The former Portuguese colony is one of the world's most exotic and peaceful beach resorts.
Goa is different from the rest of India. The influence of the Portuguese (the area was once a Portuguese enclave) remains alive to this day with Roman Catholic being the predominant religion, the hillsides are dotted with Catholic churches and due the beautiful white sandy beaches the influence of western travellers make the region more international. Goa has a resort feel, with many luxury beachside hotels, artisan markets and a peaceful and relaxed atmosphere.
The Portuguese arrived in 1510, attracted by natural harbours and wide rivers for their invading navy. The Portuguese maintained control until the 17th century, but due to the wide breath of their far flung empire, the region cam under attach by the British and French. But the Portuguese held on and it was not until 1961 that the region came under direct Indian rule for the first time.
Panaji is the capital of Goa and in fact the smallest state capital in India. Built on the banks of the Mandovi River, the town has much Portuguese colonial architecture to admire. Old Goa was once the administrative capital of Portugal's eastern empire; today it is a small village with convents and large churches to explore including Se Cathedral. In the north of Gao, the weekly market at Mapusa is worth a visit.
People come to Goa for the beaches which stretch along the beautiful coastline. Perhaps the most famous is Anjuna beach which is also the location for the Wednesday flea market. Other recommended beaches are Calangute, Baga, Colva and Benaulim.
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