Variously known as "Pearl of the Orient" and a "Tourist Paradise",
the state of Goa is located on the western coast of
India in the coastal belt known as Konkan.
magnificent scenic beauty and the architectural splendours of its
temples, churches and old houses have made Goa a firm favourite with
travellers around the world.
But then, Goa is much
more than just beaches and sea. It has a soul which goes deep into
unique history, rich culture and some of the prettiest natural scenery
that India has to offer.
Much of the real Goa
is in its interiors, both inside its buildings and in the hinterland
away from the coastal area.
Legends from Hindu
mythology credit Lord Parshuram, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu with the
creation of Goa.
Over the centuries
various dynasties have ruled Goa. Rashtrakutas, Kadambas, Silaharas,
Chalukyas, Bahamani Muslims and most famously the Portuguese have been
rulers of Goa.
Goa was liberated by
the Indian Army from Portuguese colonisation on December 19, 1961 and
became an Union Territory along with the enclaves of Daman and Diu. On
May 30, 1987 Goa was conferred statehood and became the 25th state of
the Indian Republic.
Having been the
meeting point of races, religions and cultures of East and West over the
centuries, Goa has a multi-hued and distinctive lifestyle quite
different from the rest of India. Hindu and Catholic communities make up
almost the entire population with minority representation of Muslims and
All the communities
have mutual respect towards one another and their secular outlook has
given Goa a long and an unbroken tradition of religious harmony. The
warm and tolerant nature of the Goans allows them to celebrate and enjoy
the festivals of various religions such as Ganesh Chaturthi, Diwali,
Christmas, Easter and Id with equal enthusiasm.
The state of
Maharashtra borders Goa on the north, the state of Karnataka on the
south and east. The vast expanse of the Arabian Sea on the west forms
the magnificent coastline for which Goa is justly famous.
(Tiracol), Mandovi, Zuari, Chapora, Sal and Talpona are the main rivers
which weave their way throughout the state forming the inland waterways
adding beauty and romance to the land besides being used to transport
Goa's main export commodity of Iron and Manganese ore to Mormugao
Harbour. Along the way to the coast these waterways form estuaries,
creeks and bays breaking the sandy, palm-fringed coastline behind which
lie the fishing villages among the coconut groves.
Panaji (Panjim) is
the state capital located on the banks of the Mandovi river and Vasco,
Margao, Mapusa and Ponda are the other major towns. Goa is serviced by
an international/national airport located at Dabolim near Vasco. An
intra-state and inter-state bus network also plays an important role in
getting locals and visitors alike in and around Goa.
The vast green
expanse of the Sahyadri mountain range ensures that Goa has an abundance
of water. The sea and rivers abound in seafood - prawns, mackerels,
sardines, crabs and lobsters are the most popular with the locals and
Along with English
which is widely spoken all over Goa, Konkani and Marathi are the state
languages. The national language Hindi is also well understood in most
areas around the state.
Goan cuisine is a
blend of different influences the Goans had to endure during the
centuries. The staple food in Goa is fish and rice, both among the
Hindus and the Catholics. Unlike the Christian food the Hindu Goan food
is not strongly influenced by the Portuguese cuisine.
the arrival of the Hippies in the sixties, Goa has been a major
destination on the itinerary of international and domestic tourists.
The tourist season
in Goa begins in late September and carries on through early March. The
weather in these months is usually dry and pleasantly cool.
Then the weather
gets fairly hot around May and by end of June, Goa receives the full
blast of the Indian monsoon with sudden downpours and tropical
thunderstorms. However it is also during the monsoon that Goa is
probably at its most beautiful, with greenery sprouting all around.
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.
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