Goa is the backdrop to a thousand tourist brochures and for good reason – the state boasts history, scenery and culture amongst its draws. If you should ever get bored of sunbathing there’s plenty of other occupations to pass your time – here’s our list of the top 5 unmissable destinations in Goa.
Goa is blessed with the climate, natural beauty and stunning beaches which attract tourists from around the world. While many are drawn by the area’s rich history and vibrant culture; the majority are more than happy to settle down on a beach – which Goa has aplenty.
Baga beach, easily reached by local flight or train to nearby Thivim, is one of Goa’s busiest; offering amazing seafood, nightlife and wind surfing during the summer. Those seeking a more relaxed vibe might try Agonda, home to meditation classes and famed for its beauty and solitude.
Of course Goa’s coast is littered with beaches, many of which will offer food, cruises, classes and bars. Discovering the perfect spot is one of Goa’s great joys and with 103 km of coastline you’ll never be short of exploration opportunities!
Vijayanagara (ruins at Hampi)
Although not in the state of Goa, the village of Hampi can be reached by daily trains, which are an experience in themselves. Once there you’ll see the ruins of Vijayanagara, once the centre of a great empire with over 500,000 inhabitants. Drawing visitors from all over the world; the city was described by Portuguese traveler Domingo Paes in 1522 “full of charm and wonder” and “the best-provided city in the world”.
Though now abandoned and much reduced, the haunting dereliction of this once great site, which in its heyday equalled any in Europe, rivals Pompeii as the world’s most fascinating archaeological attraction.
Goa is home to some of India’s only legal casinos, situated on elegant boats to circumvent India’s strict gambling laws. In this regard, India’s nascent gambling industry is comparable to the USA during the 19th century – where the only games of chance where to be found on Mississippi Riverboats.
Prices can be steep at around 1500 Rs (£15) for a morning visit or Rs 4000 for an evening cruise, but these offshore casinos are an exciting and scenic way to experience the beauty of Goa’s coast and try your luck in a unique casino environment!
If you’re keen to try your hand before stepping on to one of these floating dens of vice, try Blackjack, Roulette and Rummy (the boats’ staple offerings) at Euro casino.
Southern India is home to a rich tradition of religious mysticism and, for locals, using astrology to make important decisions can be a way of life. Vedic astrology was born from a fusing of Greek and Indian astrological study and thought, over 1000 years ago, it is still taken so seriously that universities offer degrees in the subject.
For a real immersion into local culture visit a local Vedic Astrologer who, for a small fee, will use your Rasi (zodiac sign) and the Naksatras, Gocharas and Yogas (lunar period, planets and planetary combinations) to divine your future and mark auspicious times for marriage, moving house or other significant events.
Whether you subscribe to the validity of these predictions is a personal matter, but the experience is not to be missed!
Basilica of Bom Jesus
The Basilica of Bom Jesus, in Old Goa, is one of India’s most famous Christian sites. A relic of Portuguese occupation, the church was started in 1594 and finished in 1605; and is a prime example of the baroque architectural style.
Supposedly the burial place of St. Francis Xavier; it is rumoured that the body held there may actually be that of an “incorruptible” Buddhist mystic, whose corpse was smuggled from Sri Lanka. Regardless, or perhaps in part due to, the controversy; public displays of “St. Francis’” body are held every 10 years, drawing thousands of devotees.
Showcasing India’s history, multiculturalism and deep tapestry of story and myth, the Basilica is well worth a visit and will give you an excuse to visit Old Goa; the state’s colonial era capital.read more