Goa

Capital
Pamjim
Population
1,343,998
Area
3702 km²
Languages
Konkani, Marathi, Hindi, English

Religion
Hinduism (64%), Christianity (30%), Others (6%)
Best time to visit
October - March
Climate (°C)
May: Very hot
June - September: Monsoon

About

Goa is not really India at all, but a package tour paradise. Squeezed between the seas and the lush forested hills. It offers glistening sands, swaying coconut palms, and ultra fresh seafood. Luxury hotels and budget guesthouses overlook fisherman mending their nets, and beer comes cheap and chilled. Discovered by pioneering hippies looking for peace and love. Goa’s beaches are now filled with persistent hawkers during the day and rave parties at night. For those intent on discovering the real India, Goa is the best treated as a relaxing break on the southern trail, but definitly worth a longer stop.

How to get here

Air
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

Rail
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.

Buses
Buses run to many places interstate and also out if state.

Beaches

From south to north:
Palolem - Agonda - Varca, Cavelossim, and Mabor - Benaulim - Colva - Dona Paula - Candolim - Calangute - Baga - Anjuna - Vagator - Chapora - Arambol

.: Palolem
A beach of white sand facing a blue bay between two headlands. Tourists have discovered Palolem and so there are quite a few shacks selling seafood snacks, souvenirs and clothes of the shapeless, bright, informal kind.

.: Agonda
A bit south of palolem lies Agonda beach. You can get there by taking a rickshaw from palolem or its also possible to cycle there. It is a very quite beach with mosly couples relaxing. But if you want solitude this is certanly a place to go. There are a few guesthouses, but not a lot of ships or other stuff around.

.: Varca, Cavelossim, and Mabor
Some of the most beautiful beaches south of Benaulim. These beaches are much cleaner and quieter than most of the famous beaches of Goa. There are numerous beach shacks offering a variety of Goan dishes and seafood at reasonable prices. There are several food joints around Dona Sylvia where you can get entire package of good food, good drink, nice service, and a pleasant service in quite reasonable rates.

.: Benaulim
At the end of the Colva beach, Benaulim is a quiet and pleasant beach. The best thing about Benaulim is that it is still rather undiscovered by domestic tourists even though it is a fishing beach. It gets fairly crowded in the evenings and on weekends, it gets fairly crowded with local visitors who get off buses about a kilometer away and pour onto the beach.

.: Colva
With 20 km of virgin white sands, palm fringed, and sun drenched beaches, Colva is the most loved beach of Goans. Colva, unlike Anjuna or Calangute, gained popularity only lately. It was little disturbed and life moved on quietly. But those are the things of the past. Over the years, many hotels and buildings have sprung from nowhere. It is developing at a good pace.

.: Dona Paula
The beach is named after Dona Paula de Menzes, daughter of a viceroy (in colonial India), who threw herself off the cliff, when refused permission to marry a local fisherman, Gaspar Dias. The myth says that Dona Paula is entombed in the Cabo Chapel of the Raj Bhawan and is supposed to be seen emerging from the moonlit waves wearing only a pearl necklace.With the romance and myth attached to it-haunted by Dona Paula de Menzes-tourists throng the Dona Paula Beach not only in search of the deceased beloved, but also to indulge in water sports on the clear waters.

This beach has also been the location for many Indian movies, the most famous being Ek Duje Ke Liye. Given this dual attraction, Dona Paula Beach has become a popular tourist spot.

.: Aguada beach
Almost synonymous with the top-notch Fort Aguada Hotel complex, a superb hotel that is built on the cliff, around the remnants of the early 17th century Portuguese fort. Although access to the beach is not possible through the hotel grounds, which are private, you can walk along Aguada beach, for in India private beaches do not exist. The hotel has been constructed in three parts, consisting of expensive cottages on the upper reaches of the hillside, the fort jutting out to sea, and a delightful Goan village, with individual cottages. Drawn by the clientele of the hotel, Aguada beach has cafes, itinerant vendors of everything from Kashmiri carpets to massages, and a good range of water sports.

The Fort of Aguada was built by the Portuguese to control the entry into River Mandovi and to protect old Goa from enemy attack. The fortification skirts the seashore. At the center is a circular lighthouse tower. The Fort presently houses the central jail.

.: Sinquerim
Sinquerim is located some 13 km from Panaji. Taj Hotel group has set up the Heritage Complex here which dominates the headland around the historic Fort Aguada. There is uninterrupted firm sand from here all the way to north to Baga and if you want a long beach walk, there cannot be a better place to start from.

.: Candolim
Candolim is the best beach if you want solitude from the hustle and bustle of Aguada though not expecting too much of facilities. There is good food and long and straight beach backed by scrub-covered dunes with little shelter.

.: Calangute Beach
16 Kms from Panjim. Calangute is the most popular holiday resort in Goa and known as The Queen of Beaches. Excellent accommodation facilities are available, particularly at the tourist resort and cottages.Calangute lie on the shores of the Arabian Sea of North Goa in India.

Calangute's heyday as the Mecca of all expatriate hippies has passed. The local people, who used to rent out rooms in their houses for a pittance, have moved on to more profitable things, and Calangute has undergone a metamorphosis to become the centre of Goa's rapidly expanding package-tourist market.

.: Baga Beach
Baga is a small but perfect beach located between its two more famous cousins, Colva on one side and Calangute on the other. It is a far better place to enjoy some restful moments if you don’t like the hustle and bustle of Colva or Calangute.

.: Anjuna Beach
A popular beach area adjacent to Chapora fort. In Anjuna there is magnificent Albuquerque Mansion built in 1920, flanked by octagonal towers and attractive Mangalore tile-roof.

Anjuna Beach is popularly known as the freak capital of the world
and not without reasons. It claimed popularity for its Trance Parties and the Hippies who tried to synthesize the spiritual traditions of the East and the art, ideas and the music of the West. Sometime in the late 1950s to mid-1960s, the area was "discovered" by a group of travelers, including "Eight Finger Eddie," and a small international psychedelic scene began to meet there to party during the dry season. Anjuna is just the right place for lazing holidaymakers. Besides the calm waters of the Arabian Sea lapping softly on the Indian shore, Anjuna comes live with its ever-famous full-moon parties and the Wednesday flea market to take one on to a trance trip.

.: Vagator & Chapora
The soft white sands, the black lava rocks,
the coconut palms, the lush green landscape, nature playing its own music, and the sea turning from aquamarine to emerald green—Vagator and Chapora, overlooked by the 500-year-old Portuguese fort, leaves each visitor awestruck. Yet to be disturbed by the hustle and bustle of tourists, life goes on peacefully, in the background, in Vagator and Chapora. The world-famous Anjuna Beach lies to the south of Vagator.

Vagator and Chapora are rich with rural life. Chapora is a fishing village. So a large number of fishermen in their traditional attire can be seen. Anyone patient enough to listen to the numerous stories of the sea, they have plenty of them. Colorful women can be seen haggling and hocking fish by the roadside.

.: Arambol
A large and sprung out village near the seashore, Arambol can be approached by a road which winds across the plateau and down through the cashew trees. The beach is an uninterrupted and stunning stretch of curving sand, still unspoilt in comparison to other beaches. The beach is quiet except on Sundays, when a large crowd of local picnickers gather here for holidaying.

The villagers are friendly and the place is less touristy allowing you to have a close experience of local life and culture. There is relaxed environment and peace and tranquility attracts many day-trippers from other beaches nearby. There are miles long uninterrupted beaches with well-made track running around. The second beach is even more secluded and little used. There are sulphur pits and freshwater lakes that you can use for swimming.

Places to visit

.: Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
Spread over 1.78 sq. kms. and located at the western tip of the island of Chorao along river Mandovi near Panaji. It is fully covered with mangrove species. Varieties of local as well as migratory birds frequently visit the are.

This sanctuary can be visited any time of the year with the permission of the Chief, Wild Life Warden, Forest Department, Junta House, Panaji-Goa. The sanctuary is approach able by walk after crossing over by ferry from Ribandar to Chorao.

There are some private parties who take tourists around in their canoes fitted with outboard motors.

.: Bondla Forest
Up in the lush foothills of the Western Ghats, Bondla is good place to see Sambhar and Wild Boar. It is smallest of the Goan Wildlife Sanctuaries. Its area is 8-sq-kms but easiest one to reach. Situated 55-km from Panajim and 38-km from Margoa, the sanctuary includes a Botanical Garden, fenced Deer Park and Zoo, which is better than most, with reasonably spacious enclosures.

" Glistening sands, swaying coconut palms and ultra fresh seafood"


.: Catigo Wildlife Sanctuary
The Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, 10-km southeast of Chaudi, was established in 1969 to protect a remote and vulnerable area of forest lining the Goa- Karnataka border. Encompassing 86-sq-kms of mixed deciduous woodland, the reserve is certain to inspire tree lovers, but less likely to yield many wildlife sightings: its Tigers and Leopards were hunted out long ago, while the Gazelles, Sloth Bears, Porcupines, Panthers and Hyenas that allegedly lurk in the woods rarely appear.

Visitors however, stand a good chance of spotting at least two species of Monkey, a couple of Wild Boar and the Odd Gaur. The sanctuary is best visited between October and March months. Cotigao is a peaceful and scenic park that makes a pleasant day trip from Palolem, 12-km northwest. The wardens at the reserve's small Interpretative Centre will show one how to get to a 25m-high treetop watchtower, overlooking a waterhole that attracts a handful of animals around dawn and dusk.



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