The name Goa instantly conjures up exotic beaches ,virgin sands, remnants of the erstwhile Portuguese culture and of course the unforgetable sea-food adding to it the local Gonanese flavour. Goa is a small state on the western coast of India, surrounded by other states on its east, north and south and the vast Arabian sea on its west. Goa is becoming an all-year tourist destination, as each season lends a unique touch to the emerald tropical island. Moreover, water sports and adrenaline pumping activities and the amazing history are big draws .
Goa has a rich and diverse history: it was ruled by the Portuguese till 1961 after which it was acceeded to India as a union territory. Goa became the 25th state of the Indian republic in 1987. Although few people speak Portuguese these days, the remnants of the culture form a major part in its historical evolution. There are churches, cathedrals built by the Portuguese which are awe inspiring. Basilica de Bom Jesus, a church built in the early seventeenth century has been declared a UNESCO World heritage site. Located in old Goa, it draws people from across the globe and is revered for being sacrosanct. Then there is the church of St. Francis of Assisi, also in old Goa which stands the test of time.
Apart from the churches, magnifient forts like fort Chapora in north Goa and fort Aguada, perched on the Sinquerim beach are architectural marvels. Apart from these grand monuments, as you walk along the streets, the small constructions also tell a history. Goa also boasts of Hindu culture apart from the catholic and there are temples galore to prove it.
Goa can also boast of India’s best beaches, unlike the Portuguese, Indians don’t have a proper beach culture. Littering is a common menace. But Goa has maintained the pristine beauty of its beaches offering clean, white sands, making them huge draws during the winter. Goa has over 25 beaches and some of the famous beaches are Anjuna, Calangute, Baga etc in north Goa. Also the beach-side shacks offer an amazing delicacy of sea-food and locally brewed liquour. In comparison to the north, south Goa is serene and mellow and the beaches are virgin with less footfalls. Some beaches that deserve mention are Arambol, Palolem among others. They are far flung and not widely travelled and explored.
Goa also has the Dudhsagar falls. Enroute Goa from Mumbai on the Konkan railway, this falls look amazing and especially in the monsoons, when the water swells up. This should not be missed as the view is beautiful.
Churches and monuments apart, Goa is a great place for shopping. The small knick-knacks from the flea markets are a huge draw. The Anjuna flea market is an important market where you can get everything and it is a regular affair except in the monsoons, daily from morning till evening. Goa has a distinct culture of spices, mainly from the Konkan. The two different types of cuisines available are the bland, Portuguese food and the richly aromated and spicy Konkani food. And therein comes the spice plantations. Though not on a regular tourist’s agenda, this deserves a mention if you are on the look out for the exotic. The spice plantations are around the dense woods of Ponda and are a must visit if you want to beyond the daily grime.
So what are you waiting for? Beaches, the aroma of spice, the rich, heavy, locally brewed pheni, the monuments and the beautiful tropical climate…come be a part of this amazing life!