Watch out a landscape from the open doors of a local train that travels slowly or from the window of a crowded bus. What you know is India, a road expedition, a disease and an illness from India. From Goa to the south-western tip of Karnataka, you leave a cultural and natural diversity of both stunning states.
The Portuguese heroes celebrated in Os Lusíadas had a clear goal in mind: to arrive at the Indian Areas and to bring from there the richness as they never seen. The warehouses and colonies that founded it flourished, but over the years they were absorbed in the troubled history of the country. The last enclave of this overseas empire was Goa, which after four hundred years of Portuguese rule finally passed to the Indian administration.
Today Goa is one of the smallest states in the nation and, although its Portuguese past is disappearing, much of the colonial atmosphere still resists. Its idyllic beaches are a popular tourist destination, attracting late hippies to backpackers of all ages.
The regional architecture is very different from the rest of the country, full of Catholic churches and buildings of European lines. Although Hinduism is the predominant religion, a syncretic Catholicism is embraced by an influential and elitist minority.
Another fruit of the confluence between Indians and Portuguese is its local cuisine, with delicious dishes with seafood that can be enjoyed installs by the sea.
Panjim is the capital of Goa and concentrates much of the banking, transport and communication services, but the countless and friendly villages scattered around the waterfront each have a different atmosphere. This means now a beach full of young people dancing at the sound of a stake, now a quiet and romantic sunset under a palm tree.
The South of Goa is a laid-back paradise and a perfect base from which to explore both the jungle and the beaches. Palolem is a popular choice for travellers looking for a busy beach with a lot of choice in restaurants. Vendors walk along the beach showcasing souvenirs from local spice shops and fabrics. The live music from the cafes encourages the beach day and night. If you are enjoying Palolem but want a quiet break, close by, Butterfly Beach is a secluded beach, accessible by boat. When the trees are in bloom, the beach is frequented by a colourful fan of butterflies, hence the name.
More relaxed alternatives are the beaches of Patnem or Agonda where you will find little more than some loungers and umbrellas. The pristine nature grows wild, exposing the blue bays and dense forests along the coast. Rent a surfboard on Agonda beach, especially good for beginners, or enrol in one of the many yoga schools in Patnem.
In the state of Karnataka, Hampi is one of the most beautiful and relax regions of India, ideal for explore on foot for two or three days and relax from the daily hustle and bustle of traveling in the country. Hampi has a quiet, rural, very intimate setting, making it a favorite destination for travelers who start exploring India for the first time. But everyone likes Hampi.
History of Hampi
Vijayanagara was the capital of the Empire of the same name that dominated the entire southern region of India for more than 200 years. The Vijayanagara Empire reached its apogee between 1509 and 1530, when the city became an important commercial centre and was enriched by the sale of spices and cotton.
At that time the empire marketed with the Portuguese, who since 1510 was in Goa. The wealth of this Hindu empire bothered the Muslim sultans of northern India and in 1565 they united to destroy and plunder Vijayanagara. The population was killed or fled. The city was abandoned and fell into oblivion until it was rediscovered by the British in the 19th century. And in 2012 by three backpackers.