India is probably one of the most diversified countries in the world, where it is possible to find all kinds of landscapes, from desert acres of land to tropical areas where green abounds, as well as different types of cultures. It is, therefore, an endless world in itself, even though the recent history of independence after centuries of European colonization.
While being the smallest state, Goa is also one of the most visited-especially by western tourists – being known for presenting a different India to its visitors. The eastern part is mostly covered by the World Heritage Site Western Ghats and the rich and tropical biodiversity found in the state has made it earn comparisons to the Amazon and the Congo, as it has plenty of wildlife sanctuaries. The so popular beaches, that go along 125 km of the coastline, are major attractions for tourists alongside the architectural landscape left by the Portuguese, having two World Heritage Sites: the Bom Jesus Basilica and the churches and convents of Old Goa.
The Union Territory of Daman & Diu, separated from Goa since 1987, is also an area of great interest. In the city of Daman, divided by the Damanganga River, serenity and history are combined, with its beaches and Portuguese heritage. Roman architecture can be seen in the church of Bom Jesus that dates back the 16th century and, at the north side of the river, the Fort Jerome still remains with some significant sites, such as the Church of Our Lady of the Sea and the Portuguese War Cemetery. To relax, the city offers the Devka Beach and the Jampore Beach, one of the few in India with black sand.
In Diu, a historical trading post and naval base, one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture can be found, in the 400 years old St. Paul’s Church. One of its main attractions is the mysterious Naida Caves, located outside of the Diu Fort’s walls- the same fortress provides a kaleidoscope view over the fishing town.
The first to regain independence from the Portuguese after Indian unification, Dadra & Nagar Haveli is a nature blessed Union Territory close to Daman. Where many Bollywood movies have been shot, among the region’s highlights are the Vangaga Lake Garden, a luxurious green park perfect for walks, jogging or boating; the Vasona Lion Safari, where it is possible to see the Asiatic Lions in their natural habitat; the Deer Park, a wildlife sanctuary with species like Sambhar or Chital, and also with a diverse bird population; and the Nakshatra Garden, an astrology-based garden.
Highly influenced by the Portuguese permanency, these three sites are, thus, a mix between the west -for its past- and the east, where harmony prevails among cultures and, especially, among religions, attracting tourists from all over the world every year. The Mangueshi Temple, in Goa, sets an example of this union, for its influence of the Portuguese architecture.