Variously known as "Pearl of
the Orient" and a "Tourist Paradise", the state of
Goa is located on the western coast of India in the coastal belt
known as Konkan.
The magnificent scenic beauty and the architectural splendours
of its temples, churches and old houses have made Goa a firm favourite
with travellers around the world.
Much of the real Goa is in its interiors, both inside its buildings
and in the hinterland away from the coastal area. Legends from Hindu
mythology credit Lord Parshuram, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu with
the creation of Goa.
Over the centuries various dynasties have ruled Goa. Rashtrakutas,
Kadambas, Silaharas, Chalukyas, Bahamani Muslims and most famously
the Portuguese have been rulers of Goa. Goa was liberated by the
Indian Army from Portuguese colonisation on December 19, 1961 and
became an Union Territory along with the enclaves of Daman and Diu.
On May 30, 1987 Goa was conferred statehood and became the 25th
state of the Indian Republic.
Having been the meeting point of races, religions and cultures
of East and West over the centuries, Goa has a multi-hued and distinctive
lifestyle quite different from the rest of India. Hindu and Catholic
communities make up almost the entire population with minority representation
of Muslims and other religions. All the communities have mutual
respect towards one another and their secular outlook has given
Goa a long and an unbroken tradition of religious harmony. The warm
and tolerant nature of the Goans allows them to celebrate and enjoy
the festivals of various religions such as Ganesh Chaturthi, Diwali,
Christmas, Easter and Id with equal enthusiasm.
The state of Maharashtra borders Goa on the north, the state of
Karnataka on the south and east. The vast expanse of the Arabian
Sea on the west forms the magnificent coastline for which Goa is
justly famous. Terekhol (Tiracol), Mandovi, Zuari, Chapora, Sal
and Talpona are the main rivers which weave their way throughout
the state forming the inland waterways adding beauty and romance
to the land besides being used to transport Goa's main export commodity
of Iron and Manganese ore to Mormugao Harbour. Along the way to
the coast these waterways form estuaries, creeks and bays breaking
the sandy, palm-fringed coastline behind which lie the fishing villages
among the coconut groves.
Panaji (Panjim) is the state capital located on the banks of the
Mandovi river and Vasco, Margao, Mapusa and Ponda are the other
major towns. Goa is serviced by an international/national airport
located at Dabolim near Vasco. An intra-state and inter-state bus
network also plays an important role in getting locals and visitors
alike in and around Goa.
The vast green expanse of the Sahyadri mountain range ensures that
Goa has an abundance of water. The sea and rivers abound in seafood
- prawns, mackerels, sardines, crabs and lobsters are the most popular
with the locals and the visitors. Along with English which is widely
spoken all over Goa, Konkani and Marathi are the state languages.
The national language Hindi is also well understood in most areas
around the state.