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Goa, the Indian state is the tourism hub of India, is called by various names such as "Rome of East" or "Pearl of the Orient", which aptly describes its perception in the eyes of international tourists. The majority chunk of the tourism in India is accredited to Goa, whose exclusivity lies in bringing in international revenue, much more than any other state in the country. The smallest state in India in terms of area and fourth smallest in terms of population welcomes tourists with open arms to its land of sun, sand, temples, churches, forts and beaches.

Photo Credit: Zerohund / CC BY-SA 3.0

Located along the western coast of India, just below the state of Maharashtra, Goa started achieving popularity due to its past hippie culture from the 70s. The official capital of Goa is Panaji (Panjim), Vasco (Vasco da Gama) is the largest city. Renowned for its rich cultural history and delectable cuisine, its happening nightlife and buzzing flea markets soon caught the attention at the international level.

Sun and sand have always ruled & supported by the lush green paddy fields and exhilarating adventure activities of Goa. Thousands of Indian and international tourists flood the coastal areas of Goa every year.

After India achieved independence in 1947, the Portuguese were amongst the last foreign rulers to leave the country's soil in 1961. Portuguese rule of 450 years has had a long-lasting effect on the people of Goa.

CountryIndia
StateGoa
CapitalPanaji (Panjim)
Largest cityVasco da Gama
Area3,702km² (1,429sq.mi.)
Population (2011)1,458,545
Time ZoneUTC+05:30 (IST)
Official languageKonkani

People & Lifestyle

Goa is a multi-religious, multi-cultural state in India. About 65% of Goans practice Hindu ideology forming a majority, while 30% Christians form the minority. The remaining 5% belong to various religions. Cultural diversity can be experienced at festivals and carnivals and events taking place in Goa.

While a conservative mindset still exists in India, the Goans are flamboyant by nature & mannerisms. You can see a Goan woman dressed in a typical western attire shopping for her daily needs. Their love for dance and music is legendary, and the tradition of Latin carnivals brought by the Portuguese is still celebrated in Goa. Hospitality is inborn in Goans. Therefore, no tourist is bound to feel homesick as his everyday need is taken care of.

Photo Credit: Zerohund / CC BY-SA 3.0

Towns

Geographically, Goa is a very small state; therefore, its towns are not dispersed away. However, they form an integral part of the cultural richness of the state. For administrative purposes, the state is divided into two districts, North and South. Every town in Goa protects its own identity concerning Portuguese architecture, beaches, and lifestyle.

Panaji (Panjim)

Panaji is the official capital of Goa and the centre of attraction for tourists. During the Portuguese Era, Panjim formed an important economic triangle along with Margao and Velha. In 1843, it was declared as the capital after its separation from Velha.

One of the smallest capitals in India, it still has old Portuguese influence that can be witnessed in the narrow lanes with thatched red roofs and hanging balconies. Even today, some bars and cafes have signboards in Portuguese.

Vasco-da-Gama

Vasco da Gama (or only Vasco) is named after the Portuguese explorer by the same name. Goa's international airport, Dabolim Airport, is near Vasco, making it a significant gateway point to Bogmalo Beach and other Goa attractions. The town, along with Mormugao harbour, is an important shipping and mining centre.

Margao

The second-largest city of Goa and the commercial capital of Goa, Margoa, is an alteration of its Konkani name Mathagram. The pre-Portuguese era consisted of nine Maths (temples). Later on, the Portuguese destroyed all the temples. Some of the attractions in Margao include Pimpalakatta, Anna Fonte, Holy Spirit Church and colonial mansions.

Ponda

Ponda is the capital of Ponda Taluka in North Goa and lies about 28km away from Panaji. It was the cultural capital of Goan Hindus when they fled inland during the Portuguese inquest. The Mangeshi Temple, Mahalsa Narayani Temple, Shantadurga Temple, Nagesh Temple, Mahalaxmi temple are worth watching. It can be rightfully called the 'land of temples'.

Mapusa

The capital of Bardez taluka, Mapusa, is mainly known for its Flea market, where vendors from all over Goa sell their products at a discounted price. Its proximity to Anjuna and Chapora beach and the Rio de Mapusa river has made it a gateway point.

Velha Goa

Old Goa or Velha Goa is a historical city that served as the capital of Portuguese establishment from the 16th century until the 18th century. Founded by the Bijapur Sultan on the banks of the Mandovi River, today, it is listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site. Notable churches such as the Basilica of Bom Jesus, the Church of St. Caetano Se Cathedral (the seat of the Archbishop of Goa) and the Church of St. Francis of Assisi are situated in Old Goa.