Variously known as “Pearl of the Orient” and a “Tourist Paradise”, the state of Goa is located on the western coast of India in the coastal belt known as Konkan. It is a tropical paradise and unique from the rest of India because of its history and geography. The people of Goa are friendly, fun loving and peaceful. India’s unchallenged beach capital, Goa’s coastline is generously sprinkled with sand and surf: From popular tourist spots where one usually sees more skin than sand, to untouched havens that are worth taking the time to discover.
Starting from Calangute in North Goa, clustered around Panaji, the capital of Goa, and further down, Margao in South Goa, are the most popular beaches on the tourism circuit. These are thickly surrounded by the usual agencies of tourism – hotels and facilities offering modern day luxuries, restaurants, shops, resorts, entertainment centers, spas, resorts, the works. Outside this ring, moving either North from Calangute or South of Margao the beaches become refreshingly pristine and unpopulated.
But Goa is much more than just beaches and sand. Having been ruled by the colonial Portuguese for over 450yrs there is still visible a distinct Portuguese flavour that has permeated all aspects of Goa’s life including its food, religion, language, festivals, dances and of course names. The magnificent scenic beauty and the architectural splendours of its ancient temples, churches and old houses have made Goa a firm favourite with travellers around the world. It is a vibrant carnival city and the original refuge of the hippies. It has a soul, which goes deep into unique history, rich culture and some of the prettiest natural scenery that India has to offer.
In Panaji you can stroll through the old, winding streets of the Portuguese quarter and get a feeling of the colonial times. The town consists of a unique mix of Mediterranean, Latin American and Indian architecture. There are plenty of sights to visit in Panaji, and its location on the Mandovi River makes it a fine place to visit.
Old Goa once was the capital of Goa and had a population exceeding that of London and Lisbon. What is left of that today is a number of magnificent churches and cathedrals, which are among the largest in Asia, and an atmosphere of the ancient times that you can take in during your visit!
In Central Goa you will find Ponda, a busy town that boasts several spice plantations and a number of unique Hindu temples. Learn about all the exotic Indian spices on a guided tour around one of the plantations and challenge your taste buds with the world’s hottest chillies.
Margao is in South Goa and one of the cleanest and tidiest places in India. Visit the town’s markets and the Church of the Holy Spirit and see what life in Goa is like beyond the touristy beaches.
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