond where many male butterflies gather before heading out to mate.
The conservatory is located around 29 kms from Panjim and easiest to reach by car. It is open on all days from 9AM onwards and you must spend a day here to absorb how beautiful nature can be. Get a self drive car in Goa from any car rental service and head out for this unique experience.
Another unique, nay, eccentric experience awaits you at the Big Foot Museum in Goa. A concept developed by local artist Maendra Jocilino Araujo Alvares, Big Foot is where you can experience Goa in its yesteryears. Everything about this museum is unique-right from the legend behind the name ‘Big Foot’ to the various quirky statues depicting ancient rural and traditional Goan life.
Artist Alvares has trained several guides who walk and talk you through the experience and you can witness charming sights like the local fisherman cooking in a salt pan and the famous ‘Bhatti’ distillery of Goa where they take you through the entire process of manufacturing ‘Feni’ and ‘Urak’. There are trinkets of old earthenware, a cobbler, a barber, a gram seller and many more sights from bygone days, making the entire experience an absolutely rare eccentricity to come by !
The cherry-on-the-cake is the fourteen feet long rock carving made by Alvares himself. The artist finished carving this elephantine structure in less than a month and has received many accolades for the same including being registered in the Limca Book of Records as being the longest laterite sculpture in India.
This one-of-a-kind museum awaits a mere 30 kms from Panjim and is accessible by road. You must take a day and visit this amazing ode to Ancestral Goa in your favourite self-drive car.
This is one boat ride you cannot miss. The Cumbarjua Canal is constructed on the backwaters of Goa and one can find great spots to go fishing and spend some time bird watching along the canal.
The main attraction of this canal is that the fifteen kilometer long stretch is full of crocodiles! Uniquely enough, these crocs are the Marsh Muggars- a freshwater reptile which adapted to salt water conditions in Goa. Contrary to being dangerous, these reptiles are so used to humans that they prop on a rock and watch boats go by and if the boats come close enough, they simply slink back into water. It is like a crocodile safari and you might just spot some rare coastal birds perching too! It is 24 kms from Panjim to Cumbarjua and makes for a fun day activity to embark on !
If a calm, luxury visit is on your cards, head out to Sinquerim for a good time. The first district in Goa to be developed for tourism, Sinquerim is a lovely spot to catch a few sunrises and indulge in a few days of ‘soul’ time.
The Sinquerim Fort, also called Aguada Fort, is an old, abandoned Portugese fort which offers a great view of the ocean. The architecture of the fort is remarkable and has been appreciated for its military preparedness. Sinquerim lies 13 kms from Panjim and Goa’s best and most luxurious hotels can be found here.
Rent a car on your next Goa trip and take a self-drive trip in a luxury car of your choice for a complete indulgence!
Mahadev Temple, Tambdi Surla
If you like Indiana Jones, a visit to this 12th century Shaivite Temple is sure to give you big ‘Indy’ feels !
The Mahadev Temple, located deep in the forests of Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary is the state’s oldest shrine. This beautiful structure is built in the unique Kadamba style architecture and is the only remaining construction from the Kadamba-Yadava period. It is hidden deep in lush green forests and the local forest-dwellers still perform prayers at this shrine.
The village Tamdi Surla is roughly 67 kms from Panjim and you must go in a car for both better access and safety. Rent cars in Goa and head out to explore this archeological gem on your next trip!
Chorla Ghat Trek
Pack your rucksacks and trek up to one of the most green and ecologically rich parts of the Western ghats-Chorld Ghats.
The Ghats are located on the border of three states and there is an amazing amount of biodiversity waiting to be explored here. It is a treat for birdwatchers as the region has a dense population of rare, coastal birds and has even been mentioned by BirdLife International. You can trek across Swapnagandha Valley to witness pristine waterfalls and in monsoons, the Ghats are a sight of green for as far as the eyes can see! You can even see glowing Mycena or bioluminescent mushrooms on damp logs and wood in the forests.
Goa is home to some of the most unique and offbeat naturescapes and it is time you head out and explore this quiet, hidden side of the Party state ! Rent a car and take a self-drive trip to Goa in your favourite rental car for an ethereal experience.