Location: Bardez Taluka, 13-km South Of Panjim, Goa
Pronounced As: Mapsa
Main Attraction: The Friday Local Market
The ramshackle market town of Mapusa is the district headquarters of Bardez Taluka. If one arrives by road from Mumbai and plan to stay in one of the north Goan resorts, one can jump off the bus here and pick up a local service straight to the coast, rather than continue on to Panjim, 13-km south.
The Booming Friday Market: A dusty collection of dilapidated modern buildings scattered around the west facing slope of a low hill, Mapusa is of little more than passing interest in itself, although on Fridays it hosts a lively market (hence the town's name, which derives from the Konkani words for "measure" map. And "fill up", Sa).
Calangute and Anjuna may be better stocked with souvenirs, but this bazaar is more authentic. Visitors who have flown straight to Goa, and have yet to experience the rest of India, wander in on Friday mornings to enjoy the pungent aromas of fish, incense, spices and exotics fruit stacked in colourful heaps on the sidewalks.
Local specialties include strings of spicy Goan sausages ('Chourico'), bottles of 'Todi' (fermented palm juice) and large green plantains. One'll also encounter sundry freak shows, from run of the mill snake charmers and kids dressed up as Sadhus to wide-eyed Flagellants, blood oozing out of slashes on their backs.
HOW TO GET THERE
Road: Other than to shop, one may want to visit Mapusa to arrange onward transport. All buses between Goa and Maharashtra pass through, so one doesn't need to travel to Panjim to book a ticket to Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore or Mangalore.
Reservations for private buses can be made at the numerous agents stalls at the bottom of the square, next to where the buses pull in; the Kadamba Terminal - the departure point for long distance state buses and local services to Calangute, Baga, Anjuna, Vagator, Chapora, and Arambol - is five minutes walk down the main road, on the southwest edge of town.
One can also get to the coast from Mapusa on one of the motorcycle taxis that wait at the bottom of the square. Rides to Calangute and Anjuna take twenty minutes. Taxis charges are considerably more, but one can split the fare with up to five people.
Note: As soon as one-steps off the bus, one will be pestered by touts trying to get one to rent a motorbike. They'll tell one that rates here are lower than on the coast - they are not. Another reason to wait a while is that Mapusa is effectively a "no-go zone" for rented motorbikes, especially on Friday, when the police set up roadblocks on the outskirts of town to collar tourists without international licenses.
Panjim: 13-km Vasco-da-Gama: 43-km Margao: 46-km