The pearl of the east
The Indian state of Goa which is 131 kms long coastline along the Arabian Sea, is mostly known for its Gothic churches, age-old ruins, palm-fringed beaches, coconut groves, ferry rides, and bubbly folk music. It is a eternal land of sun, sand and sea and is an ultimate holidaying destination. Located on the western coast of India, in the Konkan coastal belt, Goa is often referred to as the ‘ Pearl of the Orient’ and is a ‘tourist’s paradise’. It's wonderful natural beauty attracts tourists from all over the world. It is said that Goa is a heaven for tourists, for the ones who need and want to relax. The climate in Goa is also fabulous, moderate type of temperature. The mazor attraction of Goa is its 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 makes Goa one of India's prime tourism and holiday destinations. If you come during holidays or just for a long wekend, Goa is packed with jaded yuppies hoping to switch off and unwind for a few days, and sun-starved Europeans, soaking up all that glorious sun and food.
History of Goa
In the third century BC, Goa was a part of the Mauryan Empire, later the governance was taken over by the Satvahanas of Kolhapur, and the Chalukyas of Badami. Other dynasties that followed were the Muslim invasion for a short period which end when the Vijayanagar Empire established itself for almost a century. With the arrival of the Sultans of Gulbarga this era ended from whom the rule went on to Adil Shah of Bijapur. But soon struggling for its possession beganbetwen the Dutch, English, French and Portuguese. Finally in 1510 the Portuguese conquered Goa, with Alfonso de Albuquerque leading the invasion. In 1961, fourteen years after the India's independence, the Portuguese had to leave Goa after ruling for around four centuries.Tourist started in Goa in the 60s and 70s of 20th century with hippies, they were followed by the explorers and at the end the mass tourist traffic. In the 1980 and 90 with the opening of the Goan skies for chartered flights the numbers of tourists increased exponentially and growth in numbers is still continued. In 1987, Goa was conferred statehood and Daman and Diu was made a separate union territory.
Beaches of Goa
Goa is divided into two districts North Goa and the South Goa. North Goa is a district situated in Northern part of Goa, sharing its borders with Maharastra. South Goa is a district situated in Southern part of Goa. Panaji or Panjim is the capital of Goa. It is located on the banks of the Mandovi river.
North Goa Beaches
The beaches of North Goa are charming, attractive and lively. The North Goa beaches are the main beach attraction in Goa. The beach activities here involve adventure sports, rave parties, shopping bazaars, carnivals, and many other activities. A main tourist attraction, the North Goan Beaches can be said to be the finest beaches in India. The coastline of North Goa starts from Fort Aguada and extend up to Arambol making it a 30 km stretch of beautiful beaches. The beaches starting from Fort Aguada are: Sinquerim, Candolim, Calangute, Baga, Bambolim, Anjuna, Vagator, Chapora, and Arambol.
- Anjuna Beach : Enchanting red cliffs kiss the silver white sand beach which is awash with crystal clear waters which splash relentlessly.
- Arambol Beach: The most stunning aspect of Arambol beach is long stretches of white sand beaches which have not yet been commercialized to the extent the other beaches have been.
- Baga Beach : The Baga beach is sandwiched between the two bigger cousins, the Colva beach and the Calangute beach. The beach is somewhat smaller in size but is definitely cleaner and more relaxed and recluse than the other beaches in Goa.
- Bambolim Beach : Long walks through the well manicured lawns, Beach Volley Ball, Para sailing, Jet skiing, Scuba Diving and many more such fun and trill filled activities are a regular feature at this beautiful beach. Ayurvedic and Kerala massage providers roam the beach with special creams and oil to provide a rejuvenating massage.
- Calangute Beach : The Calangute Beach, located near Panjim, is famous for being the first beach to inculcate and prosper the hippie culture in the 60's and 70's. Apart from the regular beach activities, Calangute is also famous for its rave parties which go on for hours, and days sometimes, while the party gang moves from place to place searching for enjoyment.
- Candolim Beach :The Candolim Beach is well known for its serene atmosphere and a long stretch of peaceful silvery beach which has very little commercial activities on it.
- Chapora Beach : Flanked by Vagator, Anjuna, Siolim and the Old Portuguese Fort, Chapora beach holds its own charm with clean and tidy white and golden sea beach and verdant green foliage of palm groves along the stretch.
- Dona Paula Beach : The long stretches of silver white sand lazing on Dona Paula, promise the visitors a gala time irrespective of the time chosen for entertainment.
- Sinquerim Beach : Being one of the most scenic beaches, Sinquerim beach attracts hordes of crowd towards it. The soft white sand spread, lined with palm and casuarina trees have an everlasting effect on the minds of the visitors.
- Vagator Beach : The beautiful silver sand stretch has huge red cliffs overlooking it. These imposing stalwarts also ooze out two fresh bubbling springs just near the shore. The entire scene of the long silvery strip and the imposing backdrop makes for an exquisite shooting location.
South Goa Beaches
The Beaches of South Goa are inverse to the North Goa beaches. The beaches are known for the calm environ and the solitude they provide to the visitor. These beaches are perfect for those looking for a break from the rush of city crowd.
- Colva Beach : Colva is one beach which has almost everything to offer for everyone in the family. If it is drinks and great food for the elders and shopping and carnival / festive atmosphere for the ladies, the children are often seen building sand castles or playing beach ball or else paddle waves in the shallow shores. The security and assurance of a life guard and safe waters of the ocean near the beach make the trip to Colva an enjoyable and unforgettable event for the entire family.
- Palolem Beach : The southern most town of Goa is Chaudi and this town has to offer the beast and arguably the most beautiful beach of Goa, the Palolem Beach. The beach is peaceful and quite and very few tourists venture this far in Goa thus one can have the entire stretch to himself / herself for a long time. Do not miss the dolphins, which frequently visit the shores. The butterfly island lies nearby and can be reached by a paddle boat.
Other mazor attraction of South Goa are
- Benaulim : The beach is 2 Km from Colva beach. The Benaulim village is mentioned in the Puranas as Bannali and is said to be renamed by Portuguese.
- Arvalem Waterfalls : The majestic waterfall of Arvalem has an exuberant silvery showers. The beautiful fall, which falls from around 70ft, has a sizeable lake at the bottom. The fall and its surroundings forms a picturesque picnic spot.
- Arvalem Caves : The celebrated caves of Arvalem are of archaeological interest. A mythical background is attached to these caves. Some are of the opinion that these caves have been carved by the travelling Buddhist monks. While some believe that the caves are a construction of the pre-historic era.
Churches in Goa
Goa, a former Portuguese colony, has numerous churches which exemplify its cultural heritage. Goa is known for its churches, which are built in Portuguese, European and Indo-European style of architecture. The churches of Goa are monuments of stone.
Some Famous Churches that attracts tourists are Chapel of St. Francis Xavier in Old Goa, Church Of the Carmelites located in Old Goa, Se Cathederal this largest cathedral in Asia,Chapel of Our Lady of Mount dedicated to Our Lady of Mount, The Church Of Our Lady Of The Rosary, The Convent And Church Of St. Francis Of Assisi situated in old Goa.
Temples of Goa
Shri Shantadurga Temple : 33 kms. Sumptously built at Kavlem, is dedicated to Shantadurga, the Goddess who mediates between Vishnu and Shiva. Has a rich and beautiful Garbhakuda or the holy of holies where the deity is kept.
Shri Mangueshi Temple : Situated 9 km north of Ponda near the pristine village of priol, Shri Mangueshi Temple is one of the largest and most frequently visited temples in Goa.Walk through its lofty white tower at the entrance, a popular landmark of the colourful countryside. Its principal deity, Lord Shiva in his beneficent form, Mangueshi, presides over a silver shrine, flanked by a solid gold idol and illuminated by oil lamps.
Shri Mahalsa Narayani : Located at Mardol, 1 km from Shri Mangueshi temple. This is a 16th century temple. The deity worshipped is an attribute of Vishnu (Mohini during the fight between Devas and Asuras). Main festivals: Zatra (February) and Navaratra.
Shree Mahadeo Bhumika at Sal, Bicholim : Situated at a distance of 25 Kms from Mapusa, temple complex has beautiful natural surroundings. The three-day festival of ‘Gades’ which begins on Phalgun Purnima draws big crowds. The devotees believe that people can have the darshan of ‘Devchars’ during the Gade festival.
Adventure Sports In Goa
- Parasailing : The 350 feet rope pulls the parasailor with full force as the motor boat zooms into the sea. The sailor and his harness are firmly attached to the sail, which takes cue from the speed and takes off on the wings of gushing wind. Dona Paula, Majorda, Oberoi Beach resorts and Anjuna, Bogmalo, Calangute Colva and Vagator beaches provide the facility for the sport, which is a bit costly, but the experience is not to be missed.
- Jet Skiing : The Colva, Calangute, Candolim, Mobor, Miramar, and Rajbaga beaches offer an amusing array of adventure water sports and jet skiing is beyond doubt the most thrilling experience of them all. Normally preferred around winter season, as the waves go easy the instructors and operators on the beach are raring to go with heir life jackets and wet suits.
- Water Skiing : One of the thrills of the oceans and beaches is the adventure of water skiing. The experience of gliding over the surface of water at high speeds is sure to knock wind out of the lungs and leave one breathless with excitement. Various beaches in Goa cater for Water Skiing viz. Calangute, Mobor, Arossim, Candolim etc.
- Speedboat Rides : Speed thrills and it does so doubly if one is on the water surface. Leaving the caution to wind a ride of the speedboats is a must for the experiencing of cutting the water surface at extremely high and fearful speeds is an experience to be felt in person. Being a group activity the operators on various beaches like Calangute, Arossim, Colva, Candolim, Mobor, etc. offer for a group of 3-6 members.
Accomodations in Goa
Known for its scenic charm and beautiful pristine beaches, Goa is an enchanting place and any tourists delight. Located on the shores of blue Arabian Sea, Goa is visited by large number of tourists every year. With hotels and resorts scattered all over the state finding accommodation is not a problem in Goa. Besides, Tourism of Goa offers attractive hotel packages for Goa for you to avail.
Resorts in Goa is plentiful with a variety of hotels, resorts and guest houses to suit every budget and every taste. There are simple and bare rooms available for the thriftiest of back-packers and five-star deluxe luxury suites for those that want to indulge their fancies. Almost all round the year, travellers are usually assured of finding a room - if not in a hotel, then at least in a private house. However, come the peak season of December and January, you are likely to experience problems, unless you book your rooms well in advance. Just around Christmas until the dawn of the new year, Goa is in festive mood and plays host to hundreds and thousands of visitors from all over India and around the world. So accommodation is at a premium everywhere.
How to Reach Goa
Goa's international airport is Dabolim, at a distance of 29 km from Panaji, on the coast near Vasco Da Gama. Most domestic airlines operate in Goa apart from chartered private airlines operating from UK and Germany. Indian Airlines has direct flights from Delhi and Mumbai daily. Air India also flies to Goa.
Vasco-da-Gama rail station is connected by train with the major cities of India. Reaching Goa by train is easy from Mumbai (490 km), Bangalore (430 km), and Delhi (1,874 km). Goa's two main stations are at Margao and Vasco Da Gama.
Panaji, the capital of Goa, is connected by road to Bangalore-598 Km, Bombay-594 Km, Hubli-184 Km, Kolhapur -246 Km, Mangalore-371 Km, Mysore-696 Km and Pune-458 Km.
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