Goa Quick Information

State : Goa with Panaji as capital
Summarise the city : Heaven for fun and frolic
Best time to visit (High & peak months) : Mid October - February
Experiences : Beaches, monuments, churches & temples, bird life
City calling code : +91-832
Recommended no. of days for a tourist : 4-5 days
Best buys : Cashew nuts, handicrafts – bamboo & shell work
Essentials to be carried along : Sun blocks, glares, cotton wears, light woolens for December & January
Area Of The Region :

3,702 sq. km

Population :

13,47,668 (as per 2001 census)

Languages :

Konkani, English, Hindi & Marathi

Bordering States :

Maharashtra & Karnataka

Climate :
Tropical and is generally pleasant except for the months of April, May & June when it is hot & humid
All about the city :

India’s most flamboyant tourist destination, Goa was a thriving city even before the Portuguese arrived in 1510. But the advent of Portuguese turned the fortunes of the town. The glamour of Goa reached such heights that it came to be called the ‘Rome of the Orient’ or ‘Pearl of the East’ and gave tough competition to the Portugal capital of Lisbon. Alfonso Albuquerque – the founder of Goa built its first church – Our Lady of the Rosary and set the building spree. The period saw the coming up of a large number of forts, mansions and churches that continue to amuse the discerning traveler’s upto this day. After a devastating epidemic the city was shifted to Panaji in 1759 and it became the epicenter of all activities.

Catering to almost the same number of tourists every year as its own population Goa has every reason to top the popularity charts. The 105 km long palm fringed coastline of Goa has the most beckoning beaches in the country. While some of them are ideal to rest in solitude others with water sports activities, trendy kiosks, flea markets and beach side restaurants and night clubs buzz with tourists who just do not want to simply laze their holidays away. The hangover of pulsating river cruises and moonlit parties is sure to remain long. Not many know that the rich biodiversity of Goa has been compared with that of Amazon and Congo basins by the very reputed Nat Geo Magazine. Anyone looking for bird life ought to come to Goa.

Goa has an air of its own and this can be literally felt once you are there. Distinctively different from the rest of India, the lifestyle of Goa is a blend of different influences the Goans endured in its past. The multihued society of Goa loves to party hard and is passionate about their music, dance, feni, food and fashion. So go Goa to eat, drink and make merry.

Goa Tourist attractions

Name (Suggested Time Required To See The Place) Description Entrance Charges (If Any) For Foreigner Close Day (If Any) Open / Close Time
Beaches

The enticing beaches of Goa are a major draw for the tourists to this smallest state of India. Goa’s 105 km long coastline is punctuated with several beaches, each of which has a character of its own. Taking the towns of Margao and Panji as base points all the beaches can be visited in a stretch. In general North Goa’s beaches are comparatively more developed than those in South Goa. Since the beaches here tend to wear a new look every year, courtesy the monsoons, they hold the interest of re-visitors and first timers alike.

While some beaches are fully commercialized and have up market stores, massage centres, gym, night clubs there are others where there will be only you, sun and sand. While some are fairly safe for swimming, others do not allow the same.

The laid back tourists can hire a beach umbrella, sample the good food available at the beach shacks, and sun themselves in peace. (The beaches north of Calangute and south of Colva are relatively lonelier).While the more active ones can thrill themselves with water sports ranging from parasailing to jet skiing, windsurfing to speed boating. The flea markets and moonlit parties on some of the beaches are added attractions of the Goan beaches.

Churches

Years of Portuguese domination in Goa bequeathed to it some of the significant churches which stand up to this day luring the tourists from world over. During the early days of their rule in India, Portuguese in their bid to spread Christianity concentrated mainly on building churches in Goa. The Goan churches are notable for their architectural style which is usually a blend of two or more types. The architecture of Goa's churches has undergone notable changes with the passage of time and the fashion of the era that they were built in. While the earlier ones exhibit motifs like anchor and sea shells the later ones have flowers and tropical motifs pointing to the growing influence of the Indian craftsmen.

As old Goa has major concentration of them it along with its churches is a world heritage site. The Basilica of Bom Jeusus that houses the mortal remains of St Xavier, the Se Cathedral (largest church in Asia), and The Lady of Rosary (first church of Goa) definitely deserve a visit.

No close days
Museums

Goa State Museum, Panaji: A huge collection of about 8000 objects are exhibited here in seven galleries.

Sculpture gallery: The oldest object in the museum i.e. fossil bone dating 10000 B.C. is exhibited here.

Christian arts gallery: Wooden statues of various Christian Saints.

Banerji Art Gallery: Named after the ex governor of Goa who donated a rich collection to it. Exhibits miniature paintings & Indus valley objects.

Religious expressions gallery: Lord Vishnu’s image from Gupta period.

Cultural Anthropology: Artifacts of daily use, clay models showing different professions.

Contemporary art gallery: Works from eminent Indian artists like M F Hussain, R. Chimulkar & F. N. Souza etc.

Western Bronzes gallery: Displays replicas of the bronze sculptures of European Artists like Claude, Dalon.

A Museum Week is celebrated every year in the second week of January, during which various programs are arranged including display of new collection. The Museum also arranges other programmes during the year such as Painting competition, Essay competitions and Quizzes.

Besides Goa has Museum of Christian art, National Aviation museum, the only one of its kind in the whole of Asia. The Convent of St Francis of Assisi now houses an Archeological museum. The major items of interest include carved image of Lord Vishnu, model of Sao Gabriel (ship in which Vasco da Gama sailed to India) & bronze statue of St Catherine.

State Museum: No entrance fee

National Aviation museum: INR 15

Archeological museum: INR 5

Saturday & Sundays Monday Friday 9:30 am – 5:30 pm 10 am – 5 pm 10 am – 5 pm
Forts

For someone who is overdosed with beaches, festivities, feasts & Feni a visit to the historical mansions and forts comes as a breather.

The Forts dot the Goan coast-line and in their retired laterite military walls envelop a rich Portuguese legacy, the rampart of which stretches as far as 16th century AD. From Tirakol Fort in the north to Cabo da Rama fort in the south, atop the rocky cliffs, these forts once commanded the movement across the shoreline and played a crucial role in defense, trade control and replenishment of the Goan Territory of the yesteryears. Today most of these mummified structures are asking for the face-lifts as under the Heritage sites of the Tourism department. However, some of them have taken well to the modern touristy times because of their preserved architectural, locational and historical profile like Fort Tirakol which is now a luxury heritage hotel or Fort Cabo Palace (Cabo Raj Niwas) that is the official residence of Goa’s Governor or Fort Aguada that houses the Central Jail. Similarly, Forts like Chapora, Reis Magos and Cabo Da Rama with more or less intact turrets, bastions & ramparts, today, find themselves placed between the very famous beaches & best of resorts.

Tirakol Fort: no entrance fee

Mormugao Fort: no entrance fee

Aguada, Chapora, Cabo Palace

Open daily 11am to 5pm Aguada’s Light house: 2:00pm to 5:30pm

Mansions

Compared to the Forts the colonial mansions boast a well-preserved opulent taste & lifestyles of the 17th-19th century rich Portuguese Goan land-owners. Set amidst the Goan hinterland at Loutolim, Margao, Chandor and Chinchinim are some of the finest palatial houses on display with their rosewood furniture, Italian flooring, Chinese porcelain, Belgian Chandeliers etc. Watch out for the European-style regal ballroom in Dr Alvaro Loyola furtado Mansion at Chinchinim. At Loutolim, the tiled pyramidal roof & porches of Figueredo house, baroque style furniture in Casa dos Mirandos mansion, Gothic style windows, wide verandas and cluster columns of Salavador da Costa house. Between Panjim and Mapsua, at Porvorim, the Italian floor tiling, the Dutch tapestry and 200 years old love chair in Dr. Pinto de Rosario mansion. The double storied façade adorned with oyster-shell window shutters of Sat Burnzam Gor at Margao. Also the sprawling Braganza House of the 17th century that leads the list of the mansions to be visited by virtue of its grandest architectural façade & interiors.

With many more suchlike forts and mansions worth a ‘dekko’ and exploration, a strong historical and architectural hangover of the last 450 years is scattered all over the town-sized Goan state.

Cruises

Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) and some other private operators as well organize cruise programs on river Mandovi. Leaving from Santa Monica jetty (Santa Monica is a luxury launch of GTDC) the hour long evening cruises offer live performances by folk artists of the state. As per your choice and convenience you can choose from the list of various cruise programs available. The launches can be hired on hourly charges for private parties also.

Along with the evening cruises there is Dolphin Fantasy cruise that gives you a chance to sight these smart creatures in a playful mood. The Backwater cruises let you enjoy the thick mangrove forests of river Mandovi along with typical Goan cuisine served on board. Then there is a Pearl of the Orient cruise which is blend of Natural & Cultural heritage Cruise-cum-walking tour to visit World Heritage Monuments at old Goa.

Sunset cruise : INR 100/ person

Sundown cruise : INR 100/ person

Full moon cruise: INR 150/ person

  Dolphin Fantasy cruise : INR 250/ person (inclusive of snacks ) Backwater Thrills: INR 550/ person (includes refreshments & lunch) Pearl of Orient: INR 250 (includes refreshments)
Operates daily Operates daily Operates daily Operates on Mondays only Operational on Tuesday to Friday Operates on Saturdays only 6 pm – 7 pm 7:15 pm – 8:15 pm 8:30 pm - 10:30 pm 9:30 am – 11 am 9:30 am - 4 pm 9:30 – 1 pm

Water sports

The fun and frolic at Goa would be incomplete without enjoying the myriad water sports at its beaches. The lovers of speed can ride water scooters that may give you an opportunity of watching Dolphins from close quarters. Hire a boat and go for sea fishing at Agonda beach. Soak in the clear blue sky and the captivating view of the world under while you go para-sailing with the help of a parachute and motorboat. The aquamarine waters of Goa treasure beautiful shells, colorful corals and fishes and the wreckages of Spanish, Portuguese and World War II ships for the delight of Scuba Divers. Then Goa also has the best beaches for water skiing. Numerous beach resorts and hotels are also equipped to provide water skiing facility to their guests. Banana rides on Goan beaches are very popular with the kids.

The plus point with the Goan beaches is that they have temperate waters and thus are safe, convenient and motivating for the beginners also.

Goa Wildlife

…and also, one of the world’s richest ecosystems survives in Goa, which is one-third forest. A dense wilderness that finds comparison to the Amazon & Congo Basin in Nat geo magazine nestles Goa, a commonplace for the pleasure & party seekers. Around 755 sq km of Protected Forest Area (six Wildlife Sanctuaries & one National Park) conserves the unique biodiversity of the State, most of which lie along the verdant Western Ghats Hills that run along the borders of Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka.

With high rainfall, a thick moist deciduous and semi-evergreen forest carpets the undulating lowland of Western Ghats in Goa that is usually adorned with playfully rolling clouds. Also the presence of open scrub jungles, marshes, and a number of island ecosystems (estuarine, riverine & marine) in addition to the hot and humid tropical climate renders Goa with a variety of habitation for the wildlife esp. birds. With around 300 bird species, no doubt, thousands of avid bird watchers from around the world explore Goan landscape from hills, woods, marshes, rivers, rice-fields, coastal belts, to their own backyard, to get a glimpse of the winged beauties.

Animals & reptiles (~108 species): state animal Gaur (wild Buffalo) plus sambhar, cheetal, barking deer, Malabar giant squirrel, Small Indian Mongoose, Indian Monitor Lizard, Otter, Flying fox, wild dogs, crocodile etc.

Plants, shrubs/ trees (~1512): Asna (state tree), Teak, Sal, cashew, rosewood, Wild Indian Almond, Portia, Catechu etc

Birds (~ 300 species): Ruby Throated Yellow Bulbul (state bird), Kingfisher, Myna, Little Egret, Whistling Duck, Black kite, Osprey, Sand Plover and so on.

When to see Winter (Nov to Jan) is the best time to see the migratory birds join their resident relatives.

Where Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary: A perfect destination for the bird lovers is named, rightfully, after the renowned ornithologist of India, Dr. Salim Ali. On the Chorao Island, a 1.78 sq km of mangrove flora with a maze of streams and rives, forms a perfect nesting and breeding ground for birds, that feeds on planktons, shrimps, prawns and small fishes. During winters (Nov to Jan) migratory ducks pours in. Boat and Canoe excursion and view from the Watch tower gives a better look and feel of this feathered world at its own. Access is possible via a delightful ferry ride from starting from the Ribander Jetty on the River Mandovi in Panjim. By road: Chorao island (5 km form Panaji, 40 km form Margao, 18 km from Bicholim)

Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary: 8 sq km of this small sanctuary houses a Mini Zoo, Deer Safari Park, Zoological Park, Botanical Gardens and the Nature Education centre (NEC) and of course, the omni-present birds of Goa (around 100 species).There are lovely nature trails also. Eco-cottages are available for the night stay. Nearby attraction includes the Ponda temple.

Bhagwan Mahavir Sanctuary and Mollem National Park:collective area of 240 sq. km. of dense moist deciduous to evergreen type forests is home to Gaur (wild buffalo), the state animal and other wildlife carnivores. It is nearby the Karnataka border in Sanguem taluka. Attractions includes Dudhsagar Falls, highest and largest Waterfall in Goa (306m) offers a nice trek; 13th century Lord Mahadev’s Temple at a distance of 13 km from Mollem, at Tambdi Surla: Sunset point, Bhandaras Mineral water springs; Bolcornem nursery and Nature Interpretation Centre. At Goa, world famous “Winter Bird destination”, a good guidance coupled with a little luck, can get one a long-list of birds seen!

However, few places have a higher probability of sighting like Morjim beach, Chorao Island and Mayem Lake, Carambolin Lake, Dona Paula & Santa Cruz wetlands, Bondla & Tambdi Surla; Zuari River, Baga Hills, Salaulim and Anjunem Dam areas, Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary.

Getting There

Air Rail Road

Goa is well connected by airline services to most major cities in India. The Dabolim airport is near the port town of Vasco-da-Gama and is about 30 kms from the capital city of Panaji. It is owned by the Indian Navy. A number of chartered flights land in Goa from UK and other European countries. The national airline Air India also lands a few international flights also.

Goa has two major railway stations — Margao and Vasco-da-Gama, both located in the southern area of the state. The South Central Railway terminus is at Vasco-da-Gama and the Konkan Railway terminus is at Margao. Goa is connected to many major cities of India through railways. The travel on Konkan rail line promises many wonderful views en route.

A good number of buses at regular intervals connect Goa to Mumbai, Pune, Belgaum, Hubli, Bangalore, Mangalore etc. The bus services mainly operate from the huge Kadamba bus stand at Panaji.

Goa Climate Chart

Month Morning Afternoon Rainfall
Jan 31.6 19.6 0.2
Feb 31.5 20.5 0.1
Mar 32.0 23.2 1.2
Apr 33.0 25.6 11.8
May 33.0 26.3 112.7
June 30.3 24.7 868.2
July 28.9 24.1 994.8
Aug 28.8 28.8 518.7
Sep 29.5 23.8 251.9
Oct 31.6 23.8 124.8
Nov 32.8 22.3 30.9
Dec 32.4 20.6 16.7

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