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GOA – The City of Leisure

Goa, the smallest state in India packs quite a punch in terms of heritage, food and culture. Goa was ruled by various Indian kings before the arrival of the first Europeans in India – the Portuguese who ruled Goa for 450 years and left behind a rich cultural heritage after Goa was liberated and became part of India in 1961.

Goa offers a coastline of about 100kms of beautiful relaxed beaches, a rich diverse multi-religion culture – Christians, Hindus and Muslims and a mouth-watering cuisine that has the influence of the Portuguese perfectly blended with Indian flavours. Konkani is the main language, English and Marathi are also spoken. The locals in Goa are very friendly and
welcoming and have a well-balanced lifestyle of work, rest and play to the extent that there is an afternoon siesta where shops shut down between 1.00pm and 4.00pm, one of the habits left behind by the Portuguese.

Are you a sea-food lover? Then a holiday in Goa is a must since it is a sea-food destination where the most mind-blowing dishes are found at the local restaurants and prepared by top chefs include an abundance of rice, varieties of tasty fresh fish, lobsters, crabs, shrimps and prawns. Ambot Tik, Caldeirada, Racheiado and Balchao are some of the most popular sea- food dishes. Rice and coconut feature a lot in various preparations with chilli and vinegar also being important ingredients. The “tastiest finger-licking” meat delicacies are found in preparations such as Vindaloos, Sorpotels and Xacutis. Try a chicken Cafrial as you are about it too. Goan cuisine is an exotic blend of Konkan, Portuguese and Bahamani Nawabi traditions.

Goan desserts are a very tasty affair that will leave you coming back for more. The top dessert is the artfully and patiently prepared ten layered cake called Bebinca, also as delicious are Batica and Dodol.

Looking to try something that would intoxicate your senses – then Goa has Feni to offer you. There are two varieties, both prepared through a fermentation process; one known as palm feni and the other cashew feni, you may forget your beer for a while once you have tasted feni.

If soaking in the sun, relaxing on the sands and swimming with the waves is your kind of holiday, then look no further because Goa has some of the most beautiful beaches in India. Worth mentioning is the Baga Beach, Anjuna Beach and Vagator Beach. Around these areas you will find some of the best bars and clubbing spots like Club Cababna known as the “night club in the sky” due its location atop Arpora Hill and one of the best night clubs in Asia. Here you can groove to the music till the wee hours of dawn, sip on a refreshing cocktail amidst stunning décor and lighting, dare to take a dip in the open air pool or just soak in the electrifying atmosphere.

Goa has a distinct flavour when it comes to arts, crafts, music and dance as you will find a blend of tradition mixed with the contemporary where East meets the West. You will find the most exquisite handicrafts made from clay, sea-shells, paper, bamboo, brass, wood, lacquer, jute, fabric, stone and coconut shells There is a plethora of entertainment for you with the a variety of folk dances, festivals and musical programs to attend. Some of the not-to-be-missed events are folk dances like the Fugdi, Dhalo, Kunbi and Morulem and Konkani Tiatr (drama).

Make sure you visit the Goa’s beautiful attractions such as Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church built in 1541 and then re-built again in 1619, Basilica of Bom Jesus, a fine example of Jesuit architecture and very famous as the sacred relics of St. Francis of Assisi are contained here, Reis Magos Fort, Aguada Fort, Christian Art Museum, Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and the spectacular breath-taking Dudhsagar Waterfall which measures 600m from head to foot.

Finally, don’t forget to take a souvenir back home from Goa, you have a variety to choose from such as brassware, terracotta, shell work, crochet, carved furniture, bamboo work, papier-mache and cashew nuts.

NOTE: Before you shop make yourself aware of the customs and quarantine regulations in your country to ensure that you can take back your treasure trove of shopping without any hassle, penalties or fines.