Area: 3702 sq km.
Language: Marathi, Konkani, English and Portuguese
Best Time to Visit: October to May (To enjoy the monsoon: June to September)
STD Code: 0832
The small state of Goa is in the west coast of the Indian peninsula with a vast coastline of 104 km. An extension to the Konkan coast of Maharashtra, Goa is bounded on the north by Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra state, on the West by the Arabian Sea, on the South by Karwar district of Karnataka state and on the East by Belgaum district of Karnataka state. A place with moderate climate throughout the year, with heavy rainfall in the Monsoon, Goa has gained the name of traveler’s paradise with 365 days on a holiday!!
Golden beaches, fairy tale mansions and churches, wonderful food, friendly people and of course, feni, these are just the few things that Goa is thought about. There is much more to Goa than one can even think of. The 25th Indian state which was merged with the union 14 years after its independence, Goa is a magnificent hybrid of oriental and European culture set in a tropical landscape in India. There are many fragrances to this exotic land and its charm lies essentially in the fact that it’s possible for every tourist to find exactly what he is looking for in this little haven. A holiday destination in India for all, in every season.
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 other religions.
Be it forts, beaches, mountains, religious places, wild life, water sports, heritage sites… you name it and Goa will provide it with the unmatched hospitality of the Goans. The fun loving people of Goa are living in harmony for past five centuries with their own religions but one distinct culture called GOA.
Scattered paddy fields with small fishing villages having temples and Churches, Goa has maintained its sanctity despite the great commercialization it has faced in recent years. 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. The people are welcoming the food is delicious and the wines are good, the exotic and the intoxicating locations are topping on the cake!
Goa or Gomantak as it is commonly known has been mentioned in the great epic Mahabharat. It means a fertile land. The most famous legend associated with Goa, is that of the mythical sage Parashuram (the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu), who several thousand years ago created the entire stretch of Konkan coast by ordering the seas to recede. The first wave of Brahmins to settle in Goa, were called Saraswats because of their origins from the banks of the River Saraswati, an ancient river that existed in Vedic times. A group of ninety-six families, known today as Gaud Saraswats, settled along the Konkan coast around 1000 BC.
Goan history dates back to antiquity. Rock carvings and rock engravings founds at various places in Goa, indicate that Stone Age people had settled in this ancient land around 10000 - 8000 BC. During the Sumerian era around 2200 BC. Goa has been mentioned as Gubio. Excavations conducted have unearthed many copper coins and plates and temple inscriptions throwing light on the history of Goa. It also has mention in the Mauryan empire of Ashok. Goa was a part of the Mauryan Empire, around third century BC.
Over the centuries various dynasties have ruled Goa. Rashtrakutas, Satvahanas, Kadambas, Silaharas, Chalukyas, Bahamani Muslims and most famously the Portuguese have been rulers of Goa. The Bahamani Muslims lost out to Vijaynagar and soon everyone realized the importance of Goa as a big trade port. Soon, the Dutch, English, French and Portuguese, all began struggling for its possession. Although Vasco –da – Gama set his foot in India in 1498 A.D. it was in 1510A.D. that the Portuguese could conquer Goa, under the leadership of Alfonso de Albuquerque. The Portuguese rule proved to be the longest, carrying for more than 400 years. The Portuguese although gave the legacy of beautiful churches and grand buildings to Goa, the people were tormented and tortured and forcefully asked to accept Christianity. But over the centuries the Portuguese became more of Goan than their European origin.
Goa was liberated by the Indian Army from Portuguese colonisation 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. 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 has become the melting pot of various cultures and religions. The Roman Catholics and the Hindus have lived in perfect harmony, sharing each others’ festivals and fairs. All the communities have mutual respect towards one another and have a secular outlook.
The people of Goa are fun loving happy go lucky natured people. The nature around and the fertile land has given them a relaxed nature. Music, food, festivals and fun is what the Goans are. Fishing and coconut growing along with rice, mango and cashew nut are the main products of Goan farmers. Staple food is rice and fish and coconut is the main ingredient. The Christian cuisine of Goa still retains the strong influence of Portuguese cuisine over it.
Thus for decades, Goa has been a fascinating destination for foreign and local tourists equally. The ancient churches, the temples full of flowers giving out the fragrance, the unique Portuguese ambience, the cool breeze from the sea with its beaches and great people, Goa has lured many and still is the hottest tourist spot in India.