Margao, which is more synonymous with Saxtti (in Konkani, the local language) or Salcete, is where Goa's heart beats. Till date, Saxtti conjures up a sense of patriotism for the local language and all things Goan. It is at Margao (at Lohia Maidan) from where a fervent call was made for Goa's liberation from the Portuguese rule.
Post-Liberation and over the years, Margao has come to be known as the commercial capital of Goa and is home to several markets that offer good bargains for budget shoppers. From local produce to fish to the famous chouriso (pickled sausages), Margao markets beckon Goans 365 days in a year.
But that's not all, Margao is also a much sought-after place for its wedding shopping, attracting people even from other parts of Goa. Wedding shoppers, who head here, can get the best deals on purchase of shoes, dresses, accessories and, that too, for very reasonable rates.
Here are some of the markets that you can choose to visit in Margao:
THE OLD MARKET
For Madganvkars, their old market earlier used to be a one-stop solution for all requirements. It was situated just opposite the Margao Municipal Council building. The vendors would sit in the open, opposite the lane of the council and sell local produce.
However, the market was later shifted to the new market, but on the street opposite the municipality you can still find several sellers sitting with fish and local produce. Also, the old market building has many of the old establishments still functional.
MINERVA ICE CREAM AND COLD DRINKS HOUSE
One of the famous stops in the old market is the Minerva ice cream place. After shopping in the scorching heat, people can take a break and relish on some chilled ice-cream shakes and sundaes.
It is one of the oldest places and people still flock to Minerva to enjoy its famous gadbad and ice creams. The price range starts from Rs 50 and above for ice-cream shakes.
Don't go by its old and rustic looks, the place serves some tasty ice-cream shakes that continue to bring people back for more.
Interestingly, if you walk to the north of the road, you can find the new municipal market. A tower next to Radio Mundial has a plaque that states that the market was earlier called Mercado de Afonso Albuquerque and dates back to December 5, 1889. Afonso de Albuquerque was the first European who discovered the sea route to India.
Here, you will find narrow lanes lined with shops of clothes, accessories, pharmacy, garments, etc. The vendors seated on the footpath will politely ask passersby to buy their items and clothes kept for sale.
NEW MUNICIPAL MARKET
The New Municipal Market is accessible from several sides. This market is known for its shops selling local sweets and savories.
SWEETS AND SAVOURIES
If you are looking for authentic Goan sweets like sannas, Bebinca, Dodol, Perade, etc., look no further. May it be Christmas, Easter, Diwali or Ganesh Chaturthi, people come here to purchase sweets -- both readymade and homemade.
MASALAS AND MORE
Moving a little ahead in the market, one will start smelling masalas. This smell is hard to ignore and as you start walking, to the left and right you will see chillies, tamarind and garlic artistically arranged in heaps for sale.
Goans prefer buying chillies, masalas, garlic, tamarind, etc from these vendors as the products are mostly home-grown and appropriate for local cooking. It is quite fascinating to see vendors seated in the middle with a light bulb hanging over their heads.
CLOTHES AND WEDDING GOWNS
People also come here to this market to buy materials for weddings. Different types of materials, both foreign and made in India, are found here.
SHOES, SANDALS, AND SLIPPERS
The pre-monsoon showers have set in and the schools have reopened. It's that time of the year to purchase rainy shoes and sandals, and the only place people head to is the new market.
Besides, daily needs and traditional shopping for Christmas and Diwali, this is the most reliable place for wedding shopping. From wedding dresses to uniquely styled shoes, the new market has all.
The shops here has dresses suitable for all types. One can get your shoes and sandals fixed as well here.
Shopping in this heat can be certainly tirirng and you will feel like taking a break before heading home. In the new market, one can enjoy juices at the many centres. From lime soda to shakes at very reasonable rates, one can get that refreshing kick.
SAUSAGE AND PORK MEAT
Margao is known for its pork meat and sausages and there is a good market for these products. This market is known to have some of the finest pork meat and sausages. One can but these from 10 am onwards till 4 or 5pm in the evening.
These meat sellers are locals and well-known and hence people prefer buying from them.
Besides this, you can find a wide range of home décor items, crockery, vases, etc which are not actually locally made but have been manufactured in countries like China, Japan, etc.
The market has anything and everything that you are looking for.
Tip: Don't get lost in the narrow lanes of the market. It might look like a maze at first but any exit point will safely take you out to the main road.
Little ahead of the New market is the Gandhi Market. One of the indicators that you are in the Gandhi market is the strong smell of rose tea powder that you get at the entrance of the place. The outlet selling rose tea is just around the corner and the smell is so irresistible that it will definitely make you buy some tea back home.
As you walk down you can find vendors moving around with rickshaws and carts. This market is well known for its vegetables and groceries that one can buy in bulk. However, not all of those veggies are produced in Goa. These are imported from the neighbouring places like Belgaum in Karnataka and also Maharashtra.
At the South Goa Planning and Development Authority (SGPDA) market, one can find a variety of fish, vegetables, fruits and other grocery items. It is a more spacious and spread out market and lies just behind the Inox Multiplex theatre in Margao.
One can almost find the whole of Goa in the markets of Margao. These are places of social interactions, where locals feel like at home and tourists can get a feel of Goa's food and culture.
(This is the second article of a three-part series on Margao. Look out for more stories in the next article.)