Ten years after the discovery of Brazil, Portuguese navigators then followed their territorial expansion plan and finally landed in India in 1510.
The gateway was the beautiful island called Goa, coveted for being the best commercial port in the region, located southwest of the country, about 400 km south of Bombay.
But even before the Portuguese disembarked in Indian lands, Goa, dated around 2 200 BC, was disputed by several empires in bloody battles, such as the Moors, Arabs and English.
However, it was the Portuguese who colonized that territory for the longest time, and in 1961 Portugal left, giving Goa its freedom, after losing to Indian troops who recovered their territory on a mission that involved more than 40 thousand men. It was until, in 1987, that Goa officially became a state in India.
Goa is the smallest state in India and one of the richest and most educated in the country. The state is divided into two districts, with Angim (or Panaji) being both the capital of the state and the district of Goa Norte, while Margao is the capital of the district of South Goa. Both districts are governed by a governor appointed by the Indian government.
The official language of Goa is the Concani language. After Portugal lost control over Goa, the Concani and the Marathi language became the most spoken languages in the state, then came the Marathi and English languages that are used for educational, official and literary purposes.
Other languages are Hindi and Kannada. The Portuguese language, however, succumbed over time, and is considered a language spoken by ancestors and has become forgotten over the years.
Thousands of Goans are also considered Portuguese citizens. Portugal’s law favors obtaining nationality over those who come from other former colonies such as Goa. To obtain it, it is enough that the citizen of Goias has a father or grandfather who was born on the island before 1961.
Hinduism (65.8%), Christianity (26.7%) and Islam (6.8%) are the three largest Goan religions. Roman Catholicism increased in Goa when Portugal administered the state, allowing many to become Catholics. There is also a small Jewish community in Goa.
The biggest attraction of Goa is, without a doubt, its chain of golden sand beaches shining in its own atmosphere, with beach huts that allow you to relax by the sea, covering you from the scorching sun.
You can visit the beautiful beach of Colva or the extremely bustling Baga or go to Mandrem for a more peaceful experience or just sit by the water in Miramar while watching crabs and shells running to hide again.
Goa is a paradise when it comes to water sports activities.
Colva is the largest, oldest and perhaps the most beautiful beach in southern Goa
Goa’s flea markets are the best place to shop until you drop, as you can buy some of the most exclusive items. You can go to Mapusa Market, Saturday Night Bazaar and Anjuna Flea Market, which are the best options to find handicrafts, accessories, dresses and herbs.
The food is fully appreciated in Goa, as it is throughout India. The Portuguese introduced potatoes, tomatoes, pineapples and cashews to cooking and Goans use the cashew apple to make feni, their version of the moonlight.
The aromas, spices and flavors of the cuisine of Goa will surprise and provoke even experienced travelers: be it a classic fish curry rice, a spicy vindaloo, with its infusions of vinegar and garlic or a spicy xacuti sauce, the Indo-Portuguese influence it is a delight for the palate.
The architecture, especially that of the churches, resembles southern Europe and also that of Brazil. Several architectural styles have evolved, but the purest examples of Goan aesthetics share some characteristics: exteriors painted in bright tones, low-back Hindu style gardens in the center and glazed oyster shells. In the south of the country, there are luxurious houses in the Portuguese colonial style.
In addition to the ancient temples, the churches attract the attention of almost all travelers. One of the mandatory visits is the Basilica of Bom Jesus, which houses the preserved body of Sao Francisco Xavier for over 450 years. The other and the Sé Cathedral, one of the largest churches in Asia, appears to be in Tuscany. Its cavernous interior contains the Chapel of the Cruz dos Milagres, where the faithful touch an enormous wooden cross.
The basilica houses the remains of St. Francis Xavier
The basilica is located in Old Goa