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Tourism in Goa

The 131 km long coastline of Goa, is set on the golden Konkan coast, on the Western Ghats, along the Arabian Sea. This small former Portuguese enclave is one of India's most dazzling tourist mosaics. Goa deserves every bit of the sobriquet 'The Pearl of the East'. The name Goa is derived from the Konkani word 'Goyan', which means a patch of tall grass.

Once a great Hindu stronghold, Goa was a part of the grand Mauryan empire, around 3rd century B.C. The Satvahanas of Kolhapur and later the Chalukyas of Badami, took over the goverance. Other dynasties followed, including a short-lived Muslim invasion, until the Vijayanagar Empire established itself for almost a century. This era, too, ended with the arrival of the Sultans of Gulbarga, around 1469 AD, from whom the rule passed on to the Adil Shah of Bijapur. Goa soon became the bone of contention between the Dutch, English, French and Portugeuse, all vying for its possession. Ultimately, in 1510, the Portugeuse conquered Goa, with Alfonso de Albuquerque leading the invasion. After ruling for around four centuries, in 1961, fourteen years after the country's independence, the Portugeuse had to turn their backs on this fascinating 'Pearl'.

Goa combines old Portuguese architecture, and a distinct Portuguese flavour to the lifestyle, with a history that abounds with Indian mythology. Its unending beaches, the pristine beauty of the seascape, its mystical hills and groves, the rhythmic pounding of the sea, its swaying palms - all make it a fairytale land for the traveller.

Places to see in Goa

Not for nothing is Goa known as 'Goa Dourada', Golden Goa. With a coastline studded with some of the world's most beautiful beaches, Goa is India's answer to the Mediterranean.

Panaji

Goa's capital Panaji has some fine beaches. To the north of Panaji, lie two of Goa's most popular beaches - Calangute and Baga. These two beaches together stretch for more than 7 km. Stroll along in the morning, as the brilliant rays of the rising sun fall upon the sea, and you wouldn't know the difference between the sea and the sands. Watch fishermen taking in the morning's catch. Visit any of the quaint eating places sprinkled along the stretch from Calangute to Baga, and discover the delightful ambience of old world Portuguese culture merging with modern Goa. You can also go to Candolim, one of the lesser known beaches of Goa. Or you can explore and discover your own beach, north of Baga, with secluded coves, swaying palms and the azure skies.

Sinquerim

It is one of the best beaches in Goa with international class facilities for water-skiing, para-sailing, fishing, scuba-diving and wind-surfing. You can stay either at the Fort Aguada Beach Resort, Taj Holiday Village or at the Aguada Hermitage which is situated on the hillside, overlooking the sea. Sinquerim also has a magnificent 17th century fort, which has now been converted into a prison.

Calangute

It is, undoubtedly, the most popular beach in Goa. You can stay here in any one of the many resorts and hotels that dot the beach, or you can spend your vacation with one of the families, which own houses near the beach.

Baga

It is a secluded and pleasant beach, with good recreational facilities like river cruises, water-skiing, yachting and fishing. Staying here is no problem, as there are many small and lovely cottages available.

Anjuna

This beach is known mainly for its free culture.

Chapora / Vagator

Just a 3 km stroll from Anjuna are these beautiful stretches of land, that are mesmerising, to say the least.

Arambol / Terekol

These are the northern - most beaches of Goa. Terekol has a wonderful fort, which has now been converted into a resthouse.

Bogmalo

Another of Goa's irresistible beaches, Bogmalo is a secluded, crescent - shaped cove. An exclusive beach, it has a single luxury hotel, the Sarovar Park Plaza Resort. South of this beach are the Velsao and Majorda beaches. The latter boasts of another fine resort - the Majorda beach resort.

Colva

Virgin white sands form Colva, the longest beach (20 km) in Goa. There are small hotels as well as five star ones, like the Goa Renaissance Resort and the Leela Beach Resort.

Benaulim

A pretty fishing village, with quaint old Portuguese houses and a secluded beach. Perfect for a quiet little break. You can get the 'family house' accomodation here, which besides being easy on your budget, can give you terrific insight into the local tradition.

Betul

Completely untouched by tourism, Betul offers total seclusion and magical beaches.

SeCathedral

Time seems to stand still as you enter the SeCathedral, the largest church in Asia. Dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria, this church has 15 altars.

Basilica of Bom Jesus

Here you can view the embalmed body of Goa's patron saint, St. Francis, perfectly preserved, since his death almost 450 years ago.

Temples

The Ponda district has a 15th century Shri Mangesh temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. Mardol has the Shri Mahalsa temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu.

How To Get There

By Air: You can fly to Goa from Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Cochin and Thiruvananthapuram. For overseas travellers, Mumbai has the most well - connected airport.

By Rail: Getting to Goa, by train is fairly convenient from Mumbai (490 km), Bangalore (430 km) and Delhi (1874 km).

By Road: Driving down by road from Mumbai (582 km) is smooth as well as picturesque, as Goa is situated right on the highway.

By Ship: Damania Shipping Corporation operates nonstop catamaran service between Mumbai and Goa, from October to May.

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