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Goa, one of smallest states in India's map, with a territory of 3,702 sq km is cradled in the Sahayadri range in the Western Ghats. A tropical paradise, it is bathed by the warm waters of the Arabian Sea. It is unique in many ways but mostly due to its history and geography. Goan culture is a blend of Indian and Liberian: European style central squares and Indian bazaars, Portuguese churches sharing their walls with Hindu temples. Goa is rich in folk culture with a delightful blend of vigorous Konkani folk songs and remnants of Portuguese dance and music. Christianity and Hinduism exist side by side.

Having been ruled by the colonial Portuguese for over 450yrs, there is still a distinctive European flavor that has permeated all aspects of Goa's life including its food, religion, language, festivals, dances and names.

Apart from the increasing strength of Indian tourists from outside Goa, a large number of western tourists also arrive using the direct-chartered flights to Goa. Goa is best known for its spectacular beaches, but there are many old churches, monuments, temples and museums, that are a must see.

The Se Cathedral is the largest church in Goa and is dedicated to St. Catherine. It was on her feast day, 25th November 1510, that Alphonso de Albuquerque conquered Goa. The church is in the Portuguese-Gothic style with a Tuscan exterior and Corinthian interior. The Cross of Miracles, placed in the cathedral, attracts lot of people. Its bell is one of the oldest in Goa and is called the Golden Bell.

Timing: 9 am - 12.30 pm and 3 pm - 6.30 pm

Located in Old Goa, and built in 1605, this Basilica Of Bom Jesus contains the tomb and mortal remains of St Francis Xavier who was on a mission to spread Christianity in the Portuguese colonies of the East.

Timing: 9 am - 12.30 pm and 3 pm - 6.30 pm

Goa State Museum has a great collection of Christian art. It also houses Hindu and Jain sculptures as well as Indian paintings of different styles. It is closed on Saturdays and Sundays.

Timing: 9 am - 1.15 pm and 2 - 5.30 pm

This is a beautiful Old Portuguese fort at Tiracol and houses the Hotel Tiracol Fort Heritage. It has a beautiful little church and offers a breathtaking view of the river Tiracol, the beaches and the blue horizon of the sea.

This temple is dedicated to the goddess of peace. With its pagoda like structure, this temple is famous for its annual carnival. This carnival portrays an unusual blend of Hindu and Christian cultures.

This is one of the most popular beaches in Goa. Anjuna beach is usually very crowded but still manages to maintain the beauty of the beach. This beach is swarming with hippies having beach parties.

The "Queen Of Beaches", as this beach is often called offers a lovely beauty that will be rare to find. You can spend your holidays soaked in sea, sun and sand. This beach is often crowded with people swelling towards the sea and children making sand castles. This picture of a perfect tourist sanctuary is completed with shacks and stalls under the shade of palm trees selling everything from fried prawns and beer to trinkets made of seashells.

People come to this beach for more than one purpose; they can have a relaxing sunbath or they can take part in the water sports available on the beach. The Dona Paula Sports Club offers water-scooter, cycle, and motorboat rides. Other water sports include windsurfing, parasailing, water-skiing, sports fishing, snorkeling, harpoon fishing, kayaking, and yachting.

Majorda beach is a quiet and peaceful beach. It is also famous for its soft and delicious breads. Majorda in Goa is the place where the Goans were first trained in the delicate art of baking European breads. The Majordans are still Goa's best bakers.

Source : South Western Railway CMS Team Last Reviewed : 12-02-2011  

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