GOA – A SUMMARY
Goa had been mentioned in the great Indian epic, Mahabharatha as ‘Goparashtra’ or as ‘Govarashtra’ meaning the ‘nation of cow herds’. In the other ancient Sanskrit texts, the state had also been mentioned as ‘Gopakapuri’ and ‘Gopakapattanam’. It only goes to show that Goa did exist as a civilized area right from those days when civilization was dawning. Even foreign travelers like the Greek traveler, Ptolemy has mentioned about this state as Aparantha, in the13th century.
The history of Goa goes back as far as 20000 to 30000 years as historians have found traces of civilization in many places. There have been rock carvings taking history back to the Paleolithic and Mesolithic ages. The artifacts and engravings were found on the banks of Kushavathi and Usgalimal rivers, a reality that civilization was generally found on the banks of rivers. There have been stone axes, cones and choppers from about 10000 years in some places.
Goa had seen several dynasties like that of the Mauryans in the 3rd century BC. The Buddhists were patronized by Emperor Ashoka and relics and monuments of that era are also found in Goa. From the 2nd century BC to 6th century AD, others like the Bhojas of Goa, Chutus of Karwar and Sathavanas of Kolhapur reigned the area. Then came others like the Western Kshatrapas, Abhiras, Kalachuris and the Chalukyas, who patronized Jainism. Goa came under the Delhi sultanate in 1312 that later had to surrender to the Vijayanagara empire. The Bahmani sultanate took over from the Vijayanagara clan and by 1510; foreign invaders who had only permission for trading captured the state. The Portuguese ruled the state till 1961, when the Indian Army took over the state.
THE PRESENT DAY GOA
The modern day Goa is a reminiscence of the bye-gone days, an era of Kingdoms and fiefdoms to foreign rulers.
The name “Goa” brings to mind the pictures of sandy beaches, palm trees and parties. Goa is India’s smallest state by area and fourth smallest by population. The state is located in the Konkan area in South-West India. Goa is bordered by the state of Maharashtra towards the North, Karnataka towards the East and South and Arabian Sea on the western side.
Panaji is the state’s capital whereas Vasco da Gama is the largest city. The Portugese first landed here in the 16th century, as merchants and conquered it soon afterand left behind a cultural influence, which can still be seen in the momentous city of Margao. Beaches, places of worship and a vast cultural heritage make Goa a favourite holiday destination for a large number of international and domestic tourists every year. Goa can also boast about its abundance of flora and fauna owing to its place on the Western Ghats range.
Goans can not only brag about their sandy beaches and amazing parties, but also about the beautiful waterfalls and forests that pockmark the entire state of Goa, especially in the Eastern side. The Western Ghats on one side is a hotspot of natural biodiversity with its forests being abundant and beautiful. Dudhsagar falls, Arvalem falls, Kesarval falls and Tamdi – Surla falls are a few of the favourites waterfalls in Goa. They cascade down with a rigour and beauty during the monsoon season. The rivers during monsoons are full with rain and the sparkling water flows down with an elegance. The water in some of these falls are believed to have healing effects, which attracts people from everywhere, both old and young. There are waterfalls that have sacred meaning to Hindu devotees and they visit these places to pray and make ablutions.
Goa is accessible by air, rail and road. Goa international airport is a civil enclave at INS Hansa, a naval airfield located at Dabolim near Vasco da Gama. The National Highways and state highways make up for the road access from Karnataka and Maharashtra. The Konkan railways can be proud to have one of the best scenic routes in all of India. Buses are available from almost all the cities in and around Goa. Once in Goa, one can hire taxi or drive one and if alone, visitors can hire the “Pilots”. The “Pilots” are part of the motorcycle taxi group, which takes only one pillion rider to their destination for a bargain able price. The price for air travel and railways can be steep especially during holiday season and the New Year.
CULTURAL INFLUENCE & RELIGION
Goa is also known for its spiritual and religions heritage. From beautiful churches to awe inspiring temples, Goa is one of the most favourite religious destinations. Shanta Durga temple, The Bom Jesus Basilica, where the Patron Saint of Goa and important to the Catholics, Saint Francis Xavier, is interred to be taken out once in 10 to 12 years for public viewing and blessing. There are other churches that are believed to have certain miraculous healing powers and where apparition has been claimed to have appeared. There are convents in historic religious locations in Old Goa where the devotees seek solace. Goa is an example of the nation’s motto of being united in diversity. The Shanthi Durga Temple, the Mangueshi Temple and the Mahalasa Temple have had Portuguese influence on their architecture. Later, in 1961 these structures were demolished and refurbished with Indian architecture.
Goa has a tropical monsoon climate and is hot and humid for most of the year. Temperature is around 350C during the month of May, the hottest month coupled with humidity. Monsoon relieves the state in early June till September. Winter sets in from December to February with temperature around 280C during the daytime. This is the time after the monsoons that foreign tourists arrive in Goa escaping from harsh European winters. The best season is from late September to February, though, monsoon tourism is picking up.
STAYING IN GOA
There are many places to stay in Goa. From simple lodges to grand resorts, Goa has a place for any kind of traveler. The prices may range from Rs. 500/- to Rs 25000/- per night. Hotels, lodges and resorts are plenty in Goa. The prices vary from season to season. It is advisable to book accommodations prior to visiting the state during the season.