About Goa

Mention Goa and many people immediately think of exotic landscapes, palm-fringed beaches, the warm Arabian sea and glorious sunsets. Visit Goa and you’ll find all that —but so much more besides. Because of its history, involving four centuries of Portuguese rule and a central role during the golden age of the spice trade, this smallest of India’s states has a unique culture, fusing eastern, western and Arabian traditions. That means there are many fascinating cultural elements to enjoy, such as lavish feastdays — Hindu, Christian and Muslim — and temples, churches and old Portuguese-Goan houses to visit. Inland from the coast are lakes and wooded hills where wildlife teems. There are reserves and sanctuaries for elephants and other animals, covering around 10 per cent of the state – and abundant birds, especially in the western ghats which provide a migration corridor along the length Goa. The copious kinds of seafood brought ashore by fishermen on the coast are complemented by a wonderful range of food produced by farming communities centred on the inland lush pastures, rich soils and paddyfields. These communities also include traditional artisans whose crafts are often available in local markets.

Discovering Goa

Mention Goa and many people immediately think of exotic landscapes, palm-fringed beaches, the warm Arabian sea and glorious sunsets. Visit Goa and you’ll find all that —but so much more besides. Because of its history, involving four centuries of Portuguese rule and a central role during the golden age of the spice trade, this smallest of India’s states has a unique culture, fusing eastern, western and Arabian traditions. That means there are many fascinating cultural elements to enjoy, such as lavish feastdays — Hindu, Christian and Muslim — and temples, churches and old Portuguese-Goan houses to visit. Inland from the coast are lakes and wooded hills where wildlife teems. There are reserves and sanctuaries for elephants and other animals, covering around 10 per cent of the state – and abundant birds, especially in the western ghats which provide a migration corridor along the length Goa. The copious kinds of seafood brought ashore by fishermen on the coast are complemented by a wonderful range of food produced by farming communities centred on the inland lush pastures, rich soils and paddyfields. These communities also include traditional artisans whose crafts are often available in local markets.

Festivals

Everyone loves a party – and Goans know how to party better than most. That’s why they have some of the best carnivals and festivals (known as Jatra) imaginable. The dates of many of these events vary from year to year – but our staff at Colonia Santa Maria keep a list and can tell you if you will be lucky enough to catch one during your stay. The Indian Festival of Light, Diwali, normally falls during October-November, celebrated with traditional sweets, fireworks and lamps. There are also enthusiastic burnings of effigies of the demon Narkasur. Because one of the legacies of Portuguese rule is a large Christian population in Goa, the main feast days of Christianity are widely celebrated. The capital Panaji is especially brilliant at Christmas when there are many lights strung up to celebrate the highpoint of the Christian calendar. Children perform nativity plays and musicians provide al fresco concerts. The Feast of the Three Kings (Jan 6) and Easter (March or April) are also highpoints. Many of the Hindu festivals occur in January – leading to the sale of thousands of sweetmeats from stalls you will see almost everywhere you go.

Goa Birds

Goa has an extraordinarily abundant range of birdlife – and therefore attracts bird watchers from all around the world. Many of the best places for seeing birds are very close to Baga Beach, which has nearby marshland famous for its many wetland species -— or are within a short drive, such as Velim Lake where many vultures roost. The number of species commonly seen is very large, ranging from larger raptors down to tiny songbirds. There are various types of hornbills, babblers and parakeets, owls and woodpeckers, bulbuls and flycatchers. You might get to see white-throated kingfishers, hoopoes, pittas, orioles – or a purple-rumped sunbird. The list goes on….. At Colonia Santa Maria we can find you suitable experts as guides, for half a day or longer excursions. And we stock helpful books and equipment that you can buy to aid your birdwatching experience.

Sightseeing

For many people, relaxing on the beach and in the immediate neighbourhood of the hotel is all they require. But for those who like sightseeing, Baga and its surrounding areas offer plenty to do. Watching the local fishermen or visiting nearby farming villages gives a glimpse of the traditional Goan way of life – and you can join the locals in haggling for bargains on all kinds of goods in the markets. There are ancient temples to see and splendid churches built during Portuguese rule, such as the Church of St. Alex. The Aguada and the Reis Magos forts are also popular sights. Or travel inland to the Dudhsagar waterfalls, go bird watching in one of the reserves, or take a boat trip on the Mandovi River and keep a lookout for crocodiles and – where the river meets the sea – playful bottlenose dolphins. Or go to one of the sanctuaries for elephants. You could take the road through the cashew plantations to the medicinal springs at Mottant or visit the Baga Retreat House, dedicated to St Francis Xavier in the hills overlooking Baga. Mayem Lake is famous for its beauty and there are small boats to hire there – and shady parklands.

Further A field

Goa is an ideal gateway for discovering other parts of India. Colonia Santa Maria has hotel and travel agent partners in other centres and can offer special great-value packages for combining a stay in Goa with, for example, a visit to the Indian capital Delhi and to the Taj Mahal at Agra. Ask us about our latest deals and let us take care of arrangements for you.

About Goa | Colonia Santa Maria Hotel Goa - CSMGoa.com