Canacona (konkan) is an administrative region in south Goa, in India. Canacona is one of the five talukas that constitute the South Goa district. It is bounded on the north by the taluka of Quepem, on the northeast by Sanguem, on the south by the state of Karnataka, and on the west by the Arabian Sea. The town of Chaudi is the administrative headquarters of the taluka of Canacona. The name Canacona is a correction of the name Konkan. The Canacona railway station of the Konkan Railways is located at the center of the district, close to the tourist attractions of the coast.
The Canacona railway station of the Konkan Railways is located at the center of the district, close to the tourist attractions of the coast. The railway junction of Margao to the north is the closest major rail station. Buses from Bombay may terminate at Panaji (Panjim), but some go on to Margao. The Canacona bus stand opened in 2004 is considered by many to be among the best designed bus-stands in India. Highway Route NH17 from Bombay to Goa connects Chaudi to Margao and Panaji. The scenic coastal road connects Navelim, Chinchinim, Assolna, Betul, and Canaguinim.
Tourism is rather human-scale, people-friendly and relatively more-affordable than other parts of Goa. Away from the coast, Canacona and its neighbouring district of Quepem have a number of off-the-beaten-track destinations and unusual festivals.
Canacona's beach belt, 'discovered' by tourism only after the 1990s, is among the most scenic. Palolem is a milder recreation of an east-meets-west Goan beach, with a rich variety of exotic food and accommodation to cater to the international palate. Polem is another beach situated at the south of Canacona which too is popular among tourists. But beyond the better-known Palolem and Agonda, there are nearly a dozen-and-half lesser-known (or even hidden) beaches. Some are just tiny strips of sand. Vaturem and Xendrem are secluded beaches. Quepem's narrow sea front has a two or three beaches, known for their picture-postcard quality.
The most prominent Hindu institution of Canacona, and indeed of all Goa, is the Parthagali Math ("Portuguese Hindu Mutt") - a five centuries-old ashram and cult headquarters built in a mix of Portuguese and Hindu architectural styles. Besides, there are famous Hindu temples at Zambaulim and Fatorpa. Also the Mallikarjun Temple, Shristhal built by the Kshatriya samaj is very beautiful and known for its versatile festivals. Canacona is one part of Goa where hillocks jut out almost directly into the sea. Villages are tucked away in low-lying areas, which are carpeted by a sea of green-topped coconut trees. Until foreign migration and tourism came to this area, the coconut tree was the means by which many eked a living, apart from fishing.
Some tourists are accommodated in beach huts, temporary beachside thatched huts built on coconut trees usually above ground level, right on the beach, during the fair weather (October-May) season. Sanvordem and Quepem towns have many small, functional hotels. Attached to the temples of Mashem, Mallikarjun and Zambaulim, rooms are available in Agrashalas ("Dharmashalas" or pilgrim-hostels), primarily for pilgrims.
Dolphin-watching and fishing trips attract visitors, especially British and Scandinavian visitors. The beach villages of Palolem and Agonda and the more deserted fort at the Cabo de Rama are developing as tourist destinations. The Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, Goa's second-largest wildlife sanctuary, is located within this district. Its terrain is fairly plain, with hills in the south and east. Much of the sanctuary is covered with dense forests, with a few open grasslands. Forest crown density is often over 50%. Some trees, Goa's loftiest, touch 30 metres. Villagers have reported sighting tigers, according to officials. Birds are aplenty; some two hundred species could be spotted, given time and patience. These include the Indian Pied Hornbill, Large Golden-backed Woodpecker and the Great Indian Woodpecker. The Forest Department's scenic but simple rest-house is on the highway at Poinguinim, some 4 km away.
The Shantadurga temple at Fatorpa, resorted to by both Hindus and Christians, holds its Zatra (i.e., Rath-Yatra or Pilgrimage-festival) on the ninth day of the Hindu month of Margashirish. It falls in Goa's cool season, sometime in December-January. Huge crowds from all over Goa make their way to this small remote village in the district of Quepem, some 5 km from Cuncolim. During the Zatra, a tall, intricate, decorated, three-tiered wooden chariot (rath), into which the idol of the deity is placed, is and drawn by male devotees in a night procession. Goa has a range of syncretic practices, where both Hindus and Christians worship at each other's shrines. Nearly every Goan Christian can trace ancestral roots to Hindu ancestors about five centuries ago.
The Hindu priests of the Shantadurga temple know many Goan Christian families by name, because they come to the festival yearly and donate money or goods. The Shantadurga temple was originally in the village of Cuncolim, located in the consuelho of Salsette a few kilometers away, but was relocated across the then 'international boundary' into the Kingdom of Soonda when the Goa government expelled the Hindus and ordered their shrines demolished. Another festival celebrated at the Shantadurga temple is the Festival of Umbrellas, or Sontreos. This is observed on the fifth day of Phalgun (usually in March). Once again, both Hindus and Christians take part in a mix of practises that crosses over religious border-lines.
Visits to island of Anjediva, located to the south-west of Canacona, are possible by permission of the Station Commander of the Indian Navy's Seabird Base, which occupies the island. Future visits could be curtailed due to plans by the Navy to step up security. To visit the island from Goa one has to proceed by any bus going to or via Karwar, leaving in the morning; the journey is about 2½ hours. From the Karwar bus stand one must walk the short distance to the wharves of Karwar port, from where a ferry takes one to Anjediva. One might need to alight into a smaller boat before reaching the shore, due to the shallowness of the island's waters.