From the towering Sahyadri Mountains to the meandering rivers that flow into the Arabian Sea, Goa has it all.

Physical Features

The Konkan coast runs along the West from Thane, Mumbai, Raigarh, Ratnagiri, and Sindhudurg in Maharashtra, to Karwar and Mangalore in the South and Goa sandwiched in between. The State occupies a coastline of 3,702 sq. km from the extreme Northern point at Terekhol River to Galgibaga beach in the South. Goa’s physical divisions lend a distinct topography. A small State like Goa is blessed with the Sahyadri mountain range or the Western Ghats in the east, the plateaus in the central portions and river basins along with the coastal plains. The Western Ghats house a variety of flora and fauna, not to mention famous waterfalls like Dudhsagar, Harvalem, and Surla. The plateaus are abundant with paddy and kullaghars cultivating spices, areca nut plantations, and other fruit-bearing trees. As you move to the lowlands, the rivers Zuari and Mandovi form fertile basins consisting of the khazan lands. The lesser river basins ultimately flow out into the sea. The craggy coast creates a shimmery golden shoreline that one admires from the air entering Goa.

Mangroves are the most sustainable natural ecosystem on planet earth and need to be preserved. The Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary has an immense spread and is a must visit in Goa

Flora and Fauna

Goa’s unique topography is a fertile breeding ground for diverse flora and fauna. The earliest record of Goa’s botanical bounty can be found in the treatise by renowned Portuguese Jewish physician Dr. Garcia da Orta, titled Coloquios dos Simples e Drogas e Cousas Medicinais da India, printed and published in Goa in 1563. The Panjim Municipal Garden bears his name and contains several medicinal plants. Tropical evergreen vegetation thrives along the Western Ghats. Along the estuaries, mangroves flourish along the banks. The wild growth includes cocos nucifera and Casuarina equisetifolia. Trees like the palm, cashew, and mango are a common sight.

The vegetation attracts diverse fauna, some endemic to the region and others migratory. A trek into the Western ghats may bring you up close to a slender loris in Molem and Canacona, or a curious monkey may jump at you if you’re exploring a village. Sightings of big cats like tigers and leopards have made headlines too. The jackal and wild dogs are known to be inhabitants too. A lucky sighting would be the friendly otters coming up to the banks.

Wild Life Sanctuaries

The majestic Gaur is the State animal of Goa

Ideal day trips for the entire family, the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary in Canacona has perennial streams and a thick forest cover of 86 sq km. You may find yourself face-to-face with a gaur. In Ponda, the famous Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary is 38 km drive from Margao. Deciduous with small patches of semi-evergreen trees cover the forest. Summer days call for picnics, strolls around the sprawling botanical garden, and children enjoy visiting the animal enclosures. Birdwatchers have been known to sight the State bird (Ruby Throated Yellow Bulbul), the Common Grey Hornbill, and Golden Backed Woodpecker. The Bhagwan Mahavir Sanctuary in Mollem is one of the largest sanctuaries, providing shelter to Gaur, Sambar, Leopards, Spotted Deer, Slender Tories, Jungle Cats, Malayan Giant Squirrels, Pythons, and Cobras.

The State bird of Goa – Ruby Throated Yellow Bulbul


Goa’s avifauna includes diverse winged visitors that migrate from other parts of the country, and some are easy to spot resting on a branch. For birding activities, a morning trip to the Dr. Salim Ali Bird sanctuary, named after India’s famed ornithologist, on Chorao island would please birders. The Socorro plateau is a quiet spot where you can see Black hooded orioles, Golden-mantled leaf birds, White-cheeked Barbets, Plum-headed Parakeets, Bronze drongos, and more. Other lakes at Pilerne, Carambolim attract their share of feathered beauties like the Pied kingfishers, Small blue kingfishers, Bronze-winged jacanas, Purple Herons, Indian rollers, Marsh Harriers, and other birds. The Sanctuaries are ideal to spot some of the rare birds like the white-bellied woodpecker, velvet-fronted nuthatch, heart-spotted woodpecker, white-eyed eagle, rufous woodpecker and the Malabar-crested eagle seen in Cotigao.

Author: Planet Goa Team
For us at Planet-Goa, our team is driven by that feeling of exhilaration that one gets when discovering that something ‘unique’ and ‘new’ about Goa for our ever-so-discerning readers.

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