A dizzying mixture of sights, sounds, and smells is what attracts the majority of travellers and tourists to India. An astonishing one-sixth of the planet’s population can be found here, all of which contribute to an incredibly diverse melting pot of cultures, religions and ethnicities.
In addition to man-made wonders such as the Taj Mahal, there are some astounding natural landmarks too including the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayan Mountains. But for many, the biggest draw will be the stunning holiday resorts found on the shores of the Indian Ocean.
Arguably the most popular and well known is Goa, which not only provides sun-seekers with a yearlong balmy climate, but also several enchanting and inviting attractions too.
It may well be India’s smallest state, but this diminutive yet distinctive region provides visitors with countless highlights. In spite of its booming tourist industry, there are still plenty of historical and cultural delights to capitalise on along with 80 miles of magnificent coastline and beautiful white sand beaches.
Owing to the fact this was a solitary Portuguese outpost for almost 500 years, influences from colonial rule can be found in everything from the cuisine to the architecture. But ever since its return to Indian rule in 1961, Goa has embraced a laid-back way of life, where peace and tranquillity conquer all. Things to see and do
- Explore the street markets - Although several street markets can be found in Goa, the one at Anjuna should not be missed. Even if you don’t come away with some sparkling jewellery, a colourful woven bag or another authentic momentum, the experience is satisfaction enough. Watch the old hippies brush shoulders with young backpackers and those on package holidays.
- Sample the local food and drink - Rice, fish and coconut are staple ingredients here, but usually packed full of chilli flavourings. And for something equally as potent, be sure to try the fiery sprit made from cashew or coconut sap known as feni. However, this might need to be diluted with water or soda, as it packs quite a punch.
- Discover Margao – Trying to cope with busy city life is a bit too much for some, but in Margao you still get a sense of the energy and exuberance of India’s urban areas without being overwhelmed. Before the Portuguese arrived, this was a centre for pilgrimage and learning thanks to dozens of Hindu temples. One of which, just south of the covered market, is well worth a visit.
So while the sand and sea is enough of a lure for numerous visitors to Goa, this pocket-sized piece of paradise offers up plenty of additional crowning glories to experience and enjoy.
Images by Shanawaz Sid and PJR Photography, used under the Creative Commons license.