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25th August 2012
Author Kathleen McCaul lived in Goa for several years researching her novels. Here she reveals the region's hidden gems
Deep in the Hindu heartland of Goa, away from the beaches and bars, is Tamdi Surla temple. Wind through ancient woods and weave past flitting butterflies to arrive at the powerfully peaceful holy site. Linger by the Druid-like stones and wash your feet in the river before taking tea in the nearby elephant sanctuary.
As evening draws in on Goa’s most middle class resort, the beachfront becomes a flickering mass of candle lit tables. Don’t be tempted by the smiling waiters or the fresh daily catch of other restaurants. Head straight to Cheeky Monkey, where their Danish chef whips up mouth-watering, designer noodles, fish and salads to the sound of the incoming tide.
Break off the main road to South Goa and head inland through the paddy fields and big old churches to find Goa Chitra. A living museum and organic farm, it becomes Goa’s best live music venue at night, hosting international acts such as Jazzy Joe and Madeleine Chase. Run by the charismatic and ebullient Victor, if you arrive at the right time, you might even have lunch cooked by his talented wife.
The main port of Goa is studiously avoided by tourists. But for those who brave the communist style buildings there awaits a bawdy, old-fashioned shipping city with tiny bars, crab restaurants and even roof-top swimming pools. Take local advice on where to stay – they know what they're talking about.
If Candolim’s endless adverts for beer, football and fish and chips begin to get you down, seek out this quiet corner of sophistication. BomRas restaurant serves delicate dishes of Burmese food and sweetly strong cocktails under a large shady tree. It can’t block out the blasting sound of the Candolim disco but it does help make it a lot more palatable.
Kathleen McCaul lived and worked in India as a writer and novelist for several years. Her second novel, Grave Secrets in Goa, is out now and can be ordered on Amazon.
For more closely-guarded intell from travel industry professionals read our Insider Secrets blog
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Travelling to India? Get travel advice and inspiration from Wanderlust. Want to know what to see or do? How to avoid the crowds? We have the tips for you
Think Goa is just about the beaches? Think again. Shake the sand from your flip-flops and head inland to discover why Goa, a former Portuguese colony, is a world apart from the rest of India, with crumbly colonial towns, verdant forests and a distinctly hippy vibe
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