The state of Goa, in India, is famous for its beaches and places of worship. Tourism is its primary industry, and is generally focused on the coastal areas of Goa, with decreased tourist activity inland.
Foreign tourists, mostly from Europe, arrive in Goa in winter, whilst the summer and monsoon seasons see many Indian tourists. Goa handled 2.29% of all foreign tourist arrivals in the country in 2011. This relatively small state is situated on the west coast of India, between the borders of Maharastra and Karnataka, and is better known to the world as a former Portuguese enclave on Indian soil. Thus, Tourism forms the backbone of Goa’s economy.
Influenced by over 450 years of Portuguese rule and Latin culture, Goa presents a somewhat different representation of the country to foreign visitors. Major tourist attractions include Bom Jesus Basillica, Fort Aguada, a wax museum on Indian culture, and a heritage museum. The Churches and Convents of Goa have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
As of 2013, Goa was the destination of choice for Indian and foreign tourists, particularly Britons, with limited means who wanted to party. The state was hopeful that changes could be made which would attract a more upscale demographic.
On 24 November 2017, Delta Corp Limited claimed to have set up the first casino game training course centre in India at Goa.
North Goa Beaches
Pernem – Querim Beach, Kalacha Beach, Arambol Beach, Mandrem Beach, Ashvem Beach, Morjim Beach
Bardez – Chapora Beach, Vagator Beach, Ozran Beach, Anjuna Beach, Baga Beach, Calangute Beach, Candolim Beach, Sinquerim Beach, Coco Beach, Kegdole Beach
Tiswadi – Miramar Beach, Caranzalem Beach, Dona Paula Beach, Vaiguinim Beach, Bambolim Beach, Siridao Beach
South Goa Beaches
Mormugao – Bagmalo Beach, Baina Beach, Hansa Beach, Hollant Beach, Cansaulim Beach, Velsao Beach
Salcete – Arossim Beach, Utorda Beach, Majorda Beach, Betailatim Beach, Colva Beach, Semabatim Beach, Benaulim Beach, Varca Beach, Cavelossim Beach, Mabor Beach, Betul Beach
Quepem – Canaiguinim Beach
Canacona – Cabo de rama Beach, Kakolem Beach, Dharvalem Beach, Cola Beach, Agonda Beach, Palolem Beach, Patnem Beach, Rajbag Beach, Talpona Beach, Galgibag Beach, Polem Beach
Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary, Bhagwan Mahaveer Santuary and Mollem National Park, Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, Mhadej Wildlife Sanctuary and Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary harbour Goa’s rich bio-diversity. Foxes, wild boars and migratory birds are also found in the forests of Goa. The avifauna includes kingfishers, mynas and parrots. The famous Dudhsagar Falls, India’s fifth tallest at 310 metres, is located inside Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary at the Goa – Karnataka border.
The renowned Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is located on the island of Chorao. The endangered olive ridley sea turtle olive can be found on Morjim Beach in Pernem, Northern Goa and Galgibaga Beach in Canacona, Southern Goa. The turtles are listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife Act. Morjim Beach is also hosting to a number of migratory birds from late September to early April. The area surrounding the shore at Tembwada in Morjim also abounds in various species of birds. A number of international bird watching tours are organised in the area.
- The Goa State Museum set up in 1996 aims at centralising and preserving antiquities, art objects and objects of cultural importance, depicting the different aspects of the Goan History and Culture. It is located at Pattoin Goa’s capital city of Panaji.
- The Naval Aviation Museum near Dabolim is one among three of its kind in India.
- Goa Science Centre located at the Miramar beach in Panaji was opened in December 2001 and it houses many wonders of Science and Astronomy.
- Archaeological Museum and Portrait Gallery located in Old Goa is run by the Archaeological Survey of India.
- The Museum of Christian Art has a number of paintings, sculptures and religious silverware dating back to the 16th century.
- ‘Ancestral Goa‘ is dedicated to the preservation of art, culture and environment and was established to preserve Goa‘s past and its rich traditions. This magnificent project is the result of a lot of meticulous research, planning and hardwork. Located in Loutolim, it opened to the public in April 1995.
- The Museum of Goa is a privately owned museum of art in Pilerne, Goa. MOG, as it is commonly known, is one of the largest contemporary art spaces in India. Founded by the artist, Dr. Subodh Kerkar, in 2015, MOG tries to depict Goan history and culture through modern art. The Museum is also an active cultural space, hosting events, talks, workshops and discussions. MOG hosts exhibitions all year round, with its largest being the Goa Affordable Art Fest which often starts in December and lasts till the end of January.
- A special attraction of this project is the sculpture of Sant Mirabai strumming on her tambori and measuring 14 meters by 5 meters which was chiseled in Greco – Roman style from a vast expanse of laterite stone by Maendra Jocelino Araujo Alvares in just 30 days.
- The Big Foot Cross Museum is located at ‘Ancestral Goa‘ in Loutolim. It is an unusual collection of crosses, from all over the world.
- The Pilar Museum is located on the Pilar hillock where the Pilar Seminary is also located. The Museum was founded by Fr Costa, and highlights various finds on and around the Pilar hillock and now preserved in the seminary museum.
- The ‘Wax World’ Museum, inaugurated in 2008 is located in Old Goa contains exquisite wax statues. The statues have been sculpted by Shreeji Bhaskaran, who owns the museum and is also responsible for giving India its first wax museum located at Ooty, Karnataka, which was set up in March 2007.
- ‘Goa Chitra’, established by Victor Hugo Gomes, is an ethnographic museum in Benaulim showcasing traditional Goan farming implements and other Goan antiques.
Another major tourist attraction in Goa is its heritage homes. A legacy of the Portuguese colonial regime of more than 450 years, some of these palatial homes are now converted into hotels while many are still inhabited by the people. The popular heritage homes in Goa are:
- The Fernandes house, also known as ‘Voddlem Ghor’ in Cotta is an architectural marvel in Chandor.
- The Menezes Bragança House in Chandor was built circa 1730. It was once owned by Luis de Menezes Braganca, Tristao de Braganca Cunha, Beatriz de Menezes Bragança, and her sister Berta Menezes Bragança.
- The Vivian Coutinho House in Fatorda is among the few Goan houses with decorative Azulejo tiles.
The landscape of Goa is dotted with several forts. Fort Tiracol, the seventeenth-century Portuguese Fort Aguada, and Chapora Fort, to name a few.