Goa, former Portuguese colony, is situated on the west coast in the region known as the Konkan (which is an escarpment rising up to the Western Ghats range of mountains, which separate it from the Deccan Plateau) and is India's smallest state by area. The state was liberated from Portuguese rule in 1961 and became a part of the Indian Union territory along with Daman and Diu and became the 25th independent state of India on 30th May 1987. Panaji is the state's capital, while Vasco da Gama is the largest city.
Goa with only two districts South Goa and North Goa, is bordered by Maharashtra in the north, Karnataka in the south and east, and the Arabian Sea on the west. Panaji is the headquarters of the North Goa district and Margao of the south district.
Goa, known as the 'Tourist Paradise of India, is known for its beaches, greenery, temples, world heritage sites and laid back life-style.
Goa’s history dates back to the 3rd century BC when it was part of the Maurayan empire. Later the Satavahanas of Kolhapur came into power followed by the Chalukyans of Badami, then the Shilharas, the Kadambas and then the Chalukyans of Kalyani. In 1312 Muslim invaders came to Goa. In 1370 the Vijayanagar empire forced them out and ruled Goa for nearly 100 years after. In 1469 the Bahmani Sultans conquered Goa but after the dynasty fell apart the Adil Shahis of Bijapur took over. Later in 1510 the Portuguese arrived in Goa. After 450 years Goa became part of India in 1961.
The Goa Carnival held in the month of February every year is the most waited event in the country. Held in mid February for a week the Goa carnival was introduced by the Portuguese who ruled over the state for five hundred years. Known for its colorful and lively processions, folk dances and musical bands the Goa Carnival draws people from all across the globe every year. Among the various festivals and feasts in Goa the Carnival is the most celebrated occasion of the region. Mainly a three day event meant for Christians the Goa carnival is stretched to a week and is enjoyed by people of different religions and cultures. Although the concept of the Goa carnival was originated exclusively for the people of the state, today it has crossed all boundaries and invites people not only from India but the world at large. The carnival is said to be an integral part of Portuguese culture in which flour, eggs, mud, sand filled gloves and dirty water and used pots and pans are thrown out of the windows. This is done to discard the old and welcome the new to mark the beginning of the holy Lent period. Keeping the essence of the Portuguese culture alive, a king is chosen who is meant to preside over the three day festivity that is witnessed by millions of people. The streets come alive with lights, music and festivities and mark the beginning of the Goa Carnival. Huge parades march the state with loud bands and dances throughout the day and nights. A perfect time for merry making, drinking and feasting the Goa Carnival is unique to Goa and not celebrated anywhere else in the country. Celebrated in true western style the preparations for the Carnival begin three months in advance. Children perform plays and youngsters perform different forms of folk dance. There are also a number of games and dance completions held and the winners receive prizes from the King.
Banana & Ringo Rides
Funny as the name suggests, the Banana and Ringo rides have caught the imagination of tourists and enthusiasts worldwide and are proving to be a star attraction at many beaches in Goa. Almost all major beaches have operators who cater for these rides. The Banana rides can be availed by the entire family where the aim is to ride a giant sized inflated banana and try and maintain its orientation while sailing through the choppy waves. Sounds easy, but beware of the fights which may ensue after a free fall in water. The Ringo rides are for individuals riding in inflated rings which are left adrift in the waters. The twists, twirls and bottoms up are sure to chill the hardcore and leave them asking for more.
Catamaran sailing activity or more popularly referred Hobie cats sailing is an activity with fun and frolic. The catamaran is made up from joining two different boat hulls. The hulls are tied together with a trampoline and a mast is attached on the top for sailing. With capacity to seat four occupants the Catamaran sails under the guidance of a coxain. The Benaulim, Calangute, Colva, Dona Paula and Utorda beaches offer the facilities and expertise for Catamaran sailing. The guides and operators train the enthusiasts with the basics of sailing as well as the distress and emergency signaling procedures.
If you always thought that fishing was one activity which was undertaken by people with lots of time on hand and nothing to do, think again! For once in Goa, you will realize that the fishing adventure is for those with a passion and who learn the art with patience. Sea fishing is slowly catching up as a sport and many enthusiasts can be seen hurling their fishing hooks while holding tightly on to their Spinning rods with hope to catch something worthwhile. The deep-sea adventure may end with prize catch of jackfish, tuna and kingfish apart from various other smaller varieties. The Chapora jetty offers similar adventure in fishing. The Fisheries department of Goa provides Fishing permit required for fishing.
The passion of driving in the fastest lane is surely catching up in India and the facility of Karting in Goa is a right indication towards it. The Go-Karting race tracks in Nuvem, situated towards north of Margao (South Goa) is very popular and is billed to be one of the best in the entire country. Infact the Nuvem track regularly holds the Goan leg for JK Tyre National Go Karting Championship. The long 482 m track is sure to give goose bumps to the driving addicts. A giant display board displays all the racing statistics to the racing buffs as well as the audience. Whether you are racing alone or with your friends the Go Karting arena is one of the best means to satiate the craving for driving.
The Colva, Calangute, Candolim, Mobor, Miramar, and Rajbaga beaches offer an amusing array of adventure water sports and jet skiing is beyond doubt the most thrilling experience of them all. Normally preferred around winter season, as the waves go easy the instructors and operators on the beach are raring to go with heir life jackets and wet suits. The high adrenalin sport involves towing at high speeds generated by 150 hp engines which drag you on your ski behind the boat. The turns twists and falls are all to be endured at those speeds since only the experts can boast of any sense of direction and vertigo during the ride. Proper training and right gear is available with these operators.
Knee boarding is sometimes also referred to as the modern and more adventurous cousin of water skiing. However, the enthusiasts who enjoy the sport will vouch that it is much simpler than water skiing and doesn’t require a skilled technique to begin. The board used for the purpose of knee boarding has slots for holding the knees and this reduces the necessity to focus on creating and holding a grip on the board or balancing the board. The water waves play spoil sport all the time and are in a constant race to run you down. However the need of the hour to hold your own and fight back the waves and use their energy to propel your knee board to glory.
There is no pleasure like soaring high in the air and watching the familiar ground beneath reveal its unknown face. The joy of flying in open air is totally different and exhilarating than that in an aircraft and the Microlite flight provides just that to the enthusiasts. Operated by motor machine with two wings spanning 40 feet the microlite machine affords space for three persons including the operator who takes care of all the technical and operating requirements as the riders enjoy the scene beneath. The Calangute beach was the first one to provide the facilities to the tourists and it became an instant hit with the visitors.
Imagine being whisked by a motorboat at very high speed, when your legs barely touch the waters in vain attempt to find a holding as you soar in air and the sail behind you tugs with full force of gushing winds. That is Parasailing adventure for you. A high adrenalin pumping adventure, which leaves one breathless with excitement and thrill. The 350 feet rope pulls the parasailor with full force as the motor boat zooms into the sea. The sailor and his harness are firmly attached to the sail, which takes cue from the speed and takes off on the wings of gushing wind. Dona Paula, Majorda, Oberoi Beach resorts and Anjuna, Bogmalo, Calangute Colva and Vagator beaches provide the facility for the sport, which is a bit costly, but the experience is not to be missed.
The Goan thirst for adventure does not end with the beaches and all the adventure sports and championships that are organized at these places. Goa plays host to numerous rallies wherein vehicles as per their categories participate in the fun revelry and compete for coveted trophies and prize money. Huge crowds surge near the rally zone to cheer the contestant and enjoy the atmosphere. Cars, autos, bikes and even bullock carts in rural Goa, participate in these rallies, which signify the carnival atmosphere that Goa is all about. Numerous foreigners also participate in these rallies and with easy availability of vehicles on hire in the state, the rallies are great fun.
Speedboat Rides: Speed thrills and it does so doubly if one is on the water surface. Leaving the caution to wind a ride of the speedboats is a must for the experiencing of cutting the water surface at extremely high and fearful speeds is an experience to be felt in person. Being a group activity the operators on various beaches (Calangute, Arossim, Colva, Candolim, Mobor etc.) offer for a group of 3-6 members. The rides start with a 10 min trip to an hour or even longer ride along the shores and some even fancy a race with the ever-enthusiastic dolphins.
If too much fun, frolic, relaxation and not to forget the booze and some greasy stuff has cast a lethargic gloom after an enjoyable stay in Goa, then its time to shake the lazy bones ad doff the trekker’s hat and explore the raw nature of Goa on foot. Without limiting to only trekking, the Goan experience would also offer hiking, rock climbing, jummaring, rappelling, and river crossing as well. The verdant Sahyadri ranges and forests are alluring and a trek through these jungles is a delightful experience, moreover with packages available froma short trip to an odorous long treks one is spoiled for choices. The climb up the mounts ends up with a magnificent view and refreshing smell of fresh sea wind. Treks undertaken at Mollem, Valpoi, Kalen rock in Sanguem and Dudhsagar Falls are a treat for the tired mind and serrated limbs.
One of the thrills of the oceans and beaches is the adventure of water skiing. The experience of gliding over the surface of water at high speeds is sure to knock wind out of the lungs and leave one breathless with excitement. Various beaches in Goa cater for Water Skiing viz. Calangute, Mobor, Arossim, Candolim etc. The operators at the beaches provide the equipment required for the activities as well as the training and expertise required to perform the skiing act smoothly without any injury to self. The operators also teach the hand signals as well as the wave pattern to decide the course of action in case of emergencies.
Windsurfing appears to be one of the easiest and exciting sport when viewed from a distance but ask any surfer he is sure to feed you with a few of his examples of the difficulties faced and the enjoyment thereafter. Colva, Calangute, Baga, Vagator, Dona Paula etc. cater for this high adrenalin sport. The power of wind gushing through the hair and forcing the sail to act weirdly while the surfer tries to control the direction is an experience to be enjoyed and be scared of. Properly trained surfers are a treat to watch. The operators ensure proper training and the right equipment for the enthusiasts.