Districts: South Goa and North Goa
Languages: Konkani (official), English, Marathi and Hindi
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 C
Winter: Mean Max. 32.2 C and Mean Min 21 C
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 years 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 auxiliary capital.
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 coasts.
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 palm trees.
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 bounty.
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 (Fatorpa).
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 colonization.
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 architectural styles.
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).