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On the Horizon: Goa à Gogo

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If India is calling, make Goa your entry point.

THE PRIDE OF INDIA’S SOUTHWESTERN COAST, Goa is known for its white-sand beaches, full-on party scene and historical sites. Colonised by the Portuguese from 1510 to 1961, it’s now a unique mishmash of cultures; unquestionably Indian but with an intriguing Portuguese influence in its architecture and cuisine.


THE TRAIN RIDE FROM VASCO DA GAMA to Londa is one of India’s most scenic. Passing through beach towns, dense forest and lush plantations, this stretch of rail reveals the best of the Konkan Coast and the Western Ghats Mountains. The train also passes by one of India’s tallest waterfalls, Dudhsagar, at the border of Goa and Karnataka.

THE QUIETLY ELEGANT RIVERSIDE CAPITAL, Panaji, is fascinating. Aesthetically, it’s reminiscent of Portugal with ample green spaces, whitewashed churches and meandering alleyways. Look for classic colonial buildings that have been given a typically Goan injection of colour. Climb Altinho Hill to enjoy the views of the city and get your bearings.


VINDALOO IS GOA’S MOST FAMOUS EXPORT, and restaurant menus are big on seafood, rice and coconuts. Most Goan dishes have a Portuguese twist – vinegar (kokum) is often used, as is pork. Other dishes are quite clearly adaptations of traditional Portuguese recipes, such as Feijoada (a bean stew) and Goan sausage (very similar to Portuguese chourico).

ANJUNA HOSTS A FAMOUS FLEA MARKET (every Wednesday and Saturday) at which products from all over India are sold. It’s a great place to browse for souvenirs, with vendors selling everything from clothing and jewellery to henna and hashish. Head to the beach after you’ve shopped and enjoy an ice-cold Kingfisher beer.


A SERIES OF PORTUGUESE BUILT FORTS date back to the 16th and 17th centuries. The most notable of these is Fort Aguada, which guards the approaches to the harbour at Panaji. The ramparts of this fortress are now straddled by the five-star Taj Fort Aguada Resort, a luxury, beachfront property with its own cricket grounds and Ayurvedic spa.

INDIA’S ANSWER TO IBIZA is provided by Goa’s two most famous beaches, Baga and Calangute. This is the place to party (particularly if you’re into trance music) but that’s not all. The Calangute market area and the main Baga road are lined with “schools,” where you can sign up for courses in yoga, Indian cookery, Ayurveda and all things New Age.

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