Can anyone pin down the essence of India? Well, it seems pretty impossible. India is one of the most multidimensional places in the whole world. Its history, religious traditions, famous food, diverse cities and stunning countryside make it a huge and fascinating country to visit. The 7th largest in the world, it is home to over a billion people. In terms of the incredible and exotic collision of culture, it is like stepping into a whole other world. For first-timers, you can do no better than visiting Goa. Considered to be a rather laid-back corner of India, it has grown from being the hippie, party capital in the 1970s to the attractive, cosmopolitan and relaxed place it is today. The local motto is sossegade’– ‘take it easy’!
A far cry from the hot, busy cities you may imagine when you think of India, Goa is a vision of palm trees and white sandy beaches. On the country’s western coastline against the Arabian Sea, it is a comparably tiny slice of India, but one that is well worth visiting. The charm and easy pace of the city make it great to explore on foot as you acclimatise and soak up the atmosphere. The beaches are of course a must visit, but beware – at peak summer months, they can get busy. It’s worth hunting around for smaller stretches of sand a little further out to avoid fighting for towel space. Polem Beach is a pretty little bay in the south of the city that has an intimate, local feel, away from the busy and more developed resorts in the north, such as Baga and Calangute.
As with everywhere in India, there is representation of lots of different religions which are impressive sites and definitely worth a visit. The Basilica of Bom Jesus, remaining from the Portuguese occupation of the city, is estimated to have been built in the 16th century and is the resting place for the patron saint of Goa, Francis Xavier. There are several other churches nearby, such as St. Augustine and the Convent of Santa Monica which are incredible monuments of the area’s religious history and must-sees for anyone seeking out some culture. There are all kinds of museums, galleries and religious places of interests in the city, so whatever your interests are, a little sightseeing is a great way to get a sense of the place.
Once you’ve enjoyed the beaches and the sights, what’s next? The food, of course! Indian food has curries unlike anything else you will have had in the UK. From seafood stews to spicy chicken, baboti sweet beef to prawn balchao – the food is simply amazing. Some you’ll recognise; there are plenty of vindaloos in Goa, and the area is famous for cashew nuts. You can’t go wrong with the local restaurants and delicacies; it will be a culinary experience to remember.
There is really no end of things to see and do in India. Goa is a wonderful area that is a great destination for your first holiday to the country. Enjoy the best curries you have ever tasted, relax on idyllic beaches and explore a little corner of a fascinating country. Lastminute.com has great deals that provide an affordable way to explore India, so that you can enjoy your holiday to Goa a little more this summer.