It is after 3 in the afternoon when I arrive at the outskirts of Aldona, a village in North Goa. I have driven down from Ponda after a visit to the temple at Tambdi Surla and am headed to Aldona for a backwater cruise. Yes, you read right. A backwater cruise in Goa. Yes, Goa. 🙂
I first read about the backwaters of Goa in this post by my fellow blogger Shivya. I was intrigued and had tucked away this piece of information in the back of my mind, not knowing that I would be headed to Goa myself in a few months. So, when I reached Goa it was only natural that I got more details from Shivya about the backwater cruise she had written about.
Enter Roberto Amaral. He’s the guy who conducts the backwater cruise, is the owner of Cancio’s House (a Bed & Breakfast place) at Aldona, and Skipper of the Lady M Luxury Yacht Charter in Goa. When I speak with him to book the cruise, Roberto is kind enough to suggest other places to visit in the vicinity — the Corjuem Fort near Aldona and also the centuries-old St. Thomas Church at Aldona. I take Roberto’s advice and head first to the Corjuem Fort.
The Forte de Corjuem was first occupied by the Bhosales of Sawantwadi and passed on to the Portuguese when they took control of the region. A rectangular’ish’ fort with watch towers at all four corners, there are four ramps leading from the base to the ramparts. Built from the local laterite stone, the Fort also encloses within its walls a well, a chapel dedicated to St. Anthony, and a roofed structure, which could have served the purpose of a restroom or a kitchen. Presenting some impressions of the Fort.
Corjuem Fort is a very small fort, perhaps the smallest that I have visited, and I could have walked through the Fort in 10 minutes. But it is so quite and peaceful that I just decide to spend some time relaxing at the Fort. There is no one at the Fort save some birds and a few members of the lizard family and I spend a peaceful hour there till its time to head to Aldona and meet Roberto.
Roberto and speedboat are waiting and in no time we are off. Aldona is situated on the banks of the river Mapusa, which is a tributary of the river Mandovi. An extensive riverine backwaters network exists in this area and is perhaps, Goa’s best kept secret ! I am not going to be writing anything more about this cruise and am just going to let the photographs give you a glimpse of what I saw.
On our return to Aldona. Roberto gives a quick tour of the luxury yachht, Lady M. This is the first time I’m seeing one up close and personal, outside of a TV screen that is. I am fascinated by the use of space, the controls, the different language used, and the sheer luxury of the yacht. So what, if I have not sailed in one, at least I got to tour one, right? 🙂
The sun has set by the time we arrive the centuries-old St. Thomas Church at Aldona. Built in 1596, the Church interiors are supposed to have some stunning murals depicting stories from the Bible. But since the evening service is in progress, I can’t see the interiors and have to be satisfied with just looking at the beautiful façade of the church and have a peek at the adjoining cemetery.
After the brief visit to the church and a last lingering look at the tombstones silhouetted against the moon, we head to Roberto’s 500-year-old home, which has been in his family for generations.
At Cancio’s House, I meet with the Amaral family — Raquel, Roberto’s wife; Maria, his mother; his 3 sons and 2 dogs. Over some tea, I listen to stories of the house, the people who have stayed there, get a grand tour of their beautiful home, see the guest cottage with its comfortable rooms… I am charmed and completely taken in with the warmth shown by the Amarals. I know where I’ll be staying on my next visit to Goa. 🙂
It’s late when I leave Cancio’s House and Aldona. In spite, of the long day and the miles I have travelled that day, I don’t feel tired at all. What I feel is a sense of relaxation. I’m smiling all through the return journey to where I’m staying in Colva and travel with the realisation that this has not only been the best day I’ve had in Goa (across all the 4 trips I’ve made here), but has also become one of my most memorable travel moments.:)