Goa is one of the most popular destinations in India and one of the best beach destinations in the world. With over 50 miles of beach, Goa’s location on the Arabian Sea makes it warm and inviting. And while the rest of Goa – its culture, food, inland scenery, and cities – are all well worth visiting, Goa’s beaches are what makes the state one of India’s major tourist attractions. Goa is all of 3,800 sq. km. It’s a minuscule state, compared to the rest of the country. Perhaps its tiny size has as much to do with Goa’s rather unique flavor, as does its colorful history.
Goa tourism holds the attraction of golden beaches and peaceful fishing villages that gives way to colorful markets filled with smiling people, and then to baroque churches, taverns, and shady winding streets, dotted with red-tile-roofed white villas, canopied in bright bougainvillea bushes. The distinct Mediterranean flavor in Goa is a heritage of over four centuries of Portuguese rule.
Probe the landscape a little further, and you stumble upon cashew-nut groves, temples, and quaint little villages. Goa has a laid-back charm and a ‘hard to miss’ happy aura about it. This is perhaps the first heady feeling that lazily sneaks in only to mingle with your system, and creeps out of your mouth, as your lips curve into a sunny smile. A good travel tip to start with – just flow with the rhythm of this intoxicating azure Paradiso.
Fast Facts :
Area: 3,702 sq km
Religion: Hinduism 60%, Christianity 30% and Islam 10%
Languages: Konkani, Marathi
Best time to visit: November to March
Major cities: Vasco da Gama, Panaji, Ponda, Mapusa, Margao
State Emblem: Emblem of Goa
- State Motto: सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु मा कश्चिद् दुःखमाप्नुयात् (May everyone see goodness, may none suffer any pain)
State Animal: Gaur (Bos gaurus)
State Fish: Grey mullet/Shevtto in Konkani (Mugil cephalus)
State Bird: Ruby Throated Yellow Bulbul (Pycnonotus gularis)
State Tree: Matti (Terminalia elliptica)
State Heritage Tree: Coconut palm Cocos nucifera
State Flower: Red Jasmine (Plumeria rubra)
Goa Has A Great Historical Past
Goa was a part of the Mauryan Empire in the 3rd century b.c. The Mauryan dynasty was the first line of rulers, who reigned from 322 to 180 b.c. over much of the Indian subcontinent under a consolidated Indian Empire. At the onset of the Christian era, the region was ruled by the Satavahanas of Kolhapur. The Chalukyas of Badami controlled Goa from 580 to 750 a.d. The area successively came into the hands of the Kadambas, the Chalukyas of Kalyani and then the Vijayanagara Empire in 1370. Goa’s harbors were crowded with ships that imported Arabian horses for the formidable cavalry of the Vijayanagara Empire. Subsequently, Goa became the second capital of the Adil Shahis of Bijapur. In 1510, under the command of Alfonso de Albuquerque, the Portuguese drove out Adil Shah, thus marking the beginning of four centuries of rule over Goa.
Goa went on to become the hub of the Portuguese Empire in Asia. The region became the subcontinent’s first Christian colony, and remained under Portuguese dominion until 1961, after which it became a part of the Indian Union. Goa Tourism has preserved the ancient past of the Portuguese culture left behind that is well showcased in some of the fine administrative buildings, convents, cathedrals, churches and some beautiful old bungalows, especially around their first settlement in Old Goa. and more importantly, they left behind an addictive fusion of Indian life with the Mediterranean.
Churches in Goa
Not many people know that Christianity originated in India but most of its influence is seen in the West. In India, Goa is one such place where you can easily trace the epic of Christianity through charming churches. The word Church literal meaning is assembly and not an edifice, but slowly there were certain changes and the term is now more known as a building. Churches in Goa are listed in World Heritage Sites. In Goa, some of the significant churches are :
- Se Cathedral
- Church of St. Francis Of Assisi
- Chapel of St Catherine
- Basilica of Bom Jesus
Temples in Goa
The state is more known for its Churches rather than temples. The irony comes from the fact that it is considered a Christian state whereas there are about 65% of Hindus inhabiting the state compared to 30% Christians. Some of the famous temples in Goa are :
- Mahalaxmi Temple
- Vithal Temple
- Kamakshi Temple
- Sri Mahadev Temple
Wildlife in Goa
Catch a Tiger or ride an Elephant! The wildlife in Goa though not popular is worth watching. You can call them hidden treasures of the state. Their presence is overshadowed by the popularity of monumental heritage. They are very much a part of the state and definitely, in the coming years are going to give strong competition to other tourist spots. Some of the famous wildlife sanctuaries are :
- Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary
- Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
Beaches in Goa
Beaches in Goa are the priceless marvel of the state. Goa Beaches comes almost on top when one has to list down tourist spots in Goa according to relative significance. The Goa States is surrounded by 75 miles of coast out of which 50 miles of it is a beach. Some of the famous and quite popular beaches of Goa are :
- Anjuna Beach
- Baga Beach
- Calangute Beach
- Candolim Beach
Goa Water Sports
If there are beaches, water sports cannot be far behind. A man takes out pleasure in everything and when it came to beaches, water sports gradually emerged. Some of the famous water sports in Goa are Scuba diving, Water Skiing, Parasailing, and Windsurfing.
Spread colors of fun and gaiety! Goa Carnival gives the exact meaning to said line. It spreads colors and fun. Held in the month of February every year, Goa Carnival is scheduled for 3 days. Street Plays, songs, dances, and unrehearsed farces are some of the facets of this carnival.
Christmas is held in the month of December and in Goa, the fest tends to bring forth all the colors of the state. Christmas brings a time for merry-making and exchanging gifts.
The state has a number of markets, out of which the most famous of all is the flea market – Anjuna Market, held on the beach. Local handicrafts, brassware forms excellent souvenir which you could collect from Goa.
Goa is one of the best tourist destinations of India and there are plenty of ways to connect Goa to other states.
Air: Goa International Airport, which is located at Dabolim, 29 km from Panaji is
situated on the coast of near Vasco Da Gama.
Rail: There are a number of trains that connect Goa from Mumbai, Bangalore, and other major cities of India. The two major railway stations of Goa are Margoa and Vasco Da Gama.
Road: Road is considered to be the best connectivity. There are several tourism busses that connect the state.