Bathed in beauty: No, other coastline in India has been blessed with as many friendly, sheltered and swimmable beaches as Goa. Its 103 Km long cost is studded with crescent beaches. From little known Querim in the northern tip to Palolem in the deep south. And in between of course the famous belt between Vagator and Sinquerim – the triple treat of Anjuna, Baga and Calangute. Household names to all visitors.
And not to be outdone, the relatively quieter beaches in South Goa. From Bagmalo to Majorda, Colva, Benaulim and Varca to the wide swathe of Cavelossim.
Monumental Goa: In terms of pure density, no other state can match the scale and depth of antiquity that Goa offers. Centuries ago, Old Goa was known as the ‘El Dourado’, the city of Gold. It was here that the Portuguese first landed in 1510 under the commander Afonso de Albuquerque, forever changing the history of Goa.
As, Christianity spread its wings, so did the many churches and spires. The Se Cathedral, the Basilica of Bom Jesus, the Church of St Francis of Assisi, among several others, are all part of the heritage and History of Goa. The relics of the body of the patron Saint of Goa Francis Xavier in the Basilica draws legions of visitors. Old Goa has been proclaimed a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
Temple Lore: Many of the temples of Goa have stood tall, defying the turmoil and vicissitudes of history. Among the oldest is the 12th Century Tambdi Surla , the temple of Lord Mahadev in the Molem Wildlife Sanctuary in Sanguem.
The Mangueshi Temple and the Shantadurga Temple in Ponda are majestic creations with intricately designed pillars and idols, drawing scores of pilgrims from Goa and across the borders, housing as they do the family deities of many with ancestral roots in Goa. Several Temples and Shrines dot the countryside, some steeped in history. Ponda the temple town of Goa, and its environs are a pilgrimage Centre, attracting the devout throughout the year.
Festive Seasons: Feasts and festivals celebrated through the year are all part of the myriad colors of Goa. From the spring festival of Holi and Shigmo with all its hues and shades to Christmas and Carnival, the three days of fun and feasting, including the Carnival Parade, the austere period of Lent. But Goa with its innate high spirits and its inclusive and cosmopolitan outlook is an all-season calendar of celebration. And traditional village feasts add a distinctive touch.
Romancing the River: Goa is not beaches alone. Nature has blessed the land with abundant rivers the Mandovi, sal and the zuari. And these are not only waterways for trawlers and iron-ore carriers. River cruises down the Mandovi River especially make for a memorable evening. Watch the crisscrossed silhouette of fishing nets, or the waves lapping gently, or the skyline of Panjim city as you take a leisurely cruise on the ‘Santa Monica’ ‘Shantadurga’ or an the Poseidon, with live music and games to enliven your journey.
Intriguing Interiors: Far from the beach belt, the verdant interior of Goa beckons. Goa has much to offer the ‘foot-soldier tourist’ who prefers long walking tours, as also to bird- watchers and nature trail trekkers and campers.
Monsoon Honeymoon: Come the rains and the fields are blinding shades of green. The palm trees sway like dervishes. And the hotel rooms are cozy with the rhythmic pitter-patter from the heavens. The advancing crash of the high, curling waves warns visitors to stay far from their grasp. But hotel rooms are snug and cool. It’s just the ripe time for a honeymoon monsoon.
Life in the wilds: Wildlife roams and flits about in the three sanctuaries of Bondla, Molem and Catigao, besides the Salim Ali bird Sanctuary at Chorao. Catch sight of a Leopard or a King Cobra. Take an elephant ride, watch deer saunter by or an infinite variety of birdlife from the Malabar Hornbill to the paradise Flycatcher. This is indeed paradise. More so if you can catch sight of the majestic, foaming Dudhsagar Waterfalls, named after its milk-white texture.
Melting Pot: A splendid repast awaits you. Goa is not only a melting pot of cultures, but also of cuisine. East deliciously mingles with the west in a concoction of piquant flavors that has produced xacuti and xec-xec, cafreal and a variety of prawn and fish curries with their own regional flavours and influences. Gaon restaurants have become a specialty in their own right and not just in goa.
Spice Gardens: The unique Gaon culinary experience has not been cooked up from thin air. But from a variety of spices, some indigenous and others brought in through historical spice routes spanning Asia, Africa and Latin America. Enjoy a trip to the many spice gardens and plantations in Goa and encounter firsthand where and how your cardamoms, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and Vanilla come from.
To Market, to Market: The Wednesday flea market at Anjuna is now part of international folklore. From its humble makeshift beginnings as a barter- cum- market place for hippies in the early seventies, it is now a thriving and colorful bazaar, attracting sellers and buyers from all over the world. On sale are jewelry and clothes, footwear and leather goods, fashion accessories, perfumes lampshades, chess set etc. The Saturday night bazaar follows in Arpora close by. As colorful but even bigger with a variety of food and drink outlets.
Visit Gorgeous Goa and its silvery palm fringed beaches once in a lifetime.