India // Goa //

Anjuna

ANJUNA, the next sizeable village up the coast from Baga, was, until a few years back, the last bastion of alternative chic in Goa – where the state’s legendary full-moon parties were staged each season, and where the Beautiful Set would rent pretty red-tiled houses for six months at a time, make trance mixes and groovy dance clothes, paint the palm trees fluoro colours and spend months lazing on the beach. A small contingent of fashionably attired, middle-aged hippies still turn up, but thanks to a combination of the Y2K music ban and overwhelming growth in popularity of the flea market, Anjuna has seriously fallen out of fashion. Even the young Israeli hellraisers who inundated the village during the late 1990s – and were largely responsible for the government’s crackdown on parties – have stopped coming.

As a consequence, the scattered settlement of old Portuguese houses and whitewashed churches, nestled behind a long golden sandy beach, nowadays resembles the place it was before the party scene snowballed. There are, however, two downsides to staying here. One is an enduringly druggy atmosphere. Levels of substance abuse, both among visitors and locals, remain exceptional, and the village suffers more than its fair share of dodgy characters. Just how seedy the scene revolving around Anjuna’s shacks has grown became apparent in February 2008, after a British teenager, 15-year-old Scarlett Keeling, was raped and murdered.

The other negative thing about the village – at least, if you’re staying here – is the famous flea market. Every Wednesday, the beach and coconut groves at the south end of the beach get swamped with tourists and sellers from other resorts, forcing most of the resident tourist population north to neighbouring Vagator for the day.

  • The beach and flea market
  • The dark side of the moon