The Rough Guide to Goa


THE ROUGH GUIDE TO GOA is the essential guide to India's best known resort region. Features include:

Full-colour section introducing Goa and its highlights.

Evocative accounts of every beach in the state, from remote fishing villages to luxury resorts, plus the region's temples, markets, wildlife sanctuaries and waterfalls.

Lively reviews of...

See more details below
$14.89 price
(Save 25%)$19.99 List Price
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (10) from $6.56   
  • New (3) from $10.02   
  • Used (7) from $6.56   
Sending request ...


THE ROUGH GUIDE TO GOA is the essential guide to India's best known resort region. Features include:

Full-colour section introducing Goa and its highlights.

Evocative accounts of every beach in the state, from remote fishing villages to luxury resorts, plus the region's temples, markets, wildlife sanctuaries and waterfalls.

Lively reviews of the best places to stay, eat, drink and party.

In-depth coverage of Mumbai and the sights of neighbouring Karnataka, including the ruined city of Hampi and the seaside pilgrimage site of Gokarna.

Perceptive background on Goa's history, religion and environment.

Maps and plans for every region.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781848365629
  • Publisher: DK
  • Publication date: 11/1/2010
  • Edition number: 8
  • Pages: 344
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

David Abram is an India specialist — author of The Rough Guide to India, South India and Goa

David Abram is an India specialist — author of The Rough Guide to India, South India and Goa

David Abram is an India specialist — author of The Rough Guide to India, South India and Goa

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt


Which beach you opt for when you arrive largely depends on what sort of holiday you have in mind. Heavily developed resorts such as Calangute and Baga, in the north, and Colva and Benaulim in the south, offer more "walk-in" accommodation, shopping and tourist facilities than elsewhere. Even if you don¹t fancy crowded bars and purpose-built hotels, it can be worth heading for these centres at first, as finding places to stay in less commercialized corners is often difficult. Anjuna, Vagator and Chapora, where accommodation is generally more basic and harder to come by, are the beaches to aim for if you¹ve come to Goa for the techno scene. To get a taste of what most of the state must have been like ten or fifteen years ago, however, you¹ll have to travel further afield ­ to Arambol, a sleepy fishing village and hippy hang-out in the far north; or to Agonda and Palolem, near the Karnatakan border, where tourism has made less of an impact. Foremost among the attractions away from the coast are the ruins of the Portuguese capital at Old Goa, nine kilometres from Panjim ­ a sprawl of Catholic cathedrals, convents and churches that draws crowds of Christian pilgrims from all over India. Another popular day excursion is to Anjuna¹s Wednesday flea market, a sociable place to shop for souvenirs and the latest rave gear. Further inland, the thickly wooded countryside around Ponda harbours numerous temples, where you can experience Goa¹s peculiar brand of Hindu architecture. The taluka (district) of Salcete, and its main market town, Margao, is littered with wonderful Portuguese mansions, churches and seminaries. In addition, wildlife enthusiasts may be tempted into the interior to visit the nature reserves at Molem, in the far east of Central Goa, and Cotigao in the south, which both support fragile populations of rare animals.

With so many tempting beaches, markets, monuments and nature reserves within the state, it¹s no surprise that few visitors venture across the Goan border into neighbouring Karnataka. But beyond the shelter of the Western Ghats, amid the parched plateau lands of the Deccan Trap, lie the remnants of several ancient capitals. Among these is one of the most spectacular archeological sites in South India, the ghost city of Hampi. Today, weed-choked palaces, temples and discarded statues are virtually all that remains of this once opulent metropolis, capital of the formidable Vijayanagar dynasty, but a visit here will give you a vivid insight into the extravagant art and culture of pre-colonial Hindu India, while the ten-hour journey to the ruins can be an adventure in itself.

For this reason, we¹ve included a detailed account of Hampi in Chapter 4, Around Goa, which also features the highlights along the Konkan coast, the lush strip running south from Goa in the shadow of the Sahyadri Hills. Previously accessible only by a winding pot-holed highway, the Hindu pilgrimage town of Gokarn can now be painlessly reached by train from Goa on the new Konkan Railway, while India¹s highest waterfall, spectacular Jog Falls, 154km from Goa, also lies within relatively easy reach of the coast. It¹s possible to string these two together in a trip of three to four days, but with a week to spare you¹ll be able to spend time exploring rarely visited fishing villages and forest areas along the way.

Chapter 5 covers Mumbai (Bombay), a hot, congested and seedy city that is the arrival point for most international flights. Mumbai gets a pretty bad press, and most people pass straight through, but those who stay find themselves witness to the reality of modern-day India, from the deprivations of the city¹s slum-dwellings to the glitz and glamour of Bollywood movies ­ a stark contrast with Goa.


The best time to come to Goa is during the dry, relatively cool winter months between mid-November and early April. Throughout this period, you¹ll be lucky to see more than a faint whisp or two of cloud in the sky; daytime temperatures are perfect for lazing on the beach and the sea is blissfully warm, while at night it is usually possible to sleep without a fan, under a thin cotton sheet. From the end of April onwards the heat and humidity begin to build, culminating in June, when a giant wall of black cloud marches landwards from the Arabian Sea. When the monsoon finally breaks, violent storms wrack the coast for days on end, bending the palm trees and turning the rivers into fast flowing, brown torrents. Some two-and-a-half metres of rain fall over the coming months, keeping fishermen off the sea. Not until October do the skies start to clear, and even then you can expect spells of intense humidity, grey skies, haze and occasional rain storms, alternating with bursts of strong sun.

For the past five years or so, the monsoons have spilled into November, shortening the tourist season. This has put the peak period, from mid-December to the end of January, when the temperature gauge rarely rises above 32 degrees centigrade, under increased pressure. Finding a room or a house to rent at that time ­ particularly over the Christmas and New Year fortnight when the tariffs double, or triple ­ can be a real hassle in some resorts, notably Anjuna, which is inundated with party-goers. So if you¹re travelling without pre-booked accommodation, it may be worthwhile reserving a room by phone before you leave.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Getting there from Britain and Ireland
Getting there from North America
Getting there from Australia and
New Zealand
Visas and red tape
Travel insurance
Information, maps and Web sites
Costs, money and banks
Getting around
Disabled travellers
Eating and drinking
Mail, phones and media
Police, trouble and personal security
Cultural hints and etiquette
Festivals and holidays
Shopping and souvenirs
Women travellers

Dona Paula
Old Goa
Chorao and Divar Islands
Around Ponda: Hindu temples
The Bondla Sanctuary
The Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary
The Dudhsagar Waterfalls

Betim and Reis Magos
Fort Aguada
Aswem and Mandrem
Chapter Three South Goa
Vasco da Gama
Dabolim Airport
Around Vasco da Gama
Mormugao Bay
East of Margao
Cavelossim and Mobor
Canacona taluka
Cabo da Rama
Colom, Patnem and Rajbag
Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary

Hampi (Vijayanagar)
Jog Falls

City transport
The City
Elephanta Island
Downtown Mumbai
Marine Drive and Chowpatty
Eating and drinking
Nightlife and entertainment
Getting to Goa from Mumbai

The religions of Goa
Environmental issues in Goa
Natural history
Goan music and dance

Chapter divisions
Panjim & Central Goa
Old Goa
Around Ponda
North Goa
Candolim & Fort Aguada
Vagator & Chapora
South Goa
Vasco da Gama
Around Goa
Churchgate & Fort

Read More Show Less



If any word could be said to encapsulate the essence of GOA, it would have to be the Portuguese sossegarde, meaning "carefree". For Goan expatriates, the term conjures up memories of long, lazy evenings on pillared verandas, surrounded by tropical vegetation and the heady scent of cashew and frangipani flowers, with the crash of surf drifting periodically through a curtain of coconut palms. The pace of life in this former colonial enclave, midway down India¹s southwest coast, has picked up over the past twenty years, but in spite of the increasing chaos of its capital, beach resorts and market towns, Goa has retained the laid-back feel that has traditionally set it apart from the rest of the country. Its 1.4 million inhabitants are unequivocal about the roots of their distinctiveness; while most of the subcontinent was colonized by the stiff-upper-lipped British, Goa¹s European overlords were the dissolute Portuguese, a people far more inclined to enjoy the good things in life than their Anglo-Saxon counterparts.

Goa was Portugal¹s first toehold in Asia, brutally carved out by the explorer Alfonso Albuquerque in 1510, and served as the linchpin for a vast trade empire for over 450 years. However, when the Portuguese colonial mission began to flounder in the seventeenth century, so too did the fortunes of its capital. Cut off from the rest of India by a wall of mountains and hundreds of miles of unnavigable alluvial plain, it remained resolutely aloof from the wider subcontinent. While India was tearing itself to pieces in the run-up to Independence in 1947, the only machetes being wielded here were cutting coconuts. Not until 1961, after an exasperated Indian prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, gave up trying to negotiate with the Portuguese dictator Salazar and sent in the army, was Goa finally absorbed into India. A decade or so later the overland travellers¹ trail wriggled its way south down the Konkan Coast from Mumbai, ensuring that this hitherto remote enclave of Latin-influenced culture would never be quite the same again. Those visitors who came here back in the late 1960s and 1970s found a way of life little changed in centuries: Portuguese was still very much the lingua franca of the well-educated elite, and the coastal settlements were mere fishing and coconut cultivation villages. Relieved to have found somewhere inexpensive and culturally undemanding to recover from the travails of Indian travel, the blow-ins got stoned, watched the mesmeric sunsets over the Arabian Sea and partied madly on full-moon nights, giving rise to a holiday culture that soon made Goa synonymous with hedonistic hippies.

Since then, the state has largely shaken off its reputation as a drop-out zone, but hundreds of thousands of foreign visitors still flock here each winter, the vast majority of them to relax on Goa¹s beautiful beaches. Around two dozen stretches of soft white sand indent the region¹s coast, from spectacular 25-kilometre sweeps to secluded palm-backed coves. The level of development on them varies wildly; while some have ritzy Western-style resorts, the most sophisticated structures on others are palm-leaf shacks and old wooden outriggers that have to be heaved into the sea each afternoon.

Goa¹s beaches, however, are only a part of the picture. A short foray from the coast will take you into the state¹s real heart, the densely populated strip inland ­ a lush patchwork of paddy fields, coconut and areca plantations, and gently meandering rivers. Further east, the jungle-covered hills of the Western Ghats separate Goa from the drier Deccan plateau, scattered with tiny thatch-roofed settlements and isolated communities of forest-dwelling farmers ­ direct descendants of the region¹s aboriginal peoples.

Wherever you travel in Goa, you¹ll find traces of former Portuguese domination, creating an ambience that is at once exotic and strangely familiar. Gabled Baroque church facades nose tantalizingly above the tropical treeline, padres in long cassocks cycle to Mass, fishermen wear crosses and Madonna medallions, and on Sunday evenings Christian families take a leisurely stroll in their best clothes, the women in carefully tailored dresses, the men in slacks and shirts. Blending the Latin love of meat and fish with India¹s predilection for spices, Goan food, too, is quite unlike any other regional cuisine in Asia, as is the prevalence of alcohol. Beer is cheap, and six thousand or more bars around the state are licensed to serve it, along with the more traditional tipple, feni, a rocket fuel spirit distilled from cashew fruit or coconut sap.

Outside the Christian heartland of central Goa, the temples, rituals and exuberant festivals of Hinduism, the religion of more than two-thirds of the state¹s population, mingle easily with more recently implanted traditions. Unlike many parts of India, religious intolerance is a thing of the past here; faced by the threat of merger with neighbouring states, Goans have always put regional cohesion before communal differences at the ballot box, and some of the state¹s principal religious festivals ­ notably Christmas, Carnival and Diwali ­ are celebrated by adherents of both faiths.

However, the debate over statehood and identity has gradually come to dominate the political agenda in Goa over the past decade or so. Following New Delhi¹s recognition of Konkani, spoken by the vast majority of Goans, as the official state language in 1992, the press platformed calls for greater autonomy, as well as curbs on immigration from other Indian states. Goa is considerably more prosperous than adjoining regions, and this has stimulated a vast influx of economic refugees, the poorest of whom live in shanty settlements around the construction sites where they work. Among the main employers of migrant labour in recent years has been the Konkan Railway, completed in 1997 to form a super-fast land link with Mumbai ­ another stimulus for economic growth that has already brought with it lasting changes.

Fuelled by remittance cheques from expats working in the Gulf and North America, and by the hard-currency receipts from tourism, the recent boom has placed a great strain on Goa¹s fragile natural environment, and green issues nowadays feature prominently in any talk of the region¹s future. Much anger, in particular, has been directed towards a handful of purpose-built luxury hotels, which have been accused of ignoring environmental laws. We have tried to reflect such concerns in the Guide, indicating which hotels have been taken to task by the green lobby and what you can do to minimize the impact of your presence in this part of the world.

If you¹ve never travelled in Asia before, Goa may come as something of a shock. Its beaches certainly conform to the glossy holiday brochure image, but once outside the tourist spots many first-time visitors are surprised to find themselves in workaday rural India, where bullock carts far outnumber cars, rice is planted by hand, and the majority of villagers subsist on an average annual wage that is far lower than the cost of a flight from Europe. Don¹t, however, let this deter you from venturing off the beaten track in Goa. The little-frequented corners of the state are likely to yield some of the most memorable moments of your trip, combining beautiful scenery with the chance to encounter a way of life that is worlds away from the headlong commercialism of the beach resorts.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)