Vacation Destination – Goa, India

Filming for Ludlum’s The Bourne Supremacy (2004), starring Matt Damon, Franka Potente, and Joan Allen took place at various locations in the UK, Europe, Russia, and India. Goa, the smallest state in India and a Portuguese territory until 1961, is a popular vacation destination on the southwest coast, known for temples, religious festivals, beaches, and friendly people. In addition to many national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, Goa is rich in natural resources and has an economy based primarily on tourism, with over 2 million visitors in 2010.

Check out driving in Goa:

Places to visit:

Movie scenes were filmed in and around Panaji, the capital located on the Mandovi River about 25 miles from the Dabolim airport. A main attraction in the center of this market town is Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception church. Built in 1541 by the Portuguese, this majestic church stands 100 steps above the square. The huge bell weighs over 5,000 pounds, the second largest in the world. Every year beginning 8 Dec, the 3-day celebration of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception brings locals and tourists to worship and visit the market stalls of souvenirs, handicrafts, sweets (hajem), and drink.

Dr Salim Ali’s Bird Sanctuary, established by this renowned India ornithologist, is located on the nearby island of Chorao, accessible by ferry or by a Santa Monica cruise boat. You can view the animals and hundreds of exotic species of birds in their mangrove habitat from the watchtower and get information from the Nature Interpretation Center. Best months: Oct-Mar, Entry fee: $1.

(If you visit Panaji during the holidays, or most evenings, take a Santa Monica cruise boat along the brightly lit riverfront accompanied by live music and dancing onboard. Price: $2.)

Kala Academy, beautifully designed by Charles Correa 1973-1983, is the art and cultural entertainment center about a mile from Panaji. Drama, dance, and music are featured in two large auditoriums (one outdoor) and two mini-theaters. The Academy offers classes for adults and children, sponsors international film festivals, folk music events, and art exhibits. Hours: Mon-Fri, 9:30am-1pm, 2-6pm.

The Mahalaxmi Hindu Temple in Panaji was built in the early 1800’s for the goddess of wealth. Religious celebrations are held each year, and from 1 Jan-29 Feb 2012, followers and tourists will visit the temple for the Maruti Jatra festival.

Other Things to Do:

Beaches & More Beaches: In addition to Miramar, the main beach at Panaji, there are many others including Agonda, Calangute, Ajuna, Baga, and Palolem, Matt Damon’s hideaway 47 miles from Panaji. The long stretch of Calangute beach leads to the less crowded beach at Candolim, the birthplace of Father Abbe Faria founder of hypnotism. Have lunch or dinner at the Moonlight Restaurant, open daily from 8am-11pm, or spend the night in their Guest House. Take the ferry from Panaji to Betim, then a short bus ride to Sinquerim and Candolim (fare a few cents).

Here’s a beach:

Shop along 18th June Road, or at the Panaji market where you’ll find everything from fish and spices to electronics and clothing. Sample local specialties such as Feni (cashew liquor) and choricao sausages. Stroll through the narrow streets of the Portuguese Fontainhas neighborhood (car chase scene in the movie) and admire the colorful, old houses and the Chapel of St Sebastian. Indulge in an ayurvedic “science of long life” massage at one of the many spas or beauty parlors in Panaji.

Accommodations:

LaLit Goa where Matt Damon stayed during filming is located near Agonda beach and the town of Canacona, about an hour from Panaji. In addition to the fabulous Rejuve Spa & Fitness Centre, the resort features tennis, squash, water sports, golf, day care, and children’s activities. Internet service is also available, but expensive at $421 initial fee. A 24-hour coffee shop and the Sea BBQ restaurant provide onsite dining. Veri-Fini in the hotel lobby serves as a sports bar, with card tables, dice casino, a DJ, and dance floor. The Gazebo is a sunken bar offering refreshments for hotel guests at the outdoor pool.

Avg Rates: Garden view room (dbl) – $200, Arabian Sea view – $250. (Both with private balcony/courtyard.) Regular 3-nights/4days pkg – $800. Holiday pkg – $1,300

Taj-Fort Aguada Beach Resort, also highly recommended and host to some of the cast, is located on Sinquerim Beach about 4 miles from Panaji. Choose from 145 guestrooms or suites, dine at 4 different restaurants, and enjoy the spa, swimming pool, and watersports. The resort offers a number of excellent all-inclusive packages, which include flights from the UK, meals, and accommodations.

Prices: 7 nights, $1,800 p/p, 7 nights during holiday season, $2,550 p/p.

(Other packages available. Email: Southalltravel.co.uk for more information.)

The Hotel Mandovi maintains its reputation as a landmark for tourism in Goa. Known for comfort and hospitality, its ideal location on the river provides convenient access to shopping, dining, entertainment, business facilities, and tourist attractions, as well as a 2-mile promenade to Miramar Beach. There are 65 rooms, standard, deluxe, and suites, as well as the Riorico restaurant, which features Goan and Portuguese cuisine. Hours: 7:30-10am, 12:30-3pm, 7-11pm

Room Rates: From $373 std dbl to $485 premium dbl (includes brkfst)

You’ll also find good accommodations at the Panjim Inn or the Afonso Guest House in Fontainhas.

Dining: Spicy Vindaloo fish & chicken curries, pork, and coconut are typical cuisine, along with Kingfisher beer and Feni. The Horse Shoe restaurant in Panaji is recommended for romantic atmosphere and exotic dishes. Try their specialties, chocolate mousse and sans rival. Prices: $15-$25. Hours: 12:30-2pm, 7-10pm.

The Quarterdeck waterfront restaurant on the way from Miramar to Calangute has great seafood and a good selection of wine and other drinks. Enjoy the relaxing atmosphere, excellent service, and watch the party boats go by. Live music on the weekends. Hours: 11am-3pm, 7-11pm. Prices: $15-$25.

Palms N Sands at Candolim offers a variety of seafood, cocktails, outdoor seating, and a beachfront view. Open: Year round. Avg price: $8.

Also recommended – Delhi Darbar for excellent Indian food, Kamat’s near the Church Square & Cafè Real for vegetarian dishes.

Getting around: A private car with driver, or unmetered taxi, can be rented for a reasonable $30- $40 a day, but 2-wheeled vehicles are the fastest and main means of transportation in Goa (international drivers license advisable). Scooters, or motorcycle pilots, rent for $2 to $12 a day; auto rickshaws under $2.

Ferries from Panaji to Betim and Chorao from Ribandar dock (about 2 miles from Panaji): Hours: 7am-7pm. Free for pedestrians (last update).

Getting there: International and charter flights arrive at Dabolim airport. Rail & bus service between major cities in India.

Sharon L Slayton

Filed Under: Movie tourism

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