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Information about Goa

Goa is a little seaside state with an identity that is a seamless blend of Portuguese and Latin influence and Indian tradition. The name Goa is derived from the Konkani word ‘Goyan’ which means a patch of tall grass. Goa is located about half way down the west coast of India. It is a lush green paradise edged on the one side by the wooded foothills of the Sahyadri range and on the other side by the Arabian Sea. This small former Portuguese enclave is one of India’s most dazzling tourist place. More than 450 years of Portuguese rule preceded by Hindu and Muslim supremacy have made Goa an exciting mixture of cultures. Panaji is the capital of Goa. Hindi, English, Konkani, Marathi and Portuguese are the main languages which are spoken in Goa. Imposing churches, forts perched on high promontories, delightful old mansions, villas and picturesque whitewashed villages set amidst velvety paddy fields are part of this exciting heritage. Goa is a perfect holiday destination for any tourists with its marvelous, un-spoilt expanses of palm fringed beaches, mystical hills and groves, seas, local hospitality, relaxed life styles enlivened by the music and dance and superb cuisine. Goa is also one of the Millennium destinations of the world. The best time to visit Goa is between November to February and June to September.

History of Goa

According to the Indian mythology, Goa was originated by Parshuram, a God of the Hindu pantheon. This mythical land was known as ‘Aparanto’ at that time which in Sanskrit means a place beyond the exotic and beautiful. A place unfettered by time. Goa combines Old Portuguese architecture with a distinct Portuguese flavour to the lifestyle and a history that abounds with Indian mythology.

Geography of Goa

The 131 kms. long coastline of Goa is set on the Konkan coast on the Western Ghats along the Arabian Sea. This place is surrounded by the wooded foothills of the Sahyadri range on the one side and by the Arabian Sea on the other side. The mountain ranges in Goa houses a wealth of natural beauty and a totally different way of life. Jackfruit, mango, cashew nut and pineapple trees can be seen in plenty.

Climate of Goa

The climate in Goa is tropical and remains from about 21 to 32 degree Celsius. Goa can be visited at any time of the year. But it is most pleasant from November to February. The best time to visit Goa is from November to February and during the monsoons, when it is at its loveliest. The monsoons starts from June and continues till September. During the monsoons, there is a truly impressive sight in Goa. The monsoon clouds sweeping in from the sea make a spectacle of sheer grandeur. The sea angry and active puts on a grand show on the occasion. The entire hill slopes and the countryside turns spectacularly lush and green. The rivers, swollen with rainwater, flow with a renewed gusto which shows the mood prevalent at the time and peace reigns unchallenged in this idyllic land.

People of Goa

Hindus, Catholics and Muslims comprises the total population of Goa. The people of Goa are very gentle and friendly and represents a blend of diverse cultures, assimilated over hundreds of years. The three hundred years of Portuguese rule together with the old Indian traditions has left an indelible imprint on the collective psyche of Goans which can be seen in their music, architecture, culture, customs and lifestyles.

Cuisine of Goa

Besides having many features, Goa is also a gourmet's paradise. Food in Goa is not just a source of nourishment, but, it's an art. The people of Goa are very particular about enjoying their food. It has to taste good, smell good and look good. The coastline has a rich variety of seafood like fishes, prawns, oysters, lobsters, crabs, squid and mussel’s pomfret. Each of these varieties are imbued with the inimitable flavours of Goan cooking which includes spices, chillies and variety of curries. These flavours lend themselves to the exotic meat and chicken dishes of the land. The vindaloo, sorpotel, chicken cafrial and xacuti are the different non vegetarian dishes. For vegetarians, there is the delicious Konkani cuisine. The taverna or bar is also there in Goa. The towns have modern, smartly furnished bars with gleaming fittings and colourful names. Whereas, the traditional taverna is small, friendly and also retained a certain rustic charm. Goan wines are very good and inexpensive. Feni is the unique and typical Goan brew. It is made from cashews or the palm trees.

Festivals of Goa

Various local Christian and Hindu festivals and temple festivals are celebrated in Goa. Some of the festivals which are celebrated in Goa are New Year, Reis Magos, the Feast of our Lady, Goa carnival, Harvest Festival, Dussehra, Diwali, Christmas, Feast of St. Francis Xavier, etc. The feast day of the St. Xavier is a major festival in which the whole village participates in it. Hindu festivals are cause for colourful processions and festivity. For years, a carnival rivaling the Rio celebrations has been an annual feature of Goa. The three-day Austere festival of Lent is also vibrantly celebrated in Goa.

Shopping in Goa

Centuries ago, the European traders used to came here to trade in nuts, spices and textiles. Even today, Goa’s cashew nuts and condiments are popular with visitors. Curios and costume jewellery fashioned from shell and pearl, straw hats and basket of Woven rope, traditional craft of the fisher folk and the gaily coloured skirts are the famous shopping items in Goa. In Goa, you can shop at the beach as well as on the streets. The shops by the beach provides the best hunting grounds to pick up souvenirs that remind us of the colonial history of Goa. The Anjuna Beach is known for its flea market which sells cameras, swimming gears, bikes and ethnic Indian handicrafts. A Friday market is also held at Mapusa. In this market, you can buy liquor brews like feni and urak, Goan sausages, cashews, meat, farm produce, jute, leather and ceramic ware.

Music and Dances in Goa

Music, dance and folklore are deeply rooted in the heart of Goans, and the rhythm runs in the blood of the people of Goa. Goan folklore, which comprises of folk songs, dances, music, visual arts and folk tales are rich in content and variety. The folk music has devotional and contemporary overtones, and it displays a lively rhythm. The folk dances reflect the rhythmic vitality. Dancing and revelry are an integral part of Goan weddings, which combine Catholic and Indian traditions. Some of the young Goans in a twilit evening sing a Mando (traditional love song) on the guitar. Some of the beaches also provides the setting for many shows by local performers. In the night the sounds of music can be heard well into the wee hours, as performers and audience linger on under starlit skies, with the sound of waves filling in the silence.

Adventure Sports in Goa

Blessed with rivers, backwaters and a long coastline, Goa offers exciting water sports. The water sports varies from the passive to the highly active. The various water sports are the water scooter ride, sailing, windsurfing and parasailing. The wind surfing is locally known as body breaking. In this sport, you are alone on a board with a single sail, in full command of your craft, flying along in front of a brisk land breeze. The experienced trainers are also there that will take you through the rudiments you need to learn in this exciting sport. The parasailing involves skimming along behind a motorboat, as a canopy unfurls behind you and lifts you off the surface of the sea. Swimming, diving, snorkeling, scuba diving and sunbathing can also be enjoyed on the beaches in Goa.

Wildlife Sanctuaries in Goa

There are three wildlife sanctuaries in Goa which preserves the thick forests and habitats along the slopes of the Western Ghats. These sanctuaries are the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary, the Bondla Sanctuary and the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary. The wet deciduous forests of these wildlife sanctuaries have abundant bird life and are the habitat of animals like the bison, leopard, sloth bear, sambar, chital, pangolin, etc. The Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is located on the Chorao island along the Mandovi river, close to Panaji. This bird sanctuary has mangrove forests and varieties of water birds.

Cultural Activities in Goa

Throughout the year, various cultural festivals are celebrated in the beautifully designed Kala Academy located on the banks of the Mandovi river in Panaji. A Pop, Beat and Jazz Music festival is held in May. Bhajan and Kirtan festivals and the Sangeet Samaroh is also held here which attracts the finest performers from all over the country. The Drama Festival and the well known Teatro Festival that celebrates Goa’s folk drama tradition is also held in the Kala Academy.

Beaches in Goa

The coastline of Goa is studded with some of the world’s most beautiful beaches or liitle coves or bays which are completely different and have a special charm. Due to this, Goa is also known as the India’s Mediterranean. In the north of Panaji, some of the finest beaches are edged by tall laterite cliffs. These beaches are Sinquerim, Calangute, Baga, Miramar, Anjuna, Vagator and Chapora beach. Calangute and Baga beach are the most popular beaches in Goa. These beaches stretches for more than 7 kms. Candolim beach is one of the lesser known beaches of Goa. Some of the southern beaches with their expanses of sparkling white sand and calm sea include Bogmalo, Utorda, Majorda, Colva, Benaulim, Cavelossim and Mobor.

Churches in Goa

Velha Goa, the old capital of the Portuguese, lying further above from Panaji is an open-air museum. This magnificent 16th century city was once known as Goa Dourada (Golden Goa) and it rivaled the European cities in splendour and wealth. Today some of that grandeur can be seen in the imposing churches, convents and monasteries. They have high vaulted roofs and lavishly baroque interiors with carved and gilded altar pieces and statues. The 'Tuscan style Se'Cathedral, the largest Church in Asia is also located in Goa. This church is dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria and has 15 altars. This church has some of the finest examples of religious art. In the Basilica of Bom Jesus, the embalmed body of Goa’s patron saint, St. Francis Xavier is kept which is perfectly preserved since his death, almost 450 years ago. The other churches in Goa are the Church of our Lady of Rosary, the St. Monica convent, the St. Augustine's Church and the St. Cajetan Church.

Temples in Goa

Besides churches, temples are also there in Goa. The Portuguese influence can also be seen in the form and structure of these temples. In the 16th century, when Portuguese persecution was at its peak and temples were being destroyed, deities from ancient shrines were smuggled out across the border into the adjoining area of Ponda. In the 18th century, these shrines were converted into graceful temples and built in a style unique to Goa. The temples are built in a style that incorporates Hindu, Islamic and Christian architectural elements. These temples have elaborated deepa stambhas, domes which are crowned by kalasas, saracenic arches, traditional mandapas and temple tanks. Some of the famous temples are the Shri Mangesh Temple, Shri Nagesh temple, Shri Mahalsa Temple, Shri Ramnathi Temple and the Shanta Durga Temple. The 15th century Shri Mangesh Temple is located in the Ponda district and dedicated to Lord Shiva. Shri Mahalsa Temple is located in Mardol and dedicated to Vishnu. The Shanta Durga Temple is dedicated to Durga, the Supreme Goddess of Peace. The Mahadeva Temple located at Tamdi Surla, is the only surviving example of Kadamba temple architecture. This temple is built in black basalt stone and adorned with sculpted monolithic pillars, niches and delicately carved bas-reliefs.

Tourist Attractions in Goa

Panaji, the capital of Goa, is located along the Mandovi river. The white washed and red tile – roofed buildings rising up the hills give it a Mediterranean look. Panaji is known for its fine buildings. The present Government Secretariat is located along the river. Once the Governor’s residence, it was built at the site of the palace of Adil Shah, the ruler of Bijapur. The Church of Our Lady of Immaculate conception dominates the City Square and its steps zig zag up the hill. The old Latin quarter of Fontain has an old world charm. Its little lanes and stairways going up the hill are lined with the houses with wrought iron balconies. The little Chapel of San Sebastian blends into these surroundings. Kala Academy, the main centre of all the cultural activities in Goa, is a beautifully designed modern complex in Panaji. The Mayem Lake, situated amidst the folds of a ring of hills, the imposing ramparts of the Tirakol fort and the Church town of Old Goa, once the seat of Portugese rule in Goa are another tourist attractions in Goa. The Miramar beach is located near Panaji. Maragao is a major commercial centre. It also has some beautiful old houses and churches. The towns of Vasco da Gama and the Mormugao Port are located nearby. Mapusa comes alive each Friday when a local market springs up.

Accommodation in Goa

Accommodation is no problem at Goa, where a place to stay is easy to find. There are several well developed beach resorts, holiday cottages, small hotels and five star resorts in Goa. Those who want an interesting and local option can stay in many family houses as a paying guest.

How to reach Goa

By Air
Goa is well connected by air. Indian Airlines and other private airlines operates flights to Goa from Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai and Kochi. Indian Airlines also connects Goa with Kuwait and Sharjah.

By Rail
Goa is easily accessible by rail from Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Mangalore, Ernakulam, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune and Thiruvanantapuram.

By Sea
The Damania Shipping Corporation operates non-stop catamaran service between Goa and Mumbai from October to May.

By Road
Goa is also well connected by road. The National Highways 4A, 17 and 17A runs through Goa. The drive from Mumbai to Goa is easy and picturesque as Goa is situated right on the main highway.


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