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Goa



Goa is India's smallest state in terms of area and the fourth smallest in terms of population. Located on the west coast of India in the region known as the Konkan, it is bounded by the state of Maharashtra to the north and by Karnataka to the east and south, while the Arabian Sea forms its western coast.
Panaji (also referred to as Panjim) is the state's capital. Vasco da Gama (sometimes shortened to Vasco) is the largest city. The historic city of Margao still exhibits the influence of Portuguese culture. Portuguese first landed in Goa as merchants, in the early 16th century, and conquered it soon after. The Portuguese overseas territory existed for about 450 years, until it was annexed by India in 1961.
Renowned for its beaches, places of worship and world heritage architecture, Goa is visited by hundreds of thousands of international and domestic tourists each year. It also has rich flora and fauna, owing to its location on the Western Ghats range, which is classified as a biodiversity hotspot.

HISTORY
Goa's known history stretches back to the 3rd century BC, when it formed part of the Mauryan Empire. It was later ruled by the Satavahanas of Kolhapur, around 2000 years ago it was passed on to the Chalukya Dynasty, who controlled it between 580 to 750. Over the next few centuries Goa was successively ruled by the Silharas, the Kadambas and the Chalukyas of Kalyani, rulers of Deccan India.
In 1312, Goa came under the governance of the Delhi Sultanate. However, the kingdom's grip on the region was weak, and by 1370 they were forced to surrender it to Harihara I of the Vijayanagara empire. In 1469 it was monarched by the Bahmani sultans of Gulbarga. After that dynasty crumbled, the area fell to the hands of the Adil Shahis of Bijapur who established as their auxiliary capital the city known under the Portuguese as Velha Goa.

In 1510, the Portuguese defeated the ruling Bijapur kings with the help of a local ally, Timmoji or Timyya, leading to permanent settlement in Velha Goa (or Old Goa).The Portuguese encouraged the spread of Christianity, often with repressive measures. The repeated wars of the Portuguese with the Marathas and the Deccan sultanate, along with their repressive religious policies led to large migrations of Goans to neighbouring areas.

In 1843 the capital was moved to Panjim from Velha Goa. By mid-18th century the area under occupation had expanded to most of Goa's present day state limits. Simultaneously the Portuguese lost other possesions in India until their borders stabilised and formed the Estado da India Portuguesa, of which Goa was the largest territory.

After India gained independence from the British in 1947, Portugal refused to negotiate with India on the transfer of sovereignity of their Indian enclaves. On 12 December 1961, the Indian army commenced with Operation Vijay resulting in the annexation of Goa, Damman and Diu into the Indian union. On 30 May 1987, the Union Territory was split, and Goa was elevated as India's twenty-fifth state, with Daman and Diu remaining Union Territories.

GEOGRAPHY
Goa encompasses an area of 3,702 km² (1,430 sq mile). It lies between the latitudes 14°53'54" N and 15°40'00" N and longitudes 73°40'33" E and 74°20'13" E. Most of Goa is a part of the coastal country known as the Konkan, which is an escarpment rising up to the Western Ghats range of mountains, which separate it from the Deccan Plateau. The highest point is the Sonsogor, with an altitude of 1,167 meters (3,827 feet). Goa has a coastline of 101 km (63 miles).

Goa's main rivers are the Mandovi, the Zuari, the Terekhol, Chapora River and Sal. The Mormugao harbor on the mouth of the river Zuari is one of the best natural harbors in South Asia. The Zuari and the Mandovi are the lifelines of Goa, with their tributaries draining 69% of its geographic area. Goa has more than forty estuarine, eight marine and about ninety riverine islands. The total navigable length of Goa's rivers is 253 km (157 miles). Goa has more than three hundred ancient tanks built during the rule of the Kadamba dynasty and over a hundred medicinal springs.

Most of Goa's soil cover is made up of laterites which are rich in ferric aluminium oxides and reddish in color. Further inland and along the river banks, the soil is mostly alluvial and loamy. The soil is rich in minerals and humus, thus conducive to plantation. Some of the oldest rocks in the Indian subcontinent are found in Goa between Molem and Anmod on Goa's border with Karnataka. The rocks are classified as Trondjemeitic Gneiss estimated to be 3,600 million years old. Goa has a hot and humid climate for most of the year. The month of May is the hottest, seeing day temperatures of over 35 °C (95 °F) coupled with high humidity. The monsoon rains arrive by early June and provide a much needed respite from the heat. Most of Goa's annual rainfall is received through the monsoons which last till late September.Goa has short winter season between mid-December and February are marked 20 °C (68 °F) with moderate amounts of humidity.

CULTURE
The most popular celebrations in Goa are Ganesh Chaturthi (Chavoth-Konkani), Diwali, Christmas, Easter, Samsar Padvo, Shigmo and the Carnival. Goa is also known for its New Year's celebrations. The Goan Carnival is known to attract a large number of tourists.

Goan Hindus are very fond of Natak, Bhajan and Kirtan. Many famous Indian Classical singers hail from Goa, such as , Kishori Amonkar, Kesarbai Kerkar, Jitendra Abhisheki, Prabhakar Karekar.

Some traditional Goan dance forms are dekhnni, fugdi, and corridinho.

Rice with fish curry (Xit kodi in Konkani) is the staple diet in Goa. Goan cuisine is renowned for its rich variety of fish dishes cooked with elaborate recipes. Coconut and coconut oil is widely used in Goan cooking along with chili peppers, spices and vinegar giving the food a unique flavour. Pork dishes such as Vindaloo, Xacuti and Sorpotel are cooked for major occasions among the Catholics. An exotic Goan vegetable stew, known as Khatkhate, is a very popular dish during the celebrations of festivals, Hindu and Christian alike. A rich egg-based multi-layered sweet dish known as bebinca is a favourite at Christmas. The most popular alcoholic beverage in Goa is feni; Cashew feni is made from the fermentation of the fruit of the cashew tree, while coconut feni is made from the sap of toddy palms.
Goa has two World Heritage Sites: the Bom Jesus Basilica and a few designated convents. The Basilica holds the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier, regarded by many Catholics as the patron saint of Goa (the patron of the Archdiocese of Goa is actually the Blessed Joseph Vaz). Once every twelve years, the body is taken down for veneration and for public viewing. The last such event was conducted in 2004. The Velhas Conquistas regions are also known for its Goa-Portuguese style architecture.

In many parts of Goa, mansions constructed in the Indo-Portuguese style architecture still stand, though in some villages, most of them are in a dilapidated condition. Fontainhas in Panaji has been declared a cultural quarter, showcasing the life, architecture and culture of Goa. Some influences from the Portuguese era are visible in some of Goa's temples, notably the Mangueshi Temple, although after 1961, many of these were demolished and reconstructed in the indigenous Indian style.


PLACES OF TOURIST INTEREST


PANJI
Panji is the official capital of Goa. It was called Panjim during the times of the Portuguese and was one of the three principal Portuguese cities along with Velha Goa (Old Goa) and Margao.

Panaji has carefully managed to preserve its Portuguese heritage and parts of this quaint town still consist of narrow winding streets, old houses with over hanging balconies and red-tiled roofs, and many small bars and cafe's. Signs written in Portuguese still hang over shops, cafes and administrative buildings. The people of Panaji are friendly with an easygoing attitude.

Attractions
The Idalcao Palace was once the castle of the Adil Shahis of Bijapur. It served as the Viceregal Palace until 1759 after the Portuguese rebuilt it in 1615. In 1843 it housed the secretariat and now it is the Passport office.

Our Lady of Immaculate Conception is Panaji's main church, which was built in 1541 and enlarged in 1619. it is modeled after the church at Reis Magos, and the second largest bell in Goa that was salvaged from the ruins of the Augustian Monastery in Velha Goa is now placed here.

The main attraction of the Braganza Institute is a blue tiled frieze depicting the Portuguese colonization of India.

The Jama Masjid located in Panaji is one of the few mosques in coastal Goa. It was built after the Inquisition.

The Chapel of St Sebastian is a relatively new structure that was built in the 1880's. It has the crucifix that was originally in the Palace of Inquisition in Velha Goa.

A Hindu temple, the Mahalaxmi Temple stands as a reminder of the Hindu population and its dominance in Goa.

The carnival held in the month of February lasts 3 days and is begun on Sabado Gordo (Fat Saturday) when colorful floats parade and celebrate on the streets of Panaji.

The nearest beach form Panaji is at Miramar, about 3 Km along the road to Dona Paula.

The most charming attractions of Panaji are still its narrow winding streets, small cafes and bars, and occasional old stone buildings dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries.


VASCO – DA – GAMA

The town of Vasco-da-Gama was originally called Sambhaji. This spick and span, and geometrically planned well laid out coastal town popularly known as Vasco is also the oldest railway terminus for passenger service.

Vasco is a key shipping center, with container vessels and iron ore barges clogging the river mouth, but doesn’t hold anything of interest for visitors. The only usual reasons for tourists to come to Vasco is to catch a bus to Dabolim airport, or the Bogmalo beach that lies 8-km southeast. Its city center is dominated by imposing multi-storied buildings and a church.

Goa's only airport, Dabolim lies at one end of Vasco, and the internationally famous natural port of Mormugao is also close by. The Mormugao harbour is certainly one of the finest natural anchorages on the West Coast of India. Passenger and Cargo ships dock here from all over the world.


MARGAO

Margao is Goa's second largest city and commercial metropolis of Salcete taluka in South Goa. It still retains semblance of Goa’s Portuguese colonial past and is connected to the rest of the Indian sub-continent by rail. Margao is the headquarters of South Goa District and is considered the main commercial city of Goa. It is famous for its ancient cultural heritage and traditional customs of the people of Goa.

Attractions
Places of interest in Margao are the Holy Spirit Church founded in 1565 with the distinctive cross built in front of the church a century earlier.

The large rectangular 'Jorge Barreto' Park in front of the colonial-styled building with its arched corridors is a noticeable feature.

Chandreshwar Bhutnath Temple and the Rachol Seminary are also worth visiting.

Margao's famous market offers the agricultural produce of the entire South Goa. The most noteworthy of these is the 'Sat Burnzam Ghor', which originally had seven roofs.

The 'Monte Church' situated on a little promontory also merits a visit to get a bird's eye-view of the city below and the Arabian Sea.


MAPUSA

Mapusa’s main claim to fame is its famous Friday market where people from all over Goa come to buy and sell their wares. It is otherwise a small town forming the hub of north Goa.

It's location as the converging point of all overland routes in Bardez taluka as well as its proximity to the Rio de Mapusa, (the Mapusa River, which in ancient times was a much used waterway for transport of agricultural products and spices) has enabled it to develop a commercial reputation of sorts.

Mapusa lies 13kms from Panaji, and has an even blend of residential and commercial establishments and gardens. The beaches nearest to this town are the Anjuna and Chapora beaches. The Kansarpal-Kalbadevi temple, believed to be about 800 years old lies 14 km from Mapusa. There's not much to see in Mapusa, though the Friday market is worth a visit.


CHURCHES

Se Cathedral - Churches of Goa
The cathedral built in purist Tuscan style and is stagerring in proportions. In one chapel is kept the Cross of Miracles, said to grow in size & have healing properties. Heavily gilded central altars depict the martyrdom of Saint Catherine, to whom the cathedral is dedicated.

Convent & Church of St. Francis of Assisi - Churches of Goa
The beautiful church displays superb decorative paintwork & woodcarving & floor are inlaid with elaborately engraved tombstones depicting scenes from the life of St. Francis. The convent at the back of this church is now the Archaeological Museum.

Church & Convent of St. Monica - Churches of Goa
This huge, three-storied laterite building was commenced in 1606 and completed in 1627. Once known as the Royal Monastery on account of the royal patronage, which it enjoyed, the building is now used by the Mater dei Institute as a nunnery, which was inaugurated in 1964.

The Church of Mae de Deus -At Saligao Bardez, 13 kms. Built in 1873, is situated amidst picturesque surroundings. The shrine of the miraculous statue of Mae de Deus (Mother of God) was brought from the ruins of the convent of Mae de Deus at Old Goa. This beautiful church is the finest piece of gothic style.

The Church of St. Alex - Curtorim - Churches of Goa
Nine kilometer from Margao, the Church of St. Alex is one of the oldest churches in Goa, built in 1597.

The Church of our Lady of the Rosary - Churches of Goa
The Church of our Lady of the Rosary represents a fusion of European and Indian elements; while the wall frescos reveal Hindu designs, those on the alabaster tomb of Dona Catherina, wife of the first Portuguese woman to hazard the long & arduous voyage to the Indies, demonstrate the impact of the Muslim-Bijapur style. Over the years the Portuguese zeal for propagating their religion became rigid & intolerant. Consequently temples were demolished & churches built in their place. It was not until 18th century, when the conqueror’s religious zeal had diminished, that Hindu temples were built in sylvan surroundings.

Driving through Goa’s villages one is struck by the deep imprint of four & a half centuries of Latin Catholicism. Presiding over every village, commanding the heights at hilltops, hugging the shores of rivers, beside fields and dusty roads, and visible for miles around, sparkling white churches, crosses & small shrines indicate Christian ubiquity; religion is never more than a bend away. The Churches of Goa are surely a must see on Goa visit.


BEACHES OF GOA


Anjuna (Beach)
is a small village in north Goa and is popularly called the freak capital in the world. Its significant tourist spots are the magnificent Albuquerque Mansion built in 1920 (flanked by octagonal towers and an attractive Mangalore tile-roof), the Mascarenhas Mansion, and the Chapora Fort. Anjuna is the least likely place to find peace and quiet.

The Wednesday Flea Market of Anjana os famous for its bric-a-brac and the eclectic items that are on sale. Any and everything under the sky can be found here, and lines of vehicles full of tourists start virtually raising clouds of dust. The flea market is a heaven for shopping addicts and good bargainers, to bid on wonderful blends of Tibetan, Kashmiri and Gujarati trinkets and handicrafts, European snacks, cassettes of a noisy brand of music called 'Goa Trance', artificial ornaments carvings and T-shirts. Elephant rides, photographs with fake sadhus or fake snake charmers can also be found here.

Campfires burn bright all through the night and the music and merriment carries on till the wee hours of the morning. Facilities for bungee jumping are also available here due to the initiative of a private tour operator.It became popular because of its Trance Parties and the Hippies who tried to fuse the Eastern spiritual traditions with Western music, ideas and art.

Goa Palolem Beach is just the kind of beach you are likely to come across in glossy paged brochures. White sands, coconut palms and a gentle ocean breeze make this beach one of exceptional beauty. However, there is hardly any development here The accommodation available is rustic but the atmosphere is undeniably relaxing and enchanting.

The Goa Palolem Beach is located between two headlands, and is the beach that is the closest to Karnataka. It has interesting little wooded islands on the northern headland and you could try to persuade a fisherman to ferry you across. You could go with them and try spotting dolphins. A few shacks selling seafood snacks, souvenirs, and bright, informal clothes have been set up here ever since.
Colva Beach is the most popular beach among the Goans with its white powder sands on the shores of the Arabian Sea. Colva is Goa’s longest beach with 20 km of virgin white sands that are fringed with palms and drenched with the sun. The small village of Colva is located in south Goa.It is broad, beautiful and has a stream coursing through it.
The Nossa Senhora de Merces (Our Lady of Mercy) Church in Colva is famous for its annual religious event-Fama of Menino Jesuse (Child Jesus)-since the 17th century.

Benaulim Beach Benaulim beach is a must not miss! Frenzied visitors dance in merriment and other entertainment.Bullfights can be seen at Benaulim from early October to late May, usually held in an old rice field with no fences or barricades just outside a village.The Beach Bonanza fair that is held on successive Sundays from mid-April onwards.

Baga Goa Beach is the perfect getaway for those looking for a little bit of peace and quiet
Baga is a fishing beach with brown sand that sees a lot of international tourists sun-bathing in its golden sun, as a grove of palms gently sways in the wind. The Baga River flows along one side of Baga beach Goa offering a good alternative for children and those who are not too confident about swimming in the sea. On one of the far ends of the beach, lies a group of black rocks against which the sea crashes in dramatic explosions of spray.

Baga village is lined with several bars, tandoori terraces and handicraft shops. A temporary stage is constructed for the visiting local musician. Baga Goa's nightlife is the liveliest in Goa and is the perfect expression of the Goan and Western mix of culture.

Backwater crocodile and dolphin spotting down the Mandovi River to the Zuari River is a favorite pastime for the travelers at the Baga beach. The thickly forested banks of these rivers are rife with mangrove trees and inhabited by crocodiles in the swampy regions. Dolphins can be spotted at the mouth of the Mandovi River.