Few beaches can claim to have inspired filmmakers, especially one of the allure of the late Raj Kapoor. But maybe that classic Hindi movie of his, Bobby, wouldn’t have been made if not for Calangute. It is said that while visiting the beach, he saw a dance troupe performing the dekhni, a local folk dance, and was immediately hooked. He asked music directors Laxmikant-Pyarelal to compose a song with that tune, a request that resulted in the smash hit Ghe re saiba.
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It should come as no surprise that the name Calangute graces the annals of Hindi films. Along with the village of Candolim which flanks it to the south and the hamlet Baga in the north, Calangute Beach is the heart of tourism in Goa. It is known, somewhat indecently, as the ‘queen’ of Goa’s beaches. After the hippies first discovered it in the late 1960s, it became the favorite of Mumbai’s biggest movie stars in the 1970s. Actor Shashi Kapoor was even renting a house at that time.
Now in the 21st century, Calangute’s visitors are busloads of tourists tumbling out of their vehicles onto the beach and into the restaurants, night hotspots and night markets. But between the Tai Chi billboards and raver graffiti, you can still catch a glimpse of coastal village vaddos as they were before they morphed into Goa’s biggest beach destinations. And that may be what helps Calangute retain its charm.
Calangute is considered a fairly safe place to swim, although large waves have been known to drag swimmers out to sea. A river flows to the north of Baga Beach. Stay at least 300 meters away from the mouth of this river. The best thing to do is to swim in the designated areas.
Baga is a vaddo of Calangute where Goans gather for the sea cure in the middle of May. It is an endless array of shops, restaurants and hotels. But the beach is still very beautiful, especially when viewed against the densely forested Baga-Anjuna Hill.
Walk up the Baga Hill to the Baga Retreat House, established and dedicated to St Francis Xavier in 1953. The path up the hill goes past the Retreat House to the other side of the hill, until it reaches the flea market on South Anjuna Strand. With spectacular views along the way, it’s a great walk for the adventurous, but must be done before night falls. Baga is also home to some of the biggest nighttime hotspots in Goa, including Tito’s and Café Mambo.
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Candolim Beach stretches from the Taj hotels near Sinquerim’s vaddo (the Taj calls it part of the beach ‘Sinquerim Beach’) to Escrivao Vaddo, on the main Candolim-Calangute Road. This road and the lanes off it are full of shops, hotels and restaurants, but Candolim beach itself is much less crowded.
Candolim is the home village of Fr Abbe Faria, founder of the science of hypnosis. It is also where one of the first revolts against Portuguese rule was launched by Goans – that is, the Rebellion of the Pintos, led by Goan Catholic priests. Abbe Faria apparently suggested to the Pintos that they overthrow the Portuguese and set up a republic in Goa. A Pinto of Candolim offered them the use of his house, and here they met in secret. However, someone betrayed their plot to the Portuguese, who surrounded the house and captured the conspirators. Some of them were executed, but most were imprisoned in Lisbon. The house where the conspiracy was launched still stands. It now houses the Boscio Hospital, just off the main road in Pinto Vaddo.
Thanks to the grounding of a ship called the River Princess, Candolim is no longer safe for swimming, as there can be an unpredictable undertow at different phases of the tide. To feel safe, don’t venture deeper than your waist if you’re less than 500m from the ship.
If you are in Candolim you must visit Rust, a lifestyle store. From studio pottery to furniture to conversation pieces, Rust has it all. But not to be missed is Rust’s incredible chocolate shop. 10 Downing Street is a club and pub next to Taj Holiday Village. Geoffrey’s pub plays 80’s music at softer volumes.
Location Calangute is located in the center of the Bardez coast. It is bordered by Candolim Beach to the south and Baga to the north
Distances Calangute Beach is 592 km south of Mumbai; Candolim Beach is just 3-4 km S of Calangute
Travel time By train 101/4 hours + 1/2 hour by road By plane 1 hour + 1 hour by road
By road 12 hours
Route State Road to Kalamboli; NH4 to Panvel; NH17 to Mapusa via Pen, Nagothane, Kolad, Mangaon, Mahad, Chiplun, Nandgaon and Sawantwadi; provincial road to Calangute.
When to go Any time of the year, but of course the best season is winter. Though this is also the time when Goa is most expensive and crowded
Goa Tourism Development Corp Ltd
Dr Alvares Costa Road
E-mail: [email protected]
STD code 0832