Tucked away on the western slopes of the majestic Western Ghats, lapping the Arabian Sea with its surf-washed beaches and endless palm groves, Goa is an experience all unto itself. Endless miles of golden hued beaches dotted with palms stretching out into the horizon of the sun-kissed waves. Along the way to the coast the rivers form estuaries, creeks and bays breaking the sandy, palm-fringed coastline behind which lie the fishing villages among the coconut groves. Often hailed as "Pearl of the Orient" and "Venice of the East", the state's picturesque landscapes and architectural magnificence of its heritage homes and churches, have attracted tourists from across the world. Since the arrival of the Hippies in the sixties, Goa has been a major destination on the itinerary of international and domestic tourists. The tourist season in Goa begins in late September and carries on through early March, though the state is probably at its most beautiful during the monsoons with lush greenery all around. Goa was under Portuguese rule for over four centuries until liberation in 1961 as a result of which it is a wonderful blend of the East and the West with a distinct fusion of European influences with the traditional ethnic Indian yet retaining a unique charm and ethos of its own.
The Goans thrive on festivities, invariably accompanied by feasting and dance and music. Most exuberant among these is the Carnival during which masked balls, street dancing and float parades mark revelry and merriment across the state. This typically Latin festival immediately precedes the forty days of Lent with the highlight of the exotic frenzy of merriment being King Momo and his joyous band of followers. There is a glittering pageant of colourful tableaux and masked revellers.
The sea and rivers thrive in seafood - prawns, mackerels, sardines, crabs and lobsters are available in abundance making it a seafood lover's paradise. Goa is also renowned for its exotic spices and curries making Goan cuisine distinct in its spicy and unique flavor. Also popular are the decadent deserts like bebinca, dodol, bolinhas, doce that leave you wanting for more. Fresh tropical fruits like mangoes, pineapples, bananas, papayas, cheekus, jackfruits, custard apples are popular withthe locals and tourists alike.