Simultaneously identified as “Pearl of the Orient” and a “Tourist Paradise”, the state of Goa is situated on the western coast of India in the coastal belt known as Konkan.The splendid picturesque loveliness and the architectural finery of its shrine, churches and old residences have made Goa a solid favorite with travelers around the world. But then, Goa is much more than just beaches and sea. It has an essence which goes deep into unique history, wealthy culture and some of the prettiest natural panorama that India has to offer. Much of the real Goa is in its interiors, both inside its buildings and in the neighborhood away from the coastal area. Myths from Hindu folklore 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 colonization on December 19, 1961 and became a 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 mottled and distinguishing lifestyle quite different from the rest of India. Hindu and Catholic communities make up almost the entire population with minority representation of Muslims and other religions.All the communities have reciprocal admiration towards one another and their secular outlook has given Goa a long and an unbroken tradition of religious harmony. The affectionate and liberal nature of the Goans allows them to rejoice and enjoy the fiestas of various religions such as Ganesh Chaturthi, Diwali, Christmas, Easter and Id with the same keenness and fervor.
The state of Maharashtra borders Goa on the north, the state of Karnataka on the south and east. The enormous stretch of the Arabian Sea on the west forms the bravura coastline for which Goa is justly famous.Terekhol (Tiracol), Mandovi, Zuari, Chapora, Sal and Talpona are the major rivers which interlace their way throughout the state forming the inland waterways adding loveliness and saga 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 situated 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 a significant role in getting locals and visitors alike in and around Goa.
The vast jade stretch of the Sahyadri mountain range ensures that Goa has an large quantity of water. The sea and rivers thrive in seafood – prawns, mackerels, sardines, crabs and lobsters are the most popular with the locals and the visitors. 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 cookery is a merge of different influences the Goans had to bear 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 powerfully influenced by the Portuguese cuisine. Since 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 pleasingly 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.
Beaches in Goa have all the excellent tourist attractions.
Anjuna Beach Goa – Anjuna beach is the most celebrated beach in Goa. Anjuna is near Panaji, the capital of Goa. Anjuna beach is famous for it’s raves. Here you can find weekly flea market on every Wednessday. You can shop Tibetan, Kashmiri and Gujrati trinkets, handicrafts, trance CDs and T shirts.
Vagator beach – Vagator beach is near Anjuna beach. There are frequent bus service from Panaji and Mapusa every half an hour to Vagator beach. You can find a few farm houses and portuguese bunglows in Vagator beach. Lots of cafes and restaurant along side the road. Primose Cafe is a popular bar at Vagator beach. Vagator beach is a very beautiful white sand Goa beach. The sea is not safe for swimming. a little further south to main Vagator beach, you will find Ozran beach.
Candolim beach, Goa – Candolim beach is famous for the Goan freedom fighter Abbe Faria who is called the father of hypnotism. You can book a red back apartment near to the beach. There is no shelter close to beach. You can hire a beach umbrella and can get food at the beach shacks. Candolim beach Goa is not too crowdy and it’s peaceful.
Sinquerim beach – Sinquerim beach is near historic fort Aguada, a 17th century portuguese fort. this Goa beach has clean and white sand. You can walk along the Sinquerim beach to Candolim beach which continues all the way to Baga beach Goa.
Baga beach – Baga beach is near Mapusa and it is one of the fishing beaches in Goa. t is crowded with foreigners. It is famous for its windsurfing, fishing, crabbing and clamming. Baga beach is popular for it’s night life. tito’s is the best nightclub here. You can find conventional Goan meal at Casa Portuguesa. If you want to nightstay, own hired transport is recommended since it’s a long walk to the Calangute taxi stand and buses are less. Baga beach is flat with clean white sand and safe for swimming. Baga beach is popular to topless sunbathers.
Arambol beach – Arambol beach is an isolated beach with rocky and sandy terrain. It is a favourite beach for hippies for wild parties. It is good for swimming. you can enjoy activities like dolphin watching boat trips and paragliding.
Bambolim beach – It is a small and clean undiscovered Goa beach. It is not crowded. It is in a shaded spot before mouth of river Zuari. The entrance to the beach lies along the hill between Goa medical college and Goa university. It is a popular Goa beach to shell collectors. Thick coconut groves make the place private and romantic. Go to the restaurant White House that serves excellent sea foods and it has an excellent view of the bay. You can take your pet inside the restaurant.
Colva and Benaulim beach – 20 KM from Panaji, these beaches are less busy than other beaches in Goa. Colva beach is of about 20 KM and the longest beach of Goa. You can get excellent views of huge sand dunes across the sea. according to Hindu mythology, this is the place where arrow of lord Parasurama landed. Benaulim comes from Sanskrit Banali. This Goa beach is famous for dolphin cruises.
Palolem beach – Palolem beach is known as the paradise beach of Goa, famous for fishing trips and dolphin cruises. At the northern end there is a small island that can be reached by swimming at low tide. You can stay at Gaitonde’s Tent Resort. Book in advance.
Mobor and Cavelossim beaches – Cavelossim beach is a small stretch of beach 11 km south of Colva. In south of this there is Mobor beach and you can find five star resorts like Leela Beach Resort Goa. You can find seagulls here.
Agonda beach – Agonda is a virgin Goa beach 12 kms from Palolem. It is famous for crystal clear water and white sand. You can go for a beach cycle adventure.