by Andy Khong
Nestled along the picturesque southwestern coast of India, Goa beckons with its captivating charm, vibrant culture, and stunning landscapes. As India’s smallest state, it offers a treasure trove of experiences that will surely ignite your sense of adventure and leave an indelible mark on your heart.
Goa’s history dates back to ancient times, with evidence of human habitation as early as the Palaeolithic Age. It was ruled by various dynasties, including the Mauryas, Satavahanas, and Chalukyas, before coming under the influence of the Kadambas and the Vijayanagara Empire.
In 1510, the Portuguese arrived in Goa, initiating a period of colonial rule that lasted for over four centuries. The Portuguese developed Goa as a key trading centre and spread Christianity in the region. The influence of Portuguese culture, architecture, and religion is still visible in Goa today.
Goa was liberated from Portuguese rule and was annexed by India on 19 December 1961. In 1987, it was granted statehood and became the smallest state in India.
Goa is renowned for its stunning beaches along the Arabian Sea coastline. Some popular beaches include Calangute, Baga, Anjuna, Vagator, and Palolem. These beaches attract tourists from around the world for their golden sand, clear blue waters, and a range of water sports and beach activities.
But Goa is more than just its beaches. It is a captivating blend of Indian and Portuguese influences, forged over centuries of history. Embark on a journey through time as you explore the UNESCO World Heritage site of Old Goa, once the glorious capital during Portuguese rule. Marvel at the magnificent churches and cathedrals, including the revered Basilica of Bom Jesus, where the remains of St. Francis Xavier rest, inspiring awe and reverence among believers.
The body of St. Francis Xavier is kept in a glass casket, and it is said that his remains have undergone partial mummification or desiccation, preserving some of his features. Many devotees and visitors claim to witness certain preservation of the body, including the appearance of flesh, flexible joints, and some level of incorruptibility. However, it is important to note that scientific studies or formal medical examinations have not been conducted to verify these claims. The phenomenon of incorruptibility, where a body does not undergo the normal decomposition process, is rare but not unheard of in various religious traditions. It is generally attributed to natural or environmental factors, such as low humidity, specific burial conditions, or the presence of certain chemicals or minerals. Nevertheless, these cases often remain matters of faith and devotion rather than scientific proof.
Basilica of Bom Jesus.
Undecomposed body of St. Francis Xavier.
As you traverse the winding streets of Fontainhas, Goa’s Latin Quarter, you’ll be transported to a bygone era. Immerse yourself in the charm of its colourful Portuguese-style houses, with their balconies adorned with vibrant bougainvillea, while art galleries and quaint cafes entice you to pause and savour the moment.
Fontainhas, Goa’s Latin Quarter.
Goan cuisine is a delightful fusion of Indian and Portuguese flavours. Seafood dishes, especially fish and prawns, are popular, and Goan curries are known for their unique blend of spices like coconut, red chilies, and vinegar. The famous dish, “fish curry rice,” is a must-try. Bebinca, a traditional Goan dessert made with coconut milk, is also highly recommended.
Goan Fish Curry Rice.
Bebinca, Goa’s layer cake.
Beyond the beaches and historical marvels, Goa’s natural beauty unfolds before your eyes. Venture into the lush landscapes of its wildlife sanctuaries, where you’ll encounter fascinating flora and fauna, from graceful deer and mischievous monkeys to a myriad of bird species. Witness the awe-inspiring sight of Dudhsagar Falls, cascading down with unbridled force, enveloped in the verdant embrace of the Western Ghats.
But perhaps what truly sets Goa apart is its infectious spirit, its zest for life. The state comes alive with festivals and celebrations, where the vibrant colours, enchanting music, and exuberant dances create an atmosphere of pure joy. From the lively Goa Carnival to the fervour of Christmas and the excitement of Diwali, you’ll be swept up in the contagious energy that permeates the air.
So come and let Goa cast its spell on you. Immerse yourself in its warm hospitality, explore its hidden treasures, and embrace the myriad experiences that await. Whether you seek relaxation on pristine beaches, a cultural journey through history, thrilling adventures, or simply an escape from the ordinary, Goa promises to be a destination that will awaken your senses and leave you with memories to cherish for a lifetime.
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