Faith, Festivities and Feasts! – A local guide to the must-visit churches of Goa.

The Yule Tide is beckoning and with Christmas around the corner, festivities are in the air! The most wonderful time of the year is celebrated with pomp and splendor in the Coastal Goan regions, and every soul is in festive mode, ready to bring in the holiday season!

When touring Goa one can hardly miss the armada of quaint churches and chapels scattered across the countryside, small peaceful havens with white steeples and large, welcoming courtyards that have formed the center of communal festivity for centuries. This time of the year, you cannot miss out on visiting these beautiful historic structures, all decked up for Christmas with weekly feasts and festivities planned to celebrate the holidays! We have put together a list of some of the best events you can attend, at beautiful churches and chapels in the area, that make a truly memorable visit any time of the year.

First up is the Our Lady of Remedios Church, Betalbatim, located a short 500 m walk from Jasminn South Goa.

This beautiful Church is well maintained, with whitewashed walls and immaculate grounds surrounding the complex, perfect for a peaceful afternoon visit. The small, ornate graveyard a couple hundred yards down the road gives you another tranquil peek into the history of the locale. The annual church feast held here on the 3rd Sunday of January is a grand and indulgent affair, definitely worth experiencing!

Next, we have the Mother of God Church, Majorda, a 3 km drive from Jasminn South Goa. This grand historical monument was founded in May, 1588 when the foundation stone was laid. History has it that the Church was set on fire during an invasion in 1738. It was reconstructed the following year.

There are two notable feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary celebrated in Majorda which are the Mother of God feast on the First Sunday of May and Boa Morte (Good Death) on the first Sunday of October.

Coming to the next must-visit on our list- Our Lady of Merces Church, Colva, a 2 km drive from Jasminn South Goa. Initially founded as a chapel in 1630, this historic church greatly venerates Infant Jesus with great devotion and reverence.

The Feast of Infant Jesus, commonly known as The Fama, is celebrated here with much devotion on the second Monday of October. The Fama marks the beginning of the novenas leading up to feast day. Legend states that the statue of Infant Jesus situated here was found off the coast of Mozambique in the 17th century by some shipwrecked sailors led by a Jesuit missionary. The second annual event- Our Lady of Merces feast is celebrated on the Sunday following 8th September

Another great annual festivity is the The Three Kings Feast at St. Thomas Church, Cansaulim- around 6 km from Jasminn South Goa.

The feast of the Three Kings commemorates the adoration by the Three Magi at the feet of Baby Jesus. It is usually celebrated on the first Sunday in January. This festival is a flamboyant affair, marked with grand processions and the crowning of three kings from the three villages, who are then escorted with pomp and fervor to the church on Remedios hill. It is a memorable event, definitely worth witnessing first-hand.

Should you find yourself traversing through the ambling lanes and quaint streets of Old Goa these holidays, then you cannot miss out on The St. Francis Xavier Feast, one of the most popular annual events in Goa just a 45 min drive from Jasminn South Goa , and 25 mins away from our new hotel- Jasminn Casa Laguna in Miramar, Panjim.

Held in homage to the patron saint of Goa, St Francis Xavier, this feast is one of the grandest celebrations in the state. Every year from the 21st of November to 2nd January, believers from across the globe come together on 3rd December to celebrate the death anniversary of their revered saint.

One of the most breath-taking tourist spots in Goa- The Basilica of Bom Jesus houses the silver casket that till date shelters the mortal remains of the saint. Planning this stop into your itinerary gives you the ideal opportunity to be part of a religious festival and witness the extravagant carnival.

There you have it! Some of the grandest and most notable churches and fests in North Goa for you to visit, to add some historic exploration and grand religious festivities to your trip. Happy Holidays!

The Rich Cuisine Of The Sun-kissed Goan Coast!

Goa is synonymous with the thought of sunny beaches, beautiful old chapels and colonial buildings, open stretches of roads winding through foliage, ancient forts and most importantly- the most mouth watering food imaginable. A whole host of culinary influences- Portuguese cuisine, the fresh seafood caught off the coast, Konkani and Malabar recipes, neighboring Maharashtrian and Karnatak inputs have all amalgamated into a true culinary melting pot of what is now considered a cuisine unique to Goa. Read on to find out more about some age old favorites including the most notable Xacuti and Vindaloo, and discover some unique and new local delicacies to add to your itinerary the next time you visit!

Vindaloo is a delicious, aromatic curry, featuring on most menus as a fiery dish bursting with flavor. Traditionally prepared with pork, it can be made with all sorts of meats and a lot of cafes keep up with the times and even feature vegan adaptations of this Goan staple! Derived from a Portuguese recipe for “ meat in garlic wine marinade “, it was originally prepared by the Portuguese sailors by preserving raw ingredients of pork and garlic soaked in red wine, in wooden barrels. This was adapted by the Goan cooks using vinegar instead and adding red chilli peppers ( got to have that kick of spice!) and other aromats. This soul fulfilling, rich and delicious curry goes the best with Sannas- the next on our list of local delicacies.

Sanna is a spongy, steamed savoury rice cake originating in the western coastal regions. A cousin of the idli, its made predominantly with coconut milk, coconut water and urad dal giving it a distinct nutty flavour. Fermented in toddy and steamed to perfection, these fluffy cakes dunked in a rich spicy coconut curry is what culinary dreams are made of! They are often made during festive occasions and catholic church fests with a sweet version also made using jaggery. Yum!

On the topic of curry accompaniments, Poee is next on our list. Every reputable bakery in Goa is well stocked with this delicious leavened bread, the rich warm aroma of freshly baked goods is utterly irresistible. But you better hurry and head there early or all the Poee is sure to sell out! Made from wheat flour and bran, this fluffy hollow bread is a healthier option for the weight conscious and an altogether delicious Goan staple. Its eaten with breakfast, lunch and dinner often stuffed with delicious Goan chorizo sausages and the perfect accompaniment to savoury dishes like Xacuti.

Ahhh… Xacuti. The name itself makes one reminiscent of sunny coastal cafes, the sea breeze, a chilled beer in hand and a delicious, filling meal of this aromatic Goan curry. This dish has a blend of spices including white poppy seeds, grated coconut and of course, a generous amount of dried red chilli. Made with fish, chicken or lamb meat, it originated in Arambol where the fishermen of the old days used to reel in their catch of the day and prepare the gravy for this dish. The hero ingredient contributing to its unique flavour is mildly roasted coconut kernel that is finely grated and added to the aromatic blend. Heavenly!

Another delicious curry fit for a feast is the famous Sorpatel… a dish of Portuguese origin that is strongly rooted in Goan culture. Made of a medley of red and organ meat cooked in a spicy, vinegary masala, no festive occasion is complete without Sorpatel! A generous serving over a bed of steaming rice takes the edge off the spice and makes for a filling and yummy meal.

Breakfast like a king, they say… the Goans definitely do it best with the local speciality Raas Omelette to start the day with! This hearty meal consist of a fluffy omelette cooked to its eggy perfection, garnished with finely chopped onions and coriander and smothered in a generous ladleful of “Raas”- typically Spicy Xacuti. This divine dish remains incomplete without a freshly baked Poee to scoop up the rich gravy. Honestly the perfect meal for any time of the day!

Now we get to the soul of Goan Cuisine… the delicious, fresh and bountiful SEAFOOD! Calamari, Fish, Prawns, Octopus… you name it and there’s a mouth watering culinary rendition available across the coast. Mandke Rechado Fry is a Goan speciality fried squid, stuffed with a traditional sweet, sour and spicy masala red paste. A heady, delicious explosion of favour, this is a seafood lovers’ dream.

Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten dessert! We have just the thing to satiate that sweet tooth and quell the fiery trail of all those spice laden curries! Bebinca ( pronounced Bibinc ) is a traditional Goan sweet dish specifically made for Christmas. This Goan “Christmas Pudding” is a complex 7 layered affair, rich with sugar, coconut, refined flour, egg yolks and ghee. Definitely one of the yummiest ways to end a meal. You’ll need a nice seaside jog after dinner to work of all those calories, but its absolutely worth it !

Lets end on an entertaining note- we can hardly speak of the Goan cuisine without a mention of the booze! Fenni is cashew or coconut (toddy) liquor, a traditional local delicacy savored across the globe. From cheap, local brands available at every stop to refined international brands that produce the stuff on a large scale sold in fancy ceramic or glass bottles, you’ll find it all! Take an eco-tour of the sprawling cashew plantations and follow the drinks’ manufacturing process right from the fruit. This heady and robust liquor can be served neat, but is best enjoyed mixed in Limca. Bottoms Up!

Exploring Breathtaking Betalbatim

A Tourists Guide to the Locality!

Howdy, travel enthusiast! Your trip to this South Goan paradise is the ideal opportunity to explore a coastal cul de sac and make memories to last a life time. You can spend your precious time looking up TripAdvisor or asking around for recommendations, but we’ve put together a list of some hidden local gems and must visit hot-spots to save you the trouble! Pristine sandy beaches, quaint old chapels, holistic relaxation centers, restaurants famous for their gastronomical marvels… read on to find out what awaits you in and around Betalbatim!

Betalbatim Beach

This beautiful 1 km stretch of golden sand is right between Colva beach and Majorda beach, a mere 1.5 kms from Jasminn Hotel. Sandy and wide without any rocky outcrops, the waters here are safe for swimming most times of the year with the shore gently sloping into the deeper Arabian Sea. The beach has retained its charm and beauty, relatively untouched by the throngs of tourists crowding the coastline in peak season. Head to the northern part of the beach ( also called Sunset Beach ) towards evening time for a gorgeous view of the setting sun spangling the skies with threads of scarlet and gold as dusk falls.

Martin’s Corner

An exhilarating, sunny day at the beach sure works up a good appetite! After witnessing the beautiful sunset, head over to Martin’s Corner, not too far from Sunset Beach. This famous restaurant 2 kms away from Jasminn Hotel has received several notable awards over the years, growing from a quaint and cozy set up to the bustling, popular, full-service foodie hub it is today. The welcoming servers, easy atmosphere and mouth watering food will leave you with blissful contentment. Indulge in the best of Goan, Continental, Oriental and Tandoori cuisine with an array of scrumptious specialty sea food to select from. Live entertainment accompanies your meal every evening, making for a truly memorable experience!

Melati

Speaking of memorable culinary experiences, we’ve got one closer to home that you cannot miss! Jasminn Hotel’s new RestoBar Melati. The beautiful ambiance and decor is the perfect setting for your evening, as you indulge in a range of delicious dishes inspired from local and continental cuisine, accompanied by an exciting variety of delicious cocktails! Feast like a king with the scrumptious breakfast spread, and don’t miss out on the loaded Chicken Club Sandwiches, smokey Tandoori Kebabs and Seafood!

Sanjay Bakery

Nothing beats the delicious, warm aroma of freshly baked bread. Another notable local gem is Sanjay Bakery- a family run establishment supplying delicious baked goods along with authentic Goan Poee bread just 500 meters from the doorstep of Jasminn Hotel. The friendly, welcoming staff and mouth watering bakery treats available make this place an absolute must visit.

Our Lady of Remedios Church

This beautifully maintained historical church in Betalbatim has a serene atmosphere of peace and tranquility, still fully functioning with weekly Sunday Mass services and fests every year. Just 0.5 km from your stay at Jasminn Hotel, the interior altars have been preserved and maintained impeccably and the surrounding gardens are well manicured and tended to. The beautiful architecture and lush grounds make this the ideal spot for a calm and tranquil afternoon.

Dramapur Adventures,Colva

Want a day of adventure and exploration to get the adrenaline pumping? Head to Dramapur Adventures (4 kms from Jasminn Hotel ) for a cycle ride and experience first hand the sea breeze, palm trees and quaint beauty of the coastal village of Salcette. With a wide array of premium and well maintained bicycles to choose from, your ride will be ideal for flat coastal roads and the rocky winding hills alike. The experienced guides take you along gorgeous hand-picked routes to experience beautiful views and minimum traffic. Definitely a trip to add to your itinerary!

Margao Local Fish Market

All that delicious fried calamari, pomfret curry, masala prawns and more… Goan seafood is truly the stuff of culinary dreams. Want to see first hand where all the fresh and delicious ocean fare comes from? Head to the Margao Fish Market, 4 kms from Jasminn Hotel. The vendors set up shop early as soon as the fishermen bring in their first catch of the day. The entire marketplace is a bustling frenzy of customers haggling over prices with the sellers with an array of fresh, live and wriggling seafood laid out on melting blocks of ice… truly a sight worth witnessing!

Goa Chitra Museum

Located in Benaulim 5 kms from Jasminn Hotel, Chitra is a must visit, offering a wonderful display of live installations, public studios and materials. The museum set up represents an evolving environment of traditional artifacts, inspiring us to observe an experimental context of material culture and re-think existing process and practice to develop new collaborative approaches. This exceptional ethnographic  museum displays over 4000 exhibits, all collected by one man over 25 years! It showcases the material culture of Goa before the electricity era, every implement substantiated with researched documentation that dates back to hundreds of years.

All these incredible experiences await, so get your bags packed, tickets booked and head to South Goa for a trip like never before!

Travel Kit Essentials for Your Monsoon Beach Retreat!

The skies are thundering, the clouds raining down, and the stormy coastline, cascading waves, fresh sea breeze and hearty atmosphere calls out to the adventurous spirit in you! While traditionally regarded a summer getaway, the coastal Goan region is a vibrant and green paradise in the monsoon.

A trip to the bountiful coast makes a perfect retreat from the daily hustle-bustle and crowd of busy metropolitan life. Immerse yourself in the beautiful environment, rich culture and delicious cuisine for a truly memorable vacation!

Packing can be a real chore, there’s nothing more infuriating than reaching your destination and realizing you’ve left something important behind. So, to help you gear up for your rainy beach holiday, we’ve put together a list of travel kit essentials. As the Boy Scouts say- Be Prepared!

Make sure your travel wardrobe is well endowed with synthetics and quick-dry outfits. Rainy day outings leave your clothes wet and the musty odor of damp clothes is truly displeasing! Lighter, synthetic fabric clothes are hassle free and you will have enough re-wearable options.

Do not forget to carry along a couple of warm sweaters or jackets, it can get chilly in the nighttime. Long Sleeve T-shirts and beanies will keep you toasty warm and comfortable. And while we’re on the topic, WINDCHEATERS and RAINCOATS! The perfect defense against any sudden showers that may catch you unawares. Avoid thick wool or fleece lined jackets, if they do get wet they’ll stay damp for ages.

For your luggage, try and stick to waterproof backpacks, sling bags and waist pouches. These will keep your electronics and belongings safe no matter what the weather!

Sunblock is a beach essential, but in this cloudy weather its more important to keep handy a good face cream with moisturizing properties, to keep your skin healthy. Carry along basic remedies for cough and cold symptoms, in case the damp weather gets your immunity down.

Another good way to prevent any illness is a lot of hot liquids through the day- soups, green tea and good, hearty meals! Keep a thermos in your travel pack so you can sip a warm brew on the go and beat the chills.

The abundant puddles are natural breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other insects. Keep a tube of Odomos or other mosquito repellents at hand to prevent any bites.

A fan of luxury footwear, expensive sneakers or strappy stilettos ? Leave them at home! Nothing ruins a good pair of shoes more than trudging through muddy puddles all day. Instead, grab your Flip Flops and a sturdy pair of Crocs and get ready to head out and explore the terrain!  

The monsoons are truly magical, but sudden downpours can often disrupt your plans for the day! If you do happen to get stuck indoors, prepare for the situation and pack some fun board games, cards and interesting books to occupy your time and beat those rainy day blues!

And now the most important part… make sure you’ve packed a good camera, and a small diary to capture your memories! The picturesque coastline and scenic beauty of South Goa makes for some incredible photographs, and even if you don’t get the time to jot down a daily log, a diary comes in handy to preserve mementos like the gorgeous blossoms of wild flowers, leaves or feathers you stumble upon while exploring the coast.

Happy Travelling!

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