Goa is renowned for its beaches, places of worship and world heritage architecture, rich flora and fauna. From the 1960s, (after its independence) Goa has been attracting a steady flow of visitors. Goa is visibly different from the rest of India, owing to Portuguese rule which isolated it from the rest of India for 451 years.
Goa is India's smallest state by area and the fourth smallest by 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.
Goa's known history stretches back to the third century BC, when it formed part of the Mauryan Empire, ruled by the Buddhist emperor, Ashoka of Magadha. Buddhist monks laid the foundation of Buddhism in Goa. Between the second century BCE and the sixth century CE, Goa was ruled by the Chutus of Karwar as feudatories of the Satavahanas of Kolhapur (second century BCE to the second century CE), Western Kshatrapas (around 150 CE), the Abhiras of Western Maharashtra, Bhojas of the Yadava clans of Gujarat, and the Konkan Mauryas as feudatories of the Kalachuris. The rule later passed on to the Chalukyas of Badami, who controlled it between 578 to 753, and later the Rashtrakutas of Malkhed from 753 to 963. However from 765 to 1015, the Southern Silharas of Konkan ruled Goa as the feudatories of the Chalukyas and the Rashtrakutas. Over the next few centuries, Goa was successively ruled by the Kadambas as the feudatories of the Chalukyas of Kalyani. They patronized Jainism in Goa.
In 1312, Goa came under the governance of the Delhi Sultanate. However, the kingdom's grip on the region was weak, and by 1370 they were forced to surrender it to Harihara I of the Vijayanagara Empire. The Vijayanagara monarchs held on to the territory until 1469, when it was appropriated by the Bahmani sultans of Gulbarga. After that dynasty crumbled, the area fell to the hands of the Adil Shahis of Bijapur who established as their auxiliary capital the city known under the Portuguese as Velha Goa.
In 1510, the Portuguese defeated the ruling Bijapur kings with the help of a local ally, Timayya, leading to the establishment of a permanent settlement in Velha Goa (or Old Goa).
Coat of Arms of Goa as a Portuguese possession 1935-1961
The Portuguese converted a large portion of their subjects in Goa to Christianity. The repeated wars of the Portuguese with the Marathas and the Deccan sultanate, along with the repressive religious policies of Portuguese led to large migrations of Goans to neighbouring areas. Goa was occupied by the British between 1812 and 1815 during the Napoleonic Wars.
In 1843 the capital was moved to Panjim from Velha Goa. By mid-18th century the area under occupation had expanded to most of Goa's present day state limits. Simultaneously the Portuguese lost other possessions in India until their borders stabilised and formed the Estado da India Portuguesa, of which Goa was the largest territory.
After India gained independence from the British in 1947, Portugal refused to negotiate with India on the transfer of sovereignty of their Indian enclaves. On 12 December 1961, the Indian army commenced with Operation Vijay resulting in the annexation of Goa, Damman and Diu into the Indian union. Goa, along with Daman and Diu was made into a centrally administered Union Territory of India. On 30 May 1987, the Union Territory was split, and Goa was made India's twenty-fifth state, with Daman and Diu remaining Union Territories.
Goa's international airport is Dabolim, which is 29 km from Panaji near Vasco Da Gama. Apart from Indian Airlines, other private operators also connect Goa with Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Pune. Besides, several charter companies fly into Goa from United Kingdom and Germany. There are more than 20 flights which come in to Goa.
There are three national highways that passes through Goa and connect Panaji : NH4A, NH17 and NH17A. There are a lot of AC, sleeper, slumberette Volvo's that travel every night connecting Mumbai, Bangalore, and Pune. Smaller destinations are connected with non-ac buses and non-Volvo buses too. For those who wish to drive, the roads connecting Goa are great drives. The drive from Bombay to Goa is one of the best drives in India.
The best way to enjoy the journey to Goa is through rail. One should not miss the rail journey from Bombay – Goa or Mangalore – Goa. Thanks to the Konkon Railway linking Manglalore to Mumbai, a significant development in rail travel to Goa has come. the 760 km Konkan Railway offers a picturesque rail trip that takes you through 90-meter high bridges and a number of tunnels.
In Goa the train stops at Pernem (for those along Arambol and the north end of Goa) Thivim (for those staying along the Candolim, Calangute stretch), at Karmali (for those around Panjim) and then Madgaon (for those in the south of Goa).
You can check the http://www.irctc.co.in for schedules and rates.
The most popular way of transport, rent a bike or a car. Self driven car rental is available is Goa although it is an expensive option. Besides, ferries, generally painted in blue give a very frequent service. They are quite cheap and run from dawn to dusk. The motorcycle taxis are ideal for small trips and relatively economical and convenient. Moreover, rented motorcycles are also found in Goa which gives a lot of freedom but can be unsafe occasionally. Again an international driving license is also required to drive those motorcycles.