Goa, India

Goa in western India is an area that has something for every tourist, whether they want to beach comb, visit historic churches or look at archaeological ruins.

Goa was a Portuguese colony for 450 years, and remnants of this heritage can be found throughout the area. Portuguese rule ended in 1961 when the colony was annexed to India, but its history goes back thousands of years, perhaps as early as 8,000 BC. Paleolithic rock carvings can be found along the Kushavati River at Usgalimal. Stone-axes and petrographs going back 10,000 years have been found throughout Goa.

Vagator Beach, Goa, IndiaFast forward a few millennia to the 16th century when Portuguese merchants and traders set up shop in Goa. Portugal eventually claimed Goa as a colony, bringing the country’s culture, religion and architecture to the state. Goa’s largest city, Vasco da Gama, is named after the famed explorer. The Bom Jesus Basilica is a Unesco World Heritage site, one of two in Goa — the other are the many cathedrals and churches found here. St. Francis Xavier, who many consider to be the patron saint of Goa, is buried here.

Goa today is a popular destination for sun-seekers. With 81 miles (131 kilometers) of coastline on the Arabian Sea, India’s smallest state is known as the “Pearl of the Orient.” Golden-sand beaches, waving palm trees, Gothic cathedrals and white-washed buildings all combine to make Goa holidays a paradise for travelers who seek only to relax. The winter months are the most popular times for European travelers looking for respite from the harsh cold to visit.

Should visitors tire of lazing on the beach, they can take in the area’s amazing flora and fauna that make it one of the world’s hot spots of biodiversity. Shoppers will love the colorful Friday market at Mapusa that has been taking place there for hundreds of years. While Portuguese influence can still be found throughout the area, it is most visible in Margao, the second largest city in Goa.

Panaji is the capital, but the state’s airport, used by both civilians and the military, and the central rail terminal are in Vasco da Gama.


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