Goa | India
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About Goa

Goa, a state on India's West coast, is a former Portuguese colony with a rich history. Spread over 3,700 km² with a population of approximately 1.4 million, Goa is small by Indian standards. It has a unique mix of Indian and Portuguese cultures and architecture that attracts an estimated 2.5 million visitors each year (including about 400,000 foreign tourists). Goa is blessed with waterfalls (Dudhsagar, Amboli, Mangeli, Dodamarg) and ghats. Since the 1960s, Goa has been attracting a steady flow of visitors: first the hippies and returning expatriate Goans, then the charter tourists (starting with the Germans in 1987), pilgrims visiting Catholic and Hindu shrines, those opting to settle in Goa as their home, people going for medical treatment, and a growing number who attend seminars and conferences in Goa.

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1 Understand 1.1 Culture 1.2 Goa's links with Portugal 1.3 Public holidays 1.4 Suggested reading Goa's heart is in its villages. Prominent Goan architect Gerard Da Cunha has argued elsewhere that, unlike others, Goans don't live in the cities. They mostly live in the villages and they travel to work. Not surprisingly, it's the villages of Goa which hold both charm and character. Living in Goa can be tough and slow, but holidaying there is just fine. Take an aimless ride on a relaxed evening or a languid morning, and surprise yourself with the charms of the Goan village. Unlike urban areas, the villages tend to be neat and clean, friendly and even good value-for-money, except maybe in those areas where there are a lot of tourists already. Goa has many different faces. The coast varies from the "hinterland". Some villages such as Assolna, Benaulim, Britona, Cortalim, Curtorim, Raia, Goa Velha, Mollem, Usgao, Reis Magos, Savoi Verem and Shiroda may offer something more unusual, but this list is far from complete. Villages such as these are often close to the places where most tourists stay, so a quest for accommodation is not likely to be a problem. Goa is visibly different from the rest of India, owing to Portuguese rule which isolated it from the rest of India for 451 years. The Goan population is a mixture of Hindus and Roman Catholics, the distribution being approximately 65% Hindu and 24% Christian. There is also a smaller Muslim population. Despite this, communal violence has been virtually non-existent and Goa is regarded as one of the most peaceful states in India. Goa's staple diet is fish, curry and rice. Culture Goan culture has been shaped mainly by the Hindu and Catholic population. People are mostly easy going ('sossegado' in Portuguese). With better connectivity by air and rail, there has been an influx of people from neighbouring states that has brought with it different cultures. Many Indians from other states have come and settled here. Goan Catholics generally acknowledge their Hindu roots, and carry traces of a caste system within their social beliefs. It is recorded that in many instances the Hindus left one son behind to convert and thus continue to own and manage the common properties while the rest of the family preferred to emigrate to neighbouring areas along with the idols representing their Hindu deities. Over the years large numbers of Catholics have emigrated to the major commercial cities of Bombay and Pune and from there onward to East Africa (to the then-Portuguese colonies of Angola and Mozambique), to Portugal, and towards the end of the 20th century to Canada and Australia. Many old Goan ancestral properties therefore lie either abandoned or mired in legal tangles brought about by disagreements within the widely dispersed inheritors of the property. Expat Goans have been returning to their home state, often purchasing holiday homes along the coast (which are then converted into 'rent back' apartments, hired out to short-staying tourists by agents). The best time of the year to visit Goa is mid-November to mid-February when the weather is comfortable, dry and pleasant. Goa's links with Portugal Apart from the consulates there are cultural organizations active in Goa, with the Portuguese again being most active. Fundação Oriente has a large presence in Fontainhas, the Latin quarter of Panjim, and sponsors cultural events that add variety to Goa's cultural scene. However, it faced some major problems when it was first set up. Goa's uneasy parting of ways with its former Portuguese rulers, and lingering ultra-nationalism amidst a section of freedom fighters could be seen as some of the reasons. The Fundação has also been subsidizing a book-publishing plan which has helped put out more Goa-related titles in what is otherwise a small but colorful market for books dealing with a tiny region of South Asia. Centro de Língua Portuguesa/Instituto Camões, AGVA House 9/32 Dr. Dada Vaidya Rd Panjim (Dr. Miguel Lume), ☎ +91 832 6647737, e-mail: clpicgoa@gmail.com.  Dempo Centre for Indo-Portuguese Studies, Dempo Trade Centre Patto Plaza Panjim (Ms. Isménia da Veiga Coutinho), ☎ +91 832 2437849, +91 832 2437850.  Fundação Cidade de Lisboa, a Dias Building, 1st floor Rua de Ormuz Panjim (Dr. Jorge Renato Fernandes), ☎ +91 832 2223969.  Fundação Oriente Delegation in India', ☎ +91 832 2230728, +91 832 2436108, fax: +91 832 2230291, e-mail: oriente@sancharnet.in.  Indo Portuguese Friendship Society (Francis Menezes, President / Gopal Vernekar, Secretary), Santosh Building, Altinho Panjim (near CBI Office), ☎ +91 832 2436875.  Public holidays Goa has nearly two weeks of holidays each year. Government offices have a five-day week (closed Saturday-Sunday). Panjim closes early (around 20:00) each evening, and shops here could have a fairly longish siesta break (from around 13:00 till up to 15:30). Goan shop owners take this siesta break seriously, and no business is conducted during this time. Bars, restaurants and other shopping centers are more buyer-friendly. Major public or special holidays are around Christmas, Republic Day, Id-ul-zuha, Gudi Padva, Good Friday, Independence Day, Ganesh Chaturthi (both days), Gandhi Jayanthi, Dussehra, Diwali, Id-ul-fitr, Feast of St Francis Xavier, Goa Liberation Day, Mahashivratri, Holi and Id-e-milad. Banks may remain open during local religious celebrations. Expect a huge influx of tourists and locals residing in other states during festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi and the Carnival, which is celebrated just before the beginning of Lent in the Christian calendar. It is advised to make bookings for trains, buses and flights well in advance if you intend on visiting the state during these times. Goa remains green and beautiful because there are restrictions on buildings in green areas. Residential properties are crowded into marked zones and the green zone is always left undisturbed. Suggested reading Goa Freaks: My Hippie Years in India by Cleo Odzer (1995). Cleo Odzer writes about her hippie years in Goa and her experiences. The Goa Inquisition by Anant Priolkar. This book by Anant Priolkar provides a very comprehensive account of the Goa Inquisition, an important period in the history of Goa. Bombay University Press. ISBN 978-0-8364-2753-0

Goa