Goa is a land that redefines holidays, with its exquisite mix of sun, surf, and beaches; Goa has become the ultimate tourist destination. Goa is a tiny emeralds land with its natural scenic beauty, attractive beaches and , famous for its architecture, feast and festivals and hospitable people with a rich culture. So get swept away in Goa by the spectacular sunrises and sunsets and rejuvenate yourself. Portuguese merchants first landed in Goa in the 15th century, and annexed it soon after. The Portuguese colony existed for about 450 years (one of the longest held colonial possessions in the world), until it was taken over by India in 1961.
Goa is India’s richest state with a GDP per capita two and a half times that of the country as a whole. It was ranked the best placed state by the Elevent h Finance Commission for its infrastructure and ranked on top for the best quality of life in India by the National Commission on Population based on the 12 Indicators.
Rice is the main food crop with pulses, ragi and other food crops are also grown. Main cash crops are coconuts, cashew nuts, arecanuts, sugarcane and fruits like pineapples, mangos and bananas. The State has a rich forest cover of more than 1,424 km². Goa’s state animal is the Gaur, the state bird is the Ruby Throated Yellow Bulbul, which is a variation of Black-crested Bulbul, and the state tree is the Asan.
The important forests products are bamboo canes, Maratha barks, chillar barks and the bhirand. Coconut trees are ubiquitous and are present in almost all areas of Goa barring the elevated regions. A large number of deciduous vegetation consisting of teak, sal, cashew and mango trees are present. Fruits include jack fruits, mangoes, pineapples and blackberries. Goa’s forests are rich with medicinal plants.
Foxes, wild boars and migrating birds are found in the jungles of Goa. The avifauna includes kingfishers, mynas and parrots. Numerous types of fish are also caught off the coast of Goa and in its rivers. Crabs, lobsters, shrimps, jellyfish, oysters and catfish form some of the piscine catch. G oa also has a high snake population, which keeps the rodent population under control. Goa has many famous National Parks, including the renowned Salim Ali bird sanctuary. Other wildlife sanctuaries include the Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary, Molem Wildlife Sanctuary, Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, Madei Wildlife Sanctuary, Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary and the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary located on the island of Chorao.
Tourism is generally focused on the coastal areas of Goa, with decreased tourist activity inland. In 2004, there were more than two million tourists reported to have visited Goa, about 360,000 of who were from abroad.
Goa has two main tourist seasons: winter and summer. In the winter time, tourists from abroad (mainly Europe) come to Goa to enjoy the splendid climate. In the summertime (which, in Goa, is the rainy season), tourists from across India come to spend the holidays. The state of Goa is famous for its excellent beaches, churches, and temples. The Bom Jesus Cathedral, Fort Aguada and a new wax museum on Indian history, culture and heritage in Old Goa are other tourism destinations. Rice with fish curry (Xit kodi in Konkani) is the staple diet in Goa. Goan cuisine is famous for its rich variety of fish dishes cooked with elaborate recipes. Coconut and coconut oil are widely used in Goan cooking along with chili peppers, spices and vinegar giving the food a unique flavour. Pork dishes such as Vindaloo, Xacuti and Sorpotel are cooked for major occasions among the Goan Catholics. An exotic Goan vegetable stew, known as Khatkhate, is a very popular dish during the celebrations of festivals, Hindu and Christian alike. Khatkhate contains at least five vegetables, fresh coconut, and special Goan spices that add to the aroma. Sannas, Hitt are variants of idli and Polle, Amboli, Kailoleo are variants of dosa; are native to Goa. A rich egg-based multi-layered sweet dish known as bebinca is a favourite at Christmas. The most popular alcoholic beverage in Goa is feni; Cashew feni is made from the fermentation of the fruit of the cashew tree, while coconut feni is made from the sap of toddy palms.
The architecture of Goa is a combination of Indian, Mughal and Portuguese styles. Since the Portuguese ruled for four centuries, many churches and houses bear a striking element of the Portuguese style of architecture. Goa was also under the Mughal rule and thus one finds monuments built in the typical Mughal style complete with the domes.