The Indian state of Goa, also known as 'the pearl of the east', is known for its Gothic churches, age-old ruins, palm-fringed beaches, coconut groves, ferry rides, and bubbly folk music. With its 131-km-long coastline, Goa is an important destination in every tourist's itinerary. Sun, sand and sea being the major attractions, Goa is a perfect heaven for the ones who need and want relaxation. Goa is one of India's special places, a State seemingly blessed with fabulous weather, even more fabulous beaches, delightful people, good food, hill-top forts, little white-washed churches, soaring Portuguese-era cathedrals, a unique cultural legacy-small wonder, therefore, that Goa is one of India's prime holiday destinations.
The magnificent scenic beauty and the architectural splendours of its temples, churches and old houses have made Goa a firm favourite with travellers around the world.
But then, Goa is much more than just beaches and sea. It has a soul which goes deep into unique history, rich culture and some of the prettiest natural scenery that India has to offer.
Much of the real Goa is in its interiors, both inside its buildings and in the hinterland away from the coastal area.
Legends from Hindu mythology credit Lord Parshuram, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu with the creation of Goa.
Culture of Goa
Goa is a land of crafts and craftsmen, where aesthetic quality finds a natural expression. Goa has a rich and magnificent tradition of the classical arts. Over the years, Goans have excelled in poetry, music and the fine arts.
The exquisitely carved rosewood and teak furniture, the terracotta figurines, the classic brass items and the unique gold jewellery designs all speak of an age still valuable in this technology obsessed world.
The folk paintings of Goa have been traced to different places from ancient temples, churches and palatial manors to humble households. They mostly depict episodes from the epics - the Mahabharata and the Ramayana and the Puranas and also scenes from the New Testament.
Although introduced by the Portuguese who ruled this territory for over 50 years, from 1510 to 1961, the three-day festival primarily celebrated by Christians, has absorbed Hindu tradition-bound revelry and western dance forms, and stimulated by the artistry of the Goan genius turned into a pageantry of singular effervescence.
Beaches of Goa
There are beaches far from human habitation with very basic or sometimes no facility for accommodation. Then there are some with ultra modern comforts like internet cafes, massage centers, gyms, swimming pools, night clubs, etc. With such an enormous choice, one might feel confused about which one to take.
Fair & Festivals of Goa
With the majority of the population being Hindu, Goa has scores of festivals celebrated all around the year. All these festivals do not occur on fixed dates of the caldendar year, since they are based on the Hindu calendar.
Despite the long period of Portuguese colonisation, the Hindu festivals have retained their unique Goan character and are celebrated with deep fervour. In Hindu mythology, Goa is called the land of the Gods and with good reasons. There are hundreds of Gods and Goddesses with differing names, tastes, rituals and traditions. Most of these have remained unchaged over the centuries while others have adapted to the changing times and circumstances.
Cuisine of Goa
Visitors to Goa tend to think that food and drink in Goa means the famous fish, curry, rice and feni package. And for most Goans these are indeed the three basic necessities of life -- fish, curry and rice. They combine to make a heavenly daily meal for the average Goan. But Goan cuisine, like the land itself, has many flavours and tastes with its vast treasure trove of culinary delicacies. The long period of Portuguese rule, besides that of the Muslim and Hindu kingdoms, has left an indelible influence on the original style of Goan cooking and this has led to an exotic mix of truly tasty and spicy cuisine.
Shopping in Goa
For travellers to Goa, the visit is not complete unless they take back a souvenir of their memorable sojourn in this magnificent paradise. Naturally, shopping should be a priority on the itinerary of every tourist, along with the sightseeing attractions.
The excellent local handicrafts of Goa are easily the most popular souvenir items and include brassware, terracotta, shell work, crochet, carved furniture, bamboo work, papier-mache, etc. These are available in the Government Emporia and also at shops and stalls near the popular tourist spots.
How to Reach Goa
Dabolim is the main entry point for Goa situated at a distance of around 29 km from Panaji on the coast near Vasco da Gama.
It is not difficult to reach Goa by trains, especially after opening of the Konakan Railway that connects Margao and Vasco da Gama to major cities in India.
Goa, Maharashtra, and Karnataka state transport corporations operate from the Kadamba bus stand at Panaji. Frank Shipping operates a boat service between Mumbai and Panaji.