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Exploring hidden gems

Pradeep Chamaria | New Delhi |

Goa has a magnetic charm that draws a visitor to return again and again. I've been there earlier, but when an opportunity to discover the unexplored Goa on Honda's new bike, the NAVi, came my way, I could not resist it. Though this is not the right season ~ very hot and sultry ~ to be in Goa, I was soon on my way.

Goa is a fascinating destination known for its tranquil beaches, nightlife, adventure sports and cuisine. But it still has a lot of unexplored side, which is untouched by many. The best way to explore these areas is on a two wheeler, exploring at one's leisure.

Goa Hunt 2017, which was organised by Goa Tourism Development Corporation, in association with Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India, was a fun and adventure activity. Goa is a biker's haven, allowing one to explore some hidden gems. My adventure ride took me to these places:

Mae De Deus Church is one of the finest churches in Goa. Built in 1873, it offers a breathtaking sight. At first look it appears to be a fairy tale structure, white in colour and with a unique charm. The church's Gothic-styled architecture is one of its kind. It houses the miraculous statue of Mae de Deus (Mother of God), which was brought from the ruins of the convent of Mae de Deus in Old Goa.

I arrived at the church after it was closed and so could not go inside. But whatever interior was visible from outside, including the beautiful altar, looked fabulous. The entire atmosphere was peaceful. The priest informed me that this church was built with the help of contributions from the locals, which makes it more important for them.

Mapusa Fruit market was our next stop. Though the market operates through the week, we were lucky to be there on the weekly Haat day. Several local farmers had bought their produce to the Haat. As I bought cashew fruit and some local black berries, I interacted with the farmers.

Fontanhas is where the rich Portuguese settled down. All the brightly-coloured houses spoke of the affluence and luxury enjoyed in those times. A colourful well with roosters on its four pillars made a pretty picture. A small corner with three houses painted in bright colours of pink, blue and golden also caught my eye.

Dona Paulo is where the two Goan rivers, Mandovi and Zuari, meet the Arabian Sea. It has a magnificent view of Marmugao Harbour. This romantic location was where the fight sequence in Bollywood movie Singham was shot. A major part of yesteryear chart buster Ek Duuje Ke Liye was also shot here.

On a rocky, hammer shaped headland, I was searching for a mystery and found the two statues, known as the Dona Paula Sculpture. I also came across two young girls who gushed, "Goa is a scenic, beautiful place full of energy and it is a clean state."

I also visited and explored the ruins of the Cabo Fort, which was built in 1540, and the 180-year-old English cemetery, which houses the memorial tomb of Dona Paula de Menezes with her story engraved on the tombstone. I also happened to watch a lot of water sports such as waterscooter, para sailing and motor boat rides.