A veritable tourist paradise, Goa has a rich and varied history, dating back to the 3rd century BC. From AD 1510, the Portuguese ruled Goa for some 450 years, until it became a part of the Indian Union in 1961. Goa beautifully blends the legacies of the Portuguese with the traditions of India. Whether Hindu, Christian or Muslim, the Goan society lives in perfect amity, respecting each other’s customs and traditions.
Goa Beaches for Relaxation or Water Sports
Shaped like the new moon, Goa’s 103 Km coastline is blessed with many beaches; almost all of them are swimmer-friendly with the assured presence of lifeguards on all the popular beaches:
- Anjuna Beach: Known for the night-long trance parties of the 1950’s and ‘60’s, this breach has many breeze-catching palms, a rocky formation overlying a cove of white sand and black rock jutting into the sea.
- Baga Beach: The Baga beach nestles between the popular Colva and Calangute Beaches and is an unspoiled natural gem with white sand and lapping ocean waves..
- Calangute Beach: Thousands throng to this beach in and out of season, experienced swimmers reveling in the sea here.
- Colva Beach: This is a tranquil beach in a beautiful setting. Luxury and budget hotels, restaurants and eateries are aplenty in the area.
- Vagator Beach: The most photographed beach of Goa,it forms a bay, curving from the headland to a hillock, crowned by a Fort called the ‘Chapora Fort’.
- Varca Beach: This is a naturally beautiful region with incredible white sands, occasionally dotted with jet-black lava rock. Facilities are available for Dolphin watching up the river ‘Sal’.
- Miramar Beach: Renowned for its beauty, friendly atmosphere and vibrant social life this is a 2-km stretch of white sands with plentiful palm trees
Other Beaches: The long coast-line of Goa is dotted with many more lovely beaches such as: Candolim, Sinquerim, Aguada, Morjim, Arambol,, Palolem, Agonda, Mobor, Betalbatim, Majorda, Bogmalo, Benaulim, Betul, etc.
Fairs, Feasts and Carnivals
India is a land of fairs and festivals. Festivals are an integral part of the Goan life. Revelry, music and dance flow through their veins. The Hindu festival of Ganesh Chathurthi and the Goan carnival before Easter need special mention here.
Forts and Monuments
- Apart from a few ancient Forts dating long before the Portuguese days such as Chapora Fort and Tiracol Fort, the following are still marvellous Forts receiving much attention.
- Fort Aguada: This was built by the Portuguese in 1609-12, to protect Goa from enemy attacks. A huge water tank supplied water to the ships calling there. A 19th century lighthouse, still in service, is located in this Fort. Part of the Fort presently houses the Central Jail of Goa.
- Cabo Raj Niwas: Built in 1540 and situated on the opposite side of Fort Aguada, this fortress housed the elegant Franciscan monastery; later it became the seat of the Government of Goa and from 1961 it has become the official residence of the Governor of Goa.
Churches, Monasteries and Chapels
During the long Portuguese rule, a number of Churches, Chapels and monasteries were built, many with unsurpassed architectural beauty; some were built even before the legendary Taj Mahal.
- Basilica of Bom Jesus: The most famous of all churches in Goa, this was built in the 16th century. The mortal remains of Saint Francis Xavier are enshrined here in a silver casket wrought by Goan silversmiths. Dedicated to Infant Jesus, this church is now a World Heritage Monument.
- Se Cathedral: An imposing edifice, its vaulted interior overwhelms the visitor with its sheer grandeur. This church is dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria.
- Church of Saint Francis of Assissi: First built in 1517, it was rebuilt twice, in 1521 and 1661. The interior is illustrated with exquisite paintings.
Temples ancient and new
Goa abounds in temples, many of them ancient but well-preserved and attracting large number of devotees and visitors:
- Damodar Temple: Located at Zambaulim, this temple is situated in picturesque surroundings on the banks of the river Kushavati.
- Shree Manguesh: This famous temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is located on a hillock surrounded by lush green hills.
- Shree Shantadurga: The temple is dedicated to Goddess Shantadurga and attracts a large number of tourists and devotees.
Casa Araujo Alvares, a Classy Destination
Located at Lautolim in old Goa, this mansion is over 250 years old. The visitor gets an opportunity to view the traditional inheritance of Goa through the eyes of present times. He will find here a mélange of majesty, simplicity and history.
The Big Foot Cross Museum and a Mini-Goa Village
Located at Lautolim, near the Casa Araujo Alvares in old Goa, this has one of the world’s best collection of Crosses. The Museum exhibits a mini-Goa, has a very large laterite sculpture and has a spice and fruit garden.
Other details on Hotels, Transport and further Places of Interest
Further information on a Goan Holiday is available from the references cited at the end of this article and links from the relevant websites about:
- Places to stay, whether luxury hotels, budget hotels, beach resorts, home stays, etc;
- How to get there; by road, rail or air;
- Local transport; car hire, taxies, buses, motor cycles, etc;
- Other places of interest such as spice plantations, etc.
To conclude, Goa is a good place to enjoy a relaxing and comfortable holiday. November to March would be the ideal season for such a holiday.