June 05, 2013

AN EVENING IN VAGATOR - PART 1


THE GOA DIARIES: VAGATOR BEACH - A PROFILE


Vagator in the evening

Having spent most of the first two decades of my life along the Arabian coast, it should hardly be surprising that I do not have any fascination for beaches, because for me, the sea has always been in the proximity and unlike hill stations or forests, it is not something that we have looked forward to while planning our holidays. However, there is one beach in North Goa which has been my favorite, so much so that in the 10 years that I have spent in Goa, I have never missed any opportunity to go there, be it with friends, relatives or on class picnics. As such, during my trip to the state in the last week of May, when I and my friends from GEC (that's Goa Engineering College for all those who don't know) - Niks, Sav, Datta and Sai were deciding on a place to spend the evening after having a sumptuous meal at Hotel Texas in Panjim, I instantly vetoed for Vagator and in a flash, we were on the way with Sav's GPS leading showing us the way, listening to Linkin Park.

Vagator Beach - North Goa

This serene beach is located in Bardez taluka of North Goa - the tiny patch of the Western coast flanked by the rivers Mandvi and Chapora on either side. Calangute - arguably, the most famous of all Goan beaches, Anjuna - renowned for the Wednesday flea market and trance parties, Baga - known for dolphin rides and Candolim which offers some of the best facilities for water sports in the state are some of the other famed beaches that are located in this stretch of land and are swarmed by tourists, both domestic and foreign during the season. The seaside headland where the car parking is situated, divides the beach into two major parts - Big Vagator in the north and the Little Vagator in the south. Besides the pristine beach, the sea waves creating a splash as they hit the numerous rocks along the shore, the coconut trees swaying along with the cool winds, the imposing 17th century Chapora fort, the pleasant weather and the tourists enjoying their time here away from all the tensions and worries, all contribute in making a visit to this place more than worthwhile.

Rocks at Vagator

The north side, better known as Big Vagator beach seems to be more popular with Indians than firangs. Also, it is far less crowded when compared to its southern counterpart. On the hillock over looking it lies the majestic Chapora fort. Considering its strategic importance, the place seems to have been fortified much before the Portuguese invasion of Goa. In the 1680s, when the Marathas under Sambhaji invaded Goa, this place was the scene of heavy fighting. The present fort was built in 1717 by the Portuguese. As the borders of their  possessions along the west coast grew beyond Bardez following the New Conquests, it lost its strategic importance and was neglected thereafter. As such, besides the laterite walls and the gate which have stood for close to three centuries now, nothing else remains of it today. The structure is huge yet simple. Nonetheless, the view of the sea and the beach below is spectacular. In fact, some of the scenes of the Hindi blockbuster Dil Chahta Hain were shot here.

The Big Vagator Beach (Left) and Chapora Fort (Right)

The Southern beach is further divided into two more fragments - the Middle Vagator beach and the Little Vagator beach. The middle beach, which is the smallest of the three is also called as the Tel Aviv beach. The reason being the large number of Israelis who come here each year. Personally, I find it the most beautiful stretch of this shore primarily due to the uneven nature of the slope, the red cliffs and the large number of coconut palms. The Little Vagator beach, the busiest part of the stretch is popularly known as the Orzan beach. It used to be one of the famous hippy haunts of the 1960s, particularly amongst those of British nationality. One of the reminders of this bygone era is the Shiva statue carved out of stone at the southern end of Vagator. It is believed that it was sculpted by a hippie who is said to have been a devotee of Lord Shiva in a period spanning over a couple of years. Today, there are several shacks here and on any given season except for the rains, one can find hundreds of tourists here, either basking in the sun or playing in the waters of the Arabian. 

The Middle Vagator Beach (Left) and the Little Vagator Beach (Right)

I personally have very fond memories of the place over the several visits that I paid to Vagator. One of them was in Standard XII when we had gone there on a class picnic. Young men that we were then, watching so many white skinned women sans their tops was very exciting. As we were coming back, I distinctly remember me, Amba and Habbu Sir talk about a wide range of topics on our way to the bus which was waiting in the parking area. A couple of years later, I and a few friends, most of whom I have mentioned earlier in this post had been here on a Saturday in December 2008. Sitting near the Shiva statue we tried to out do each other in stone skipping. The competition between Sai and Niks was close. Eventually, it was the latter who won. I am very sure that my trips to Goa will never be complete without going to Vagator and refresh those memories amongst the undulating slopes, the tall coconut trees, the rocks, the sun, the sand and the sea.

A crab at the beach

PS: The images posted here were clicked by me and my friends Sai and Sav.


For more on the Goa trip:
(1) A Trip to Goa... Finally (Link)
(2) The Chance Encounter (Link)
(3) Dil Dosti Etc (Link)
(4) An Evening in Vagator - Part 2 (Link
(5) Life is a Beach (Link