Experiences in Goa, India: An Introduction to Paradise is written by Marianne Nielsen
Big and small experiences in Goa: 'Soft India'
Goa is 'peace, love and happiness' and wonderful beaches. On the west coast of India lies a little piece of paradise.
In Goa, you are guaranteed fantastic experiences when history and culture, temples and churches, culinary temptations and cool drinks and – not least – beaches and coconut palms welcome you. There are beautiful beaches in both i North Goa and in South Goa.
You’ve probably heard it before when the talk falls on Goa; is it now also 'the right thing to do India '? Is it “Soft India”? My honest answer is: Yes, definitely! India has so many faces and so many experiences to offer and Goa is one of them.
It's just a matter of noticing and finding the experience that suits you and your travel dreams. And Goa is really something for itself - in the best possible way.
Indescribable happiness in the midst of chaos
All the senses are brought to life – for better or for worse – when you travel in India. The sounds, the smells, the taste buds, outrage, amazement, total chaos and magically enchanting relaxation.
Some visit the country and swear never to return again. Others will feel an intoxicating feeling in the body, an indescribable happiness and a sense of belonging in the midst of all the chaos.
I myself happily belong to the last part. To me, India is the land that steals your heart and burns itself into your soul. One thing is for sure: A trip to India you will never forget!
My first encounter with India was more than 20 years ago. As a new and young tour guide, I landed in Goa in the mid-90s, and with Goa – and the experiences I had there – I got a soft introduction to India.
Big culture shock
I should definitely just get used to India, which will probably be a big culture shock for many. But Goa is a really nice place to start. I lived in Goa over 8 seasons as a tour guide and it made me curious to experience more of this magical travel country.
I have since traveled back to India every year to get new magical travel experiences, but I always return to Goa to end my vacation. Goa is simply just my second home.
When after a few weeks of North India's impressive sights, charismatic soul experiences, chaotic train stations, highly spiced wonderful food, overcrowded buses and curious smiling Indians, you think "now I need to relax", then set course for Goa.
Or maybe you are sitting right now and are planning your winter vacation and really want to experience India but are a little skeptical about whether it is something for you.
You might think that the enormous poverty will be too violent to experience so close. That the crowd of people and the deafening traffic noise become too hectic. But are you still curious? So set course for Goa, because there are really many good experiences in Goa.
Experiences in Goa: Much more than beautiful beaches
With its size of just 3.700 km2 – slightly larger than Funen – Goa is it smallest of India's 29 states, and also one of the youngest.
After more than 450 years of Portuguese rule, Goa became part of the Indian Union territory in 1961, and only as late as 1987 did Goa gain the status of India's 25th state.
Goa is bordered by the Arabian Sea to the west and borders the Indian states of Maharashtra to the north and Karnataka to the south and east.
Mountains, rivers, valleys and parks offer beautiful nature experiences, and the Goa rivers, which include Mandovi, Zuari Chapora and Tiracol, are the blood vessels of the small green state, where lush palm trees and evergreen rice fields support the feeling of paradise.
Religion is paramount on a journey in India. Here you will meet, among other things, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Islam and Christianity. And the many churches, temples, mosques and palaces provide ample opportunity for cultural experiences - also in Goa.
You do not have to be far away from the main road of tourism before the small winding roads offer sleepy villages. Here time seems to stand still.
The sacred cows lazily stroll around the traffic knowing that their sacred status makes them invulnerable. A temple elephant is on its way to the city temple with its pilgrims. The road to a unique local experience often costs only a smile.
The most delicious beaches in Goa
And then there are the beaches… We can not get around them.
More than 2 million tourists - Indian and international - make pilgrimages to Goa every year to enjoy the golden beaches and the swaying coconut palms. And beaches are plentiful here.
Whether you are an adventurer or a backpacker, or whether you prefer a more standardized form of travel with flight, suitcase and hotel, there is a beach in Goa for every taste and temperament. Nice, right?
Are you going to the elongated quiet sandy beaches, where the coconut palms sway slightly in the breeze, and the overnight stay takes place in small simple palm huts, you have to South Goa. It's simple, beautiful and cozy down there in the south of Goa.
Are you more into beaches that are buzzing with life and activity with hotels, town, marketplaces and nightlife close by, then it is North Goa. Here there are more facilities and more people.
But why not try both? It is easy and flexible to travel around Goa, and personally I always combine South and North Goa, and then you get the best of both worlds.
Have a great trip - I'm sure you'll have a lot of great experiences in Goa!