Once a Portuguese colony, Goa became a Mecca for alternative living in the 1960s and the tourist trade soon followed. There are still relics of Goa’s past in the opulent churches, beautiful temples and colonial architecture and although it is deservedly most famous for its stunning sandy coastline and relaxed atmosphere, it also has a wealth of flora and fauna in its forest, national parks and gentle rivers.
The beaches are what Goa is famous for and although this fame does bring crowds, it is still relatively easy to find superb empty stretches of beaches and small beautiful bays that have a local feel. For a fresh fish lunch just watch out for the local fishermen bringing in their daily catch.
The capital of Goa state until 1843, Old Goa has a crumbling sense of history and atmosphere with its imposing churches and cathedrals (among the largest in Asia). Old Goa contains churches affiliated to various congregations, including the Se Cathedral (the seat of the Archbishop of Goa), the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, the Church of S. Caetano, and notably, the Basilica of Bom Jesus which contains the relics of Saint Francis Xavier, regarded by many Catholics as the patron saint of Goa. Old Goa can get crowded in the 10 days leading up to the Feast of St Francis Xavier on 3 December
The capital of Goa. The heart of the city is the Church Squareor Municipal Garden with the Portuguese Baroque Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church, originally built in 1541. Other tourist attractions include the old and rebuilt Adilshahi Palace (or Idalcao palace), dating from the sixteenth century, the Menezes Braganza Institute and the Central Library, the Mahalaxmi Temple, the Jama Masjid mosque, the Chapel of St. Sebastian and the Fontainhas area in general which is considered to be the old Latin Quarter.
There are four protected wildlife areas in Goa each with a variety of animal and bird species including deer, monkeys, gaurs, python, cobras, Malayan giant squirrels, elephants and tigers. Choose from the shady forest trails of Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary; Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, home to a large variety of local, as well as migratory birds; the small Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary initially set up as a refuge for orphaned and injured animals or The Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary with its well laid-out nature trails.