Districts: South Goa and North Goa
Languages: Konkani (official), English, Marathi
Religion: Hinduism, Christianity and Islam
Area: 3,702 sq.kms.
Population: 13,43,998 (2001 Census)
Literates: 9,89,362 (2001 Census)
Altitude: Sea level to 1,022 metres
Summer: Mean Max. 32.7 C and Mean Min. 24
Winter: Mean Max. 32.2 C and Mean Min 21
Rainfall: 3,200 mms. from June to September
Tourist Season: Throghtout the year
Peak Season: November to February
Time Zone: GMT/UTC +5.5 ()
Currency: Indian Rupees (Rs)
STD Goa: 0832
Goa is India’s smallest state in terms of area and the
second smallest in terms of population after Sikkim.
It is located on the west coast of India, in the region known
as the Konkan, and is bounded by the state of Maharashtra to
the north and Karnataka to the east and south. The Arabian Sea
makes up the state's west coast. Panaji is the state's capital,
and Margao its largest town. Tourism is Goa’s primary
Industry and has a major share in the economy of Goa. Goa attracted
over 2 million tourist last year.
Portuguese merchants first landed in Goa in the 16th Century
but soon after, colonised it forcibly, persecuting Hindus and
converting the majority of the locals to Christianity. However,
not all were persecuted into Christianity, many were converted
by choice because of missionaries like St. Francis of the Seven
Seas, who is still honored by both present day Hindus as well
as Christians. The Portuguese colony existed for about 450 years,
until it was annexed as part of India in 1961.
The most popular celebrations in Goa are Christmas, Easter Sunday,
Ganesh Chaturthi, New Year’s Day, Shigmo and Carnival.
However, since the 1960s, the celebrations of the Shigmo and
carnival have shifted to the urban centres, and in recent times
these festivals are seen more as a means of attracting tourists.
Western English songs have a large following in most parts of
Goa. Traditional Konkani folk songs too have a sizable following.
The food of Goa is a mixture of foods from Portugal, Western
India and Arabia. Rice with fish curry is the staple diet in
Goa. Goa is renowned for its rich variety of fish dishes cooked
with elaborate recipes. Coconut and coconut oil is widely used
in Goan cooking. A rich egg-based multi-layered sweet dish known
as bebinca is
a favourite at Christmas. The most popular alcoholic beverage
in Goa is feni; Cashew feni is made from the fermentation of
the fruit of the cashew tree, while coconut feni is made from
the sap of toddy palms.
Goa is one of the few places in India that you can go to a restaurant
and order (beside fish and chicken) both beef and pork, which
are usually served very lightly spiced; beer, wine and other
alcoholic drinks are sold freely. These attributes, together
with the fact that Goa’s economy is among the most prosperous
in India, have won Goa the nickname "India for beginners"
– the great differences between Europe and India, very
apparent in other parts of India due to large slums and other
problems, are much less pronounced.
Geography and Climate:
Goa spread in an area of 3,702 km2 lies between the latitudes
14°53'54" N and 15°40'00" N and longitudes
73°40'33" E and 74°20'13" E. Goa, with a coastline
of 105 km, is a part of India’s western coast and western
Ghats known as the Konkan. Goa's main rivers are the Mandovi,
the Zuari, the Terekhol, the Chapora and the Betul. The Mormugao
harbour on the mouth of the river Zuari is one of the best natural
harbours in South Asia. The Zuari and the Mandovi are the lifelines
of Goa. Goa has more than forty estuarine, eight marine and
about ninety riverine islands. The total navigable length of
Goa's rivers is 253 km (157 miles).
Goa, being in the tropical zone and near the Arabian Sea, has
a warm and humid climate for most of the year. The
month of May is the hottest, seeing day temperatures of over
35° C coupled with high humidity. The monsoon rains arrive
by early June and provide a much needed respite from the heat.
Most of Goa's annual rainfall is received through the monsoons
which last till late September. Goa has a short cool season
between mid-December and February. These months are marked by
cool nights of around 20°C and warm days of around 29°C
with moderate amounts of humidity. Further inland, due to altitudinal
gradation, the nights are a few degrees cooler.
Goa has a long history stretching back to the 3rd century BC,
when it formed part of the Maurya Empire. Goa was later ruled
by the Satavahanas of Kolhapur, Maharashtra, around two thousand
ago. Later Chalukyas of Badami, Karnataka ruled Goa for over
180 years. Over next few centuries Goa was successively ruled
by the Silharas, the Kadambas and the Chalukyans. In 1312, Goa
came under the governance of the Delhi Sultanate however, the
kingdom's grip on the region was weak, and by 1370 they were
forced to surrender it to Harihara I of Vijaynagara. The Vijayanagara
monarchs held on to the territory for the next hundred years
until 1469, when it was appropriated by the Bahmani Sultans
of Gulbarga. After the dynasty crumbled, the area came under
the hands of the Adil Shahis of Bijapur who made Velha Goa their
In 1498, Vasco da Gama became the first European to set foot
in India through a sea route, landing in Calicut in Kerala,
followed by an arrival in what is now known as Old Goa. The
Portuguese arrived with the intention of setting up a colony
and seizing complete control of the spice trade from other European
powers after traditional land routes to India were closed by
the Ottoman Turks. Later, in 1510, Portuguese admiral Afonso
de Albuquerque defeated the ruling Bijapur kings with the help
of a local ally, Timayya, leading to the establishment of a
permanent settlement in Velha Goa (today’s Old Goa). The
Portuguese intended it to be a colony and a naval base, distinct
from the fortified enclaves established elsewhere along India's
With the imposition of the inquisition (1560–1812), many
of the local residents were forcibly converted to Christianity
by missionaries, threatened by punishment or confiscation of
land, titles or property. Many converted, however retaining
parts of their Hindu heritage. To
escape the Inquisition and harassment, thousands fled the state,
settling down in the neighbouring towns of Mangalore and Karwar
in Karnataka. Portuguese possessions in India were a few enclaves
along India's west coast, with Goa being the largest of these
holdings. By mid-18th century the area under occupation had
expanded to most of Goa's present day state limits. After India
gained independence from the British in 1947, Portugal refused
to accede to India's demand to relinquish their control of its
exclave. United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1541 in
1960 noted that Goa was non-self-governing and essentially showed
sympathy toward self determination. Finally, on December 19,
1961 the Indian Army liberated Goa along with Daman and Diu
and was incorporated as a Union territory of the Indian Union.
Goa attained Statehood on May 30, 1987.
Blessed with 105 kms of golden coastline, Goa provides an excellent
range of beaches to suit everybody's
needs. Some beaches are unspoilt pristine stretches of sand,
ideal for the solitude seeker, while others pulsate with crowds
basking in the brilliant sunshine. The unique mixture of sun,sand
and the sea, coupled with the essence of local culture gives
each Goan beach, a distinct identity.
All along the Goa coast, the azure blue waters of the Arabian
Sea kiss the golden sandy shores lines with mesmerisingly swaying
Nestled in small villages, bordered by lush green paddy fields,
are delux hotels and resorts with ultra-modern comforts jostling
for space with the tiny beach shacks under palm-front roofs.
Goa's beaches are justly famous all round the world, for they
are alive with activity all around the world, for they are alive
with activity all around the day and well into the night, swinging
to a rhythm all their own, dictated by the sea and nature's
The main beaches in the popular northern belt are Calangute,
Candolim, Baga, Vagator, Arambol and Morjim, while the beautiful
but isolated southern beaches include Colva, Majorda, Benaulim,
Varca, Cavelossim and Palolem.
The temples of Goa, like most Hindu temples around India, are
dedicated to a deity which is worshipped by
the local devotees. The design of the Goan temples, however,
is a little different, as it has assimilated the influence of
Muslim, Maratha and Christian architecture over the centuries.
A special feature of Goan temple is the Lamp Tower or the "Deepatambha"
rising anywhere from two to six stories high, in the temple
courtyard. On festival days, it is decorated with oil lamps
creating a spectacular effect. In most temples, the inner sanctum
housing the idol of the deity is decorated with silver and gold.
Near the temple, there is usually a huge water tank used for
holy rituals of the deity.
Each temple has its annual Jatara (feast), when the idol of
the local deity is carried in a huge wooden chariot around the
temple, with crowds of devotees following in a procession. A
small fair with stalls selling everything from jewelley to eatables
is setup in the temple grounds.
Goan temples are more mordern as compared to ancient temples
around India, mainly because they have been rebuilt at new locations
after the destrution during the days of muslim and Portugese
invasions. Among the well-known temples in Goa are the ones
dedicated to Sahntadurga (Kavlem), Manguesh (Priol), Mahalasa
(Mardol), Chandreshwar Bhutnath (Paroda), Damodar (Zambaulim),
Datta (Sanquelim), Mallikarjun (Cancona) and Shantadurga Kunkolkarin
All across the Goan countryside, the white washed facade of
the village Church is a well-known landmark amidst
the greenery of coconut plantations and paddy fields. These
magnificent edifices are largely a legacy of 450 years of Portuguese
Most of these Churches were built by European monastic orders,
such as the Theatines, Augustines, Franciscans and Jesuits,
in the Renaissance, Baroque, Iberian and the lesser-known Manueline
Both in inspiration and design, churches are the spiritual centres
of the village or town they stand in and play an important role
in Goa's social, cultural and religious life. Most of these
churches are centuries old, but still function even today. Many
are also protected heritage sites and house exquisite works
of Christian art.
Every church in Goa celebrates a feat dedicated to its patron
saint once a year. Tese village feats are celebrated by colourfully
dressed villagers with a festive mass, a procession of the saint,
music by the village band and food that is an epicurean's delight.
The most famous churches in Goa are at Old Goa, a UNESCO designated
World Heritage site near Panaji. It has the Se Cathedral, the
Convent of Santa Monica and the Bom Jesus Basilica, which houses
the holy relics of St Francias Xavier, the patron saint of Goa.
Other well-known churches in Goa are the Mary Immaculate Conception
Church (Panaji), the St Ana Church (Talaulim), Church of Our
Lady of Miracles (Mapusa) and Mae de Deus Church (Saligao).