Countless whitewashed churches, Spanish-style villas and red tile roofs lend a Mediterranean feel to Goa, the result of 450 years of Portuguese rule. Goa once served as a rich trading center for exotic spices, Persian coral, and Oriental silks and porcelain. From here, pilgrims journeyed to Mecca in the 15th century. Now, mango and cashew groves line verdant hills, and red sand beaches fringe the blue-green Arabian Sea for some 60 miles in this resort.
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.
But then, Goa is much more than just beaches and sea. It has a soul which goes deep into unique history, rich culture and some of the prettiest natural scenery that India has to offer. 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.
Besides the natural beauty, the fabulous beaches and sunshine, travellers to Goa love the laid-back, peaceful, warm and friendly nature of the Goan people. After all, more than anywhere else on planet earth, this is a place where people really know how to relax.