Languages: Konkani and Marathi
Goa, popularly known as ‘the pearl of the east', is famous for its churches, age-old ruins, palm-fringed beaches, coconut groves, ferry rides, and bubbly folk music.
With its 131-km-long coastline, Goa is an important destination in every tourist's itinerary.
Sun, sand and sea being the major attractions, Goa is a perfect heaven for the ones who need and want relaxation.
Goa is one of India's special places, a State seemingly blessed with fabulous weather, even more fabulous beaches, delightful people, good food, hill-top forts, little white-washed churches, soaring Portuguese-era cathedrals, a unique cultural legacy-small wonder, therefore, that Goa is one of India's prime holiday destinations.
Goa is packed with jaded yuppies hoping to switch off and unwind for a few days, and sun-starved Europeans, soaking up all that glorious sun and food.
The beaches in Goa, like the others along the Konkan coast, are long, and straight, and fringed with palm trees, but unlike much of the neighboring coastline, Goa has an impressive infrastructure of hotels and beach resorts, restaurants and bars, which cater to all price ranges, from top-notch 5-star luxury, to hippy flop-shops.
Geography of Goa
Goa is located on the western coast of the Indian Peninsula, the state is separated from Maharashtra by the Terekhol River in the north, Karnataka in the south, the Western Ghats in the east, and the Arabian Sea in the West. The state 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.
Goa as a region can be divided into four divisions - the Eastern Hill region comprising areas in the Western Ghats like Sattari, Ponda, Canacona, and Sanguem; the Central Valley Lands comprising Pernem, Bicholim, Ponda, Eastern Sanguem, and Quepem; the Flood Plains comprising the coastal plains and rolling uplands; and the Coastal Plains with areas of Tiswadi, Mormugao, Bardez, and Salcete.
Temperatures in Goa are moderate with not much variation. The summer is at its hottest in May while the winter months of January and February are the coldest. Otherwise, the state experiences tropical weather the rest of the year.
Goa receives rainfall from the Southwest monsoon between the months of June and September. July receives the highest rainfall while February is the driest month.
Brief History of Goa
Goa was a part of the Mauryan Empire, around third century BC. The Satvahanas of Kolhapur, and the Chalukyas of Badami, took over the governance later. Other dynasties followed, including a short-lived Muslim invasion, until the Vijayanagar Empire established itself for almost a century. This era ended with the arrival of the Sultans of Gulbarga, from whom the rule passed on to Adil Shah of Bijapur. Soon, the Dutch, English, French and Portuguese, all began struggling for its possession. Ultimately, in 1510, the Portuguese conquered Goa, with Alfonso de Albuquerque leading the invasion. Having ruled for around four centuries, in 1961, fourteen years after the country's independence, the Portuguese had to leave Goa.
Tourist influx started in Goa in the 60s and 70s of 20th century with hippies, followed by exploeres and mass tourist traffic. In 1987, Goa was conferred statehood and Daman and Diu was made a separate union territory.
Districts of Goa
Goa has 2 districts: North Goa & South Goa
Mining is one of the principal source of Goa's industrial and trade development and offers considerable scope for employment. Mineral resources are an asset of Goa and iron ore is a leading commodity. Other minerals include manganese ore and ferro-manganese ore, which are produced and exported, but iron ore occupies the pride of place in Goa's economy. Some of the most productive and important mines are located in the northern and eastern parts of Goa.
There are units manufacturing a variety of items like pesticides, fertilizers, tyres and tubes, iron ore pellets, foot wear, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, sugar, wheat products, steel rolling, fruits and fish canning, cashew nuts, textiles, brewery products etc.
There are handicrafts units mainly engaged in the manufacture of wood, crafts, brass, pottery, handloom, leather and bamboo crafts etc.
Agriculture is one of the important economic activities in Goa. Goa has done much to improve and develop its agriculture so that it becomes more productive and the farmers who work on the field get a better return for their labour. Rice along with fish is the staple diet of the people and it is also a principal agricultural crop. The important crops grown are paddy, ragi, maize, jowar, bajra and pulses. Cash crops like coconut, cashew-nut, arecanut, mango, jackfruit, banana, pineapple etc. are also grown in abundance. Sugarcane cultivation has been taken up only recently and a sugar factory has been set up in Goa. Paddy is the principal crop of Goa. There are two paddy seasons, namely Kharif or sorod and the rabi or vaingan. The monsoon crops are called the kharif or sorod crops and the winter crops are called rabi or vaingan crops. The main sources of irrigation for winter crops are the nallahs, rivers and streams, tanks, wells, canal etc. Crops grown in the Kharif season consist of paddy, ragi (locally called nachani) and some pulses. Crops grown in the rabi season are comprised of paddy, pulses like horse-gram (kulith), black gram (udid), a variety of beans and some vegetables. Cashew is an important crop in Goa.
An exhilarating drink called Feni is produced from cashew. It is a kind of gin or vodka.
A variety of mangoes are grown in Goa. Some of the famous Mango varieties are mancurade, mussarade, fernandine, xavier, alfonsa, colaco etc. There are two varieties of jackfruit grown here namely kapo (hard) and rasal (soft). The kind of vegetables grown in the Goa are brinjal, lady's fingers, radish, cucumber, pumpkins, drumsticks, breadfruit and different varieties of gourds. Sweet potatoes, chillies, onions are also available.
Goa Travel Information
Goa, one of India's smallest states with an area of 3,702 sq km is cradled in the Sahayadri range in the Western Ghats. The vertical strip of the state begins from Tiracol in the north to Palolem in the south and is bounded by the Arabian Sea on the west, Maharashtra to the north and Karnataka to the east and south. Goa is India's most superior beach resort with superb beaches at least a million years old. Goa's beachnik lifestyle is best experienced during the winter months between October and the end of February.
A Portuguese colony till 1961, Goa's Portuguese atmosphere and its lovely beaches make this an interesting region to spend time. Goan culture is a blend of Indian and Iberian, European style central squares and Indian bazaars, white Portuguese churches alongside Hindu temples and villages and hamlets surrounded by green fields of paddy.
Goa is rich in folk culture with a delightful blend of vigorous Konkani folk songs and remnants of Portuguese dance and music. Panaji, Margao, Vasco, Mapusa and Ponda are the main towns of Goa.
Rivers of Goa
The major west-flowing rivers that crease the territory are Mandovi, Zauri, Tere Khol, Chapora and Betul.
The total navigable length of these rivers, which form the waterways by which Goa's main export commodity iron and manganese ore is transported to the Marmugao harbour, is 253km. The Marmugao harbour is virtually the confluence of the Mandovi and Zuari rivers.
The coast is full of creeks and estuaries formed by these rivers, which provide a good shelter for the fishing crafts. Estuaries of these rivers are rich in marine fauna.
Education of Goa
The literacy rate for Goa is 76.96%. There are many government and privately run schools, which offer better facilities. All schools come under the state SSC whose syllabus is prescribed by the state Education department.
There are also a few schools run by the all-India ICSE board. Most students in Goa complete their high school using English as the medium of instruction. Primary schools, on the other hand are largely run in Konkani. As is the case in most of India, enrolment for vernacular media has seen a fall in numbers in favour of English medium education. One of the best English medium private schools run by Jesuits is St Ignatius of Loyola High School based in Margao. Formed in the 19th Century it initially began for the elite of Margao but later the reserve was removed due to the growing urban population. After ten years of schooling, students join a Junior College, which offers courses in popular streams such as Science, Arts, Law and Commerce. Additionally, many join three year diploma courses. Two years of college is followed by a professional degree.
The Goa University is the sole university in the state located in Taleigao and all Goan colleges are affiliated to it. There are three engineering colleges and one medical college in the state. The Goa Engineering College and Goa Medical College are run by the state whereas the other two engineering colleges are run by private organisations. In recent years, Padre Conceicao College of Engineering, Verna, has emerged as a popular destination for undergraduate studies in engineering.
There are also colleges offering pharmacy, architecture and dentistry along with numerous private colleges offering law, arts, commerce and science. Many residents, however, choose to take up courses in other states as the demand for a course in Goa is more than that available.
Goa is also well-known in India for courses in marine engineering, fisheries, hotel management and cuisine.
The State also hosts a premier Business school Goa Institute of Management, which is autonomous and was founded in 1993 by Fr. Romuald D'souza.
Portuguese is taught in part of the school curriculum as a third language in some schools. The Goa University also offers bachelor and Master's degrees in Portuguese.
Goa cuisine, a blend of different influences especially Portuguese, is famous for its seafood. Goa cooking generally include lots of spices giving the dishes a distinctive taste and aroma. The staple food in Goa is fish, both among the Hindus as well as the Catholics. Rice is an important item of Goan diet and is eaten with delicious fish or meat curry, or in the form of Pulao. Pork is a must for any festive occasion and the most famous preparation is the vindaloo. Goans use a lot of coconut for cooking and the most commonly used spices include cumin, coriander, chillies, garlic and turmeric. The Christians prefer to use vinegar, while the Hindus use kokum and tamarind to get the tang in their respective cuisines. Goa is not particularly known for its vegetarian dishes. The vegetables are usually cooked without any spices or masalas. Goans make their own version of vinegar from toddy. Pastries are almost a part of every common meal as well as any occasion or feast. Their popular alcoholic drink is Feni, made from juices of cashew apples.
Arts & Culture of Goa
Despite being under Portuguese control for so long, majority of the people in Goa are still Hindu. Though, strong catholic influences are visible everywhere in the art, culture, and society.
The demography of the state started changing after the coming of the Portuguese in the 15th century due to the spirit of propagating Catholicism they brought with them. The minority Muslim community that is found in this state is the result of the brief period in the early 14th century when Muslim rulers reigned over the state.
The art and craft forms of Goa show a remarkable harmony between Portuguese and Indian cultures. The crafts of the state are intricately beautiful, capturing the fancies of tourists and locals alike. These crafts can be at best described as a mirror of Goa's perennial glory and beauty and they have carved a niche for themselves with the connoisseur's of art the world over.
The major art forms of the state include bamboo craft, woodcarving, brass metals, seashell craft, papier-mâché, and wooden lacquer ware.
Other important crafts of the state include jute macramé, fabric collage, plaster of Paris, crochet and embroidery, fiber and batik prints, fiber stone carving, coconut shell carving, metal embossing, silver and imitation jewelry, cotton dolls, soft toys, woolen tapestry, and artistic weaving.
Dance & Music of Goa
At the end of the day's work and before the evening meal, it is a common practice for the young and old of a Hindu family to join for singing devotional songs. Some of these were set to classical ragas and has to be sung to their proper discipline to timing and notes, and thus they served as an introductory course in the appreciation of the higher forms of classical music.
Christian music in the Goa originated out of the Church and the Goan music as one knows today is only this form of music. Every village has a band of its own. In the evenings, with the sipping of glass of wine, the sound of a piano fills the night air of the strings of a guitar plucked in tune to a twilight melody.
Folk music of the state of include Mando-a love song and Suvari folk music-a traditional tone setter to all Hindu religious and festival performances, apart from others. Dances of the state include Bhandad, Corredinho that are Portuguese folk dances, the Beauty Dance called Dekhni, apart from Fugdi and Dhalo, Ghode Modnti, Kala and Dashavatar, Lamp Dance, Tonvamel, and Morulem.
Festivals of Goa
Due to the strong Roman Catholic influences, most of the festivals of Goa are Christianity specific. Feast days, thanksgiving, monsoon celebrations, processions; all mark the Goanese festival calendar. Shigmo, the Goanese version of Holi, is celebrated in the month of February/March. The Feast of Our Lady of Miracles, celebrated 16 days after Easter, is secular by nature and is celebrated with pomp and gaiety by both Hindus and Christians.
Costumes of Goa
Unlike most other parts of India, Goa has a distinct style in every sphere of life.
The people of the state have taken life as it comes and that spirit distinguishes them from others. One peculiar sight in Goa is that of skirts outnumbering saris on the roads, due to strong Portuguese influences.
Traditional clothing also has its importance in this society and Konkani women, wearing the sari in a style that is quite different from any other place in India, can be still seen in great numbers.
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