Situated on the south bank of the Mandovi estuary in north Goa is Panaji or Panjim the State Capital. Built around the Altinho hill, its Portuguese appeal can still be seen in its elegantly red roofed Portuguese villas, boats plying up and down the Mandovi river, gardens and avenues lined with Gulmohor and Acassia trees as well homes built using Latin architecture.
The history of Goa dates back when it changed hands from the Mauryan Empire to the Satavahanas, Chalukyas, Shilharas and Kadambas till it fell into the hands of the Muslim rulers the Bahami Sultans and the Adil Shahis of Bijapur from whom the Portuguese took over in 1510.
The Portuguese also drove away the Turks and emerged as the single most power in Goa. It was only in 1961 when the Portuguese were finally driven out.
Panaji has a very rich Goan cultural heritage. Music, dance and folklore are deeply rooted in the heart of the goans and the rhythm runs in the blood of the Goans.
Goan folklore comprising of folksongs, dances, music, visual arts and folk tales, are rich in content and variety. The folk music has devotional as well as contemporary overtones, and it displays a lively rhythm. And the folk dances reflect that rhythmic vitality.
When in Goa, you must try its local cuisine that includes pork vindaloo, chicken xacuti, fish/prawn/chicken caldine, sorpotel, bebinca and balchao. The seafood is, of course, the freshest fare in the town.
All the beach towns in Goa have shops selling souvenirs and handicrafts from all over. The Friday flea market at Anjuna is one place you should visit for home-made toddy, carvings, T-shirts, sarongs, chillium, spices and Port wine (a must buy). Baga and Calagute are swamped with Kashmiri traders. One can buy Kashmiri carpets as well as Rajasthani and Tibetan crafts here.
January: Festival of the Three Kings.
May: Pop, Beat & Jazz Music Festival.
June: Feast of St Anthony.
November: The Teator Festival, showcasing folk dances and dramas of Goa.
Another festival associated with the monsoon is the Feast of St Peter and Paul. The fishing community in Bardez use fishing rafts to serve as a stage for the festivities.
About 600 km south of Mumbai, situated on the slopes of the Western Ghats (Sahyadri ranges).
IA, AI, Alliance Air, Jet and Sahara have flights to and from Goa. Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Cochin and Pune are all connected to Goa by air. Airport: The Dabolim Airport (Tel: 0854-512 644) is located 29 km south of Panaji (formerly Panjim), near Vasco Da Gama.
Goa is accessible from Mumbai, Delhi, Rajkot, Mangalore, Cochin and Trivandrum by the coastal Konkan Railway. The Mumbai-Madgaon Express connects Goa with Mumbai. The South Central Railways also connect Goa with Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Secunderabad. Railway station: There are two main railway stations in Goa at Vasco Da Gama (Tel: 512 833) and Margao (Madgaon), Tel: 732 255. For those visiting Calangute and Mapusa, the convenient station is Thivim; and for Panaji it is Karma.
Good motorable roads connect Goa with all the major towns in India via NH 4A, 17 and 17A. Luxury coaches and sleepers leave Mumbai (from Metro Cinema and Bandra Talao) for Goa in the afternoon, reaching there early next morning. The 600 km journey takes roughly 10 hours. Besides, private bus operators in Goa and state transport corporations such as Kadamba and Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation also operate services to Goa from neighbouring places. Bus terminus: Kadamba is the Goa Transport Corporation, which runs buses from its bus terminals located in Panjim, Mapusa and Madgaon. Buses operate from here to local as well as outstation places.
Tropical temperatures between 24?C and 32.7?C in the summer, and 21.3?C and 32.2?C in winter.
An idyllic picturesque spot, it commands a fine view of the Zuari River and Mormugao Harbour. Water scattering facilities are available here.
Built in the 16th century, it is the most popular and famous, of all churches in Goa. The mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier, kept in a silver casket, are enshrined here. This church, dedicated to Infant Jesus, is now a World Heritage Monument.
Most imposing of all the churches in Old Goa, its vaulted interior overwhelms the visitors, by sheer grandeur. This Cathedral has five bells, of which, one is the famous Golden bell, the biggest in Goa and one of the best in the World. The church is dedicated to St. Catherine.
The entrance and the choir are in the Manueline style, the only fragment of its kind in the East. The interior is illustrated with exquisite paintings. The adjacent convent, now houses the Archaeological Museum.
The Portuguese built it in 1609-1612, to command the entry into the river Mandovi, in order to protect, Old Goa from potential enemy attacks. A spring, within the fort, provided water supply to the ships, which called there. The fort, presently houses the central jail. A lighthouse is situated nearby, the visiting hours for it being 16.00 to 17.00 hrs.
East of, Panji lays the site of Old Goa, founded by Adil Shah, in the first decade of the 16th century. He was developed it with a view to shifting his capital, from Bijapur. However, Al fonso de Albuquerque made short work of it, when he stormed and took over, to house the center of power of Portuguese colonies.
It is a popular beach, dominated by the Chapora Fort, to the North, on its imposing headland. To the South of Vagator is Calangute beach.
A Chapora Fort is situated adjacent to this popular beach area, In Anjuna there do octagonal towers and attractive Mangalore tiled-roof flank a magnificent Albuquerque mansion, built in 1920.
Calangute is the most popular holiday resort in Goa. Octagonal towers flank the Albuquerque mansion built in 1920, and attractive Mangalore tiled roof.
Colva beach is about 6 kms from Margao. Colva beach is the pride of Salcette and only rival to Calangute, by its scenic splendor. Here, sand, sea and sky blend in enchanting natural harmony, inspirit by men. Has a good accommodation facility, particularly at the tourist cottages.
22 kms from Panaji, at Priol - Ponda Taluka, the temple of Shri Manguesh, is located on a hillock, surrounded by lush green hills. Though small, it has an air of distinctive elegance. Its lofty white tower at the entrance is a landmark of the countryside. This is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Sumptuously built at Kavlem, it is dedicated to Shantadurga, the Goddess who mediates between Vishnu and Shiva. It has a rich and beautiful Garbhakuda, or the holy of holies, where the deity is kept. The deity was shifted from Kelsi. Agrashalas provide lodging facilities for the devotees.
Dudhsagar Waterfalls is accessible by train only. Water plummets hundreds of feet in large volumes, in cascades, forming one of the most spectacular of all natural phenomena in Goa and the life of our ecosystem, in one of our Sanctuaries. A popular destination to hikers and trekkers, it is also accessible by jeep able (4 wheel drive) route (14 kms) through the Bhagvan Mahavir Sanctuary. However, one needs to obtain permission in advance from the Department of Forests at Junta House, Panaji.
ARVALEM WATERFALLS - Leaving the temple of Rudreshwar, one can descend the staircase to look at a majestic waterfall shedding its exuberant silvery showers. The beautiful fall, with a head of about 70 ft. forms a sizeable like at the bottom, which offers a temptation to season. BHAGVAN MAHAVIR WILDLIFE SANCTUARY - Situated along the Northeast border of Goa at Molem the sanctuary is rich in wildlife. It is a paradise for bird watchers. Besides flora and fauna, there are many important geological and historical features in this sanctuary. MARGOA - The capital of South Goa district in the hinterland of Southern Goa in Salcete Taluka is a thriving commercial metropolis linked by rail to the rest of India & Mormugao Harbour and by National Highways, with Maharashtra and Karnataka. MIRAMAR - A lovely golden beach of soft sand girdled with palm trees facing the blue Arabian Sea, is the nearest to Panaji. SHRI MAGUESH - Dedicated to Lord Shiva, is situated in the village of Bandora about 4 kms to the east of Ponda. The temple Sabhamandap has a gallery on both sides that contains exquisite specimen of intricate woodcarvings of the event of Ramayana on one side. VASCO -DA - GAMA - A modern, well laid out city close to Mormugao Harbour, has beautiful and extensive avenues. The air terminus of Goa at Dabolim lies on the outskirts of the city. It is also the railway terminus for passenger service on the South Central Railway.