Tourism in Goa

Goa is definitely the best tourist place for India. "The pearl of the east," Goa is known for its Gothic churches, crumbling forts, palm-fringed beaches, coconut groves, ferry rides, bubbly folk music… the list is endless! With its 131-km-long coastline, Goa is an important locale in every tourist's itinerary. Sun, sand and sea being the major attractions, Goa trip is a perfect heaven for the ones who need and want relaxation. Goa Beach Resorts always add to the fun. Christian Pilgrimage tours to Goa are extremely popular. Besides pilgrimages Goa is famous for honeymoons also.Goa, Honeymoon Packages are extremely popular with Indians. Goa, honeymoon packages cater to the needs of the tourists with varying budgets. The all-inclusive Goa, honeymoon packages tour too make interesting options.

Location

The location of Goa makes it easily accessible. Travelling to Goa, the best tourist place for India is comfortable. Situated on the western coastline of India, the Union Territory of Goa is sandwiched between the states of Maharashtra and Karnataka. The capital Panaji is at a distance of 592 km from Bangalore and 593 km from Mumbai. The waters of the Arabian Sea wash the coastline of Goa. It is split into two districts-North Goa (STD Code: 0832) and South Goa (STD Code: 0834). North Goa includes the capital city of Panjim, the former capital of Old Goa, Fort Aguada and Candolim, Chapora, Vagator, and the beaches Calangute, Anjuna, and Baga. South Goa includes Vasco da Gama Bogmalo, Margao, Colva and Benolem. Being near to the sea, Goa enjoys a maritime climate, with April and May being very hot. The Goa Beach Resorts sitauted on the beach sides are the best way to enjoy Goa. Christian Pilgrimage tours to Goa are usually taken up around the Christmas and New Year.

History

Goa has been a key destination for Christian Pilgrimage tours in India. Goa was a part of the Mauryan Empire, around 3rd century BC. The Satvahanas of Kolhapur, and later the Chalukyas of Badami, took over the governance. Other dynasties followed, including a short-lived Muslim invasion, until the Vijaynagar Empire established itself for almost a century. This era, too, ended with the arrival of the Sultans of Gulbarga, from whom the rule passed on to the Adil Shah of Bijapur. Soon, the Dutch, English, French and Portuguese, all began struggling for its possession. Ultimately, in 1510, the Portuguese conquered Goa, with Alfonso de Albuquerque leading the invasion. Having ruled for around four centuries, in 1961, fourteen years after the country's independence, the Portuguese had to leave Goa.

Fairs & Festivals

Being a predominantly Roman Catholic society, most of the festivals of Goa are Christianity-specific. Feast days, thanksgiving, monsoon celebrations, processions-all mark the Goanese calendar. Shigmo, the Goanese version of Holi, is celebrated in the month of February and March. The Feast of Our Lady of Miracles, celebrated 16 days after the Easter, is secular by nature and is celebrated with pomp and show by both Hindus and Christians. Igitun Chalne, held at Sirigao temple in Bicholim during May, is one of Goa's most distinctive festivals. The main attraction of the festival comes when devotees of Goddess Lairaya walk across burning coals to prove their devotion. The Feast of St. Anthony in the month of June is also significant as it marks the beginning of monsoon. Besides such religious festivals, Goa is also known for its arts and crafts fairs, and food festivals.

Best Time to Visit

The fun and frolic Goa is one of the most popular destinations in India. Its topography and climates are such, that the state can be visited anytime of the year. However, Goa possesses different flavors, which can be relished only during particular months. Thus, it is always better to know about the seasons of this beach paradise, before heading on for a trip. Listed below are the seasons and the best time to visit Goa:

Winter (October to March)

Winters are the best time to visit Goa. It’s that time of the year when the upper half of India shivers in biting cold, but Goa calls for celebration. Numerous festivals and events knock the doors of this state during these months. Sunburn, Christmas, New Year and Goa Carnival Festival are some highlights that define the perks of traveling to this part of India during the winter months. Plus, the weather stays absolutely pleasant; around 28°c (Day) and 21°c (Night).

Summer (April to June)

It is the time when the heat peaks to its prime in Goa. Day temperatures stay in the mid-30s (around 35°C). As Goa resides on the shores of Arabian Sea, its weathers majorly carries a lot of humidity. Thus, summers is the time when you are bound to experience heat with a lot of humidity.

Rainy/Monsoon (Mid-June to September)

Goa welcomes the rains with a heartwarming welcome. Starting from the middle of June, frequent showers use to be the order of the day. If you love the monsoons, then Goa is certainly the place for you. Often the state is characterized by fun and frolic beach parties, but during the monsoons, the lush greenery of Goa takes the front row.  The weather stays pleasant and drenched, and is perfect for nature trails and camping expeditions.

How to Reach

BY AIR -

Popular as Dabolim Airport, Goa International Airport is the nearest airport, roughly 2 km away from the city center of Dabolim and 25 km away from the state’s capital Panjim. The airport is well-connected to several places such as Delhi, Mumbai, Dubai, Kuwait, Muscat, Abu Dhabi, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Pune. Further, travelers can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach their main destination.

BY RAIL -

The state has two important railheads, namely Margaon Railway Station (37 km away from the capital Panjim) and Vasco-da-Gama Railway Station (28 km away from Panjim), which are well-linked with some important cities including Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Lucknow and Jaipur. There are various buses and taxis available that will help you to travel further. Apart from these two, Karmali Railway Station (13 km away from Panjim) and Thivim Railway Station (24 km away) are the other two railheads, which you may opt for.

BY ROAD -

Goa is easily accessible by road from nearby states. Interstate and intrastate bus services are regularly available. It is well-connected by road to important cities of the country like Hubli (155 km), Kolhapur (234 km), Mahabaleshwar (407 km), Pune (461 km), Bangalore (562 km), Mumbai (604 km), Mysore (617 km), and Shirdi (630 km).

Tourist Attractions

Goa, the best tourist place for India offers several tourist attractions. Beaches and churches are the key tourist attractions in Goa. Christian Pilgrimage tours and Goan Carnival attract numerous visitors. In the local dialect, Goa is often referred to as "Goa Dourada," (meaning "Golden Goa") because of its beaches, forts, churches, Waterfalls, seminaries, and Caves. Today, Goa Beach Resorts are attractions in themselves.

"The queen of Indian beaches," Calangute is a stretch of 7 km. Baga beach is a handy commuting point to Anjuna. At a distance of 7 km from Panaji is the beach of Dona Paula, which is a good site for relaxation and sunbathing. At a distance of 6 km away from Margao is another beach, Colva, which offers good accommodation. Calangute, Baga, Candolim, Colva are dominated by package tourism. Anjuna, the traditional rave center is popular with the bag packers. Benaulim falls between hype and hip, and is filled with beach shacks and low-key Goa beach resorts. Arambol in the north and Palolem in the south are idyllic by nature. Other famous beaches include Miramar and Agonda. Goa Beach Resorts along these beaches in Goa are excellent accommodation options.

The Dudhsagar waterfall and Arvalem waterfall attract many tourists every year. The rock-cut caves of Khandepar and Arvalem are also worth mentioning. The Pilar monastery, Saligao seminary, and Rachol seminary attract the religious minded travelers.

While nature has been so generous to Goa, man too has contributed a lot to Goa's beauty. The strong Roman Catholic community, with the active support of the erstwhile Portuguese rulers, has had a number of churches built in this picturesque locale. In Panaji, one must visit the church dedicated to our Lady of Immaculate Conception, and the Chapel of St. Sebastian. No doubt that Christian Pilgrimage tours to Goa are so popular.

The Goa State Museum, the Secretariat, the statue of Abbe Faria in the capital is a must see for lovers of art. The largest of the churches in Goa, the Se Cathedral is in Old Goa and is flocked by thousands of tourists every year. The holy shrine of Basilica of Bom Jesus, also in Old Goa, houses the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier.

It is a famous pilgrimage center among the Roman Catholic world. Most Christian Pilgrimage tours include visits to these churches of Goa. Other famous churches are the Convent and Church of St. Francis of Assisi, Church of St. Cajetan, Church of St. Augustine Ruins, Church and Convent of St. Monica, Church of Our Lady of Rosary, Chapel of St. Anthony and Chapel of St. Catherine-all of which are in Old Goa.

Fort Aguada is worth a visit to savor the nostalgia of the Portuguese regime, especially in its lighthouse and the Aguada jail. Terekhol Fort in the Arambol beach has been now converted to a hotel. The Museum of Christian Art in Rachol Seminary and church and the Braganza House near Margao are also worth a visit. Besides these, to get a glimpse of the Hindu population in Goa, one has to visit Ponda. The Kerkar Art Complex in south Calangute is also an important tourist center. The Wednesday flea market at Anjuna is an important trading center for handicrafts from Kashmir to Gujarat.

Shopping

It doesn’t really ever happens that we visit a place and we do not enjoy shopping there. Like most of the other destinations of India, Goa too offers some amazing stuff to its visitors. There are shops, flea markets, stalls, designer fashion boutique, and everything else. Shopping in Goa involves getting your hands on stylish clothes, jholas and other kinds of bags, funky trinkets, showpieces, wall hangings and mirrors made from sea shells, hats, beach wear, sunglasses, spices, cashew nuts, Goa’s own Fenny and much more.

Just remember, bargain as much as possible! Following are some of the popular markets in Goa for shopping:

Anjuna Flea Market

One of the most famous markets of Goa, Anjuna flea market is known to be the ‘hippie capital of Goa’ and is organized at the Anjuna beach on every Wednesday. You can get your hands on things pouring in from all across the country including bedspreads, saris and bags from Rajasthan; colorful T-shirts from Gujarat; jewelry from Kashmir; spices from Kerala, beach wear, trinkets, hammocks, handicrafts, and other souvenirs.

Anjuna flea markets starts around mid-November and continues till the end of April month. After shopping, savor sumptuous food and beverages from the nearest restaurants and bars. To see the maximum, visit the market after 5’o clock. Live trance music is the highlights

Friday Mapusa Market

Located in northern Goa, Mapusa is a tiny town that hosts the wonderful Friday Mapusa Market. Drawing huge crowds, this market is explored from locals from all around the state. Observe the typical hustle-bustle of a Goan market. It open around 8 am in the morning and shuts down in the evening at around 6 pm. Some of the best buys here are vegetable, freshest of fishes, fresh fruits, plastic utensils, and earthen cooking pots.

Municipal Market

Municipal markets of Goa is basically a narrow street that has been converted into a market. These markets are perfect for a nice stroll where you see clothing shops, aromatic eateries, and shops of daily utility items. The specialty of this market freshest of catches, especially fishes.

Panjim Market

Another wonderful market of Goa, Panjim market is equally popular amid locals as well as tourists with its main highlight being a mix of modern shops and local stalls. It is the state’s largest market.

Baga Beach Market

Organized every Sunday near the Baga Beach, Baga beach market is also a must-visit to get good quality meat, seafood products, rural products, wood carvings, household ware, textiles. earthenware, and handicrafts. There are tattoo makers and palm readers too.

Calangute Market Square

Organized every Saturday near the post office, beside the Calangute beach, this market has leather items, Kashmiri and Tibetan products, pottery, textiles, household ware, jewelry, clothes, meat and fish products, pottery and other things on display.

Ingo’s Saturday Night Bazaar

Held at Arpora, this night markets was started by a German National, Ingo Grill who liked the idea of Nite Bazaars. This markets is extremely famous for semi-precious stones; Kashmiri, Tibetan and Rajasthani handicraft items; books, paintings, music, funky jewelry, and clothes. There are a number of food stalls too, serving Indian and popular world delicacies.

Mackie’s Night Bazaar at Baga

Quite similar to the above mentioned market, this market has shops owned by Indian as well as foreign nationals. Visitors can savor Indian, Goan, Tibetan and Chinese street food. Live performances by local music bands.


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