Goa is the smallest state in India in terms of area. Situated along India’s western coastline, the state is bordered by Karnataka in the south and east, and Maharashtra in the north. The entire coastline of the state lies along the mighty Arabian Sea. Panaji is the capital of Goa, whereas Vasco da Gama is its largest city. Due to its immense popularity among international travellers, the state is sometimes designated as the “Pearl of the Orient.” This multicultural and multi-religious state attracts a huge number of travellers every year. Sandy beaches, buzzing nightlife, ancient temples, exquisite churches and lip-smacking seafood are some of the things that make it a famed holiday destination. Read more on our blog.
With deep influences from the local Konkani culture, the traditions and lifestyle of Goans, the natives of the state, exhibit a remarkable impact of the 450 years of Portuguese rule. Travellers from across the globe and within India can easily experience this distinct cultural fusion while on a vacation to Goa. Be it a nature lover or adventure enthusiast, Goa has an array of options to please all sorts of travellers. Nature reserves like Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary, Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary and Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary are great places to observe wildlife in their natural habitat. Apart from birding and nature walks, camping and trekking are also possible in these sanctuaries between October and December.
Noted churches, such as Se Cathedral, Basilica of Bom Jesus and Church of St. Francis of Assisi along with temples like Shri Shantadurga Temple, Shri Damodar Temple and Shri Nagesh Temple are proud testaments of Goa’s glorious past. Goa State Museum, Museum of Christian Art and Archaeological Museum & Portrait Gallery are great places to peek into the history of the region. Numerous cultural events like Kala Utsav, Tripurari Boat Festival, Shigmotsav and Novidade Festival are held annually in Goa, that keep it lively and happening throughout the year. Among all these, nothing could be more exciting than being a part of the well-known Goa Carnival.
Owing to its coastal location, Goa serves as an apt point to try out water sports like river rafting, parasailing, banana rides, catamaran sailing, and jet-skiing. Scuba diving, sailing, kayaking, snorkelling, fishing, and dolphin and crocodile spotting in the deep blue waters of the Arabian Sea are the other popular aquatic activities practised in and around the region. In addition to all this, Goa also offers Hot Air Ballooning to the adventure lovers. Shopaholics can buy mementoes or gifts from a number of buzzing markets across Goa. Grab a handicraft item or get tattooed at the famous Baga Beach Market, or shop extravagantly at the lively Panjim Market. Additionally, tourists can explore a number of entertainment and dining options at bustling night bazaars. These night markets along with an array of clubs and discotheques showcase the happening nightlife of Goa.
The typical Goan food includes crabs, prawns, pomfret, rice and aromatic spices. Chouriço (pork sausage), vindaloo (lamb, wine and garlic) and Xacuti are some of the Catholic Goan specialities that are inspired by Portuguese cuisine.
The state traces its history back to some 20000-30000 years. Goa has been described by various names, such as Gomanta, Govapuri and Gomantak, in Hindu religious texts. A myriad of myths and legends are also associated with the state even in the context of its origin. The Hindu deity, Krishna has been believed to have visited Goa and name it as “Govapuri.” The state’s former name, Gomantak, describes the early settlements of Saraswat Brahmins, who claim themselves to be first settlers on the coast of Konkan in around 1000 BC.
Gomantak further became a part of the Mauryan Empire under King Ashoka in around 3rd century BC. Later, various dynasties like Satavahana, Chalukya and Silhara tried to establish their base in Gomantak, but the actual arrival of Kadamba Dynasty in the 11th century marks the start of the Golden Age of Goa. Later, Bahmanis came to Goa and brought severe ill-luck to the region with the demolition of temples, priest killings and capturing of wealth. Presently, the remains of Mahadev Temple in Tambdi Surla are the only testament to the early Hindu rule over the region. During the 14th-15th centuries AD, the Vijayanagar Empire captured the region, but in 1470 Bahmanis returned to the area and founded the Bahmani kingdom. Later, Goa became part of Sultan Yusuf Adil Shah’s territory after the separation of the Bahmani kingdom into five parts.
In the late 16th century, Goa thrived both economically and culturally with the arrival of the Jesuits and St. Francis Xavier, who brought Christianity to the state. However, the state also witnessed excessive promotion of Roman Catholicism and coercive conversions of natives to Christianity during this period.
In an attempt to take control over the region, subsequent wars between the Dutch, Portuguese, Marathas and Mughals led to devastation again, wherein Old Goa suffered a lot and observed a huge decline in its population. In 1757, the rights of citizenship and representation in parliament were awarded to the natives of Goa by the then Portuguese government. In 1759, a peace treaty was signed between the Portuguese and Marathas. The enclaves of Daman, Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Goa were collectively established as “Estado da Índia Portuguesa.”
After India earned its independence in 1947, it endeavoured to capture the Goan enclaves and achieved full control over its territories in December 1961. Goa was later deemed with the status of an Indian state in 1987. The citizens of Goa celebrate 19th December as “Liberation Day.”
Occupying a coastal location in West India, Goa spans over nearly 3,702 square kilometres. The major chunk of Goa is a part of the famous Konkan coastal strip. Apart from Panaji, the capital town, and Vasco da Gama, other important towns in Goa are Margao, Mapusa, Ponda, and Velha Goa or Old Goa.
In the north, the state is bounded by Maharashtra, whereas in the east by Karnataka. The Western Ghats, covering its eastern edge, are responsible for its exuberant forests, and rich flora and fauna. The entire western part of the state is a coastline of about 131 kilometres that stretches along the Arabian Sea. The peak of Sonsogor, located at an elevation of around 1167 metres above sea level, is the highest point in the state. Most of the forest lies in the inner eastern region of the state, covering an area of nearly 1424 square kilometres.
The major rivers of Goa are Zuari, Mandovi, Terekhol and Chapora that form several estuaries and bays before falling into the Arabian Sea. These further add to the natural beauty of Goa’s coastal belt. Also, Mormugao Harbour at the opening of the Zuari River is considered as one of the best natural harbours in South Asia. Chiefly, the soil in Goa is red in colour and laterite in nature with a rich concentration of ferric aluminium oxides. It is high in minerals and humus; thus, extensively supports agriculture.
Goa has a pleasantly warm tropical climate round the year, and the temperature does not fluctuate to a great extent. In the month of May, the hottest during the summer season, the temperature often reaches to 35 degree Celsius with high humidity. The monsoon season lasts from June to September, bringing greenery to the region and relief from the heat to Goans. The average relative humidity of the state is nearly 76 per cent.
The short winter period, which exists from mid-December to February, exhibits night temperatures of about 21 degrees and day temperatures of approximately 28 degree C.
How to reach
Owing to being one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in India, Goa is well connected to major cities and towns across the country by airline services. A bevy of domestic and international flights to the state land at Goa International Airport in Dabolim near Vasco da Gama.
The busiest railway station in Goa is Madgaon. South Western Railways and Konkan Railways in the state operate major trains between important towns and cities in India, including Mumbai, Delhi, and Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala.
Also, National Highways 4A, 17 and 17A connect Goa with significant cities and towns in the country. The state-owned Kadamba Transport Corporation (KTC) runs buses within the state. Along with the transport corporations of neighbouring states and private service providers, KTC also operates buses to cities like Pune, Mumbai, Belgaum, Bangalore, Hubli and Mangalore.
Wandering around Goa is fairly convenient as a number of options are available here, which include buses, cars, motorcycles, auto-rickshaws and even ferries. Exploring the state in a private bus is a unique experience despite frequent delays, overcrowding and never-ending fuzz. Both self and chauffeur-driven cars are available on rent that could be picked for a personalised trip. Moreover, tourist taxis can be easily found outside the airport, railway stations and renowned hotels. Also, three-wheeled auto-rickshaws are available at most places, and it is a relatively cheaper option.
A very popular means of transport in Goa is motorcycle taxi, which is also the fastest yet an economical way of covering short distances. Besides, one can also hire a scooter, motorbike or bicycle to travel comfortably across the smaller towns and suburbs. At few places, the only option to reach a tourist spot is by means of a ferryboat; thus, travellers at times get a chance to enjoy a scenic boat ride as well.