One of the youngest states of the Indian Union, Goa attained statehood after 451 years of colonial rule and 26 years as Union territory. Its history dates back to the 3rd century when it belonged to the Mauryas, followed by the rule of the Satvahanas, Chalukyas and then the Shilharas and Kadambas. In 1312, Goa fell into the hands of the Muslims when Harihara of the Vijayanagar Empire evacuated the coastal area. The Muslim rule ended when the
Portuguese took over in 1510. During the Napoleonic wars, Britishers had a brief occupation of Goa otherwise the Portuguese were masters of Goa till 1961 when they were finally driven out.
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.
Another item which is on the list of every traveller to Goa is a pack of the famed cashew nuts. These are available practically everywhere. There are shops specialising in selling only cashewnuts. The nuts are available in a wide variety of tastes ranging from plain, salted and masala. The prices vary based on the quality and flavour.
There are also many fascinating options in the lifestyle and fashion shops which have come up in recent times. Some of these are located in fabulous old Goan houses which have been painstakingly restored. These shops make the best selections in home styling and fashion available to the tourists at quite reasonable prices.
It is also a fascinating experience to go around and shop in the traditional markets of the Goan towns and villages. These markets are a mirror of Goa's ethnic culture and provide a glimpse of the typical Goan way of doing business.
Goa has a moderate temperature showing negligible variations in different seasons. May is the hottest month while January and February are the coldest. There is a prevalence of tropical weather rest of the year. Southwest Monsoon brings rain in Goa between June and September. July is the month that receives maximum rainfall while February gets least amount of rain.
Goa is a place for visiting any time of the year. But the time Goa reveals itself best would be the peak of monsoons from mid July to late September and peak winters from November end to mid February.
13th Centuary Temple - Goa
Church Facade - Goa
Goa Beach - Goa
From Panaji : Dona Paula Bay (7 kms), Old Goa (10 kms) with its Basilica of Bom Jesus, Se Cathedral, Archaeological Museum and other churches, Mangueshi Temple (22 kms), Shantadura Temple (33 kms), Calangute (16 kms), and Baga Beach (18 kms).
From Mapusa : Beaches of Calangute-8 kms, Baga-10 kms, Arambol/Harmal-31 kms, Anjuna-8 kms, Vagator-9 kms & Mandrem-30 kms (both via Pernem).
Temples of Shri Dutta & Shri Vithal at Sanguelim (25 kms), Temple of Sapta Koteshwar at Narve (24 kms) and Temple of Kalikadevi at Kansarpal (14 kms).
Church of Mae de deus at Saligao (10 kms), Church at Monte de Guiri (2 kms).
Mayem Lake (21 kms), Arvalem Waterfalls (29 kms).
Terekhol Fort (30 kms).
From Margao : Beaches of Colva (6 kms), Benaulim (8 kms), Majorda (8 kms), Varca (10 kms), Cavelossim (15 kms), Mobor (18 kms), Betul (16 kms), Agonda (40 kms) and Palolem (47 kms).
Cabo de Rama (21 kms).
Ranchol Seminary (8 kms).
Shree Damodar Temple at Zambaulim (22 kms) and Shree Shantadurga Temple at Fatorda (18 kms).
Cotigao Wild Life Sanctuary (33 kms), Dudhsagar Waterfalls (59 kms by train)
From Vasco : Margao Harbour-3 kms, Bogmalo Beach-9 kms, St.Jacinto Island-7 kms Velsao Beach-10 km, Kesarval Springs-15 km & Pilar Seminary-19 km.
Attractions and Places to Visit in Goa
BEACHES: At every twist and turn of the undulating Goan coast there are alluring little coves or bays each completely different and each with its own special charm. In north Goa (north of Panaji) some of the finest beaches are edged by tall lateite cliffs. They include Sinquerim, Calangute, Baga, Anjuna, Vagator and Chapora with an old fort overlooking the beach. The Arambol beach has a delightful fresh water pond at the base of a verdant slope. The Tiracol fort at the northernmost extremity of the terrutiry, built on a tall promontory has a splendid view over the sea. The Southern beaches with their expanses of sparkling white sand and calm sea include Bogmalo, Utorda, Majorda, Colva, Benaulim, Cavelossim and Mobor, The tiny bay at Palolem, is especially beautiful.
CHURCHES : Veha Goa the old capital of the Portuguese, lying further upstream from Panaji is practically an open air museum. The magnificent 16th century city once known as Goa Dourada (Golden Goa) rivalled the European cities in splendour and wealth, Today Some in the imposing churches, convents and monasteries that remain. They have high vaulted roofs and lavishly baroque interiors with carved and gilded altar pieces and statues. The majestic Tuscan style Se Cathedral deeicated to St. Catherine da Se has some of the finest examples of religious art. The little chapels that lie off the main nave are beautifully omamented in different styles. Near by is the Church of St. Francis of Assisi. The Archaeological Museum is housed in the adjacent convent. The Basilica of Bom Jesus enshrines the miraculously preserved remains of St. Francis Xavier - displayed in an exquisitely crafted silver casket resting on a multi - hued Italian Marble base. The imposing structure supported externally by buttresses has an elaborately gilded altar. The St. Cajetan Church close by, modelled on St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, is topped by a dome. Halfway up a near by hill is the massive Convent of St. Monica constructed in 1627 AD, and at the top are the majestic ruins of the St. Augustine’s Church.
TEMPLES: Goa’s many charming temples are built in a style that incorporates Hindu, Islamic and Christian architectural elements, Many are located in the vicinity of Ponda. In the 16th century, when Portuguese persecution was at its peak and temples were being destroyed, deities from ancient shrines were stealthily smuggled out across the border into the adjoining area of Antruz, now Ponda. In the 18th century these make shift shrines were converted into graceful temples and built in a style unique to Goa. These complexes have elaborate deepa stambhas, domes in place of shikaras which are crowned by kalasas, saracenic arches, traditional mandapas and temple tanks.
MOSQUE: At Ponda is the elegant Safa Mosque built in 1560, evidence of Goa’s Muslim past.
ANCESTRAL GOA: Step intp Goa’s exciting past at ‘Ancestral Goa’, a mock up of a typical Goan village of a hundred years ago, frozen in time. Built on a verdant hill side close to Loutolim (10 km form Margao), it is surrounded by varied plantation of spices, vegetables and fruits, watered by an ancient system of irrigation.
WILDLIFE SANCTUARIES: Four attractive wildife sanctuaries preserve thick foresta and habitats along the slopes of the Western Ghats. They include the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary (60 km east of Panaji), the Bondla Sanctuary (60 km south of Panaji). The wet deciduous forests of these preserves have abundant birdlife and are the habitat of animals like the bison, leopard, sloth bear, sambar, chital, pangolin, etc.
How to Reach Goa
By Air: Well connected by air. Dabolim Airport, 30km from the state capital Panaji, has coach services operating to and frome the airport. All the major hotels also arrange transport for the guests, A prepaid taxi service is also available.
By Rail: The Konkan Railway makes Goa easily accessible by rail from cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Mangalore, Ernakulam and Thiruvanantapuram. The daily New Delhi (Nizamuddin) to Vasco-da-Gama Goa Exprss has been resumed. Goa is also linked to Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Pune via Londa.
By Road: Well connected by road, the National Highways 4A, 17 and 174 go through Goa.