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Get set to get away

The summer holidays are passing by and you might feel guilty about not having taken the family on a vacation because of your work commitments or because of the children’s tuitions, or perhaps the elections in April and May played spoiler and had you on election duty.

Well, it’s not the end of the world! You can redefine a holiday if you have the willingness and company to enjoy the time spent together. If the trip to Europe or Manali couldn’t materialise, there are several places on the outskirts of Goa that can be explored.

So why not seize the weekend or two days to escape and have fun?

NT BUZZ has chalked out a list of places that you could consider exploring along with what to expect and do there.

MALVAN – 105 kms

Malvan is a culturally and historically important town in the Sindhudurg district. Besides being well known historically for the Sindhudurg Fort, the place is also famous for its pristine beaches and seafood

Top places to visit

Sindhudurg Fort: It occupies an islet in the Arabian Sea. The fortress lies on the shore of Malvan. The fort is a protected monument.

Beaches: Here are six beaches in and around Malvan–Tarkarli, Arse Mahal, Chivla, Tondavali, Achra and Devbaug.

Scuba diving, snorkelling and water sports: Malvan is a perfect sport for scuba diving because of its clear water. Snorkelling to check out the coral reefs here is also preferred, especially on the outer side of the fort walls. In fact Tsunami Island is the adventure hub in Malvan and has a variety of water sports on offer.

Rameshwar Temple: It is located in Achara village. Shri Rameshwar is the residing deity and the temple has a large courtyard and a self immersed Shivling in the sanctum.

DANDELI – 115 kms

Situated in northern Karnataka, Dandeli is popular for those seeking adventure and who love to be amidst nature and wildlife. The region offers the best opportunities for water rafting, picnics and pilgrimage tours

Top places to visit:

Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary: It is the main attraction in this town. The Wildlife Sanctuary is well known for its picturesque setting, safari tours, and the deciduous forest. The main wildlife species found here are tigers, leopards and elephants.

River Rafting: Dandeli is one of the best places for white water rafting, done on the River Kali. There are grade two and three rapids over a 12-kilometre stretch which is suitable for professionals and amateurs.

Shiroli Peak: The highest point in the Uttara Kannada region, this peak located within the Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary provides a splendid view of the Sahyadri Range. It is a perfect spot for trekkers and nature lovers.

Mini Tibet: Also known as the Doeguling Tibetan Settlement, this place is also compared to the McLeod Ganj Hill Station. One can find well preserved Tibetan culture here.

GOKARNA – 167 kms

Goa may be known for its many beaches and many a tale has been told about the peace and calm that one is met with while relaxing there. But head down, about 167 kilometres south to neighbouring Karnataka and you enter idyllic Gokarna, which is all about the slow life. Apart from its pretty beaches, Gokarna is also known as a Hindu pilgrimage site

Top places to visit

Gokarna, Paradise, Nirvana, Om beaches: While Gokarna beach may be the most popular of the lot, one can also relax and tune out at the other beaches like Paradise, Nirvana and Om among others. In fact, the Om beach is called so because it is said that the stretch resembles the outline of an Om symbol.

Mahabaleshwara Temple: Built out of granite during the Kadamba dynasty it is believed that the original atmalinga of Shiva rests here in a square called Saligrama Peetha. Devotees believe that just glimpses of the temple will bring blessings on them

Shiva Cave: Situated near the Kudle Beach, the cave is known as Gogarbha and is said to be a good site for meditation.

Mirjan Fort: This structure looks as if it was taken straight out of a fairytale. What’s more, the picturesque location is said to have borne witness to many a historic battle. To top it all, it is also said to have been constructed by the ‘Pepper Queen’. Yes, you read that right.  Located along the banks of the River Aghanashini, Queen Chennabhairadevi of Gersoppa (under the Vijayanagara Empire) is said to have built and lived in this fort. She was labelled the pepper queen by the Portuguese owing to her being involved in the trading of pepper among other things.

MAHABALESHWAR – 375 kms

This hill station in the Western Ghats in Maharashtra is known for its many rivers and peaks besides strawberries. En route Pune, driving to this place can take about four to five hours

Top places to visit

Waterfalls: They say a visit to Mahabaleshwar is kind of incomplete without witnessing the several waterfalls in and around the place. Chinaman’s Falls, Dhobi Waterfall and Lingmala Falls are the most famous ones.

Lodwick Point: The vantage point that lies 5 kilometres to the west of Mahabaleshwar is a treat to behold. This point provides an uninterrupted view of the Pratapgarh Fort and Elphinstone Point. Also, there is a large statue of Lord Lodwick at this site.

Pratapgad Fort: At an elevation of about 3500 feet, this fort is popular as a lot of the fortifications are still intact. There are four lakes which overflow during the monsoons. There is also a watchtower at the side of the main entrance. There is a statue of Shivaji that was installed about 60 years ago. There is also a Bhawani temple at the top of the fort and a cultural library too. A handicraft centre on the way to the fort is also an attraction.

Strawberries and shopping: Known for its strawberries, it is one place where you can find an abundance of jams, jellies, fudge and more. There are several strawberry plantations that you can visit. The town market is ideal for handicrafts, leather items, Kolhapuri footwear and more.

Goa

It is true, Goa does have a lot to offer to its people and tourists. If you are bored visiting the same old place, here are few places to head to

Top places to visit:

Curdi: The village of Curdi in Sanguem is also known as the ‘Atlantis of Goa’. It is one place you shouldn’t miss during the summers. Throughout the year it is submerged underwater and in the months of April-May the village dries up and one can see beautiful valleys with lush green mountains. The construction of the Salaulim dam led to the submerging of a few villages including Curdi. The locals of Curdi migrated while others were rehabilitated. Today, one can spot the ancient Someshwar temple and a chapel. The site also has ruins of old houses.

Beaches and fort: With the influx of tourist a lot of beaches in Goa have lost their charm, however Agonda beach in Canacona is among the few places that still retains its natural serenity. The rock formations at the end of the beach make it distinct. Besides Agonda, there are other beaches as well like Palolem, Cola and Butterfly beach, which are equally beautiful and quiet. One can even check the Cabo de Rama Fort which is 30 minutes away.

Tiracol: Located on a hillock at the confluence of Terekhol River and Arabian Sea, the ancient fort of Tiracol is one of the well preserved and maintained forts of Goa. It houses a boutique heritage hotel, an ancient jail and the Church of St Anthony. The place has witnessed several interesting episodes of history and the ramparts and walls are testimonies to such episodes of valour, sacrifice and victory. The 17th century fort was first built by Maharaja Khem Sawant Bhonsle, the Raja of Sawantwadi and rebuilt in 1764 after the Portuguese viceroy Dom Pedro Miguel de Almeida captured it. One can walk through the fort and enjoy its heritage and Goa’s shoreline from the hillock. To get there one needs to opt for the ferry services.

Goa hinterland: In the interior villages of Goa like Bicholim, Loutolim, Ponda and Valpoi you can find a lot of farms, hotels and homestays offering various activities like nature trails, adventure activities, water sports, pool, boat rides, campfire, rain dance and more. You can head with family and friends and enjoy a different side of Goa in Goa itself.

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