THE GLORIOUS GOA
"Pearl of the East", "Rome of the East", "Golden Goa" ..... thus spake the travellers, colonizers, poets and Evangelists over the centuries and the same sense of exuberance prevails in the minds of the tourists who visit Goa even today. Nestling between the Sahyadri ranges and the Arabian Sea and no larger than a thumb print on the map of India, Goa enjoys a coastline of 105 kms., with sandy beaches, tepid aquamarine waters, scenic vistas and rich flora and fauna. A visual treat unsurpassed anywhere in the world, Goa is a major tour de force in tourist attraction.
Much before the dawn of the Christian era, the ancient sages had known Goa as the heart of "Aparanta" a mythical province. Goa's recorded history dates back to the 3rd century B.C. when it was part of the Mauryan Empire. Sub- sequent centuries witnessed the rule of the Satavahanas of Kolhapur, the Badami Chalukyas, the Kadambas and the Kalyan Chalukyas. Goa also saw a spell of Muslim rule till 1370 A.D., when the mighty Vijayanagar empire conquered it and used its harbours as landing places for Arab horses to transport them to Hampi to strengthen their cavalry. In 1469 A.D. Goa was recon-quered by Mahamud Gawan of the Bahmani kingdom. Later on, it passed into the hands of the Adilshahi dynasty till the advent of the Portuguese in 1510 A.D., under the command of Alfonso de Albuquerque. Being the only place in India that eluded British rule, Goa was finally liberated from Portuguese rule by India in 1961 in a bloodless coup. Goa is now a Union Territory of India.
Yet Goa is unIndian in many ways. Quaint houses and churches proclaiming their origin to Portuguese architecture and a typical Latin life- style have lent an age old charm to this land. It is an East more ancient than Hinduism and a west much less profligate than the mariners of the Renaissance era. Goa's Hindu temples have lamps of Islamic origin and its cultural wealth is 'its conformism.
Yet another area which has been influenced by the Hindus, Christians as well as Muslims and Portuguese in is the culinary art of Goa. This offers a delicious range of cuisines mostly in chicken, pork and sea foods. To complement their exotic fare, the Goans are adept at brewing their own liquor called Feni, normally made out of the coconut or cashew-apple.
Heady with liquor and good food, the Goans add more zest to their lives through music and dance. Music of the Goan Christian is in his blood. Be it a wedding or a funeral, there is music for all occasions. Remo Fernandes, considered as India's Michael Jackson is a Goan and there are other rock bands and pop-musicians belonging to Goa who have carved out a niche in the field' of music.
This joie de vivre is amply reflected in the Carnival, one of the biggest tourist attractions, held during Feb-March for three days. This is the time when Goans in colourful costumes, literally throng the streets, singing, dancing and merry-making. Apparently there's never a dull moment in Goa!
3,702 sq. kms.
11,69,793 (1991 Census)
Sea level to 1,022 metres.
Between longitude 15° 48'00" N 14° 53' 54" N and latitude 74° 20'13" E & 73° 40" 33" E
Climates (1993 figures)
Month Mean Mean mm
Max degree C Min degree C
January 31.9 20.0 0
February 32.5 20.3" ,0
March 31.9' 22.9 Trace
April 32.3 24.8 Trace
May 33.2 26.5 65.3
June 31.0 25.7 401.6
July 28. 7 24.1 1331.1
August 29.4 24.3 367.0
September 29.3 23.8 210.5 '
October 31.1 24.0 168.9
November 33.6 23.4 2.0
December 32.3 21.3 9.8
Clothing required: Tropical clothing throughout the year. Light woollen can be worn during December and January.
Languages Spoken: Konkani, Marathi, Hindi, English and Portuguese.
Tourist Season: Throughout the year (November to February is pleasant while June to September is rainy season).
Transport & Communications:
Air: Goa is connected by Indian Airlines flights from Bombay, Bangalore, Cochin, Delhi, Madras, Mangalore and Trivandrum.
Private Airlines: Damania Airways, Jet Airways, Modiluft and East West Airlines operate flights between Goa, Bombay, Delhi.
Rail: Goa is connected with Bombay, Delhi, Pune, Secunderabad, Tirupati, Via Londa junction, on the Miraj- Bangalore metre gauge sector of South Central Railway. Convenient stations are Margao and Vasco. Advance reservation can also be made at the Railway Out Agency at the Panaji Bus Terminus. There is daily superfast direct train ser- vice from Goa to Delhi which changes from metre gauge to broad gauge at Miraj.
Road: Goa is connected by good motorable roads with all the major towns in India via the national Highways NH4A, NH17, NH17A.
Also daily bus services to Belgaum, Gokaran, Hubli, Kar- war, Malwan, Miraj, Mysore, Ratnagiri, Sawatwadi and Vegurla are operated by Kadamba Transport Corporation, Maharashtra and Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation Ltd., as well as ap- proved private operators.
Internal Transport :
Distances between important places in Goa
Panaji-Bondla 55 kms.
Panaji-Calangute 16 kms.
Panaji-Cavelossim 48 kms.
Panaji-Dabolim Airport 29 kms.
Panaji-Mapusa 13 kms.
Panaji-Margao 33 kms.
Panaji-Mobor 50 kms.
Panaji-old Goa 10 kms.
Panaji-Tiraeol 42 kms.
Panaji-Vagator 22 kms.
Panaji - Varea 44 kms.
Panaji-Vaseo-da-Gama 30 kms.
Margao-Cavelossim 15 kms.
Margao-Colva beach 6 kms.
Margao-Dabolim Airport 29 kms.
Margao-Mobor 17 kms.
Margao-Varea 9 kms.
Vaseo-da-Gama-Dabolim 3 kms.
Dabolim-Mobor 48 kms.
20. Dabolim-Varea 41 kms.
Conducted Sightseeing Tours:
Tours by comfortable non A/c. & A/c coaches, accompanied by Government ap- proved tourist Guides are being operated by Goa Tourism Development CorporationLtd.,
1. Air India: Hotel Fidalgo, 18th June Road, Panaji. Tel: 231101.
2. Indian Airlines Dempo House, Dayanand Bandodkar Marg, Panaji, Tel: 223831, 224067 Grams: IN-DAIRLINE, Telex: 0194-219, or Dabolim Airport.
3. Jet Airways, Tel: 221472
19. Vasco-da-Gama-Margao 30 kms.
20. Dabolim-Mobor 48 kms.
21. Dabolim-Varca 41 kms.
Conducted Sightseeing Tours:
Tours by comfortable non A/c. & A/c coaches, accompanied by Goveriunent approved Tourist Guides are being operated by Goa Tourism Development Corporation Ltd.,
1. Air India: Hotel Fidalgo, 18th June Road, Panaji,
2. Indian Airlines Dempo House, . Dayanand-Bandodkar Marg, Panaji, Tel: 223826, 223831, 224067 Grams: IN- DAIRLINE, Telex: 0194-219, or Dabolim Airport,
Situated on the banks of the Mandovi river, it is one of the smallest state capitals of India. This little town has preserved its Portuguese legacy with narrow winding streets, old houses with overhanging bal- conies and red tiled roofs, small bars and cafes. The Church of the Immaculate Conception in the heart of the town attracts many a visitor .. The three mile long Miramar beach and Dona Paula bay are important tourist spots. Ferrying from Dona Paula to Margao is an unique experience for some- one who has not been in a ferry earlier.
How to get there:
Indian Airlines operates regular flights connecting Goa (Dabolim) to Bombay, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Cochin.
Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and Maharashtra State Transport Corporation (MSRTC) run deluxe and super deluxe bus services to Panjim from their respective state capitals. Kadamba Road Transport of Goa also run services to Hubli and Bombay.
Hubli in Karnataka has a rail link to Vasco, the rail terminus in Goa passing through picturesque Doodhsagar Waterfalls and Margaon.
Velha Goa: It means Old Goa, and is at a distance of 10 kms from Panjim. Once a thriving and prosperous city and the second capital of the Adil Shahi dynasty, its splendour was short lived. Today it is a small village surrounded by huge churches and convents built during its glorious days and offers a fascinating voyage through medieval architecture.
The places worth visiting are:
Basilica of Born Jesus: The Basilica of Born Jesus has acquired fame throughout the Roman Catholic world as it contains the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier enshrined in a silver casket. The interior of the church has richly carved and gilded altars but otherwise, has a stark simplicity. On the walls surrounding the casket are the murals depicting St. Francis Xavier's journeys to spread Christianity. An exposition of the saint is held every ten years and the St. Xavier's festival is celebrated every year on December 3rd.
This church has a modem art gallery attached to it.
Se Cathedral: Se Cathedral or the Church of St. Catherine dates back to the 16th century. It is an exquisite example of archaic art and architecture. Its golden bell is the biggest in Goa and considered to be one of the finest in the world.
Church of St. Cajetan: Built in 1655 A.D., this church is dedicated to our Lady of Divine Providence. It has been built on the lines of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
Church of St. Augustine: Now in ruins, it had a 46 metre tower which still serves as a landmark of Old Goa, visible as far away as Panjim.
Church of St. Monica: Originally built in 1627 A.D., and destroyed by fire 9 years later, this church now houses a convent to train nurses.
Besides the above, there are a number of chapels and smaller churches such as St. Cathedral and St. Francis of Assisi.
Goa has equally famous temples as well. A little away from Old Goa, (10 kms) on the way to Ponda, lies Farrnagudi and Mangesh where there are Hindu temples like Mangeshi dedicated to Lord Shiva, Sri Mahalsa dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Lord Nagesh built on a hillock surrounded by green hills. The temples of Sri Ramnath and Shanta Durga at Kavlem are all situated in the Ponda Valley and are recognizable by the typical "Deepa Sthamba" - the tall structures with alcoves built in for placing oil lamps.
Margao (Madgaon): This is the commercial centre for Goa, 34 kilometres from Panjim. It has a rail connection to Vasco- da-Gama. The old church in the little village of Raia is worth visiting.
The covered market place of Margao is fascinating to watch.
Six kms away from Margao, lies the famous and scenic Colva beach which has the biggest coastline.
Canacona: On the way to Karwar, 40 kms away from Margao, Canacona is famous for the intricately carved wooden pillared temple of Sri Mallikarjuna (Lord Shiva). The scenic beauty of the surrounding woods where a number of resort hotels have sprung up is very picturesque.
Another temple of importance is that of Sri Damodar at Jambavali - 4 kms from Sangeum.
Museums & Art Galleries
Archaeological Museum and Portrait Gallery, Old Goa; Tel. 286133, Timing: 10.00 to 12.00 hrs. and 13.00 to 17.00 hrs, Closed on Fridays. Entrance Free.
Archives Museum of Goa, Ashirvad Building, 1st Floor, Santa Inez, Panaji. Tel. 46006, Timings 9.30 to 13.00 hrs. and 14.00 to 17.30 hrs, Closed on Saturdays, Sundays & Public Holidays Galleries at Se Cathedral St. Francis of Assisi convent & Basilica of Born Jesus. Timings 9.00 to 12.30 hrs. and 15.00 to 18.30 hrs. on weekdays and on Sundays from 10.00 to 12.30 hrs. and 15.00 to 18.30 hrs.
Museum of Christian art, Rachol; Timings: 9.30 to 17.00 hrs entrance fee: Rs. 5/- per adult and Rs. 2/ - per child. The museum remains closed on Mondays.
Renaissance, Cosmos Consultants, 1st Floor, Rebello Mansion Opp. Kala Academy, Campal, Panaji. Tel: 43023.
This well planned town is also known as "Shambaji". It is the terminus for the railway line to, Goa connecting (through Londa) Maharashtra and Karnataka. This town is 30 kms away from Panaji by road and can also be reached through the nearby Marmagoa harbour, if one opts to take the ferry from Dona Paula. Dabolim airport is 4 kms away from Vasco. There are a number of hotels of different categories catering to tourists. Marmagoa is one of the busiest and well equipped harbours with mechanized ore loading facilities. Barges carrying iron and manganese ore mined from various parts of Goa and transferring them at the port and midsea to ocean-going vessels to Japan is a delight to watch from the nearby hilltops.
Mapusa (Mapuca): 15 kms from Panaji across the river Mandovi is the principal town of Mapusa, in North Goa, with easy access to the famous beaches of Calangute, Vagator, Anjuna and Chapora. The weekly market on Fridays at- tracts a number of curious visitors and tourists besides the villagers from neighbouring areas, who barter their wares.
The Beaches: Goan beaches are a world apart, to say the least. Blue waters merging with the blue horizon, white sands with the coconut palms adding their greenery to the entire scene and rugged rocks flaunt their beauty in forty beaches scattered throughout Goa - Some of these beaches are primitive and untouched. The climate is balmy and they are the ideal places to laze. There are not many to intrude upon your privacy and the local people are warm and friendly. No wonder, many people come to Goa to pay homage to its beaches.
Calangute - Baga Anjuna (15 kms from Panjm): These are the well known and developed beaches. One has to reach by ferrying across Betim or through the Mandovi bridge. There are a number of small resorts and restaurants on the way which are trendy and serve a large variety of sea foods, chicken and pork foods. The Aguada bay is formed by 2 projections - the Cabo which houses the Raj Bhavan and the other, Aguad and in between are the Dona Paula, Caranzalem and Miramar beaches, off the Mandovi Estuary which are in close proximity to Panjim.
The Salcete Taluk accounts for Goa's widest and cleanest beaches. They are Colva, Benalim and Carilossim.
On the narrow roads to all these beaches little wayside bars called Tavernas are a cheerful part of carefree Goan life. On the shelves of these local bars can be seen bottles of Feni made from Cashew fruits, Coconut or Palm.
Excursions can be taken from Ponda (20 kms) to the wild life sanctuary at Bondla on the Anmod Ghat Road which connects Goa and Karnataka. There is a government tourist lodge for which reservation can be made through the Tourism Directorate.
Also beyond Ponda is the Dudhsagar Falls about 100 kms from Panjim, where the dense forests suddenly give way to thundering Falls. It attracts a lot of tourists because of the fabulous view.
For those who have never experienced the Goan way of life in its leisurely pace on the one hand and reveling in song and dance at the other extreme, there is never an end to fun in Goa, and no precise beginning to it either. This is best experienced by taking a tour in the evening on one of the river cruises starting at Mandovi ferry point in the boat "Santa Monica", and cruising along the estuary into the setting sun in Arabian Sea.
Calangute: 16 kms. is the most popular holiday resort in Goa for its splendour. Excellent accommodation facilities are available, particularly at the Tourist Resort and Cottages.
Colva Beach: (about 6 kms. from Margao). Colva beach is the pride of Salcete and the only rival to Calangute by its scenic splendour. Here, sand, Sea and sky blend in enchanting natural harmony unspoilt by man. Has good accommodation facilities.
Dona Paula: 7 kms. An idyllic and picturesque picnic spot. Commands a fine view of the Zuari estuary and Mar- magoa Harbour Water scooter-ing facilities are available here.
Miramar: (Gaspar Dias) 3 kms. A lovely golden beach of soft sand girdled with palm trees facing the blue Arabian Sea, is the nearest to Panaji.
Anjuna: (18 kms) 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.
Vagator: (22 kms.) It is a popular beach dominated by Chapora Fort to the north, on its imposing head land. To the south of Vagator is Calangute beach.
Arambol Beach: (50 kms.) a unique beach in the North Goa, it is both rocky and sandy, beach and much sought after by foreign tourists. It has a sweet water tank right on the shore.
Agonda: (about 33 kms. from Margao) A small, picturesque and secluded beach where a number of nature lovers go for peace of mind.
Palolem: (about 37 kms. from Margao) Just West of Chaudi one of the most enchanting beaches in Goa and relatively deserted, with back- drop of Western ghats, situated in Southern most taluka of Canacona.