Goa is a totally unique destination in India. Once the preserve of backpackers and hippies, and later overrun by the package holiday crowd, this tiny coastal state is now going through something of a renaissance. A variety of comfortable boutique hotels are springing up all around: not only along the quieter less-explored stretches of coast, but also among the hills and paddy fields of Goa’s scenic interior. The area was occupied by the Portuguese for over 500 years, their only real major foothold in colonial India. The influence remains strong, particularly in religion (the state is widely Christian, and littered with colonial churches), and food (Portuguese traders introduced chillies, and thus gave birth to vindaloo!). Goa was brought under Indian rule since 1961, but still has a very ‘different’ air, most notably in its ‘susegad’ attitude, which gives locals their reputation for being laidback and relaxed in their approach to all things, most notably foreign guests. As a destination Goa is split, very roughly speaking, between the busier north and the less-explored and more traditional south. There is much to see across the whole state though: this intriguing, unique corner of coastal India definitely warrants exploration.

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