Monday, December 13, 2010

Explore Goa: Margao to Ponda and Back.

The "Old Market" in Margao.
After a nice rest in Margao at my Sisters place, I was unsure what to do next. I wanted to make the trip to Dudhsagar waterfalls, but felt that I should keep it for another day. Instead, I thought I'll take a trip to the Old Market and perhaps do a little cycling to Ponda & back. The "little cycling" eventually turned out to be 4 hours of solid cycling.

My bike trip from Margao to Ponda & back.

I passed by the Fatorda football stadium, which is the biggest stadium in Goa. There is always some sort of activity going outside the stadium, whether it is cricket, football or handball.

Fatorda football stadium.
Local school practicing sports drill at the stadium.
The Holy Spirit Church in Margao recently celebrated their annual feast (they celebrate it on the same day as the Panjim Church on 8th December). The stalls that were put up for the feast (called feries) were still open - selling everything from furniture, household items and sweets.

Selling bed frames near the roadside.
Chanas being sold at the Margao Feri.
Next, I passed by the Holy Cross church just as the school was about to kick off its annual sports day.

School children posing for their photograph.
The torch relay before the kick-off.
And the sports day is officially started.
I wish I could have stayed on longer as I am sure there would have been plenty of photo opportunities as the students competed in various events. Sadly, I was in a hurry and decided to move on as I needed to get into the city to complete some banking transaction.

As I was going towards Margao, I saw a small hill just opposite the church. I have studied in this place but never bothered to climb on top of the hill. I decided to give it a try. The hill is called "Monte" (Portuguese word for Mount). The climb up is very steep which means I had to walk and push the bike all the way to the top. It is only after I reached the top that I realized there is a chapel up there - and the hill provides a panoramic view of Margao city.

Chapel on top of Monte.
Panoramic view of Margao from the top of Monte.
My next stop (after completing the banking transaction) was to head to the Margao Old Market. This market is just as I remember 30 years back. Always crowded, and difficult to walk around due to the extremely narrow pathways. The inside of the market is like a maze. Once you enter, you don't know where you will end up. And like most mazes, it took me years to figure out how to get out of the place.

Inside the Margao old market.
Red chillies dominate this tiny shop.
Traditional Goan pork sausages.
Vegetable stall inside the Old Market.
Shoe shop inside the Old Market.
Clothes & Accessories.
A shop that specialized in ladies bangles.
People push & shove to get through the narrow path.
I stopped by one of the popular stalls that sells "Falooda with ice-cream", a sort of a smoothie prepared with full fat milk, syrup, sugar and ice-cream. My body that has been nourished with a careful selection of low-fat food items probably did not know what hit it as the delicious Falooda flowed through my veins.

Falooda being prepared.
With the Falooda under my belt, I headed towards Ponda. As most of Goa, the place is full of green forests and fields.

Rain filled fields on the way to Ponda.
I was cycling on the National highway so utmost attention must be given to the trucks that zip by at breakneck speeds. Most of the truck drivers are courteous but safety has to be given high importance if anyone wants to ride a bicycle on these roads.

The Zuari rives cuts through the village of Borim which lies between Margao & Ponda. In my younger days, we used to travel through this place once a year to attend the St. Xavier's feast in Old Goa. At that time, the only connection across this river was through the Borim bridge. Crossing the bridge was always a scary affair. The bridge was destroyed by the Portuguese when Indian army invaded Goa in 1963. The damaged portion was repaired but the result was a very rickety affair. I remember that when the bus approached the bridge, all the passengers had to get out from the bus and walk across the bridge while the empty bus slowly made its progress behind the passengers.

The bridge is now in ruins - replaced by a new bridge. I decide to check out the ruins and luckily, there was nobody around to stop me.

The broken bridge is blocked by the wall.
The wall to block access to the bridge was built after 2 boys drove right across without realizing it is a broken bridge and plunged into the waters below. I had no problem jumping over the wall to take some pictures.

Edge of the broken Borim bridge.
I retreated back and continued on to the new bridge which was built about 25 years ago to replace this bridge.

Scenic view of a stream from the new Borim bridge.
Mining barges passing through the Zuari river.
While walking over the new Borim bridge, I realized that there must have been another bridge built by the Portuguese before they constructed the old Borim bridge.

Bridge that predates the old Borim bridge.
From the looks of the bridge columns, it appears that the original bridge must have been too low for barges to pass through, hence it was dismantled to be replaced by the Old Borim bridge.

I traveled to Ponda, where I had a nice South Indian Thali lunch at Cafe Bhosle, and then headed back to Margao. The entire journey took me around 7 hours.

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