Capital : Panaji
Largest city : Vasco da Gama
District(s) : 2
Population : 1,400,000 (25th)
Density : 363/km² (940/sq mi)
Language(s) : Konkani.Konkani is the sole official language but Marathi is also allowed to be used for any or all official purposes.
Established : 1987-05-30
Goa is India’s smallest state in terms of area and the fourth smallest in terms of 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 (Panjim) is the state’s capital. Vasco da Gama (Vasco) is the largest city. The historic city of Margao still exhibits the influence of Portuguese culture. Portuguese merchants first landed in Goa in the 15th century, and annexed it soon after. The Portuguese colony existed for about 450 years (one of the longest held colonial possessions in the world), until it was taken over by India in 1961.
Renowned for its beaches, Goa is visited by hundreds of thousands of international and domestic tourists each year. Goa is also known for its temples and world heritage architecture including the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa, which makes it one of the biggest Christian pilgrimage sites in Asia. Goa also has rich flora and fauna, owing to its location on the Western Ghats range, which is classified as a biodiversity hotspot.
The name Goa came to European languages from the Portuguese colonisers, but its precise origin is unclear. The Indian epic Mahabharata refers to the area now known as Goa, as ‘Goparashtra’ or ‘Govarashtra”‘ which means a nation of cowherds. ‘Gopakapuri’ or ‘Gapakapattana’ were used in some ancient Sanskrit texts, and these names were also mentioned in other sacred Hindu texts such as the Harivansa and the Skanda Purana. In the latter, Goa is also known as “Gomanchala”. Gove, Govapuri, Gopakpattan, Gomantak and Gomant are some other names that the region is referred to in certain inscriptions and texts such as the Puranas. It has also been known as “Apparent”.
A chapel in Old Goa, an example of Portuguese architecture.Goa’s known history stretches back to the 3rd century BC, when it formed part of the Mauryan Empire. It was later ruled by the Satavahanas of Kolhapur, around two thousand years ago and passed on to the Chalukyas of Badami, who controlled it between 580 to 750. Over the next few centuries Goa was successively ruled by the Silharas, the Kadambas and the Chalukyas of Kalyani, rulers of Deccan India. The Kadambas, a local Hindu dynasty based at Chandrapura, (present day Chandor – Salcete), laid an indelible mark on the course of Goa’s pre-colonial history and culture.
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 made Velha Goa their auxiliary capital.
In 1498, Vasco da Gama became the first European to set foot in India through a sea route, landing in Calicut (Kozhikode) in Kerala, followed by an arrival in what is now known as Old Goa. Goa, then a term referring to the City of Goa on the southern bank of the River Mandovi, was the largest trading centre on India’s western coast. The Portuguese arrived with the intention of setting up a colony and seizing control of the spice trade from other European powers after traditional land routes to India had been closed by the Ottoman Turks. Later, in 1510, Portuguese admiral Afonso de Albuquerque 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). The Portuguese intended it to be a colony and a naval base, distinct from the fortified enclaves established elsewhere along India’s coasts.
Ruins of Fort Aguada in north Goa; one of the defences that the Portuguese built during their reign.With the imposition of the Inquisition (1560–1812), many of the local residents were forcibly converted to Christianity by missionaries, threatened by punishment or confiscation of land, titles or property. Many converts however retained parts of their Hindu heritage. To escape the Inquisition and harassment, thousands fled the state, settling down in the neighbouring towns of Mangalore and Karwar in Karnataka, and Savantwadi in Maharashtra. With the arrival of the other European powers in India in the 16th century, most Portuguese possessions were surrounded by the British and the Dutch. Goa soon became Portugal’s most important possession in India, and was granted the same civic privileges as Lisbon. 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.
After India gained independence from the British in 1947, Portugal refused to accede to India’s demand to relinquish their control of its enclave. Resolution 1541 by the United Nations General Assembly in 1960 noted that Goa was non-self-governing and favoured self determination. Finally, on December 12, 1961, the Indian army with 40,000 troops moved in as part of Operation Vijay. Fighting lasted for twenty-six hours before the Portuguese garrison surrendered. Goa, along with Daman and Diu (enclaves lying to the north of Maharashtra), was made into a centrally administered Union Territory on India. India’s takeover of Goa is commemorated on December 19 (Liberation Day). The UN Security Council considered a resolution condemning the invasion which was vetoed by the Soviet Union. Most nations later recognised India’s action, and Portugal recognised it after the Carnation Revolution in 1974. On May 30, 1987, the Union Territory was split, and Goa was elevated as India’s twenty-fifth state, with Daman and Diu remaining Union Territories. The Supreme Court of India maintains it was conquest, not a “liberation”. Since Goans were not offered the opportunity to vote their will, the UN mandated a plebiscite.
Goa is famed for its sunny beaches.Goa encompasses an area of 3,702 km² (1,430 sq mile). It lies between the latitudes 14°53’54” N and 15°40’00” N and longitudes 73°40’33” E and 74°20’13” E. Most of Goa is a part of the coastal country known as the Konkan, which is an escarpment rising up to the Western Ghats range of mountains, which separate it from the Deccan Plateau. The highest point is the Sonsogor, with an altitude of 1,167 meters (3,827 feet). Goa has a coastline of 101 km (63 miles).
Goa’s main rivers are the Mandovi, the Zuari, the Terekhol, Chapora River and the Betul. The Mormugao harbor on the mouth of the river Zuari is one of the best natural harbors in South Asia. The Zuari and the Mandovi are the lifelines of Goa, with their tributaries draining 69% of its geographic area. Goa has more than forty estuarine, eight marine and about ninety riverine islands. The total navigable length of Goa’s rivers is 253 km (157 miles). Goa has more than three hundred ancient tanks built during the rule of the Kadamba dynasty and over a hundred medicinal springs.
Most of Goa’s soil cover is made up of laterites which are rich in ferric aluminium oxides and reddish in color. Further inland and along the river banks, the soil is mostly alluvial and loamy. The soil is rich in minerals and humus, thus conducive to plantation. Some of the oldest rocks in the Indian subcontinent are found in Goa between Molem and Anmod on Goa’s border with Karnataka. The rocks are classified as Trondjemeitic Gneiss estimated to be 3,600 million years old, dated by the Rubidium isotope dating method. A specimen of the rock is exhibited in the Goa University.
Goa, being in the tropical zone and near the Arabian Sea, has a warm and humid climate for most of the year. The month of May is the hottest, seeing day temperatures of over 35 °C (95 °F) coupled with high humidity. The monsoon rains arrive by early June and provide a much needed respite from the heat. Most of Goa’s annual rainfall is received through the monsoons which last till late September.
Goa has a short cool season between mid-December and February. These months are marked by cool nights of around 20 °C (68 °F) and warm days of around 29 °C (84 °F) with moderate amounts of humidity. Further inland, due to altitudinal gradation, the nights are a few degrees cooler.
Main article: Flora and fauna of Goa
The Salim Ali Bird sanctuary is one of the best-known bird sanctuaries in India.Forest cover in Goa stands at 1,424 km², most of which is owned by the government. Government owned forest is estimated at 1224.38 km² whilst private is given as 200 km². Most of the forests in the state are located in the interior eastern regions of the state. The Western Ghats, which form most of eastern Goa, have been internationally recognised as one of the biodiversity hotspots of the world. In the February 1999 issue of National Geographic Magazine, Goa was compared with the Amazon and Congo basins for its rich tropical biodiversity.
Goa’s state animal is the Gaur, the state bird is the Ruby Throated Yellow Bulbul, which is a variation of Black-crested Bulbul, and the state tree is the Asan.
The important forests products are bamboo canes, Maratha barks, chillar barks and the bhirand. Coconut trees are ubiquitous and are present in almost all areas of Goa barring the elevated regions. A large number of deciduous vegetation consisting of teak, sal, cashew and mango trees are present. Fruits include jackfruits, mangos, pineapples and blackberries.
Foxes, wild boars and migratory birds are found in the jungles of Goa. The avifauna includes kingfishers, mynas and parrots. Numerous types of fish are also caught off the coast of Goa and in its rivers. Crabs, lobsters, shrimps, jellyfish, oysters and catfish form some of the piscine catch. Goa also has a high snake population, which keeps the rodent population in control. Goa has many famous National Parks, including the renowned Salim Ali bird sanctuary. Other wildlife sanctuaries include the Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary, Molem Wildlife Sanctuary, Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, Madei Wildlife Sanctuary, Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuaryand the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary located on the island of Chorao.
Goa has more than 33% of its geographic area under government forests (1224.38 km²) of which about 62% has been brought under Protected Areas (PA) of Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Park. Since there is a substantial area under private forests and a large tract under cashew, mango, coconut, etc. plantations, the total forest and tree cover constitutes 56.6% of the geographic area.
A native of Goa is called a Goan in English, ‘Goenkar’ in Konkani, ‘Goês’ (male) or ‘Goesa’ (female) in Portuguese, and a ‘Govekar’ in Marathi. Goa has a population of 1.344 million residents, making it India’s fourth smallest (after Sikkim, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh). The population has a growth rate of 14.9% per annum. There are 363 people for each square kilometre of the land. 49.77% of the population lives in urban areas. The sex ratio is 960 females to 1000 males. Hinduism (65.8%), Christianity (26.7%) and Islam (6.8%) are the three main religions in Goa.  Roman Catholicism reached Goa during the period of European colonisation, which began in 1498 when the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama arrived on the Malabar coast. There is also a small community of Sikhs that make up 0.1% of the population. Goa’s major cities include Vasco, Margao, Marmagao (also known as Murgaon or Mormugão), Panjim and Mapusa. The region connecting the last four cities is considered a de facto conurbation, or a more or less continuous urban area.
The official language of Goa is Konkani. Following the end of Portuguese rule, the most widely used languages are Konkani and Marathi. Konkani is the primary spoken language; English and Marathi for official, literary or educational purposes; and other languages including Hindi and Portuguese. Language is a controversial issue in Goa, over which an agitation was fought between two contending pro-Konkani and pro-Marathi camps between 1985–87. Most of the Goans united and fought for Konkani as their mother tongue. After the agitation ended in 1987, a complex formula grants ‘official language’ status to Konkani, while Marathi is also allowed to be used “for any or all official purposes.” Given the bitter rivalry between the two lobbies, clubbed with a maudlin issue has resulted in a stalemate over the actual implementation. Portuguese, the earlier language of the elite, has been hit by shrinking numbers, though a small number still prefer it as the medium for discourse at home, and a few Portuguese books have even been published in recent years. English, viewed as a language of opportunity and social mobility, is widely understood by many of the state residents.
An example of traditional Portuguese-influenced Goan architecture.
Mangueshi Temple, a Hindu temple in Old Goa.The most popular celebrations in Goa are Christmas, Easter Sunday, Ganesh Chaturthi (Chavoth-Konkani), Divali, New Year’s Day, Shigmo and the Carnival. However, since the 1960s, the celebrations of the Shigmo and carnival have shifted to the urban centres, and in recent times these festivals are seen more as a means of attracting tourists. Celebrations for all festivals usually last for a few days and include parties and balls.
Western English songs have a large following in most parts of Goa. Traditional Konkani folk songs also have a sizable following. Manddo, the traditional Goan music which originated in the nineteenth century, is sung and danced on special occasions. Goa is also known for its Goa trance music. In the year 2006, the AIR FM channel ran a program “Goa Top 10”, which listed the most requested tracks of the week. During analysis, it emerged that the song “Faithful” by Lobo had an unusually high, consistent popularity, in spite of not being a fresh track. Thus, this song is arguably Goa’s favourite English song, and has been referred to as Goa’s English anthem. It has been found that Goans have a preference for pop music, soft rock and ballads over hard rock, hip-hop, etc.
Rice with fish curry (Xit kodi-Konkani) is the staple diet in Goa. Goa is renowned for its rich variety of fish dishes cooked with elaborate recipes. Coconut and coconut oil is widely used in Goan cooking along with chili peppers, spices and vinegar giving the food a unique flavour. Pork dishes such as Vindaloo, Xacuti and Sorpotel are cooked for major occasions among the Catholics. An exotic Goan vegetable stew, known as Khatkhate, is a very popular dish during the celebrations of festivals, Hindu and Christian alike. Khatkhate contains at least five vegetables, fresh coconut, and special Goan spices that add to the aroma. A rich egg-based multi-layered sweet dish known as bebinca is a favourite at Christmas. The most popular alcoholic beverage in Goa is feni; Cashew feni is made from the fermentation of the fruit of the cashew tree, while coconut feni is made from the sap of toddy palms.
Goa has two World Heritage Sites: the Bom Jesus Basilica and a few designated convents. The Basilica holds the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier, regarded by many Catholics as the patron saint of Goa (the patron of the Archdiocese of Goa is actually the Blessed Joseph Vaz. Once every decade, the body is taken down for veneration and for public viewing. The last such event was conducted in 2004. The Velhas Conquistas regions are also known for its Goa-Portuguese style architecture.
In many parts of Goa, mansions constructed in the Indo-Portuguese style architecture still stand, though in some villages, most of them are in a dilapidated condition. Fontainhas in Panjim, has been declared a cultural quarter, and are used as a living museum showcasing the life, architecture and culture of Goa. Some influences from the Portuguese era are visible in some of Goa’s temples, notably the Mangueshi Temple, although after 1961, many of these were demolished and reconstructed in the indigenous Indian style.
The height of Goa’s glory was closely and mutually linked with the heyday of Portugal, but Goan grandeur pre-dated the Portuguese. Chieftains, kings and a host of Indian dynasties had made this little jewel glitter with royal pomp. The Batpuras, the Bhujas and, after the fall of Ashoka and the Mauryans, the Satyavahanas, ruled over Goa. The inscription of around A.D.1000 (when Shashtadeva of the Goa Kadamba dynasty sat on the throne), describes the early splendor of the capital: ‘Gardens on every side.White plastered houses, alleys, horse stables, flower gardens, agreeably connected bazaars, harlots’ quarters, and tanks.’ In his son’s reign, Goa is reputed to have commanded a powerful fleet and traded with four- teen foreign lands.In essence, it was a coveted land with the most sought-after port in India. And as the word spread, this advantage was to become a liability. The friendly harbours that had sent out sparkling blue ripples to the world were to backflow and become the road of conquest and colonization.
On July 4, 1497 when Vasco da Gama set sail from the River. Typical Street in Panjim having residence with Sloping Roofs . Tagus in Lisbon commanding the flagship St. Gabriel, no one could have imagined the implications of his voyage. At that time the potentates of the East were wealthier than the financially em- barrassed Western kings.Vasco da Gama never actually visited Goa, though now there is a coastal town by his name to commemorate his link with Portugal. It was Afonso de Albuquerque who is credited with sowing the seeds of the Portuguese empire in India, first by destroying, then creating. the Arabian Sea into the fresh mouth of the Mandovi. Little did anyone know that Goa would change face. Now a stranger on the throne was to remould the past, reshape the present and go so far as to influence the future psyche of an entire people.
The Portuguese brought to Goa the magnificence of the West and the might of a nation at the height of its imperial power. Their vision was lofty and ambition sky high, but it blazed a short trail like a meteor. An art historian remarked, ‘Portugal was a very small nation of a people then heroic. However, at its peak, Goa was one of the wonders of the world, larger than Lisbon and even the London of its time! Some 300,000 people had made it their home. Goa re- sembled the ‘meeting upon the burse in Antwerpe’ wrote Linschoten, the Dutchman, and it was then that epithets like ‘Rome of Asia’ and ‘Pearl of the Orient’ were coined. ‘Goa Dourada’ or ‘Golden Goa’ sands was not an advertising stogan to beckon tourists, but more precisely the gilt-coated reredos and altars in the churches that dis- played layers of the real gold Portugal had discovered in Africa.
Contemporary descriptions do not undertake this glitter. ‘Quem viu Goa excusa de ver Lisboa’, the word went round, ‘Who has seen Goa needn’t see Lisbon.’ In 1606 Goa got Santa Monica, the first nunnery in the East. The imposing Basilica of Bom Jesus impressed Christians and non- Christians; it went even further and tyrannised the Century, elegant mansion by an gans.Fantastic Italian architecture-typically renaissance modelled on architectural details from the churches circled the city’s skyline. There were compulsory orders to paint the mansions annually, af- ter the monsoon had passed. The regulations insisted that al- though white may be used for picking out architectural details like quoins and cornices, and window edges and balustrades to contrast with the wall surfaces of yellow-ochre, Indian red or pale green, no buildings but churches might be white all over. In 1839, Caption Marryat in his novel The Phantom Ship de described Goa: ‘The squares behind the palace and the wide streets were filled with living beings: elephants with gorgeous trappings; led or mounted horses with superb housings; palanquins carried by natives in splendid liveries; running footmen; syces; every variety of nation, from the proud Portuguese to the half-covered native; Musselmen, Arabs, Hindoos, Armenians; Officers and soldiers in their uniforms, all crowded and thronged together: all was bustle and motion. Such was the wealth, the splendor and luxury of the proud city of Goa- the Empress of the East.’ As Vishal Saxena architect urban designer and a keen visitor and student of Goan architecture puts it ‘Now Old Goa is a sad remnant of its opulent past’.
Football is perhaps the most popular sport in Goa and is embedded in Goan culture. Its origins in the state are traced back to 1883 when the visiting British priest Fr. William Robert Lyons established the sport as part of a “Christian education”. On December 22, 1959 the Associacao Futebol de Goa was formed, which continues to administer the game in the state under the new name, Goa Football Association. Goa, along with West Bengal,and Kerala. is the locus of football in the country and is home to many football club in India’s National Football League, including three of the ten Premier Division teams. The state’s football powerhouses include Salgaocar, Dempo, Churchill Brothers, Vasco Sports Club and Sporting Clube de Goa. The state’s main football stadium, Fatroda (or Nehru stadium), is located at Margao and also hosts cricket matches.
In recent decades, a growing influence of cricket is visible, in large part fuelled by the massive coverage this sport gets on national television, thus making an impact even in a part of South Asia which hardly had any contact with the British Empire. Goa now has its own cricket team. Field Hockey is the third most popular sport.