On a small slice of land on the west coast of India lies the splendid state of Goa, where Portuguese influence can be seen in the crumbling colonial architecture and fusion cuisine. Spending an Indian winter in Goa is the perfect way to escape the cold European winter and experience something new. Every year, particularly during the winter months, 2 million tourists come to bask in the sun on the balmy shores of Goa.
Relax on Goa’s glorious beaches
Along the 100km coastline of Goa, the Arabian Sea laps at beautiful palm-fringed beaches. When you rent a holiday villa in Goa you’ll quickly realise why the sparkling water, warm golden sand and swaying palms have made Goa one of India’s main tourist attractions.
Calangute is the most popular beach and is located in the northern part of Goa. Here crowds of tourists ride the waves in the warm waters of the Arabian Sea. The main road is lined with souvenir shops where you’ll find wonderful handicrafts from Kashmir, Tibet, and Rajasthan.
Also in northern Goa is Vagator, a secluded, crescent shaped beach that borders Anjuna, where, at the popular weekly market, you’ll find great deals on clothing, leather goods and jewellery. Another option is the beautiful beach at Morjim, where turtles nest.
In the southern part of Goa you’ll find the beaches of Palolem, which is the perfect place to spot dolphins frolicking in the waves off the coast, and Betalbatim, which is peaceful and ideal if you’re after a relaxing Goan experience.
East meets west in Goa
Goa has more to offer visitors than the pleasure of walking on warm golden sand with the sea lapping at your toes. The region is a delightful melting pot of Indo-Portuguese influence. On a walk through Old Goa you’ll be captivated by the beautiful old churches and cathedrals like St. Cajetan Church and Se Cathedral. There are also plenty of old temples to see, like the 13th century Tambdi Surla Temple made from basalt rock.
The influence of 400 years of Portugal’s colonial rule can also be seen in the cuisine of Goa. The Portuguese introduced ingredients like tomatoes, potatoes, cashews and chilies to Goan cuisine. Seafood, coconut milk and rice are the main ingredients in most Goan dishes. Delicacies you can enjoy at beach shacks in Goa include kingfish, mackerel, and tuna. If you like shellfish there are plenty of crab, lobster, prawn and squid dishes to choose from, and of course there is always a good vindaloo on the menu.
Getting out and about
Spices like pepper, chili, cloves, and cinnamon are an important part of Goa’s cuisine. If you’re staying in an apartment in Goa then you can’t miss a spice plantation tour. Tropical Spice Plantation I is located in Keri in Ponda Taluka. Here visitors can enjoy herbal tea before taking a guided tour of the plantation. When the tour is over you can enjoy a local Goan dish served on a banana leaf!
After an afternoon siesta you can get some exercise by exploring the temple of Rudreshwar, where you’ll find Arvalem Waterfall. An even more impressive waterfall is Dudhsagar Waterfall, which is 10 kms from Colem Railway Station and a popular destination for hikers and trekkers. If you’re traveling with kids, take a picnic to Mayem Lake near Bicholim and enjoy a boat ride on the lake.
Nowhere else in India will you find such a delightful mixture of cultures, religion and traditions. The easy-going people, beautiful beaches, delicious spice-laden dishes and perfect winter weather will make your holiday to Goa an unforgettable experience.