The 131 kilometre long coastline of Goa, is set on the golden Konkan coast on the Western Ghats of India, along the Arabian Sea. This small state is one of India's most dazzling tourist attractions. Goa deserves every bit of the sobriquet, the 'Pearl of the East'.

On the northern side of Goa runs the Terekhol river, which separates Goa from Maharashtra. On the southern side, lies the North Canara district of Karnataka, while on the eastern side are the Western Ghats. On the west is the Arabian sea.

The name Goa is derived from the Konkani word 'Goyan', which means a patch of tall grass. Mythologically, Goa's origin is ascribed to Parshurama, a god of the Hindu pantheon. In the first century of the Christian Era, Goa was a part of the Satavahana empire, followed by the Kadamba, the Rashtrakutas of Malked, the Chalukyas and the Silahars. The empire of the Yadavas was displaced by the Khiljis from Delhi, by the end of the 14th century, which heralded the advent of Muslim rule to Goa.

Interior of a church in Panaji

Interior of a church in Panaji

After the discovery of a sea route to India, by Vasco da Gama in 1498, many Portuguese expeditions came to India. In 1510, Afonso de Albuquerque, with the help of the emperor of Vijayanagar, attacked and captured Goa. Proselytisation in Goa, began with the arrival of Jesuit Saint Francisco Xavier in 1542. The Portuguese continued to rule over the territory, except for an interlude, during the latter half of the 17th century, when Shivaji conquered a few areas in and around Goa. On 19th December 1961, Goa was liberated, and made a composite Indian union territory with Daman and Diu. On 30th May 1987, Goa was conferred statehood, and Daman and Diu were combined to make a separate union territory.

Goanese girl

Goa successfully blends old Portuguese architecture and traditions, with a lifestyle that abounds with Indian mythology. Its unending beaches, pristine beauty of the seascape, its mystical hills and groves, the rhythmic pounding of the sea, its swaying palms - all render it a fairytale land for the traveller. At Goa, one can add excitement and adventure to beauty. There are a host of aquatic sports to choose from, riding the daunting waves or racing against the wind.

The beaches of tourist interest are Colva, Calangute, Vagator, Harmal, Anjuna and Miramar. Other tourist attractions are Basilica of Bom Jesus and Se Cathedral churches at Old Goa; Kavlem, Mardol, Mangesh, Bandora temples; Aguad, Terekhol, Chapora and Cabo de Rama Forts; Dudhsagar and Harvalem Waterfalls and Mayem Lake Resort. The state also has fascinating wildlife sanctuaries like Bondla, Cotigao, Molem and Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary at Chorao.