Origin of Goa
The origin of Goa, also known as Gomantak goes back to the times when the Mahabharata was penned down in the Vedic Period. It is believed that sage Parashuram conceived Goa on the Konkan Coast, creating the land at the confluence of Mandovi and Zuari rivers for the inhabitation of Aryans including himself. Another legend says that once Lord Krishna while strolling on the Konkan Coast played flute, whose music attracted the attention of ladies bathing by the riverside. Lord Krishna thus named the land as 'Govapuri' as the grazing cows (Gov) belonged to the native people.
As Goa became the focal point of spice and cotton trade; it captured the attention of various foreign dynasties including the Portuguese people. It remained a Portuguese colony for 450 years and got independence in 1961 followed by an independent statehood in 1987. Since then Goa is known for its picturesque locations, mesmerising beauty, pristine white beaches and pin-drop tranquillity.
Tourism in Goa
Goa is a dream tourist destination for all the tourists visiting India. The Goa tour and tourism to Goa provides a perfect break from all the mundane tasks and urban chaos. This beautiful coastal tourist destination is the most enchanting place in the Western Ghats in India with its verdant green stretches of land and natural picture perfect landscapes. Though, Goa has a moderate climate ideal for tourism all through the year, still, the best time for a Goa tour is from mid July to September end or November end to mid February.
Situated on the confluence of seven rivers (the principal ones being Mandovi and Zuari) and the Arabian Sea; Goa has many sobriquets "Queen of the Beaches", "Land of Churches and Temples" and is also called as "The Pearl of the Orient/East" by the western countries. Goa is also a bird watcher's paradise; epicentre of water and adventure sports, and is home to some of the most captivating waterfalls in India. The distinguishing feature of Goa tour is the Coco/Sunny beaches, which are small white sand banks by the seashore. The religious tourists can find a pleasant refuge at the ancient temples and churches in Goa.
The Goa tour renders incomplete without your participation in the Goa Carnival famous for its fun, frolic and music. When it comes to the exquisite cuisine of Goa, then the tourists can go for the simple yet spicy seafood, fish, prawns, crabs and feni/gin. One can also coincide the Goa tour with the local Shimoga festival, a weeklong festival of colours confined only to Goa. The visitors can try their luck at the world-class casinos and also enjoy the vibrant nightlife characterised by the rave parties in Goa. So get set go for a freaky and funny Goa Tour!
History of Goa
Being the epicenter of spices, indigo and cotton trade; Goa became a Portuguese colony in 1510. Before attaining liberation from the Portuguese identity, Goa was ruled by many dynasties, apart from the Portuguese rulers. The first and foremost rulers of Goa were the Bhojas followed by Prince Chandraditya, son of Chalukya King Pulakesin from 566 to 597 A.D; Silahara Dynasty, Kadamba Dynasty, and finally Hoysalas from 1022 to 1342 A.D. In 14th century Goa acquired the status of the best trading center of horses.
In 1503, Alfonso de Albuquerque with his cousin Francisco de Albuquerque from Portugal invaded Goa to capture the spice-trade of Goa, which was then directed towards the Middle East and Arab countries. After a temporary acquisition by the Muslim invaders in 1506-08; Alfonso de Albuquerque again won Goa in 1510.
In 1540, a strict adherence to Christianity was imposed on the residents of Goa and the non-Christians were ostracized from the society and other civil benefits. This was the time of propagation of Christianity in Goa when the Portuguese made Churches demolishing the ancient temples. The first and the only temple built during the Portuguese empire was the Mahalaxmi temple in Panaji made in 1818.
Goa remained under Portuguese command for about 450 years. In 1961, Goa became a union territory along with Daman and Diu in India. In 1987, Goa became the 25th state of India.
Heritage and Culture of Goa
The cultural and historical heritage of Goa demonstrates a symbiotic relationship between East and the West. The churches, temples and mosques in Goa set an example of religious harmony and secularism before other states in India. The historical monuments like the Goan Heritage Houses, which were once the private residences of the Portuguese officials, are now the reminders of that colonial era. The old Goan villages still retain their traditional ambience and maintain the rustic lifestyle. The most important cultural heritage of Goa is the "Great Carnival" celebrated in Goa since the 18th century with the same enthusiasm.
The natives of Goa are born with the inherent musical talent within them. The culture of Goa can be best described as "Eat, Drink and Be Merry!" The people of Goa are quite jovial and magnanimous in nature and certainly industrious. The nightlife, rave parties, dance and music are the active ingredients of Goan lifestyle. The famous folk dances in the state are Corridinho, Mando, Dhalo, Fugdi, and performing folk arts (like Khell-Tiatro), Jagar-perani and other art forms.
The sparkling sand, beautiful palm trees and pristine waters are the very images that come to the mind at the very mention of Goa. In fact, the beaches are what Goa is known for because its 100 km long coastline is home to some of the most amazing beaches in the world. Some are always crowded while some are defined by their very isolation and serenity. All you need to do is just explore this beautiful region and pick out a beach of your liking. Once you are there, you can just put up your feet and relax. Whether you would like to try some local cuisine at one of the numerous food joints or browse through the souvenir shops scattered around, it's all up to you, because once you are in Goa it is the best to throw your cares to the wind and enjoy to your heart's content. Besides, if you are of the adventurous kind you could indulge in some exciting water sports and after that relax under a beach umbrella and watch the world go by around you.
There are many beautiful beaches scattered all over the world, but the joy and liveliness displayed by everything around you in Goa cannot be found anywhere else. You would just want to go with the flow and enjoy your day full of the sun, sand and fun. If you are on a beach bustling with life and activity, you should not forget to join the celebration because in Goa everyday is a holiday to be celebrated with gusto. So once in your life, do try to squeeze out some time out of your busy schedules and come to Goa, which would surely be a great experience.
Goa has many beautiful and exciting beaches to explore, which leaves a first time visitor spoilt for choice. There are a number of crowded and popular beaches like the Calangute, Colva and the Anjuna beaches. Being the most visited beaches in Goa, they have several resorts, recreational facilities and food joints scattered around them. For someone who would like to relax in a quiet and secluded beach, there are some beaches like the Betul beach, the Palolem beach or even the Bambolim beach. So no matter what, Goa has something for everyone to enjoy and remember for a lifetime.
If you are someone who loves solitude, the Agonda Beach is the best place for you to go. Situated at a distance of 37 km away from Margao, the Agonda beach is a far cry from the crowded Calangute and Anjuna beaches of Goa. This lovely beach is a 3 km long virgin stretch of white sand fringed with palm trees. In fact, after the hustle and bustle of the other tourist spots in Goa, the Agonda beach is perfect getaway for the tired traveler. Since this beach is not frequented by many tourists, there are very few stalls and eating joints around it. Therefore it is advisable that you carry all the items you need when you visit the Agonda beach.
The Aguada beach, located on the Aguada Bay in North Goa is one of the most beautiful beaches in Goa. The beach is a clean stretch of sand, which is dotted with colorful shops, kiosks and taverns that are great places to visit and know about the local culture. It is also a nice place to shop for the traditional Goan feni and other alcoholic beverages. Besides tourists can also enjoy swimming and other water sports which are great fun.
The Anjuna Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Goa. Also known as the 'freak capital' of the world, this beach was the favorite haunt of the hippies or the 'flower generation' in the sixties. Its popularity has still not waned going by the thousands of people who visit it everyday. However the main attractions of this beach apart from its picturesque settings are its full moon parties that go on through the whole night and the weekly flea market where you can pick up everything from clothes to old bikes. In fact if you are good at bargaining, you can walk away with some very great deals.
The Baga beach, which is located 29 km away from Panaji, is basically an extension of the Calangute beach. But unlike its counterpart, the Baga beach is not so crowded and hence a welcome change for tourists who would like some solitude after the hustle and bustle of the city. Baga is a great place to try your hand at some fishing and after that a nice swim in the inviting water would be the best way to spend a relaxed day. And for those who would like some excitement, Baga offers a host of sporting activities like yachting, water-skiing and parasailing.
The Benaulim beach is situated at a distance of 41 km away from the state capital of Panaji. One of the most beautiful fishing beaches in Goa, the Benaulim beach starts where the Colva beach ends. It is a nice place to relax as it is not crowded and has partly remained undiscovered by tourists. But it presents a different picture during the weekends when its local population pours into the beach to spend an enjoyable holiday.
Fringed by tall palm trees and surrounded by some great eating joints, the Bogmalo beach is a place you must visit on your travel to Goa. Apart from its picturesque settings the beach is also a haven for those seeking to mix relaxation with fun. Of course, you can indulge in both when you are on this amazing beach. Since this beach is not too crowded, you can go for a lazy stroll or browse through the stalls scattered all over the place. Not to forget the eating joints that treat you to some of the best cuisine Goa can offer. A swim in the clean and sparkling water is an added incentive for those who are in the lookout for some fun.
The lovely Calangute beach, also known as the 'Queen of Beaches' is just a 45 minutes drive away from Panaji. Once a picturesque fishing village, this beach is now one of the most important hotspots of Goan tourism. This idyllic beach was discovered by the colorful hippies of the sixties who were mesmerized by its pristine beauty. Soon enough, international tourists started visiting the Calangute beach in hordes. On any given day, you will find this beach crowded with both international and domestic tourists.
Tucked away in a quiet part of northern Goa is the beautiful Candolim beach. This beach is a clean, sandy stretch that runs into its famous cousin, the Calangute beach. But unlike Calangute, Candolim is a quiet and peaceful place to sit and relax. There are very few resorts and restaurants around this beach, but the shacks and stalls scattered around are great places to dig into some local Goan cuisine and seafood. The Candolim beach is a good place to hone your fishing skills and also indulge in some daring water sports.
The Cavelossim beach is a delightful interplay of soft white sand and black lava rocks. A luxuriant growth of palm trees fringe the border of the beach thus making it a very pretty sight to behold. This pleasant but relatively quiet beach is mainly known for its luxurious resorts and dolphin watching facilities. Boat trips specially arranged for this event can be an out of the world experience wherein you can watch the lively dolphins from close quarters or even touch them if you are lucky.
Far from the madding crowd and 10 km away from the coastal town of Mapusa, lies the beach of Chapora. The clear water of the Arabian Sea washing against the black lava rocks strewn around this beautiful beach is a fascinating sight to behold. It almost seems as if the sea creates a music of its own which drowns out every other sound around you. This combined with the beautiful surroundings in Chapora makes it a haven for those who want a close communion with nature. You can close your eyes and relax or take a lazy stroll along the beach and enjoy the beautiful sights Chapora has to offer.
A 12-mile long stretch of fine white sand fringed by palm trees, Colva is one of the most popular beaches in India. This beach is also one of the very few beaches in India to rival Calangute beach in terms of beauty and popularity. No wonder you will always find tourists, both international and domestic lounging around this magnificent beach enjoying their fill of the sun, sand and water. As you relax on this magnificent beach, watch the light and wind chasing each other thus creating a fantastic effect on the sparkling waters, which would surely lure you to a swim. Take a stroll on the beach and watch the fishing folk go about their daily work or go to the stalls scattered around and get souvenirs for your friends at home. If you are looking for something romantic, try visiting the Colva beach in the evening, which would be an experience to remember.
Goa Travel Guide
Precaution is Better than Cure! To make your Goa tour convenient and comfortable, there are some travel tips and precautions to be taken by you, which are as follows:
If traveling by the train, attach your baggage to the berth with a chain to save it from theft. Do not accept any food item from strangers in the train/bus.
Keep your money, passport-visa and other travel documents (preferably wrapped in plastic to avoid dampness) in a Money Belt tied to your waist to avoid its visibility.
Prefer traveler's cheques/ATM cards to money in liquid form as money exchange and ATM centers are available at most of the locations in Goa.
Carry a voltage adapter for your personal electric appliances. Also check the voltage before using any electric appliance, as the voltage/power is quite low in Goa.
Always keep an identity card handy; mentioning your name, age, blood group, other relevant details and contact phone numbers for use in case of emergency.
Beware of touts and never keep your articles unattended on the beaches.
Always go for mineral water, fresh seafood dishes and wash hands with soap before having your breakfast/lunch/dinner.
Never go for money exchange through private dealers, instead; prefer banks or government/authentic institutions. Similarly hire a metered taxi/motorcycle taxi/auto rickshaw to avoid wastage of money.
Purchasing articles made from animal skin of rare and endangered species is banned in Goa so avoid buying such articles from roadside shops or sellers.
Keep your driving licence, passport, visa and other necessary documents with you while driving and follow the traffic rules to avoid mishaps and inconvenience.
Due to the change of water and climate, the tourists may suffer from chronic/acute stomach upset so they are required to take the necessary precautions and ensure that the required vaccinations are done. It is advisable to plan your vaccinations well in advance, consulting a doctor, before starting your tour to Goa. In India you also require essentially, the yellow fever vaccination especially when you are entering India from an infected area. Keep your feet clean and dry and prevent walking barefoot to prevent fungal and parasitic infections.
Goa Fairs and Festivals
Goa is also a land of festivals like Rajasthan. Except the rainy season or monsoons, the Goan calendar is always overwhelmed with fairs and festivals. With a majority of Hindus (60%) followed by the Christians (30%) and other minorities (10%); most of the Hindu and Christian festivals are celebrated in Goa with great religious fervour. So one should plan a Goa tour to actively participate in fairs and festivals of Goa.
Festivals in Goa
The major Hindu festivals that can be enjoyed and attended by tourists during their Goa tour are Mahashivratri, Ganesh Chaturthi, Gudi Padwa, Dussehra, Diwali, Holi, Rakshabandhan, Ramnavmi and Krishna Janmashtami. Due to the dominance of Maharashtrians; Ganesh Chaturthi and Gudi Padwa are the most important festivals. Some of the Christian festivals that mark the calendar year of Goa are Christmas, Good Friday, Margao Feast, Procession of Saints, Feast of Saint Peter Paul etc.
Fairs in Goa
The Carnival is the most remarkable event in Goa since the 18th century. It is known for its fun, frolic, feasting, dance and music. The word Carnival is derived from the word "Carn" that means flesh and "Leavare" that means to remove. This festival lasts for three days before Ash Wednesday signifying the initiation of Lent - the 40 days fast that precedes the Easter Sunday. The huge parades are organized in the cities accompanied with bands, floats and dances, and balls during evenings. The fair concludes with the famous Red-and-Black dance on behalf of the Clube Nacional in Panjim.
The other fairs and festivals in Goa include the Shigmo festival played with colours (the Goan counterpart of Holi played in North India); Seafood festival, Konkan fruit festival and Fontainhas Festival of Arts. The Goa tour turns more colourful if it gets coincided with the fairs and festivals of Goa making your Goa tour memorable in every way.