Located on the west coast of India, in a region called Konkan, you’ll find Goa. What many people don’t know is that it was became a Portuguese colony after they arrived there during the 16th century and it remained their territory until 1961. Goa is renowned for its magnificent scenic beauty and the architectural splendours of its temples, beaches, places of worship and for world heritage architecture. Its rich flora and fauna are thanks to the fact that it’s located on the Western Ghats range – a biodiversity hotspot.
Goa is often referred to as a tourist paradise but it is much more than just beaches and sea – it has a beauty and a soul which goes deep into a unique history, in fact Hindu mythology credits Lord Parshuram, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu with the creation of Goa.
Having been ruled by Muslims, Portugual and India, Goa was the meeting point of races, religions and cultures of East and West over the centuries, giving it a multihued and distinctive lifestyle quite different from the rest of India.
Besides the natural beauty, the fabulous beaches and sunshine, travellers to Goa love the laid-back, peaceful, warm and friendly nature of the Goan people. After all, more than anywhere else on planet earth, this is a place where people really know how to relax.
Things To Do
- Crocodile watching in the Cumbarjua canal – the only place in Goa where crocodiles can actually be seen in the wild.
- Dudhsagar (sea of milk) Waterfall is a sight to behold especially in the monsoons when it is in full and furious flow that splits into three streams to cascade down a nearvertical cliff face into a deep green pool.
- Go-karting is a relatively new craze and is great fun for those who love going fast
- Hit the water where you can windsurf, parasail, sail a dinghy, scuba dive with professional instructors. Go fishing on Palolem beach.
- Rent a water scooter and speed across the water.
- Swim in the warm, safe waters.
What makes Goa one of the hottest tourist destinations in India is its vibrant nightlife. This is truly a place that believes in a party for almost every occasion – no matter how big or small. And one thing is guaranteed, the nightlife of Goa will be one of those memories that will remain etched in your memory for a long time.
For those who want to party in style, then Goa is the place with most of the action taking place on the beach. Goa has been known since the sixties as the place to party when the flower-power generation adopted it as their own. Now the style of music may have changed, but you’ll still find the best rave and trance parties. If you’re looking for something more laid back, then spend the evening at one of the many restaurants (whether it’s in one of the 5-star hotels or family affair) enjoying fresh, delicious seafood.
For a truly out-of-the-world experience and a party with a difference try the Goa night cruises where music, dance, drink and food all are included in the price of the ticket. Or perhaps take a luxury yacht to experience a new way of living.
Goa is also home to a number of casinos and also to Caravela – the only offshore casino located on a ship in India. On board you’ll find a lavish restaurant with multi-cultural cuisine, a bar, sundeck and a swimming pool. The tables offer American roulette, blackjack, Indian rummy complete with slot machines. The vessel even has a private gaming room for high-fliers.
Goa has also experienced a cultural renaissance providing a fresh impetus to the classic literature and fine arts and a revival of the folk arts. It is difficult to do justice to the dynamic folk art forms and watching a live performance can elicit its emotional content, rhythmic charm, the colourful variety and vitality.
Once again the almost forgotten folk dances Dhalo, Fugdi, Corridinho, Mando and performing folk arts (like Khell-Tiatro), Jagar-perani and many others have come out into their own.
The excellent local handicrafts of Goa are easily the most popular souvenir items and include brassware, terracotta, shell work, crochet, carved furniture, bamboo work, and papier-mache which you will find at shops and stalls near the popular tourist spots. You also can’t go home without a pack or two of Goa’s famed cashew nuts. When it comes to fashion and lifestyle, there are also many shops and boutiques some of which are located in fabulous old Goan houses which have been painstakingly restored. Designer clothes, many of which are now being made in India, are a popular shopping item with the tourists visiting Goa and with brand names like Nike, Levi’s, Lacoste, and Reebok available at excellent prices, you can see why shopping is high on the list of things to do.
For a fascinating look at the typical way of doing business, shop in the traditional markets of the Goan towns and villages such as Mapusa and Anjuna.
Thanks to its history Goan cuisine is a blend of these different influences the region has endured over the centuries. Like the land you’ll find a wonderful combination of many flavours and tastes thanks to its vast treasure trove of culinary delicacies.
The long period of Portuguese rule, has left an indelible influence on the original style of Goan cooking and this has led to an exotic mix of truly tasty and spicy cuisine.
From fried fish to exotic concoctions like ambottik, sea food is usually a must on the menu. Goa has some magnificent culinary delicacies like the prawn balchão and sorpotel which have become famous around the world.
Seafood such as prawns, lobsters, crabs, pomfrets, clams, ladyfish, mussels, and oysters are used to make a variety of curries, fries, soups and pickles. Besides fresh seafood, dried and salted fish dishes are also highly prized by Goans.
Open from June to September, the Bellaire Historical Museum exhibits items depicting life from the Civil War to the 1960s in Antrim County.
The Grass River Natural Area is a nature preserve that is comprised of wetlands and wildlife habitats. Visitors can wander the miles of trails and identify wildflowers and watch for birds.
One of Goa’s important institutions, are the famous and magnificent churches which are largely a legacy of Portuguese colonization. The architecture of Goa’s churches has undergone notable changes with the passage of time and the fashion of the era in which they were built.
The oldest surviving Church in Goa today is the Church of Our Lady of Rosary on Monte Santo, Old Goa built in the ‘Manueline’ style with decorative Portuguese seafaring motifs such as cables and anchors. Other churches of this era include the Church at the Cabo near Panaji and the Church on the Island of Divar off the coast of Old Goa.
You’ll also find churches in the Baroque style (Basilica of Bom Jesus and the Se Cathedral, the Church of St Cajetan and the Augustine Church of Our Lady of Grace); Indian baroque (the Church of St Francis of Assisi at Old Goa and the Church of St Ana at Talaulim and The Church of Our Lady of Compassion at Divar; Rococo (Church of St. Stephen’s at San Estevan near Panaji). One from the modern period is Church of Nossa Senhora at Saligao.
Goan forts are important reminders of immense military, political and economic importance. Unfortunatley, however, most of them are now in ruins but they remain mute testimony to the and colourful and dark events of a bygone era. Some impress with their sheer size like the Ruins of the St. Augustine’s Tower, while others are marvellous pieces of architecture, such as the Gate of the Adil Shah’s Palace at Old Goa. Aguada Fort is the largest and the best-preserved Portuguese bastion.
When it comes to museums, visitors have no shortage of choice. The Christian Art Museum, has enriched the cultural heritage and history of Goa. This fabulous museum is now situated within the precincts of the convent of Santa Monica, Old Goa, in the vicinity of the Old Goa world heritage monuments. The museum houses some of the best specimens of Goa´s distinctive and exquisitely crafted church art.
The seven galleries of the State Archaeology Museum, Panaji has a collection of about 8 000 objects including stone sculptures, wooden objects, bronzes, paintings, manuscripts, numismatic collection, anthropological objects, and clay models.
As the name suggests, the Sculpture Gallery has stone sculptures and bronzes of different deities, Hero stones and Sati stones. The Goa State Museum has terracotta objects from the Indus Valley civilization, seals of Janapadas, stone sculptures of Gandhara school of Art, South Indian bronzes, wooden sculptures of South East Asia and Dhokra ware.
Cultural Anthropology gallery displays the objects related to cultural anthropology such as household utensils, different games, weights and measures. It also exhibits a model of a sugarcane crusher, crane and agricultural implements. The most remarkable are the clay models showing different professions.
If you like warfare, plans and weaponry, the little-known but impressive Naval Aviation Museum is a great visit. It has an incredible array of aircraft such as the Sea Harrier, Sea Hawk, Dove, the Vampire, you’ll see the armoury as well as clothing worn by the pilots.