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Visit Goa

Once the epicentre of hippies, hedonism and full-moon parties, India’s Goa is now all grown up.
  Amelting pot of Indian and Portuguese cultures, Goa’s picture-perfect beaches, ancient temples, freewheeling spirituality and seductively accessible nature have transformed it from a hippie hideaway to a bucket-list regular.
  Blessed with mile after mile of gorgeously golden shoreline and blindingly blue water, Goa’s beaches are deceptively diverse. From secluded palm-fringed coves to talcum-powdersoft stretches and sunrise yoga to soundtracks of gently throbbing bass, each has something unique to offer.
  While much of northern Goa’s coastline has been heavily developed, tranquillity can still be had at Mandrem Beach a gorgeous spit of ticklishly soft sand separated from the village by a shallow creek. Frequented by kite-surfers, Ayurveda disciples and meditation pupils, it is no longer the well-kept secret it once was. But, early each morning, fishermen still come and go, unloading their brightly coloured boats in the shade of coconut palms. Turtles and crabs usually outnumber the swimmers on this sweep of fawn sand, dotted with laid-back eateries dishing out delicious bowls of curried fish and fresh coconut.
  Aside from postcard-perfect Palolem, which has become overrun with resorts, southern Goa is sleepier than the north. Veiled by dense jungle is the pristine, hidden beach of Cola. Secluded for most of the year, facilities are minimal, but that’s all part of the charm, as is the turquoise lagoon that dissects the shoreline. Home to sea eagles, monkeys and even the occasional dolphin, it’s the perfect place to play Crusoe.
  Further south, stretching two kilometres (1.2 miles) and bookended by impossibly green, vegetation-cloaked cliffs lies Agonda its coastline sprinkled with minimalist bamboo huts. Each September, the tranquil cove serves as a nesting ground for the endangered olive riddle sea turtle, as does the almost-deserted Galgibag its cumin-coloured sand lined with a swaying curtain of casuarina pines.
  Away from the beaches, Goa’s state capital Panaji is a cultural crockpot, resplendent with faded remnants of Portuguese rule. But nowhere is this felt more than the old Latin quarter of Fontainhas, where cobbled streets are flanked by ochre-hued colonial-era mansions. Across the rest of the city, cafes and quaint chapels rest beside backstreet bars and multi-storey malls. Sitting proudly atop a hill is the distinctive church, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, with its crisscrossing staircases. Down on the banks of the Mandovi River, come nightfall, another world emerges, as ferry boats rub shoulders with floating neon-clad casinos.  
  A short drive from Panaji is Anjuna, home to a weekly flea market since the 1960s. While fewer flower children are selling well-worn belongings to fund the rest of their journeys along the Hippie Trail, it remains a Goan institution. Today, chai stalls and bamboo kiosks peddle trinkets, spices and saris from as far as Tibet and Kashmir.  
  To the south lies Ponda, the cultural and spiritual heart of Goa. Sprinkled amid the rice paddies and mangroves are enchanting Hindu temples, including some of the country’s oldest. The region is also home to a number of tropical spice plantations, like the 200-year-old Savoi Plantation an organic farm, which harvests cardamom, turmeric and clove, alongside pineapple, coconut and jackfruit.