Goa:  Synonymous with beaches and sea, much of real Goa is in its interior, both inside the architectural splendors of its temples, churches and old houses and its scenic beauty away from the coast, thus Goa often called the "Pearl of the Orient" or a "Tourist Paradise".

Located on the western coast of India in the coastal belt known as Konkan with Maharashtra on the north, Karnataka on the south and east, it is the Arabian Sea forming the magnificent coastline on the west that has brought Goa to our awareness.

Goan cuisine is a blend of different influences on Goans. Fish and rice is the staple among Hindus and Catholics, and surprisingly, unlike Christian food, Hindu Goan food is not strongly influenced by Portuguese cuisine. English and Hindi are widely spoken, though Konkani and Marathi are the state languages.

Tourist season begins late September through early March with dry and pleasantly cool weather. It starts to get hot around May and by end of June, monsoon sets in with downpours and tropical thunderstorms. However it is also during the monsoon that Goa is probably at its most beautiful, with greenery sprouting all around.

Over the centuries Rashtrakutas, Kadambas, Silaharas, Chalukyas, Bahamani Muslims and most famously the Portuguese have been rulers of Goa.

Goa was liberated by the Indian Army from Portuguese colonization on December 19, 1961 and became an Union Territory along with the enclaves of Daman and Diu. On May 30, 1987 Goa was conferred statehood and became the 25th state of the Indian Republic. Having been the meeting point of races, religions and cultures of East and West over the centuries, Goa has a multi-hued and distinctive lifestyle quite different from the rest of India. Hindu and Catholic communities make up almost the entire population with minority representation of Muslims and other religions.

The origin of Goa (or Gomantak) is unclear. When the Hindu epic Mahabharat was written (c.1000-500 BC), there is reference to Goa as Gomantak, a word with many meanings, but generally a fertile land.

Perhaps the most famous legend associated with Goa, is that the sage Parashuram (sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu), created the entire stretch of Konkan coast by ordering the seas to recede. The Sea God gave up the lands on the banks of the two main rivers of Goa: Mandovi and Zuari (then called Gomati and Asghanasini) for the settlement of the Aryans accompanying Parashurama.

Another legend states that the coastal area of Konkan enchanted Lord Krishna, who was charmed by the beautiful ladies bathing in the area. The ladies in turn, were so taken up by the melodious music coming from his flute, that they kept dancing forgetting their daily chores. Lord Krishna, then named the land Govapuri after the cows (gov) belonging to the locals.

The first wave of Brahmins to settle in Goa, were called Saraswats because of their origins from the banks of the River Saraswati, an ancient river that existed in Vedic times. The subsequent drying up of the river caused large scale migration of Brahmins to all corners of India. A group of ninety-six families, known today as Gaud Saraswats, settled along the Konkan coast around 1000 BC. Of these, sixty-six families took up residence in the southern half in today's Salcete taluka which derives its name from the Sanskrit word "Sassast" meaning the number 66. The other thirty families settled in the northern area in today's Tiswadi taluka which derives its name from the Sanskrit word for the number 30.