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[ History of Goa ] [ Location and Climate of Goa ] [ Nightlife of Goa ] [ Culture of Goa ] [ Old Goa ] [ Cusine of Goa ]
[ Fairs of Goa ] [ Folklore of Goa ] [ Water Sports in Goa ] [ Churches of Goa ] [ Temples of Goa ] [ Demography of Goa ]
[ City of Panaji Goa ] [ Wildlife of Goa ] [ Map of Goa ]

GOA
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A tiny emerald land on the west coast of India is situated between the borders of Maharastra and Karnataka.

Goa was under the rule of the Portuguese for over 450 years.

The territory of Goa, Daman & Diu was liberated from the Portuguese rule in the year 1961.

Goa attained statehood on 30th May, 1987.

A very striking feature of Goa is the harmonious relationship among various religious communities, who have lived together peacefully for generations.

Though a late entrant to the planning process, Goa has emerged as one of the most developed States in India.

The name conjures up images of sun-baked sands, heady feni, and palm fronds waving in a cool sea breeze. All that may sound a wee bit clichéd, but Goa definitely isn’t. One of India’s hottest destinations for well over two decades now, Goa was- and still is- where everybody goes to party. A sunkissed land dotted with coconut trees and rice fields; old Portuguese churches and the prettiest of beaches- where February means Carnival and every day is an occasion for celebration.

Goa’s beaches are where much of the action is; some of the best beaches in India, these are the major reason why Goa attracts so many thousands of tourists- Indian and foreign- every year. The state’s beaches stretch all along the coastline, from the northern border with Maharashtra right down to the south, where peaceful stretches like Palolem are a godsend for anybody looking for an escape from the crowds.

The three main areas where Goa’s best beaches are concentrated include Mapusa, Panaji and Margao. Along most of the major beaches are resorts, hotels, cottages, restaurants and souvenir shops by the dozen, and usually an interesting flea market as well. All of which means that you can get a fairly complete vacation- with accommodation, dining, entertainment and shopping- all on one beach. What more could one ask for?

Best time to visit
Goa is a year-round destination, but the best time to go is in winter, between late October and early April. The winter weather is balmy, the days are sunny and the nights cool, especially on the beach. The summers are very hot and humid and it rains heavily from June to August, making it unsafe to swim.

The carnival period in the month of February through to early March is another peak time, attracting a lot of tourists to Goa. It is a great season with parades, pageants and merrymaking late into the night.

Access
Goa is well connected to Mumbai and other major cities by air, rail, road and a limited catamaran service, the latter only from Mumbai. Dabolim Airport, 30 km from Panaji, is the only airport in the state, but it’s got plenty of flights coming from the rest of the country.

Goa is also well connected by train, with Margao being the main station for the Konkan Railway plying between Maharashtra and Karnataka. Trains come in from Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Trivandrum and other major cities of the country. National Highways link Goa with other cities and there are regular overnight coaches and buses. Driving down from Mumbai is also a good idea, since its useful to have a vehicle in Goa.

The best way to get around Goa is to hire a vehicle, as public transport systems can be a bit unreliable: there are no metered taxis and the bus service is erratic. Riding pillion on motorcycle taxis is extremely popular and inexpensive. You can also rent cars or two-wheelers for the day.

Accommodation
Options for accommodation are virtually unlimited in Goa and you can find a room to fit any budget. There are luxury hotels in prime locations near the beach, holiday resorts, tourist bungalows, beach shacks, dormitories and paying guest accommodation with local families. Also available are hostel and dormitory style accommodation that is perfect for students and backpackers on tight budgets. All three areas- Margao, Mapusa and Panaji- have low-priced, state-run GTDC tourist hotels. Most tourists prefer to stay around the beaches in north or south Goa.

Book in advance during peak season, as accommodation can get very scarce at this time.

Mapusa
Panaji
Margao

MAPUSA
Mapusa, in the northernmost part of Goa, is the state’s main market town. The administrative capital of Bardez Taluka, Mapusa is 13 km south of Panaji.. The town's name, pronounced `Map-sa’, after the Konkani words for `measure’ and `fill’, is an indication of its commercial nature. Besides being a busy market town, Mapusa is conveniently close to some of Goa’s most popular beaches.

Calangute: About 8 km south from Mapusa, Calangute is Goa's most popular beach, a highly commercialised but sizzling beach that offers good sunbathing, passable swimming and the most delicious food along the coast. Though the beach itself is not spectacular, and the coarse golden sand drops steeply creating an undertow, there is something about Calangute that attracts the Indian tourist and Western sun-worshipper alike.

Baga: A happening beach 10 km west of Mapusa, crescent-shaped Baga is less crowded than Calangute, but comparatively safer for swimming. Baga has soft white sand and a green backdrop of paddy fields. Baga is popular for water sports - parasailing, jet skiing, body boarding and surfing, though the waves aren't good enough for the professional surfers. Another hit with tourists are the dolphin cruises on a boat out at sea, bringing you within touching distance of these smiling creatures. Baga's nightlife is more sophisticated than Calangute's, with music, dance and wine.

Anjuna: The "hip" beach that has lived up to its swinging reputation since the 70s, Anjuna has traditionally been a rave centre and attracts partygoers and backpackers to its famous beach parties, especially around the Christmas-New Year season. Anjuna's golden sands and tall coconut palms make the beachfront a pretty hangout place and the sea is safe for swimming.

Small Vagator and Big Vagator: A little ahead of Anjuna lie the two Vagators - the big and the small Vagators. Both are secluded, palm fringed, quiet places tucked away in the northernmost tip of Mapusa. Small Vagator is a small cove - its fine silver sands and rocky sea shore surrounded by black laterite cliffs.The main Vagator beach (Big Vagator) is overshadowed by the 500 year old Portuguese fortress of Chapora that sits atop a rocky outcrop.

Arambol: Way off to the north, near the border with Maharashtra, lies Arambol (also called Harmal), pretty but not overcrowded. Arambol’s stretches of soft white sand would be just what the doctor ordered for your peace of mind. It is also the paradise for the hippies, as there are regular "trance" parties and even "full moon" parties.

Also near the Maharashtra border is Querim beach (pronounced ‘Keri’) an idyllic beach but with barely any facilities or supplies available. Equally peaceful and bereft of logistics are Mandrem (just south of Arambol) and Morgim (Morji), on the Chapora estuary. Mandrem, a lonely stretch of white sandy beach with a couple of beach shacks, is frequented mostly by tourists who want to get a full body tan, away from prying eyes of interested locals.

At the foot of Fort Aguada lies the pretty palm-fringed Sinquerim beach, and near it Candolim beach, both popular with tourists.

PANAJI
Panaji, the capital of Goa, is a tiny city that packs in a large punch. The church on the main square, the Baroque architecture, pretty villas, cobbled streets and interesting buildings give Panaji a distinctly Portuguese ambience. The city lies along the left bank of the Mandovi River, and close at hand are a bunch of good beaches, perfect for lolling around and soaking up the sun.

Dona Paula: Dona Paula is a pretty and peaceful beach shaded by palms and casuarinas, 9 km southwest of Panaji. Dona Paula is quite a hotspot, not only for its beauty but also because of a romantic legend that gave the beach its name. Dona Paula de Menezes was a viceroy’s daughter who jumped off a cliff when refused permission to marry a local fisherman. The hapless maiden is said to be entombed at the nearby Raj Bhawan’s Cabo Chapel.

Dona Paula beach offers water sports facilities, especially water scootering.

Miramar: The beach closest to the capital Panaji (3 km), Miramar is conveniently located in the heart of the state capital which is also why it is rather crowded and often dirty, though you can watch some spectacular sunsets, as the sun goes down at the confluence of the River Mandovi and the Arabian Sea

Bambolim: 7 km from Panaji along the Panaji-Vasco road to the airport, Bambolim is a minor beach frequented more by the local populace rather than by tourists. Is an excellent destination for swimming, considered as the safest beach in Goa for swimming, no under currents at all on this beach. The beach is truly a paradise on earth.

Caranzalem: Though not very pretty, Caranzalem (between Miramar and Dona Paula) is quiet and safe for swimming. It has water scooters and other water sports facilities as there is no undercurrent.

Vaniguinim: The Vaniguinim beach overlooks the Mormugao Bay but is accessible only from the Cidade de Goa Hotel.

Bogmalo: Just 4 km from the airport is the small cove at Bogmalo, not easily accessible, and, therefore fairly empty. Bogmalo lies between Panaji and the port town of Vasco da Gama; it’s good for swimming, and not too crowded.

MARGAO

Margao, the capital of Salcete taluka and the chief town of South Goa, has a decidedly Portuguese flavour and an old world charm. It’s a vibrant cosmopolis with a migrant populace from Maharashtra and Karnataka, peppering the existing Konkanese and Portuguese cultures; and this is also where some of Goa’s top beaches are.

Colva: Colva beach, 6 km from Margao, has a throbbing nightlife but a somewhat downmarket ambience by day. Colva’s highly commercialised with resort complexes, large holiday crowds, trinket stalls, discos and restaurants, but a walk of a few hundred metres along the beach in either direction takes visitors to the quieter, more private spots. If one can get away from the crowded main beach, Colva is a great place to shack up. There’s good accommodation, great restaurants, the waterfront is clean and the water’s safe for swimming.

Benaulim: Benaulim lies right in the centre of Colva, 7 km west of Margao. Benaulim remained a sleepy hamlet for centuries, then woke up with quite a bang- and is today a popular tourist hotspot with a crop of luxury resorts, time-share apartments, guesthouses and moderately priced hotels. Dozens of restaurants and beach shacks dot the seafront, serving authentic Goan seafood besides a variety of other cuisines. Despite its popularity, Benaulim still has an air of tranquility: the beachfront is beautiful, with silver sands, shady palm trees and safe waters.

Varca: Varca is famous for its silver sands, one of the best beach in the south is today a popular tourist hotspot with a crop of luxury resorts, time-share apartments, guesthouses and moderately priced hotels. Dozens of restaurants and beach shacks dot the seafront, serving authentic Goan seafood besides a variety of other cuisines. Despite its popularity, Varca still has an air of tranquility: the beachfront is beautiful, with silver sands, shady palm trees and safe waters.

Mobor: Mobor is the spot where Colva ends and the River Assolna meets the sea, and the site of an exclusive luxury resort. The beach at Mobor lies in a sheltered cove overlooked by cliffs on one side - it makes for a picture perfect setting.

Majorda: Majorda lies 2 km north of Colva, and is a pretty beach dominated by a luxury resort, hotels, restaurants, shops, boutiques and the best European bakeries in Goa.

South of Margao lie a host of quieter, more isolated beaches; venture beyond Cape Rama to the peace and beauty of the beaches at Palolem and Galgibaga- perfect for a day away from the crowds of bathers flocking around the more touristy beaches.

Nearby Agonda and Rajbag beaches lack shelter from the sun, making them rather isolated and inconvenient.

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