Goa Background & Overview
Borrowing from WIKI & WIKI TRAVEL
Goa is India's smallest state by area and the fourth smallest by population comprising a mix of Hindus (65%) and Roman Catholics 24% Christian. There is also a smaller Muslim population. Located on the west coast of India in the region known as the Konkan, it is bounded by the state of Maharashtra to the north, and by Karnataka to the east and south, while the Arabian Sea forms its western coast. Panaji is the state's capital, while Vasco da Gama is the largest city. The historic city of Margao still exhibits the cultural influence of the Portuguese who occupied Goa for 450 years.
A Very Brief History
Following centuries of rule by various Indian rulers, the Portuguese arrived in Goa in the early 16th century as merchants, and conquered it soon thereafter. The Portuguese overseas territory existed for about 450 years, until it was annexed by India in 1961 (except for a brief period when Goa was occupied by the British between 1812 and 1815 during the Napoleonic Wars). During their occupation, the Portuguese converted a majority of Goans to Christianity.
Flora, Fauna & Geography
Goa has rich flora and fauna, owing to its location on the Western Ghats range, which is classified as a biodiversity hotspot. Equatorial forest cover in Goa stands at 1,424 km2. Goa's wildlife sanctuaries boast of more than 1512 documented species of plants, over 275 species of birds, over 48 kinds of animals and over 60 genera of reptiles. Goa's main rivers are the Mandovi, the Zuari, the Terekhol, Chapora River and the Sal.
Life in Goa
Goa currently ranks the highest for the best quality of life in India (National Commission on Population based on the 12 Indicators). Goa's heart is in its villages, which are largely clean, organized and charming. Most Goans live in villages and prefer to travel to the larger towns and cities to work every day.
Goan townships are administered by village panchayat law, headed by a "Sarpanch" elected by the community.
Goa is one of India's richest states with the highest GDP per capita and two and a half times that of the country as a whole, and one of its fastest growth rates: 8.23% (Wikipedia).
Tourism is Goa's primary industry: it handles 12% of all foreign tourist arrivals in India. Mining forms the second largest industry and accounts for over 39% of India's Iron Ore exports. Agriculture, mainly rice, cashew and coconut, offers part-time employment to a sizable portion of the populace, while the fishing industry provides employment for about forty thousand people.
Renowned for its beaches, places of worship and world heritage architecture, Goa is visited by large numbers of international and domestic tourists each year. Tourism in Goa began in the 1960s, attracting a steady flow of visitors -- first the hippies and returning expat Goans, followed by charter tourists (beginning with the Germans in 1987) and pilgrims visiting Catholic and Hindu shrines.
Goa has two World Heritage Sites: the Bom Jesus Basilica, holding the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier (regarded by many Catholics as the patron saint of Goa), and a few designated convents.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goa - http://wikitravel.org/en/Goa
Goa’s a seasonal event, dictated by the heavy monsoon showers (generally, between July & September, but there’s no telling anymore with recent climate changes).
. Goa’s main tourism season is between October and May.
. December- January, is the peak of season, characterized by throngs of tourists and inflated hotel prices.
. During the monsoon months, only the residents & a few establishments remain in the smaller beach towns, while in the larger cities (Panaji, Mapusa, Margaon, etc) it is business as usual.
Goa's Working Hours
· Goa government offices normally operate fives day a week (Saturday & Sunday closed)
· Most stores & offices close around 8 PM
· Siesta from 1:30 till 3:30pm
Festivals & Holidays
. New Years: January 1st
. Republic Day: January 26th
. Mahashivratri: March 3rd, 2011 (lunar calendar)
. Holi: March 1st, 2010 (lunar calendar)
. Good Friday: April 22nd, 2011
. Easter: April 24th, 2011
. Independence Day: August 15th
. Id-ul-fitr: August 30th, 2011
. Ganesh Chaturthi (main day): September 1st, 2011
. Gandhi Jayanthi: October 2nd
. Dussehra: October 6th, 2011
. Diwali: 26 October 2011
. Id-ul-zuha (or Id-ul-Adha): November 6th, 2011
. Feast of St Francis Xavier: December 3rd
. Goa Liberation Day: December 19th
. Christmas: December 25th
. New Year's Eve: December 31st
Calling Mobile phone service
Pre-paid mobile service is readily available and very cheap. A Photo ID proof and photograph is required to apply for connection. We recommend the following services providers based on their network and popularity: !DEA, Vodafone, Airtel.
ET Phone home
· The international dial code for India is +91,
· Dialing code for Goa landlines is (0) 832
· Numbers beginning with " 9" are mobile numbers. Recent mobile numbers also begin with the digits 7 & 8.
· Portuguese Consulate General, 38-39 Father Angelo Road-Altinho,
TEL: 2421525 (firstname.lastname@example.org,fax: 2421522),
· British Tourist Assistance Office, S13/14, Dempo Towers, Patto Plaza,
TEL: 2438734 (email@example.com, fax: 6641297),
· German Consulate, C.M.M. House, Rua de Ourem, TEL: 2420628.
· Austrian Consulate, Salgaocar House, Vasco, TEL 2513811. edit
· Italian Vice Consulate, D1 Sesa Ghor, Patto Plaza, TEL: 2438944
· Directory Assistance: 2412121 (0832-2412121)
. Goa Air Ambulance: 102/ +91 98211 5088
. Indian Red Cross (Panjim): 2224601
. Margao Ambulance Trust (Margao): 2714464
· Fire Service: 191
· Police Control Room: 100
. Police Head Quarters, Near Azad Maidan, Panjim
Distances from other indian cities
· Mangalore (305 km) · Bangalore (592 km) · Delhi (1912 km) · Hyderabad (747 km) · Mumbai (593 km) · Mysore (643 km) · Pune (450 km)
· Currently there are a handful of international flights to and from Goa (Dabolim) Airport
· The following carriers offer direct flights to Goa, including:
. Air India (to Kuwait and UAE twice a week)
. Air Arabia (discount flights to Sharjah, UAE)
. Qatar Airlines flights to Doha & convenient connections to western Europe, Africa, USA.
· Other international carriers offer routes through India's major international airports, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata etc., from where connecting domestic flights to Goa are readily available.
· Several chartered flights additionally fly into Goa's airport during the high tourism season, most popular are the ones from the UK, Germany, Russia & Switzerland.
-> For more details, contact a travel agency listed in our Explore section.
· Many domestic airlines have daily flights to and from Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Kozhikode (Calicut).
· Most of India's domestic carriers offer flights to Goa, including Kingfisher airlines, Spicejet, Jet Airways, Indian Airlines , Air Deccan, Indigo, GoAir, Paramount Airways and MDLR Airways.
-> Check out www.yatra.com for more details regarding domestic booking or contact a Travel Agency listed in our Explore as well as in our Everything Else sections.
· There are 3 major train stations in the state of Goa served by Indian Railways, and other smaller local stations, namely:
. Canacona, (CNO) Indian Railways
. Margao, (MAO) Indian Railways (Emergency Number: 712790)
. Majorda, (MJO) Indian Railways
. Vasco de Gama Railway Station (Emergency Number: 512833)
. Carambolim, Konkan Railway (Emergency Number: 286398)
. Panaji, Konkan Railway (Emergency Number: 435054)
For online enquiries & bookings, check out the newly revamped Indian Government Railways website:
· The India Mike forum has some useful info on rail travel to and from Goa:
-> You may also contact a Travel Agency listed in our Explore as well as in our Everything Else sections.
· Overnight and day coaches (luxury Volvo coaches, sleeper coaches and budget local buses) are available from Pune, Mumbai, Bangalore and other south Indian cities.
· Major bus stops in Goa are located in Mapusa, Margao & Panaji.
-> Contact a Travel Agency listed in our Explore & Everything Else sections for details.
· Currently there is 1 airport in Goa, Dabolim. However, there are plans to build another on the northern end of the State.
. Airport to Sorth (Palolem/Agonda) is approx 1 hour and Rs. 1000
. North/Centre (Anjuna/Baga/Vagator/Calangute, APprox 1.5 hours and Rs. 900
. Airport to North (Ashvem/Arambol): between 1.5-2 hrs and Rs. 1100.
Local buses & Bus stop
· Local buses for travel within Goa are readily available from the larger Goan cities- Mapusa, Panaji, Margao but tend to more sporadic in the smaller beach-towns.
· Fares: 4-6 rupees for short stops, 10-15 rupees often get you a 30-40km ride.
· Street maps map be found at local travel agencies, tourist offices, your hotel reception or larger bookstores.
· Many of Goa's smaller towns lack proper street signs.
· The simplest way to get directions is to ask someone who looks tanned enough to know!
Driving in Goa
· In India, we drive on the left side of the road.
· Due to the large number of tourist drivers and heavy drinking, there are frequent accidents reported during the high tourist season, especially in the narrow beach town streets. Be careful
· Wearing a helmet is the law, but seldom regarded, especially in the smaller towns. If you choose not to wear a helmet, be wary of the police especially on the highways.
· As with any city in the world, avoid driving your bike alone at night.
· Avoid driving under the influence.
Car, Bike & Scooter Rentals
· The easiest way to travel around Goa is to do as the residents do- ride a bike, preferably an Enfield (India's distant cousin of the Harley) or a scooter.
Bikes and scooters are available for hire quite easily. Refer to our Explore section & services (in Everything Else) section for rental & mechanics.
Prices range from Rs 250-600 per day, depending on the bike, rental period and season.
· Cars and open air jeeps (Willis, Mahindra, Maruti Gypsy) are also available for lease for the season, again refer to our Explore section & services (in Everything Else) section for rental guys. Rates are generally Rs. 1,500 per day.
· Another means to get around, albeit more expensive, is by Car Service/Taxi.
Unlike, most other Indian destinations, cabs with meters are a myth in Goa, and most often you are at the mercy of the driver for rates. Larger Goan towns (Mapusa, Panaji, Madgaon, etc) offer pre-paid cab services with fixed rates.
-> Refer to our listing of cabbies in Explore & Everything Else sections or ask your hotel for more reliable & reasonable options.
Petrol / Gas
· Goa's authorized gas/petrol stations are often located nearer the larger beach towns (Arambol, Anjuna, etc), in all major towns and cities (Mapusa, Madgaon, Panaji), and on national highways.
· In smaller beach towns most convenient stores (corner stores/bodegas) sell petrol in 1 litre plastic mineral water bottles or 2 litre large soda bottles.
· Look out for 1-2 litre plastic bottles of golden colored liquid by the side of the street— this is your gas!
· Price of petrol may vary, averaging at around 60 rupees per litre.
Eating & Drinking
· Goa has a plethora of choices as far as restaurants go and offer a variety of cuisines, from fine dining European restaurants, to Chinese, Mexican, North and South Indian fares.
· Goan cuisine tends to be quite spicy and often incorporates vinegar- a fusion of Portuguese and local flavors. While fish curry & rice are the staple diet, other popular Goan plates inlcude Vindaloo, Xacuti and Goan sausage.
· Snapper, King fish, Pomfret, Baby Shark, Calamari, Mussels, Crabs are readily found in simple beach shacks. Lobsters are also available in larger restaurants.
· Simple beach shacks often serve up the most delectable food.
· As with anywhere in India, avoid food that looks like it has been sitting out for awhile.
-> For more information on restaurants & individual menus, refer to our Eat section.
· Trust only sealed bottles of Mineral Water for drinking water; Himalaya is the tastiest.
· Liquor & Wine stores are available quite easily; Kingfisher is the classic Indian beer; Sula is the most popular wine; The Big Banyan is our personal favorite Indian wine.
· MFL stands for Indian Made Foreign Liquor (Smirnoff, Bacardi, Teachers etc) and is quite cheap in Goan bars, an average of Rs. 100 for a 60ml pour!
· Fenny is the local liquor, made of cashew nuts or coconut. Beware it is quite lethal (about 42% alcohol) and is better served very chilled!!
· Old Monk is India’s own dark rum. Distilled from sugarcane, it is quite sweet and rather lethal as well. Best served with coca cola or on ice.
-> For more information on bars, lounges & clubs, refer to our Party section, for wine & liquor shops refer to Everything Else section.
Other fact & Myths about GOA
· Big tipping is not common in India; however, if the service is good we recommend adhering to the global standard of 10-15% of the bill. Many higher-end restaurants may have already included a “service charge” to your bill.
. Smoking is “prohibited” indoors, however, is seldom enforced.
. Consumption and selling or exchange of recreational drugs are prohibited by law in India.
. Be careful of the ocean's undercurrent.
. Travel responsibly. Do not litter, especially on the beaches.
Some important phrases & Vocab
Shanti: peaceful, calm
Shanti, shanti: leisurely
Same same but different
Chalo: Come on, or GO