Palm fringed shoreline, blue waters, white sand and the entertaining shacks are reasons enough to make Goa the most sought beach destination in India. Popular amongst foreigners and Indians alike, Goa offers some exciting beach clubs, night life and is a heaven for sea-food lovers. The words 'Chill out' are most synonymous to Goa where the numerous sun loungers on the sands and the shacks serving beer and mouth-watering cuisine offer the most relaxing moments. End number of restaurants with their own distinct style of cuisines never disappoint a foody. But Goa has more than beaches; one must not miss out exploring the fabulous Portuguese architecture buildings in old Goa including many beautiful churches. Overall, a visit to Goa is bound to be entertaining and rejuvenating at the same time.
The history of Goa is as fascinating as the entertainment scene available today in Goa. It is many times mistook to be a city but it is actually a state and quite big even though it is the smallest state in the country. Goa is distinctly divided into North and South Goa. Goa is one such state that remained under colonial rule for around 450 years and its history can be traced back to the 3rd century. It has been ruled by several dynasties like the Mauryas, the Chalukyas, Satvahanas, Shilharas and Kadambas. Yet today it serves as a pilgrimage spot for Christians from across the globe due to its many famous churches. It also has the famous Mangueshi temple. This only exhibits the religious tolerance in the state and how several religions exist side by side even today in Goa.
What to See
The most popular beaches in Goa are the Vagator, Candolim, Calangute and Baga beach. Beautiful churches are a must-visit and so is the shrine of St. Francis Xavier whose mortal remains are still kept in a glass casket at the Basilica of Bom Jesus. The Mangueshi temple is as much renowned for its architecture as are the Portuguese construction style buildings and the churches.
Panjim is the capital city of Goa and offers some good shopping markets especially local handicrafts made from shells and coconut covers etc. The largest city in Goa is Vasco which is around 30 kms away from Panjim. It was named after the famous explorer 'Vasco-da-Gama'. Goa is also famous for all kinds of water sports. Right from parasailing to Banana ride, Kayaking, Windsurfing, Scuba Diving, Snorkeling, White water rafting, and jet skiing, Goa has it all! Ringo ride, water ski, wakeboarding and kite surfing are also preferred by many. There is also a Dolphin viewing tour for the Dolphin lovers. Those interested in spices can opt for a visit to the spice plantation. It is an interesting tour lasting for over an hour where the guide takes the visitors around the gardens explaining various plants and their spices. After the tour, they also serve a pure vegetarian yet delicious lunch. There are a lot of flee markets and night markets that can be entertaining for shoppers.
Best Time to visit
Goa is one of the coastal belts that can offer cool temperatures in winters unlike many of the coastal tourist destinations across the world. A pleasant weather makes Goa much more enjoyable. Best time to explore this state would be December to mid Feb which is actually winter time in India. It is also the peak tourist season though and one can avoid the Christmas and new year period when accommodation in Goa is exorbitantly priced. One should avoid monsoons from June to September when the shacks are shut down and everything seems dull as many beach resorts do not even permit going in the sea as it gets turbulent at times.