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Hidden Gems of Goa : Few must visit places in and around Vasco da Gama.

This one will be our last blog on the Hidden Gems of Goa series and we may put up another series later on when we get more unexplored places in Goa.

Most of us divide Goa into North and South Goa and plan our itinerary accordingly and drive through the Goa airport without exploring places around the airport. In this blog we are going to explore places around Vasco da Gama so you can keep a day free after landing or before you catch your flight back home.

Three places that I will mention here are 1. Naval Museum, 2. Japanese Garden and 3. Mhalsa Narayani temple in Verna.

1. Indian Naval Aviation Museum :

Nearest to the airport is the Indian Naval Aviation Museum founded in the year 1998. It is one of the open to air museums where the aircrafts used by the Indian Navy in warfare are displayed for the public to see. There are in all 13 aircrafts in the open gallery from fighter planes to helicopters.

I visited this place with my friends and their kids so we had a lot of fun and the kids thoroughly enjoyed watching the aircrafts. It is a must visit place if you have kids along with you and they feel all patriotic once they are inside those gates. The museum also showcase internal gallery and it's a replica of INS Viraat which shows the interior of a ship and also showcases different uniforms worn by different ranks, naval equipment and various battles fought by our Indian Navy.

The museum also has a small shop where you can buy various merchandise of the Indian Navy like t-shirts, caps, key chains etc. For kids you can also buy books to make aircrafts.

Naval museum is around 6.5 kms from the Goa airport and you would take only around 10-15 minutes to reach the place. The museum is usually closed on Monday and is open from 9:30 to 5:30 on all other days so plan your visit accordingly. The time may vary due to covid rules and you can check the same on Google before heading here.

2. Japanese Garden :

Next place at around 8 kms from the airport is Japanese Garden. One of my friends from Goa told me about this place and sent me some pictures of the place and I had to visit it. When I first heard the name I pictured a garden with Japanese architecture but it is nothing of that sorts. Garden is just a normal one and at first as we reached the place, we thought probably we have reached a wrong place but as we entered the garden and moved ahead we saw the mesmerizing view of wide vast sea from the garden edge which is a little above sea level. We could not move our eyes for some time and just kept on watching the golden sea.

There was a small road leading down to the beach and we decided to reach down before the sun sets in. We spend some time clicking pictures of the setting sun and climbed back up after the sunset. We were happy to come across this beautiful garden and left the place contended and refreshed.

3. Mhalasa Narayani Temple :

The third point is a little bit away from the airport at around 17 kms and would take around 30 mins to reach. Everyone is aware of the famous Mhalsa Devi temple at Mardol but this Mhalsa Narayani temple is a Gem situated inside Verna Industrial Estate. Since very few people are aware about this temple, it is not at all crowded and gives a peaceful feeling that any temple should ideally have.

Mhalasa is considered as Mohini form of lord Vishnu and therefore she is referred as "Mhalasa Narayani". The deity wears a “Janva” a sacred thread which is worn only by male gods and not by goddesses. This is one of a kind since this goddesses is a form of lord Vishnu. The temple architecture is huge and beautiful with clean and pious surrounding.

The surrounding of the temple has a school named Mhalsa Narayani school. Seeing the kids playing in the background of a temple gave me a feeling of Gurukul and it felt very sacred.

So next time you visit Goa, don't miss out on these places. Along with these places you can also visit Hollant beach and heart shaped lake which is nearby and we have already written a blog earlier about the same. Hope you guys liked our series on unexplored places in Goa.

Radhika Thankar.

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