Known as the Velhas Conquistas (“Old Conquests”), the land wedged between the Mandovi and Zuari rivers in Central Goa was the first territory to be colonized by the Portuguese in the early sixteenth century, and still retains a more Christian feel than outlying districts. Gabled, whitewashed churches dominate most village squares, and you’ll see plenty of old-style Portuguese dresses worn by Catholic women.

The Lusitanian atmosphere is most discernible of all in the older districts of the state capital, Panjim, and although the town attracts far fewer visitors than the coastal resorts, it certainly deserves a day or two’s break from the beach, if only to visit the remains of Old Goa, a short bus ride away upriver. Further inland, the forested lower slopes of the Western Ghats, cut through by the main Panjim–Bengaluru (Bangalore) highway, shelter the impressive Dudhsagar falls, reachable only by 4WD jeep, and a small, but beautifully situated medieval Hindu temple at Tambdi Surla.

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