Goa is located on the western coast of Indian Peninsula and separated from Maharashtra by the Terekhol River in the North, Karnataka in the South, the Western Ghats in the east, and Arabian Sea in the west. Goa is located between the latitudes 15°48'00" North to 14°53'54" North and longitudes 74° 20'13" East to 73° 40'33" East. It was formed as a separate state on 30 May 1987. Goa, a land of gentle hills and green valleys, a land blessed with flowers, fruits and minerals, is the 25th sate of India. Also known as 'the pearl of the east', it is best known for its golden Beaches, Blue Skies and Pale Green Hills, Silvery Sand fringed with palms, Gothic churches, age-old ruins, coconut groves, intoxicating Feni, and laid back way of life. Goa is considered as one of the most advanced states in India in terms of education and social infrastructure. The largest industry in the state is tourism, which has contributed significantly to the state's economy. A number of domestic and foreign tourists visit Goa every year. Goa attracts almost 12% of total foreign tourists arriving in India. To give a big fillip to hospitality industry in the state, the Department of Tourism has taken multi-pronged strategy involving both private and government organisations. Goa is also blessed with wide and wonderful rivers numbering seven in all. 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. The vast green expanse of the Sahyadri mountain range ensures that Goa has an abundance of water. Some of the famous lakes in the state are Mayem and Carambolim. Administratively the State is organised into two districts North Goa comprising six talukas with a total area of 1736 sq. kms. and South Goa comprising five talukas with an area of 1966 sq. kilometers. In all there are 383 villages of which 233 are in North Goa district and 15 in South Goa district. As per the 2001 census, there are 44 towns of which 14 are Municipalities and remaining are census towns. As per 2001 census, the population of the State is 13,42,998. 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 has a moderate temperature showing negligible variations in different seasons. May is the hottest month while January and February are the coldest. There is a prevalence of tropical weather rest of the year. Southwest Monsoon brings rain in Goa between June and September. July is the month that receives maximum rainfall while February gets least amount of rain. Goa is a place for visiting any time of the year. But the time Goa reveals itself best would be the peak of monsoons from mid July to late September and peak winters from November end to mid February. During this time, Goa remains quite pleasant, So one will be able to enjoy the sun-soaked beaches as well as the Goa carnival which is celebrated in February. However it is during the monsoon that Goa is probably at its most beautiful, with greenery sprouting all around.
Nightlife in Goa
Nightlife in Goa is exciting and there are many ways to liven up the evening. Goans enjoy going out and it is not unusual to find families out for a night of merriment. In certain areas, almost every third house has a bar-cum-restaurant. The place may not be anything special, usually just a room in the house that has been opened to the public with a couple of chairs and a table. But the atmosphere is great - totally relaxing and extremely conducive to an enjoyable night out with friends and family. The hottest place to visit and to be seen at in Goa today is Titos which is right on the beach. There's also a new discotheque 'The Beachotheque' where one can dance the night away. Lidos in Dona Paula or a night on the beach with a group of friends or family alongwith some favourite food and drink are other available options.
Goa is one place in India where one can shop in the shops by the street as well the beaches in Goa. The shops by the beach prove the best hunting grounds to pick up souvenirs that remind us of the colonial history of Goa. The Anjuna Beach is known for its flea market in Goa. A shoppers delight, the pale golden sand of Anjuna beach sees itself being decorated by colourful shops offering you just about everything right from cameras to swimming gears to bikes to ethnic Indian handicrafts. Liquor brews like feni and urak, Goan sausages, cashews, meat and farm produce, native jute, leather, and ceramic ware are popular items to shop at Goa. Friday market at Mapusa which is a commercial hub in Goa is also a good place to shop. The excellent local handicrafts of Goa are easily the most popular souvenir items and include brassware, terracotta, shell work, crochet, carved furniture, bamboo work, papier-mache, etc. These are available in the Government Emporia and also at shops and stalls near the popular tourist spots.
It is a unique blend of surfing and sailing, which requires the surfer to adjust his strength and balance to the changing patterns of wind and water. By shifting his feet forward or backward, leaning the weight to the right or left, and manipulating the boom in or out, the windsurfer modulates and harmonizes the fickle forces of wind and water to obtain the desired balance and direction. To the expert who has honed himself in all these nuances, windsurfing can indeed be an exhilarating experience. The Zuari estuary at Dona Paula is an excellent spot for windsurfing because of its calm waters being the kindest Goa has to offer. Special instructors are employed on the beach who will guide you through the surfing.
Those of us who are less athletic and daring but still feel inclined to sail may wish to try dinghy sailing. Such dinghy is available for hire at Cidade de Goa and Taj Holiday Village. About 15 feet in length, dinghies will hold three to four people. Instructors are available for beginners. With two sails and side decks to sit upon, dinghy sailing is as much fun as windsurfing and it is not necessary to be either agile or youthful to enjoy this form of sailing. Due to Goa's kind wind this sailing is also known as 'Beer and Ssandwitch sailing'.
Scuba diving is growing in popularity in Goa. From Dona Paula jetty or from Aqua Marine in Panjim it is easy to take a diver, rent scuba gear and arrange for an instructor. They can be conveniently used for sightseeing as well as water-skiing. Once you know how to use the equipment, the wonders of the deep open up.
Rave parties in Goa are a major tourist attraction. Rave parties are held every night around the time of New Year and Christmas, and have been under control ever since Goa Tourism decided to promote up market tourism over backpackers in Goa. Rave parties are full of dance, music and fun, and can be diverting pass times for tourists. If you see a huge group of ravers heading off on their bikes together, it is a sure sign that a rave party is on. So if you want some fun of your own, get on a bike and ride off into the night in Goa. But remember to stay away from drugs.
Goa is a bird watcher's paradise and keen bird-watchers will be in seventh heaven, and even those who have previously had little interest in birds will wonder at the richness of the birdlife. Goa's equitable climate and rich vegetation support an abundance of birds. This large and diverse population can survive because of its varied habitat that ranges from open forests to shrubs, tracks and dense forests which are ideal for breeding. Visitors will probably notice a few about town and in temple grounds. On the other hand, a keen bird-watcher will find much to get excited about and a trip to one of the nearby sanctuaries or along a river early in the morning will be particularly rewarding.
High fliers amongst the speed lovers take to parasailing. The Taj and the Oberoi hotels both have equipment for this exhilarating sport. There's a rope about 300 feet long attached to the parasail harness at one end and to the speedboat at the other. The sailor is on the shore in a harness. When the boat takes off he just takes one or two steps and he is lifted into the air, the parasail lifting behind him. During the ride you may use water scooters, those noisy little demons of the sea, which accommodate two people and whisk away at great speed. All the thrills of a motorbike with all the softness of an ocean instead of hard tar beneath the feet. Water scooters are readily available at places like the Dona Paula jetty, Cidade de Goa, Majorda, Oberoi and Candolim Beach. Scooters are ideal for children and they can take grandma along too.
The most common water sport in Goa is swimming. As Goa lies on the warmest ocean in the world there is no end to the fun and frolic of an innocent swim. Swimming can be enjoyed by the young, the old, the infirm, the affluent and the budget traveler alike.
How to reach
Goa's international airport is located at Dabolim, at a distance of 29 km from Panaji, on the coast near Vasco Da Gama. Most domestic airlines operate here apart from the chartered private airlines operating from UK and Germany.
Goa's two main railway stations are at Margao and Vasco Da Gama. Reaching Goa by train is easy from Mumbai (490 km), Bangalore (430 km), and Delhi (1,874 km).
Goa, Maharashtra, and Karnataka state transport corporations operate from the Kadamba bus stand at Panaji. Mumbai is 600 km from Panjim. For local transportation buses as well as car rental services are available. A unique experience is that of the motorcycle taxi.
Several ferry services are also available which one can avail to reach Goa in India. A few shipping companies operates boat service between Mumbai and Panaji.