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Goa is a small tropical paradise set on the Konkan coast, on the Western Ghats, along the Arabian Sea. It's a tiny emerald land on the West Coast of India situated between the borders of the States of Maharashtra and Karnataka. The name Goa is derived from the Konkani word 'Goyan', which means a patch of tall grass. This former Portuguese enclave has enjoyed a prominent place in the travellers' lexicon for many years with its magnificent palm fringed beaches. Yet it offers much more than just the hedonism of sun, sand and sea.

Kings and dynasties switched hands. In 1510 Goa saw the arrival of the Portuguese who were lured by the quest for the aromatic spices of India. They established themselves in the small area of Old Goa but, eventually, were forced to leave in the 20th century. However, they have left an indelible cultural stamp on Goa. Today, Goa is a wonderful blend of the East and the West, of Hinduism and Christianity, and yet it retains a unique charm and ethos all its own. For the beach enthusiast, Goa is a veritable paradise. Snug in the Western Ghats with its surf-washed beaches, Goa helps you discover an exciting new beach every day.

The Goans simply thrive on festivities, and most of the festivals are woven around religionfrom Christian, to Hindu to Muslim. These are invariably accompanied by feasting and dance and music.

Goa nearly splits into two districts - North and South Goa. The North has the state capital Panjim and the beaches running right up to the coast to Maharashtra. South Goa has a few beaches and a sprinkling of up market resorts. The main town of the region is Mapusa, which is the transport hub. Goa's Dabolim airport is also located here.

And for feasting, Goa is a seafood lover's paradise. It offers fresh prawn, Gray Fish Lobster, Crab, Squid, Tuna, Pomfret, Mackerel, Kingfish, Sardine in addition to chicken, mutton and pork - all done to perfection and flavoured with exotic spices and curried. Plus, you have rich desserts like Bebinca, pancakes and Bolinhas, and fresh fruits like bananas, papayas, melons, pineapples, jackfruits, cheekus, custard apples and mangoes.

Miramar or Gaspar Dias is the city beach of Panaji. Other lovely beaches include Dona Paula (7 km), Calangute (15 km), Baga (16 km), Anjuna and Vegator (24 km), Bogmalo (31 km) and Colva (6 km from Margao).

Old Goa, the former capital of the Portuguese is an interesting place to visit.

Area: 3,701 sq. Km
Population: 1.3 million
Capital: Panjim (Panaji)
Main Languages: Konkani, Marathi, Hindi, English and Portuguese
Best time to visit: October to May

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