Goa, India, is on the west coast of the country with a coastline of beaches on the Arabian Sea. It was conquered by Portuguese merchants in the 16th century and was a Portuguese colony for the next 450 years. It has beautiful, white sand beaches, UNESCO World Heritage architecture and some of the best food on the globe.
Goa was inhabited as early as 20,000 to 30,000 years ago, and rock are engravings date from that era. There are also Palaeolithic cave dwellings. By 2200, the Sumerians inhabited Goa.
The influence of the Portuguese is great in Goa. It can be seen in the architecture, food, music and laid-back lifestyle of the locals and visitors alike. In spite of this, the flora and fauna as well as pristine beaches and beautiful countryside are purely Goan.
Visitors enjoy strolling through the spice plantations, watching the birds on the banks of the gentle rivers or the not-so-gentle white water waterfalls. They also rest in the cool interiors of the cathedrals that were built centuries ago.
The Dudhsagar Waterfall comes from the high peaks of the Western Ghats. In monsoon season, it is full and presents an amazing sight. It is deep in the tropical forests and is only accessible by train or on foot. Tours into the interior of Goa are a cool break from the beach.
Other tourist destinations are the new wax museum, which depicts Indian history, Fort Aguada on the beach and the Bom Jesus Cathedral. Old Goa is the centre for cultural and heritage. The remains of St. Francis Xavier are in the Bom Jesus Cathedral, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and Old Goa has churches and convents that are also UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Food is one of the huge attractions of Goa. Rice with fish curry is the staple diet, but the variety of flavours is great. Coconut and spices give the food its special taste. There are two varieties of Goan food including Goan Catholic and Goan Hindu. They are very different and both fantastic.
The top beach in Goa is Calangute and it is crowded with tourists all year. Many clubs open on to the beach and it is the venue for rock shows and open air dances. There is every convenience on Calangute for visitors from all over the world. Baga Beach is next to Calangute and has all the excitement and thrilling water sports. It also has a Saturday Flea market that has jewellery, snacks and handicrafts.