Anjuna is not quite Goa. Neither does it tally with what one expects of India. In this pocket along the west coast of the country, there’s a strange mix of east and west, of the hippy seventies and the consumerist nineties which leaves locals totally bewildered.
Anjuna attracts a weird and wonderful collection of over monks, artists, artisans, defiant ex-hippies, gentle lunatics, seers, searchers, sybarites and itinerant expatriates who normally wouldn’t be seen out of the organic confines of their health-food emporia in San Francisco or London.
One of the biggest beaches, the vastness of Anjuna can be realized by the fact that there is a north, a south and middle to the beach. While most of the hotels, bars and restaurants are in north Anjuna, towards the middle Anjuna is Flea market and in the south is Little Anjuna Beach.
Things to see and do
There is no end to fun, adventure and thrill on Anjuna. Once there leave your inhibitions and get into the party mood. It’s difficult to say what’s the main attraction of this beach, the beach parties, walking through the beach on moonlit night or the ever so famous Flea market.
The Acid House Party
The party never stops on Anjuna and is known for its full-moon (acid house) parties. Its the party hard spirit that makes Anjuna a rave venue for big parties and party animals, especially during the Christmas and new year period. Usually the nightlife of Anjuna centers at Shore bar which is in the middle of the beach. The night comes alive with Goa trance music and the pounding rhythmic sound system. There is no dearth of party places. All you need to do is just swing into the party mood and voila! the fun begins.
The trance party with dance, frolic, and merriment goes all night besides the fire. It is just the right place for lazing holidaymakers. Besides the calm waters of the Arabian Sea lapping softly on the Indian shore, Anjuna comes live with its ever-famous full-moon parties and the Wednesday flea market to take one onto a trance trip.
Wednesday Flea market
Flea market is a tradition decades old, held every Wednesday dates back to 1960’s. It began as a place where hippies who were either broke or were leaving sold their possessions. Banned for several years for allegedly promoting drug trafficking, Flea market was revived several years back by Anjuna Panchayat.
Every Wednesday, at around 11 a.m., Anjuna breaks into a riot of colors. The popularity of the market among the locals and tourists can be judged by traffic jams here every Wednesday. But once there, Flea market will offer you with a range of products so unique that it will be a memory of a lifetime. From a used paperback to a haircut, cameras to elephant rides, Tibetan, Kashmiri and Gujarati trinkets and handicrafts, European snacks, to cassettes and CD’s of “Goa Trance”, artificial ornaments carvings, T-shirts and chillums meant to smoke banned drugs there is no end to the variety here.
An elephant ride and a photograph with a fake sadhu or a fake snake charmer can also be found here. Flea market is a heaven for hardcore shoppers and good bargainers.
The market begins around noon and goes on till sunset. Once in Goa, you can’t afford to miss this riot of colors.
Get into the Mood
Swimming or bathing is safe at southern end where a rocky terrain keeps the sea calm and undertow to a minimum. Long walks along the beach under the shining moon will soothe you beyond imagination and watching the sun going down is a favorite pastime. Take a walk to the Baga retreat house to get to some sea cure shops. On calm days one can enjoy snorkeling at the southern end and spot some mullet, parrot fish and groupers.
There are quite a few structures to tickle your architectural bone. There’s a Albuquerque Mansion which was built in 1920. It is flanked by octagonal towers and Mangalore tile roof. Another mansion is Mascarenhas Mansion which has rich and classic ‘balcoes’ (balconies). An L shaped seat along the porch is carved out of expensive wood. There are also some fine stained glass floral etchings. And to catch up with some scenic beauty of the Anjuna beach, mount Chapora fort. This fort was under Muslim rulers before Portuguese came to Goa.
Where to Stay
There are plenty of guesthouses around the village, and even a couple of hotels. Someone planning a longer stay should look out for ‘To Let’ signs, as there are plenty of houses that are available on rent along the back lanes.