GOA

GOA

Goa (600 kilometers south of Mumbai) is small state with a 100-kilometer coastline, 40 delightful beaches, beach resorts, Portuguese colonial buildings, palm trees, lush greenery and white-washed churches that appeals to a diverse range of people: hippies, Hindu pilgrims, rivers, architecture freaks, middle-class Indian families, and European and Indian yuppies and pensioners. Goa is divided by six rivers that originate in the Western Ghats and flow into the Arabian Sea. The people are known as both Goans and Goankars.

Goa covers 3,702 square kilometers (1,429 square miles) and is home to about 1.5 million people. Located on the West Coast of India in the Konkan Region, Goa is a major tourist attraction for domestic and foreign tourists alike. Panaji, a picturesque city by the river Mandovi is the capital of Goa. Vasco da Gama is the largest city. Goa also has mountains, mangrove swamps, waterfalls, temples, game parks and perhaps the large king cobra habitat in the world.

Somini Sengupta wrote in the New York Times:“In popular culture, Goa has long embodied qualities hard to find in India — it is quaint, laid-back, libertine...It is the kind of place, you repeatedly hear, where a woman can go out of the house in shorts, or where people are reasonably tolerant of a situation like Patrao’s living with Kaur, who, at 34, is much younger, and not even his wife. An acquaintance of mine in Delhi who owns a house in Goa put it bluntly: If you want to get out of India, come to Goa.” [Source: Somini Sengupta, New York Times, March 18, 2007]

Dudhsagar waterfalls tumbling from a staggering height are a must visit and so are the nearby wildlife sanctuaries. Spice farms, old heritage Portugese villas, churches, temples, architecture are other riveting aspects of Goa. Come, be part of the Goa Carnival in February and sing, dance and be merry with the locals. During winter, its festive ambience is at its peak, while in summers, it boasts lovely weather that’s perfect for a splash in the sea. Monsoon spreads lush greenery across its verdant vistas.

Like Bali, Goa attracts creative people. Among the gifted artists that live there are Padma Vibhushan, the renowned cartoonist and illustrator Mario Miranda and the celebrated fashion designer Wendell Rodricks. In a 1964 essay called “Goa the Unique,” Graham Greene wrote, “Outside Goa one is aware all the time of the interminable repetition of the ramshackle, the enormous pressure of poverty, flowing, branching, extending like flood water.” In Goa, he recalled attending a party where he was offered a Benzedrine tablet at 4 a.m.

History of Goa

Somini Sengupta wrote in the New York Times: “ Goa has long been a crossroads of East and West. It was conquered by the Portuguese in the early 16th century, just after Vasco da Gama reached India (he landed a bit farther south) and effectively planted the flag for European rule in India. Chilies came to India through Goa, after the Portuguese ferried them from the Americas, and forever changed Indian food. The echoes of Portuguese rule are still felt in the houses with their frescoed walls and wraparound porches.” [Source: Somini Sengupta, New York Times, March 18, 2007]

Goa was near the first place European colonizers set foot in India (1498) and the last place to remain a colony (1961). During its long reign as India's premier trading center it was the home of Portuguese conquerors, Dutch sailors, French artist, British bureaucrats, Arab traders, Jewish merchants, and Venetian bankers. During most of that time Goa was in the hand of the Portuguese and parts of it still retain its old Mediterranean, Roman Catholic character. Famous explorers from all over the world — such as Ibn Batutta (Morocco), Hueng Tsang (China) and Sir Richard Burton (Britain) — all stopped in Goa and wrote about their experiences. An 18-year-old Brazilian adventuress Maria Ursula de Abreu de Alem Castro came in 1700 disguised as a man to fight for the Portuguese against the Maratha Empire. Her true sex was discovered only after she was seriously wounded and later she married the captain of a fort.

The Portuguese explorer Alfonso de Albuquerque conquered Goa in 1510. The colony of Goa, which had its center in Old Goa, became the capital of the vast eastern Portuguese Empire. In 1542 the Jesuits, who were driven by the ardour of medieval crusaders, arrived in the city and Francis Xavier, one of the founders of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), rapidly became the patron saint of Goa. St. Francis Xavier came here to spread the word of the Gospel. By 1635, the successive waves of Europeans brought about the inevitable decline of Goa.

The drive to oust the Portuguese coincided with the one to oust the British, "Goa, going, gone" was the battle cry of Goa's freedom fighters in the mid-1950s at the peak of their struggle against the Portuguese, who hung on until December 18, 1961 when 451 years of Portuguese rule ended and Goa and two other small enclaves, Daman and Diu, were handed over to India.

India formally made Goa a state in 1987 and launched a campaign to “Indianize” the enclave. By the early 2000s, Catholics made up only 20 percent of the population and Hindu nationalist controlled the local government. The Portugese heritage lives in the names of long-time residents, European facial features, 167 whitewashed Roman Catholic churches and Christianity-rooted festivals, which in recent years have experienced a rebirth .

Goa, Drugs, Sex and Hippies

Goa is a popular destination among hippies because it is cheap and has reputation of tolerance for alternative living and drug use. Goa as had this reputation ever since the early 1960s when proto-hippies like Allen Ginsberg discovered that marijuana was openly smoked here. The main hippie season is from November to the end of March.

In the 1960s, hippies from all over the world descended on Goa's sandy beaches, attracted by the mellow atmosphere and the cheap hashish, and they have never left. Even though most of the hippies live unobtrusively in villages behind the beaches their lifestyle has been criticized by the area's Catholic bishops as "threat to Catholic tradition." The hippies have been joined by rastas, ravers and backpackers who all share a similar interest in drugs, with ecstacy and LSD brought in from Europe.

Goa is famous for its colorful hippie characters. One guy know as Jungle Barry was believed by some to be Lord Lucan, an aristocrat and member of the House of Lords who disappeared in 1974 after the body of his family’s nanny was found dead at his home. Barry was an alcoholic who people said was fun to have around. He taught people to play the penny whistle in exchange for food and drink. It turned out he was not Lord Lucan but was Barry Halpin, a folk singer from St Helens, Merseyside.

Big raves used to be held on the beaches of Goa. The full-moon parties there were famous. As Goa tries to lure more and more upscale travelers and package tourists and conservatives have taken over the local government, it has begun trying to rid itself of its "drug paradise" reputation. In recent years, some budget travelers have ended up in jail. Some Western women have reported being molested on the beach by young local men.

To Indians, Goa is more about sex. Somini Sengupta wrote in the New York Times: Sudhir Kakar, a psychoanalyst and novelist, says that in the Indian mind Goa has long signified freedom, particularly of the sexual kind. It is an association advanced by Hindi movies of another era, he said, in which Goan women were often portrayed as sexually available and Goan men as drunks. “Goa is associated with free sensuality,” he said by way of explaining its real estate lure. “That I think is a very big attraction — and the keeping up with the Joneses. It’s a party place, a place to let go of your inhibitions.” [Source: Somini Sengupta, New York Times, March 18, 2007]

Tourism, Gambling and Getting to Goa

Goa’s character is most alive in its endless stretches of white sand, palm fringed beaches and brightly painted Portuguese houses. Water sports, river cruises, ayurvedic massage centers, live music, restaurants, mouth watering sea food off pleasant diversions. A variety of accommodation options ranging from beautiful villas, ultra-luxurious resorts and boutique hotels to youth hostels, budget-friendly guest houses, private, rentable spaces. moderately priced hotels and bed & breakfast units, is another feature of Goa, attracting large families, honeymooning couples, solo travelers, backpackers and every other kind of traveler..

The latest addition thrown into Goa’s mix is gambling. According to Trip Savvy: “Goa is one of the few states in India where gambling is legal. Casinos in Goa can be found on boats anchored in the Mandovi River, and onshore in some upmarket hotels. Most of the action, with live tables, takes place on the floating casinos -- which are entertainment destinations within themselves. By law, onshore casinos can only have electronic games.

“The offshore casino market is dominated by the Deltin Group and the Pride Group. Deltin's modern and classy casinos have higher entry fees and focus on a niche segment. They're particularly popular with players of western games. The Pride Group, with lower entry fees, caters more to the masses and the Indian market. The Pride Group also operates two small onshore casinos -- Casino Palms (at the La Calypso hotel in Baga) and Casino Paradise (at the Hotel Neo Majestic in Pororvim). However, these casinos are more suited to habitual gamblers than tourists.”

Getting There: Goa gets numerous charter flights from abroad from October to March. By Air: Goa’s Dabolim Airport is located about 25 kilometers from its capital, Panaji. Daily flights connect it to Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai and Kolkata. By Road: Conveniently connected by a wide network of roads and highways to Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru and Ernakulum, Goa has three major bus stops: Panaji, Madgaon and Vasco Da Gama. By Train: Goa is serviced by Madgaon railway station, which is connected by regular rail services to Mumbai, Pune and New Delhi.

Development in Goa

Today, Goa is much more developed than it was when the hippies arrived. Thatch-roof hut communities have been replaced by Large resorts and comfortable hotels that cater affluent Indians and European sunworshippers, who come here to enjoy the colonial atmosphere and activities such as swimming, relaxing on the beach, windsurfing, fishing, shopping, sampling ethnic foods, enjoying Goa's interesting folk culture, and chatting up its friendly people.

The Taj, Marriot and Renaissance chains have opened luxury resorts in Goa. The development and crowds should increase when new rail-line between Goa and Mumbai open. The trains is expected to bring ultra-nationalist Hindus who might try to revive the issue of churches having been built on the site of Hindu temples as was the Muslim temple in Adoyda was that leveled by Hindu attackers in 1992.

Somini Sengupta wrote in the New York Times: The makeover of Goa into an upscale vacation spot — the Hamptons, if you will, for the upwardly mobile Indian — began in the late 1960s, when hippies came to conquer Goa’s beaches. Over time, it became a mandatory stop on the Israeli post-military-service circuit. A string of five-star resorts opened in the 1990s. Onetime visitors, both Indian and foreign, began restoring old houses. Then, over the past few years, as private airlines added new flights to Goa, affluent urban professionals from Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and elsewhere began coming in droves. The economy was soaring. People suddenly had money to invest. They started buying Goan real estate. [Source: Somini Sengupta, New York Times, March 18, 2007]

“The Goa phenomenon has been fueled by India’s economic rise. There is more money swirling around than ever before, including more foreign investment for real estate. Drive along any major highway in India and you are likely to see earth being moved day and night, laborers carrying cement on their heads, steel pilings pointing up to the sky like so many skinny fingers of ambition. Once unremarkable small towns now see a rush of high-rise apartment blocks under construction. fields of wheat and mustard are fenced off, with giant billboards announcing the arrival of new townships.

“There is a genuine demand for some types of development: office buildings are absorbed in cities like Bangalore as quickly as they are built. But there’s also a breathless quality to some of the forecasts. One report from Deutsche Bank of Germany predicted in January that 600 malls would be under way across India in the next three years. In recent months, in an apparent effort to temper soaring real estate prices, Indian banks have gradually raised interest rates on home loans.

“In Goa, the boom started, naturally, with tycoons. Eight years ago, Vijay Mallya, who owns Kingfisher Beer, hired Dean D’Cruz, one of Goa’s best-known architects, to design what Mallya dubbed the Kingfisher Villa, spilling down to the Arabian Sea. “When people walk into my house, I want them to go weak in the knees,” is how D’Cruz recalled his instructions. Somewhat less wealthy seekers followed, but their real estate fantasies burned just as hot. Gated communities with clubhouses and pools began to go up. Hillsides were carved out for condominiums. Cashew groves were cut for a road. Recently, some of the country’s biggest developers have put forward plans for apartments, golf courses, hotels, shopping malls and a software park. Prices have swiftly climbed into the stratosphere. In April of last year, DLF Universal, one of India’s largest builders, bought a patch of land near the capital, Panaji, for more than $1,100 a square yard. Just two years ago, the state government, which owned the land, could not dispose of the property for a sixth of that price. DLF plans to build a mall and office complex on the site.”

Developers, Dream Houses and Second Chances in Goa

Somini Sengupta wrote in the New York Times: “One afternoon in December, Roy Patrao peered through a sturdy iron gate and scanned the gnarled roots of a tree embracing the ruin of an old stone house. Only a shell of the house survived, with thick columns holding up a portico. A window shutter made of seashells and slatted wood was visible amid the overgrown bush. On this plot of land, Patrao saw his dream. He would build a villa here, with cool limestone floors and a modern kitchen. The upstairs windows would open to a view of the river that meandered through the village. In the backyard, he pictured a family gathering around the barbecue, as they might on a summer’s evening in Southern California, where Patrao once lived. But this time, the domestic scene would take place in Goa, the sliver of a state on India’s western coast. [Source: Somini Sengupta, New York Times, March 18, 2007]

“The site was perfect. On the adjacent property was a paddy field, which by law was off limits to construction. The river view was a bonus, for in the real estate business, river views are nearly as lucrative as Goa’s legendary ocean views, which have become virtually impossible to attain. The village itself, called Aldona, was long on Goan charm, surrounded by rolling hills with the beaches of the Arabian Sea less than an hour’s drive away. Across the road from the old house stood a small white chapel. The fishmonger did the rounds each morning. The charm factor was sweetened by local lore: Patrao told me there were tales of two ghost sightings in the house.

“Patrao hadn’t bought the plot yet, but he was already picturing that this would be the first of 10, maybe 20, houses that he would build across Goa. He would use his own money and that of friends, who likewise would be banking on the appeal of Goa’s lore. One day, he imagined, a community of Indian-Americans like him might spend holidays in their Goan homes or eventually retire here. He was born in Mumbai (formerly known as Mumbai), but when he spoke of homecoming, he meant Goa.

“Goa, like much of India, is in the midst of a real estate frenzy, and Patrao, a man nearly 60, a veteran of the construction business in California and New York, is nothing if not an entrepreneur. His ambitions were fueled as much by his canny business sense as by Goa’s enticements. The houses he imagined building would sell for at least $180,000, he reckoned, or more than twice the investment in the land and construction costs. Real estate, he figured, was the way to go in India. “One billion people. Limited land supply. It’s a no-brainer,” he concluded. With that plan in mind, Patrao and his girlfriend, Sundiv Kaur, known as Sunny, were devoting their days and nights to the quest for land. They drove from village to village, eyeing ruins and plots, inspecting views, making drawings and, in the evenings, plotting their findings on a flowchart to see how well the math worked.”

“Theirs was also a personal venture. Goa is where they both came to recover from their old lives. Both had left their previous marriages — she in Singapore, he in the United States. They met in Goa, became friends, fell in love, rented an apartment together and decided to put down new roots. One day, they said, they would build themselves a house in Goa. “This is a second-chance place, baby,” was Patrao’s verdict. As Patrao drove through Aldona on the warm December afternoon, Kaur sat next to him, quietly smiling. The next morning, they planned to put down money on their dream ruin.”

Resorts in Goa

Resorts in Goa are located mainly about three kilometers south of Old Goa and extends for about 10 kilometers to the muddy Sal river. The beaches here are cleaner and less crowded than those near Old Goa. The resorts cater to European tourists and nouveau riche Indians and include the resorts of Varca and Cavelossi. They have swimming pools, sunset cruises, cash bars and live entertainment.

Somini Sengupta wrote in the New York Times: “Spread across 140 acres along a wooded ridge on the edge of the water some 11 miles from Aldona, Aldeia de Goa, a lavish gated community, bears little resemblance to the rest of India. Irvine, Calif., might be a closer cousin. There are no potholes. There are street lamps and around-the-clock water from the tap. Sewage is treated and not left to fester in a septic tank. Terraced lawns lead down to a clubhouse under construction, along with a gym, tennis courts and a swimming pool. A five-star hotel will be built on the beach. Where the ridge bends, a section has been cleared for the construction of another cluster of bungalows and condominiums. The views face west onto the widening mouth of the Zuari River as it pours into the Arabian Sea. [Source: Somini Sengupta, New York Times, March 18, 2007]

“The rest of the hill tells you what Aldeia de Goa once was — shrubs and trees formerly zoned as orchard land where no development was allowed. The developers argued for a rezoning many years ago and managed to relax Goa’s strict coastal regulations for the patch of beach where they are putting up the hotel. They convinced local authorities that since the property abuts the mouth of the Zuari, the 200-meter buffer that applies to hotel construction on the seacoast should not apply; they have been allowed to build closer to the water.

“Aldeia is the postcard for a new Indian aspiration — the country house, which had been the province of Indian blue-blood families, and even for them it meant a cottage in the hills, bought from the departing British. In Aldeia, completed houses can go for as much as $700,000. Prices of bungalow plots have more than doubled in two years. All told, about half of the roughly 250 properties in Aldeia have been bought by people from Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. The rest are Indians who live abroad. “Invest in the lifestyle you deserve,” the cover of the sales brochure declares.

“The owners at Aldeia also include local officials who at one point or another have smoothed the way for building permits and rezoning. Among them is Goa’s most famous politician, Atanasio Monserrate, who until recently served as the minister for town and country planning and was a chief architect of the repealed regional plan. One of his most controversial acts of rezoning was to allow for a road to be built through paddy fields in order to connect two of his houses. At Aldeia, he has a corner plot with a prime view of the water. Monserrate declined several requests for an interview, but in December, when a private Indian television news station, NDTV, asked him about charges of graft, Monserrate said flatly that such accusations were impossible to prove. He resigned in January, saying that he had been unfairly blamed for the new regional plan.

Anti-Development in Goa

Somini Sengupta wrote in the New York Times: “ This construction has not been greeted with universal joy. Last fall, after the Goan state government approved a five-year regional plan that opened new swaths of land to development, some of it hillsides with coveted views of river and sea, residents of laid-back Goa were roused to action. Builders welcomed the plan as relief from what they deplored as overly stringent restrictions on construction, including a ban on buildings taller than the nearest coconut palm. But critics in Goa, who included D’Cruz, saw it as an open invitation to destruction. Where would all the garbage go? Where was the clean drinking water for all the newcomers when the village wells were running dry or salty? Goa’s ecology would be destroyed, the critics cried, its magic would be gone. [Source: Somini Sengupta, New York Times, March 18, 2007]

“Protests were organized, and a campaign, called Save Goa, was established. One protest in December drew thousands of people to Panaji. Amateur photographers fanned across the state snapping pictures of supposedly illegal construction. The Catholic Church put its weight behind the campaign. Save Goa took state officials to court. “Paradise Lost,” its Web site warned. By mid-January, the campaign could claim a substantial victory. The government of Goa, ruled by the Congress Party, voted to scrap the regional plan and draft a new one. Menino Peres, the director of the department of information and publicity, said it was because of the “sentiment of large numbers of people in Goa, and on environment and congestion considerations.”

“Roy Patrao watched the controversy closely, and not without self-interest. He regarded the debate as unnecessarily polarized. In the anti-development lobby he saw tendencies of Nimby-ism. But during the week of the big protest in Panaji, he sent me an e-mail message saying he was glad he had refrained from big projects and what he called “controversial lands.” “I had a powerful feeling that something smelled here — and that I did not want to be part of the stench,” he wrote. “Having said that, I also believe that many of the luminaries of Goa feel slighted because {lsquo}outsiders’ want to develop mega-projects in Goa. They want Goa to remain as it always was. I feel they would like to be the ones in charge.”

Shopping and Food in Goa

Goa offers a bounty of shopping havens. In Panaji, you can pick up Goa’s famed cashews, Portuguese handicrafts and spices at the main market, along with lots of sweet treats like bebinca and dodol. The Mario Miranda galleries in Panaji and Calangute are great places to pick up memorabilia that sport cartoons. Clay products, textiles and knick-knacks can be picked up at Calangute Market Square. Famous for its trinkets and clothing at haggle-worthy prices, the Anjuna Flea Market is popular with young people who want to buy hip accessories at throwaway prices. The Saturday Night Market in Arpora is a souvenir haven and houses many food stalls. Mackie’s Night Bazaar is a seasonal market that offers lip-smacking local fare and eco-friendly products.

Mapusa (13 kilometers north of Panaji) is Goa's third-largest town. It is primarily known for its vibrant Friday Market. Attracting visitors from across the state, the market offers much, including fresh and dried fish, local pickles, Goan pottery, spices, cashews, fruits and vegetables, incense and even souvenirs. This is also a great place to sample local Goan culinary fare such as spicy sausages.

Goan Curry is a spicy and tangy, coconut-based curry is popular across households in Goa and a prominent feature at most of its restaurants. Mostly served with steamed rice, it makes for a hearty meal. A paste is prepared with ground coconut, red chillies, peppercorns, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and turmeric powder to which water, sliced onions, green chillies and kokum (a plant that is used as a spice or medicine) are added. Some preparations use tamarind to infuse a slightly sour taste.

Xacuti is prepared using grated coconut and lots of spices. It can be made with lamb or chicken and is best enjoyed with poie bread, a Goan delicacy. Uddamethi is a popular mackerel fish curry that is prepared using grated coconut, urad dal (lentils) and methi (fenugreek) seeds. Kismur is a dish comprising sun-dried shrimps that have been toasted, salted and mixed with grated coconut and spices.This is a hearty chicken soup comprising boiling broth, vegetables and rice.

Arroz doce is sweetened rice pudding that’s served on auspicious occasions like Christmas Eve. It is sometimes spiced with cinnamon and is a delicious treat for every lover of sweet treats. Bebinca is a layered treat made of coconut milk, flour, sugar, coconut juice, eggs and clarified butter. It is often served on special occasions. Though rice is very popular, there are two other accompaniments served with hot curries in Goa. Sanna is a steamed rice preparation that is the Goan version of idli and poie is a round, baked bread that is found in every nook and corner of Goa.

One of the most prominent indicators of Portuguese influence on Goan food is vindaloo. It is a stew-like dish that is filled with spices. Malt vinegar is the star component of this preparation, which is infused with garlic and several spices. Balchao is a special Goan pickle that goes perfectly with rice and bread. It is usually prepared with seafood and is deep red in color, owing to the number of spices that go into its preparation. Balchao is made using cumin, onion, garlic, dried chillies, pepper, turmeric powder and vinegar, among other condiments.

To wash down spices, Goans drink lots of sol kadhi: a cooling drink made with kokum water (water made with kokam that is a plant used as a spice or medicine) and a sort of milk made from the paste of grated coconut, garlic and chillies. It is consumed as a post-meal digestive. Feni is a spirit produced in Goa.

Festivals In Goa

Shigmotsav is celebrated on the full moon day in the month of Phalguna (corresponding with the month of March in the Roman calendar). It is essentially a festival that is organised to say goodbye to winter. It begins with the obeisance of the villagers followed by days of celebrations and dance with colorful cloths, torans, flags, and column-like red spotted dwajas. The 5th day, called Rang Panchami, is celebrated with much gusto.

Goa Carnival (Carnaval) is one of the best festivals in not just Goa but also the whole of India, Goa Carnival draws people in droves. This unique festival has been celebrated since the 18th century after it was introduced by the Portuguese rulers of Goa. Music, dancing and revelry make up this three-day non-stop extravaganza in the state. colorful parades with floats are taken out all over Goa. These are organised by the State Tourism Department.

The float parade in Panaji is presided over by a king Momo, appointed especially for the festival. Preceding Lent, this carnival is held in February and comprises three days of singing, dancing, feasting and fun. The king and his entourage arrive on “Fat Saturday”, the eve of the carnival, and helm a lively parade of colorful floats and troupes of revellers in vibrant costumes and masks, singing folk songs and dancing along the streets. Although the festival is primarily celebrated by Christians, people of all faiths join in the festivities.

Sports and Recreation in Goa

Water sports such as yachting, surfing, parasailing, windsurfing, waterskiing, jetskiing, banana boat riding, scuba diving, catamaran sailing, sunset and moonlight cruises, dolphin cruises and snorkeling can be arranged through different hotels and travel agencies. Fishing is possible in the ocean and inland rivers, and hiking is popular in the Western Ghats. Boat trips can be arranged to shipwrecks and uninhabited islands near Mormugao Port and Karwar Port. You can also try "housie," a Bingo-like game popular with local people.

Surfing and Scuba Diving in Goa: Many of Goa’s beaches provide waves that are suitable for surfing. Mandrem Beach is said to be best for surfing. Goa’s waters have coral reefs and rich aquatic life. Several internationally-certified diving school institutes offer lessons. Sao Jorge Island and Grande Island are great spots for scuba diving in Goa.

River Cruises Panaji is located on the banks of River Mandovi, and plenty of entertaining river cruises – of varied durations - can be experienced with the state capital as your base. All cruises begin their tours from the Santa Monica jetty near Mandovi bridge. The Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) operates hour-long cruises, which offer live performances of Goan folk songs and dances by local artistes. These are usually aboard the Santa Monica or Shantadurga boats. On some days of the week, two-hour-long dinner cruises are also on offer along with a backwater cruise that takes you past the Adil Shah Fort, a series of colonial structures and the promenade festooned with fairy lights, to Miramar Beach before returning to Santa Monica jetty.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: India tourism website ( incredibleindia.org), India’s Ministry of Tourism and other government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Yomiuri Shimbun and various books and other publications.

Updated in August 2020

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