Renowned for its beaches, places of worship and world heritage architecture, Goa is visited by large numbers of international and domestic tourists each year. It also has rich flora and fauna, owing to its location on the Western Ghats range, which is classified as a biodiversity hotspot. Goa finds reference in the mythological stories of India.
Goa's has many rivers, main being the Mandovi, the Zuari, the Terekhol, Chapora River and the Sal. The Mormugao harbour on the mouth of the River Zuari is one of the best natural harbours in South Asia. Some of the oldest rocks in the Indian subcontinent are found in Goa between Molem and Anmod on Goa's border with Karnataka. The rocks are classified as Trondjemeitic Gneiss estimated to be 3,600 million years old, dated by the Rubidium isotope dating method. A specimen of the rock is exhibited in the Goa University. Goa's wildlife sanctuaries boast of more than 1512 documented species of plants, over 275 species of birds, over 48 kinds of animals and over 60 genera of reptiles. Goa has two World Heritage Sites: the Bom Jesus Basilica and churches and convents of Old Goa. The Basilica holds the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier, regarded by many Catholics as the patron
saint of Goa (the patron of the Archdiocese of Goa is actually the Blessed Joseph Vaz). Once every twelve years, the body is taken down for veneration and for public viewing. Goa is a multifaceted jewel in the crown of India. Swaying palms, white sands and sparkling waters: the three essential elements that attract 2 million visitors annually to Goa’s balmy shores are plentiful in this tiny, glorious slice of India hugging the country’s western coastline and bounded by the Arabian Sea. A solitary Portuguese outpost in India for almost 500 years, the influence of colonial rule can still be seen
everywhere: in the exquisite, crumbling architecture; in the East-meets-West cuisine which combines coconut milk, palm vinegar and chillies with the refined flavours of Lisbon; in the melancholy strains of fado that still waft occasionally on the bougainvillea-scented breeze; and in the siesta-saturated joie de vivre that Goans themselves call susegad. Nowhere else in India will you find the laid-back languidness of a Goan lunchtime, the easy charms of its people or the soothing serenity of a day on its beaches. Here in Goa, a herd of water buffalo will greet you at breakfast; a lily-covered lake might provide the scenery for your morning walk; a sea eagle will be your afternoon companion along a deserted stretch of pristine beach; a gorgeously spice-laden vindalho (vindaloo) might make your evening repast and a fiery glass of cashew-palm feni liquor your bedtime tonic.
But there's far more to discover here than the exquisite pleasure of warm sand between your toes. Pep up your stay with a wander around a vanilla-scented spice plantation, stroll the bird-filled banks of the state's gentle rivers, poke around centuries-old cathedrals, and venture out to white-water waterfalls. TOP PICKS FOR GOA