Special Goa Carnival Package

It's a shame Goa comes burdened with a reputation for louche living, because there's so much more to it than sun, sand and psychedelia. The allure of Goa is that it remains quite distinct from the rest of India and is small enough to be grasped and explored in a way that other Indian states are not. The former Portuguese enclave on the west coast has enjoyed a prominent place in the travellers' lexicon since the heady days of the 1960s. Travellers in Goa still feel obliged to 'hang out' meaningfully, be mellow and wear pretty silly tribal costumes, but the (in)famous hippies have now been replaced by backpackers, Indian visitors and a bevvy of bewildered package tourists on two-week jaunts from Europe.

Full country name: Goa
Area: 3,660 sq km
Population: 1.3 million
People: Goan
Language: Konkani, Portuguese, Marathi, English
Religion: Hindu, Muslim and Christian

When To Go & Events When to Go
Goa's beachnik lifestyle is best experienced during the winter months between October and the end of February: at any other time you're likely to either fry under the uncomfortably hot sun or find your equanimity threatened by the monsoonal rains. The months of January, February and March are the best months for Hindu festivals and celebrations. January has the colourful festival of Shantadurga Prasann, February the three day zatra of Shri Mangesh, and in March is the festival of Holi, called Shigmo.

Because Goa has a large Christian community, most Christian festivals such as Easter and Christmas are celebrated along with a host of minor deity days such as the Feast of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception and the Feast of St Francis Xavier, both in December. Hindu festivals tend to occur at the beginning of the calendar year. The Festival of Shantadurga Prasann, in January, involves a night-time procession of chariots bearing the goddess followed by over 100,000 faithfuls. In the colourful and dramatic Procession of Umbrellas at Cuncolim south of Margao, the same goddess is honoured with a procession carrying a solid silver image of her to the original temple site. The three day zatra of Shri Mangesh takes place in February in the lavish temple of the same name. During the same month in the old Fontainhas district of Panaji, the Maruti zatra draws huge and colourful crowds. March sees the festival of Holi or Shigmo.