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To the south of Maharashtra lies Goa. The 100km- (60 mile-) long coastline offers some of the finest beaches in the subcontinent. Goa was under Portuguese rule until 1961, and there is also a charming blend of Latin and Indian cultures. Panaji, the state capital, is one of the most relaxed and elegant of India’s cities. The town is dominated by the huge Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, but the shops, bars and pleasant streets are its main attraction. ‘Old Goa’, only a bus ride away from Panaji, displays a bewildering variety of architectural styles. Buildings of note include the Basilica and the Convent and Church of St Francis of Assisi. In nearby Ponda is the 400-year-old Temple of Shri Mangesh, which is said to be the oldest Hindu shrine.

Goa’s infamous hippies are being replaced by backpackers, Indian visitors and package tourists. Full moon parties still take place in Anjuna but are smaller and less authentic than in the heady days of the 1960s. Anjuna is also famous throughout Goa for its Wednesday flea market. If you are looking for beautiful, quiet beaches head for the South between Benaulim and Palolem.

Accommodation in the region includes the luxury resort of Aguada, the Taj holiday village and the Aguada hermitage. There are also good, simple hotels and cottages for rent in villages along the coastline, notably Calangute, Baga and Colva.

Goa also has several wildlife sanctuaries, including Bondla in the hills of western Ghats, where wild boar and sambar can be seen in their natural habitat. The region is famous for its food – an array of dishes, both Indian and Portuguese – as well as for its colorful festivals, including the spectacular Carnival held on the three days leading up to Ash Wednesday.