(Last Updated on : 05/04/2013)
A trip to Goa is a dream come true for tourist. Lying in the west coast of India, it possesses a perpetual charm. Also known as the `pearl of the east`, Goa is well known for its Gothic churches, temples, historical monuments, palm-fringed beaches, coconut orchards, ferry rides and vivacious folk music. Goa`s matchlessness lies in the fact that while creating an elusive amalgamation of motley of cultures, it has maintained its innate essence. Goa is surely a land of dreams and romanticism, an eternal world of gentle, generous people and leisurely activity. It is in true sense a lush green paradise. With the promises of the shimmering beaches, azure waters and with the kiss of the sun and palms, Goa is a tourist destination three hundred sixty five days a year. This tiny state is situated on the west coast of India, between the borders of Maharashtra and Karnataka, is better identified to the world as the former Portuguese enclave on Indian soil.
Pilgrimage Tourism in Goa
Being a state of miscellaneous religious populations, Goa is home to many places of worship that draw tourists from all over the world. Churches, temples and other religious places have made Goa one of the most visited destinations of the world. Religious places in Goa have a soul, which plunges deep into its unique history and rich culture. The Churches in Goa are a memento of its age old custom and even the bits and pieces of its celebrated past. With a significant population of Goans being Christians for many generations today, the Church is a significant factor in Goa`s social, cultural and religious life. Inhabited mostly by Christians the Churches in Goa are not only an instance of architectural spectacle but even replicate the traditions of the simple Goan people. Se Cathedral of Goa is one of the largest in Asia. Religious pilgrims are enthralled to hear of the Cross of Miracles, which is placed in the cathedral. This cathedral in Goa is a must see religious center for the pilgrimage tourists. The church of St. Anne is another popular destination for the Christians who come from all over the world to offer their prayer here. The Basilica of Bom Jesus located in old Goa is of great religious significance. It is a World Heritage Monument in India. The church is renowned all over the world for the preserved mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier. He was the member of Society of Jesus and came to India to spread Christianity with the Portuguese. Every year thousands of people visit the cathedral especially in the month of December. Hindus also form a considerable part of the population in Goa. There are many temples which are of utmost religious importance. Sri Mangueshi temple at Ponda in Goa is the most well-known among temples. It is one of the most visited religious centers of the Hindus. Shri Mahalakshmi temple at Bandora is regarded as the dwelling place of the original Goddess of the Shakti cult. Its significance lies in the fact that it was the first Hindu temple to be built in this Indian state. Though there is very little Muslim population in Goa but there are many well known places of worship for them. There are around twenty six mosques which are scattered all over the state of Goa. The Jama Masjid and the Safa Shahouri Masjid are two of the most famous mosques in Goa. These mosques hold great religious significance for the Muslim pilgrims.
Nature Tourism in Goa
Goa is a nature lover`s dream destination. Visitors holidaying in Goa will take pleasure in the large assortment of water falls, parks, and popular wildlife sanctuaries. Goa is a luxuriant natural bliss bounded on the one side by the foothills of the Sahyadri range and on the other side by the Arabian Sea. Goa is gifted with lakes, waterfalls and springs of matchless exquisiteness. They are situated far from the hustle and bustle, away from the coast, in the interiors. There are three major waterfalls of Goa which emerge from great heights and flow through the uneven terrains. These three rippling streams of silvery water draw innumerable tourists who desire idyllic solitude of secluded nature. The Arvalem waterfall of Goa looks stunning with the roaring cascade of water gushing down the rocky topography of the mountain behind it. The Dudhsagar Falls is one of the most interesting falls of India and the largest and highest fall of Goa. It is a lucrative tourist haunt. The Kesarval waterfall is another magnificent spectacle for the nature lovers. Lakes in Goa are also a mush visited destination for the tourists. The Corambolin Lake in the east of old Goa is a wonderful place for the lovers of nature. Another place which is an important tourist destination is the Mayem Lake in Goa. This is a man made lake in Goa and is surrounded by undulating green hills. It serves as an ideal picnic spot for the tourists. Wild life in Goa is an integral part of its tourism. Major portion of the land of Goa is allotted to forests and wildlife. The wildlife sanctuaries in Goa are doing their best to safeguard their flora and fauna. The Bondla wildlife sanctuary is the smallest wildlife reserve in Goa and is a big favourite with school children and people who love nature. The sanctuary houses a botanical garden, a small deer-park, a rose garden, and a zoo, which was in the beginning established to refuge orphaned animals. The Bhagvan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary is a huge crowd puller and the biggest sanctuary in Goa. It is in true sense a paradise for the bird watchers. The Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, near Panaji in Goa is a safe haven to the local and migratory birds and a must see for the travellers.
Leisure Tourism in Goa
The monumental wonder in Goa is bound to mesmerise its tourists. Goa is a treasure trove for architectural marvel. Studding the country side beyond and among the bright green paddy fields are the divine houses of sanctity, beautiful churches and Portuguese styled country mansions that delight every tourist with their Portuguese aroma blended with Goan fragrance. The complete scale and quantity of the country mansions together with the majesty of its interiors makes them the most splendid of all country mansions. The landscape of Goa is dotted with villas, heritage houses, mansions that are a reminder of the Portuguese epoch. The Salvador Costa mansion in a village in South Goa is a grand architectural creation. It is noted for its gothic style windows and verandas and the fairy tale gardens. The Figueredo mansion in Goa is another spectacular mansion and a much visited site for the leisure tourists. A visit to the forts of Goa is a memorable experience of a life time. Located in a land of rivers and canals, these forts are surrounded by Arabian Sea in the west. The Tiracol fort on the coast of the Arabian Sea was built during the 16th century and is an architectural spectacle. The fort has in its courtyard the century old Church of St. Anthony. The church is opened only on special occasions and has a classical late Goan facade. The Mormugao fort is situated at the extreme northwestern point of Salsete and guard the entrance to the port. As, a main component of Goan history, and being one of the most significant India forts it is also very popular with the tourists taking interest in historical travel activities of Goa. The Chapora Fort of Goa is one of the finest specimens of Portuguese architecture. The view from the fort is splendid and the houses built in dense groves of coconut palms, inhabited by fishing community look very pleasing to the eyes. These historical monuments in Goa give a glimpse of the bygone era of this state.
Beach Tourism in Goa
Beaches in Goa are the most vital part of its tourism. These beaches are divided into North Goa and South Goa Beaches. The Candolim beach in north Goa is not too crowded and is a popular hub among the package tourists. Baga is a small fishing beach with an orchard of shady palms close to the water`s periphery. It is flat, safe for swimming and has white sand. The Bambolim beach is a small and clean beach in north Goa. Tourists out here can enjoy good food at the Bambolim Beach Resort restaurant, where cheerful folk music is also heard. There are some beautiful beaches in south Goa as well such as the Palolem beach which is a fishing beach popular for its dolphin cruises and fishing trips. The Agonda is a virgin stretch of beach twelve kilometers from Palolem. The waters are crystal clear and it`s easy to see the underneath the shore while swimming. Among the other popular beaches in Goa are the Colva beach, the Anjuna and the Calangute beach. The numerous palm-fringed sandy beaches are a major tourist attraction in Goa. Ferry rides in Goa are also popular among the leisure tourists. Goa also has a few museums and the important among them are Goa State museum and the Naval Aviation museum.
Visiting information on Goa
How to reach Goa
Goa is accessible by air, train and bus.
Goa has its airport, the Dabolim airport, situated at a distance of around twenty nine kilometers from Panaji on the coast near Vasco da Gama. It is also well connected by air from Delhi and Mumbai. Most of the domestic airlines function in Goa apart from chartered private airlines in service from UK and Germany.
Konkan Railways runs two daily services to and from Goa. One is the Konkan-Kanyakumari Express, the other being Madgaon-Mumbai Express. The train services to Delhi have improved rigorously with the introduction of Rajdhani Express.
Kadamba, the Goan transport corporation has its services plying all through the city.
Taxis are always more relaxing and expedient. However, Goa possesses a distinctive concept of Motorcycle Taxis, locally known as "Pilots". This is a pillion-passenger service, which is in reality pretty fun and a faster and cheaper way for traveling from one place to the other, particularly when it comes to beaches.
Normally the climatic conditions of Goa are moderate, excluding the times of monsoon, which lasts from June to September. Thanks to the coastal Konkan region and the milieu of Western Ghats, Goa most of the time remains agreeable and sunny. There are no extremities in temperature and no distinct contrasts from one season to the other, except for the monsoon. So the best time to visit Goa is almost anytime. However to get a glimpse of Goa in its best attire, then mid July to September and November to mid February would be the ideal time. Nationalised and a number of private banks are there in Goa to take care of the needs of the travelers. Hospitals with up to date facilities are also there. Goa offers various lucrative options to inhabit in bliss for the perfect getaway one spends in the paradise. Goa, with its idyllic sun-kissed beaches, appearing as if sprinkled with gold dust, lures the tourist to spend even some time more in the seventh heaven, thereby offering a range of hotels and restaurants to savour one`s heart out in rapture and pleasure. One is spoilt for choices from every kind- star varieties, colonial homes, cottages, budget and economical hotels. The Panaji Inn, The Goa Marriott Resort, Fort Aguada Beach Resort, Hotel Seema, Marquis Beach Resort, GTDC`S Calangute Residency are some of the hotels in Goa. Goa is teemed with legendary Hindu and Christian shrines, massive and imposing in it`s built, awing to wonder at. Goa is a place of interests hidden in every nook of the legendary structures. Each edifice has a story to tell of its own built, with extraordinariness and grandness emoting out from the sinews of enormous stones, standing the test of time and ravages of nature.
Goan cuisine serves a cosmopolitan a-la-carte, with legendary mouth-watering menus, with numerous seaside options for relishing gastronomy. Goa is abounding in options to taste traditional, continental, or seafood culinary, available in a host of restaurants. The price is also diversified, ranging from high-flying to reasonable, budget eateries. The simple sight of the hot, smoky and aromatic dish arriving to one`s table is sure to make one weak in the knees. Traveler never faces difficulty for eating options of any sort in Goa. Its renowned beach hovels serve dishes from various parts of the globe. The benchmark backpackers` banana pancake is a breakfast staple, as is French toast, Pastas, Indian-Chinese favourites, hummus and falafel. Tandoori chicken is also available in a-la-carte. But unbeatable of course, are the gems of Goan cuisine - chicken cafreal (`cafre` or `kaffir`, denoting to its African origins); sorpotel and vindaloo, both prepared with pork; and beef xacuti. Goan kitchens also offer an astounding variety of seafood, cooked in delicious process. George Restaurant, outside the Church of Immaculate Conception, is legendary for their mackerel recheado, sausage pao and fish curry. Carvella at the Taj`s Fort Aguada Resort is supervised by the famed chef Urbano de Rego and is the haunt for musicians on weekends. Souza Lobo on Calangute Beach opened during the 1930s and is much loved by generations of Goans. In Margao, Longuinho`s on Luis Miranda Road provides a glimpse of old world Goa. They serve admirable Goan fare, while Martin`s Corner, Betalbatim, is celebrated for its succulent seafood.
Travellers can choose from several archetypal items of Goa, some astonishing too, at a sensible price. There are all kinds of things available for every kind of person, to suit every mood. For most tourists, shopping in Goa implies heading off for the Anjuna flea market in North Goa, along south Anjuna beach, on a sticky Wednesday morning to delve through knick-knacks from around the subcontinent. Rajasthani textiles, Tibetan thangkas and flamboyant silver jewelry are in huge demand, as are homemade Goa Trance CDs, the computer-generated electronic sounds that have earned a fan following from around the world. If one is the adventurous kind, he or she can hop into one of the tattoo or body-piercing stalls at the market. The total hippie look can be achieved by buying silver jewelry and trinkets, which are available aplenty. In Margao there is Johnny`s Handicrafts, near Holy Trinity Church, Benaulim, where one can find characteristically Goan blue white tiles called azulejos, with Arab, Portuguese and Spanish motifs. At the Goa Handicrafts Emporium at the Tourist Hotel or Residency, Margao, one can purchase terracotta, cotton and shopping bags. The best gifts to take home from Goa are cashew nuts and cashew or palm feni, the blissful local brew. Both are available from grocery and liquor stores all through the state. One can also opt for the masala pastes, the vindaloo, recheado masala and mixes for sorpotel and balchao.