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.
The magnificent scenic beauty and the architectural splendours of its temples, churches and old houses have made Goa a firm favourite with travellers around the world. But then, Goa is much more than just beaches and sea. It has a soul which goes deep into unique history, rich culture and some of the prettiest natural scenery that India has to offer.
Much of the real Goa is in its interiors, both inside its buildings and in the hinterland away from the coastal area.
Legends from Hindu mythology credit Lord Parshuram, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu with the creation of Goa.
Over the centuries various dynasties have ruled Goa. Rashtrakutas, Kadambas, Silaharas, Chalukyas, Bahamani Muslims and most famously the Portuguese have been rulers of Goa.
Goa was liberated by the Indian Army from Portuguese colonisation on December 19, 1961 and became an Union Territory along with the enclaves of Daman and Diu. On May 30, 1987 Goa was conferred statehood and became the 25th state of the Indian Republic.
Having been the meeting point of races, religions and cultures of East and West over the centuries, Goa has a multi-hued and distinctive lifestyle quite different from the rest of India. Hindu and Catholic communities make up almost the entire population with minority representation of Muslims and other religions.
All the communities have mutual respect towards one another and their secular outlook has given Goa a long and an unbroken tradition of religious harmony. The warm and tolerant nature of the Goans allows them to celebrate and enjoy the festivals of various religions such as Ganesh Chaturthi, Diwali, Christmas, Easter and Id with equal enthusiasm.
The state of Maharashtra borders Goa on the north, the state of Karnataka on the south and east. The vast expanse of the Arabian Sea on the west forms the magnificent coastline for which Goa is justly famous.
Terekhol (Tiracol), Mandovi, Zuari, Chapora, Sal and Talpona are the main rivers which weave their way throughout the state forming the inland waterways adding beauty and romance to the land besides being used to transport Goa's main export commodity of Iron and Manganese ore to Mormugao Harbour. Along the way to the coast these waterways form estuaries, creeks and bays breaking the sandy, palm-fringed coastline behind which lie the fishing villages among the coconut groves.
Panaji (Panjim) is the state capital located on the banks of the Mandovi river and Vasco, Margao, Mapusa and Ponda are the other major towns. Goa is serviced by an international/national airport located at Dabolim near Vasco.
By Air: The Nearest Airport is Dabolim Airport. All Major flight connections are there from Rest of India. Major flights arriving goa of airlines, Air India, Vistara, Indigo, Spice Jet, Air Asia, Go Air and also Charter Airlines from UK and Europe.
By Rail: The Nearest Railway Station is Madgaon & Vasco da Gama, Thivim,
By Road : There are regular buses from other major cities of the country to Goa. and private Volvo buses. You can come self drive to goa via Belgaum, Kolhapur, Bangalore, Mumbai.
By Taxi: There are many options for you to get around in Goa. Public transport largely consists of privately operated buses linking the major towns to rural areas.Hired forms of transport include unmetered taxis and, in urban areas, auto-rickshaws. A popular mode of transportation in Goa is the motorcycle taxi, operated by drivers who are locally called ‘pilots’. These vehicles transport a single pillion rider, at fares that are usually negotiated. Other than buses, ‘pilots’ tend to be the cheapest mode of transport. You can also rent out a motorcycle and explore the many contrasts that Goa has to offer around every twist and turn.
Se Cathedral: The largest of the churches in Old Goa, it is in the Portuguese-Gothic style with a Tuscan exterior and Corinthian interior. Its bell is one of the oldest in Goa and is called the Golden Bell. (Gallery timings: 9 am to 12.30 pm & 3 pm to 6.30 pm.)
Convent and Church of St Francis Assisi: This old church has carved woodwork and old murals depicting the file of St Francis. The floor is made of gravestones carved with the coat of arms of families going back to the 16th century. Open from 9 am to 12.30 pm & 3 pm to 6.30 pm. The archaeological museum is open Saturday to Thursday , 10 am to 5 pm.
Basilica of Bom Jesus: This contains the tomb and mortal remains of St Francis Xavier who was on a mission to spread Christianity in the Portuguese colonies of the East. The Professed House is next to the basilica and is a two-storeyed laterite building covered with lime plaster. Open from 9 am to 12.30 pm & 3 pm to 6.30 pm.
Church of St Cajetan: This church was built by Italian friars who were sent to the kingdom of Golconda to preach Christianity. Since they were not allowed to work in Golconda, they settled in Old Goa in 1640.
Church of St Augustine Ruins: This church, constructed by Augustinian friars, was abandoned in 1835 due to the repressive policies of the Portuguese government.
Other buildings of interest in Old Goa are the Chapel of St Anthony, the Chapel of St Catherine and the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary.
Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception: This is Panaji’s main church where Portuguese sailors gave thanks to Our Lady for a safe voyage.
Goa State Museum: This is near the bus stand in Panaji. (Open from 9 am to 1.15 pm and 2 to 5.30 pm, Mondays to Fridays). It has a collection of Christian art and Hindu and Jain sculpture and Indian paintings of different styles.
Chapel of St Sebastian, Fontainhas: This is famous for its striking crucifix which was originally in the Palace of the Inquisition in Old Goa.
The Secretariat: This has an interesting history. It was originally a palace of the Adil Shahi dynasty of Bijapur.
Terekhol Fort: This is a beautiful old Portuguese fort at Terekhol and houses the Hotel Tiracol Fort Heritage..