Goa, famed for its beautiful beaches, white washed Portuguese churches and its cuisine, has a coastal line of 120km bordering a clear and seemingly endless sapphire sea. The famed beaches of Goa fringe along this coastal line. Beaches like Anjuna, Baga, Baina, Betul, Bogamalo, Calangute, Colva, Dona Paula, Harmal, Mandrem, Mirmar, Morgim, Palolem, Siridao, and Vagator are secluded and unspoiled spots. These beaches unravel the ultimate in aquatic sports. Parasailing, speed boating, water skiing, yachting, windsurfing and deep-sea diving hold out pursuance of adventure on the sea.
Ancient and historic temples, cathedrals, palaces, forts, beautiful gardens etc., are some of the other attractions in Goa.
Panaji is the capital of Goa. It is a midget town but one of the most beautiful in India. From the wooded Altinho Hill the town slopes to the Mandovi River. Among the places to see in Panaji are:
Sultan Adil Shah of Bijapur built the palace during the 14th century. Presently the palace houses the secretariat. Next to the secretariat is the bronze statue of Abbe Faria, believed to be the father of hypnotism.
Situated 10km North of Panaji, the Aguada Fort has the first lighthouse in Asia. It was built in 1612 to protect Old Goa by controlling the entry to River Mandovi. The fort was equipped with an ammunition room, barracks and a church. Once it was a place of Portuguese strength and power. Today it serves as the Central Jail.
Goa State Museum
The State Archaeology Museum has seven galleries namely the Sculpture Gallery, the Christian Art Gallery, the Banerji Art Gallery, the Religious Expression Gallery, the Cultural Anthropology, the Contemporary Art Gallery and the Western Bronzes Gallery. The Museum has a collection of about 8000 objects, which includes Stone Sculptures, Wooden objects, Bronzes, Paintings, Manuscripts, Numismatic collection, Anthropological objects, clay models etc.
Ferrying across the river Mandovi in the ferry Santa Monica is a unique experience. Goa Tourism Development Corporation conducts the cruise. It is an hour long cruise on the Santa Monica which takes guests out on a leisurely sail down the River Mandovi from the Santa Monica jetty in Panaji. While the guests sail down the river local boys and girls treat them to some Goa's best known folk dances, the dekhni and the fugdi; and finally give over centre stage to live musicians or a DJ and the guests can then sing and dance and make merry. The Santa Monica then takes the visitors past the Panjim riverfront past the jetty and old colonial buildings. One can see the spread of the Mormugao Port and the mass of the Aguada Fort
The church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception
The church, built in 1541 and standing atop Altinho Panaji, was one of the first churches in Goa. The early church was completely re-built in 1619..The interior of the church is relatively simple, although the backdrop to the main altar, dedicated to Mary Immaculate, is impressive..Of the two altars one on the left is dedicated to Jesus Crucified and the other on the right to Our Lady of the Rosary. At the side of each is a marble statue, one of St Peter and one of St Paul.In the south transept to the right of the main altar is a Chapel of St. Francis Xavier, whose glass-encased statue occupies the centre of the reredos.
The 500 years old Mahalakshmi temple, situated at Bandivade, is 22km from Panaji off the main road to Ponda, at Farmagudi. Today there are two idols of Mahalaxmi in the temple premises, one of them smuggled out from a temple of Mahalaxmi in the fifteenth century from the town of Colva in Salcette. There are other deities such as Shri Ravalnath, Shri Baleshwar, Shri Narayan Purush in the premises of the Temple.
- Dona Paula beach is 7km from Panaji. It is an idyllic spot for action as well of laze.
- Kalangute is the most popular beach in Goa. The beach is 15km from Panaji and stretches for 7 km with its twin beach Candolim.
- Siridao beach is 6km from Panaji. The calm and shallow waters of Siridao beach make it ideal for swimming.
- Vagator beach is 25km from Panaji. This secluded beach is enhanced with the Chapora fort that marks the entrance to the bay.
Bom Jesus Basilica
The Bom Jesus Basilica is Goa's most famous church and among the most revered by Christians worldwide. Located at Old Goa, 10 kilometres east of Panaji, the Bom Jesus Basilica is a World Heritage Monument. The foundation stone of the church was laid on 24 November 1594 and was completed on 15 May 1605 after 10 years. The church is called "Bom Jesus" meaning 'good Jesus' or 'infant Jesus' to whom it is dedicated.
The facade of black granite in an exquisite combination of the Doric, Corinthian and composite styles, which is 183 ft long, 55 ft wide and 61 ft tall. The main altar is 54 ft tall and 30 ft wide. The interior of the church is built in Mosaico-Corinthian style and is remarkable for its charming simplicity. The church is a fine example of Jesuit architecture. The most precious relic of the church is the remains of St. Francis Xavier.
is on the outskirts of Panaji. It was the capital of Portuguese during the 16th century. Old Goa was abandoned after the 1738 plague when disaster struck. Now Old Goa is a ghost city but it strives on its majestic, grand and amazingly numerous churches.
Se Cathedral, the magnificent 16th century monument in Goa under the Portuguese is the largest church in Asia. The church is 250 ft in length and 181 ft in breath. The frontispiece stands 115 ft high. The Sé Cathedral has five bells. The church has impressive vaulted interiors and the existing tower houses a famous bell often referred to as 'Golden Bell' on account of its rich tone said to be the biggest in the world. The church has 14 side chapels, every one unique in style.
The Cathedral is dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria on whose feast day in 1510 Alfonso Albuquerque defeated the Muslim army and took possession of the city of Goa. Hence it is also known as St. Catherine's' Cathedral. The building is Portuguese-Gothic in style with a Tuscan exterior and Corinthian interior. The adjoining convent has been turned in to an Archeological Museum and is open to the public.
Church of St. Francis of Assisi
The Church of St. Francis of Assisi is located in Old Goa, 9 Km away from Panaji. The Church was built during 1517-1521 AD by the Franciscan friars, eight of whom came to Old Goa . Earlier the church was a chapel. Later in 1521, the church was consecrated to the Holy Spirit in 1601 but was demolished after some time. It was rebuilt in 1661 with an educational institution within the church. The institution was closed down by the Portuguese government around 1835. In 1964. The Indian government converted the St. Francis of Assisi Church into a museum. Ancient relics and old paintings are now displayed here.
Chapel of St. Catherine
The first ever Christian religious structure to be built in Goa, was the small yet elegant St. Catherine's Chapel located at Old Goa. The Portuguese 'governador' Afonso de Albuquerque had constructed it originally in 1510, It was enlarged in 1550 by the Portuguese Governor, George Cabral and re-built in 1952 using laterite blocks, Though the Chapel is not functional now, its historical significance goes back to the inaugural year of the Portuguese rule.
St. Cajetan Church
The large and beautiful Church of St. Cajetan, lies about half a kilometer away to the north east of the Se Cathedral, and quite near the ruins of the Viceregal Palace. The church is built in Corinthian style on the lines of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. The gilded altars with rich carvings are in Baroque style.
Convent and church of St. Monica is another interesting church in Old Goa. The Convent and Church of St. Monica was completed in 1627 it was burnt down 9 years later. Regarded as the Royal Monastery because of its royal patronage was the first nunnery of the East . It was shut down in1885 when the last sister died. It was used as a barracks during the 50's and '60's and then reinstated as a church in 1968.
This is the second largest town in Goa and the largest in South Goa. The city is a commercial metro and has fine parks and broad squares. Margao has gained more significance with the opening of the Konkan railway and it is the main railway terminal at South Goa. Interesting places in Margao are:
About 6km from Margao is Kolva beach, the pride of Salcete and considered as the rival to Calangute in scenic splendour. It is a series of beaches blended in harmony to provide an 18 km stretch of beach with Palolem and Betul beaches at the far end.
Situated about 33km from Margao, Agonda is a secluded small beach where nature lovers can find peace and tranquillity. Though the waters here might not be the most ideal for swimming, with relatively few tourists visiting the beach, Agonda is a great spot for sunbathing and relaxing. It is a nice pristine stretch of beach. It is famous as the nesting site of endangered Ridley turtle.
Palolem is one of the most beautiful and unspoiled beaches in Goa and as a result, it often becomes overcrowded during the holiday season It is becoming more and more popular as a holiday destination.. Besides Palolem Beach, you will find Colom Beach and Patnem which are hardly at a distance of 1 km from each other.
40 km from Margao on the way to Karwar is the intricately carved wooden temple of Sri Mallikarjuna or Lord Shiva.
Mayem Lake in Becholim
This is the most famous lake in Goa and also one of the most popular tourist destinations on the itinerary of all the conducted sight-seeing tours.The lake is located in Bicholim taluka in north Goa, east of Mapusa. The lake is located in mostly unspoilt countryside. The placid waters of this lake are ideal for boating. Small pedal operated boats are available for a ride on the lake. The lake has in its grounds has a shady park which boasts of an excellent cafeteria and several other stalls. The GTDC-run Mayem Lake Resort offers inexpensive accommodation in self-contained cottages and dormitories.
Mapusa is located 15km from Panaji across the river Mandovi. It is the principal town of Mapusa in North Goa with easy access to the beaches of Calangute, Vagator, Anjuna and Chapora. This largest urban centre of north Goa has become popular due to the exotic weekly bazaars that are held in this town on every Friday. The tourists and Goans from nearby areas gather here to buy everything from an old brass lamp to garments or to witness the trading in the market.
This is the administrative Headquarters of Ponda taluka. Located 28km from Panaji, one of the main tourist attraction is the Safa Masjid, the biggest and most famous of all 27 mosques in Ponda. Sultan Adil Shah of Bijapur built the mosque in 1560.
Shi Mangueshi temple
About 10km from Old Goa and on the way to Ponda lies Farmagudi and Mangesh where there are fine Hindu Temples those survived the onslaught of the Portuguese. The 400 years old Mangeshi temple dedicated to Lord Shiva at Priol is the most celebrated of them all. A unique feature of these temples is their multi-storied lamp towers.
In the valley of Ponda lies Kavalem, where the Shanta Durga temple with an impressive idol of Goddess of Durga in a tranquil mood flanked by Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva, is situated.
This is one of the two major railway terminuses into Goa the other being Margao. Vasco-Da-Gama is close to the Marmugao harbour and is only 3km from Goa's Dabolim Airport
Shri Mahadeva temple
65 kms from the capital city of Panaji, located at Tambi Surla, is the most ancient temple in the whole of Goa. The small, beautifully carved and perfectly proportioned black basalt temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is reminiscent of the temples at Aihole in neighbouring Karnataka The size of the temple is quite small as compared to the size of the average Goan temple. And the top part of the temple has never been completed. temple has survived Muslim invasions and Portuguese persecution, in its almost perfect condition mainly due to its remote location in a clearing deep in the forest at the foot of the Western Ghats.
Other Places of Interest
Located 100km from Panaji is the Dudsagar Waterfalls,the most impressive waterfalls in Goa, that attract many tourists. It is a popular spot to trekkers and hikers.
Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
The sanctuary is located on the island of Chorao along River Mandovi. It covers an area of 1.78sq.km. Many species of local and migratory birds are seen here.
Bhagavan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary
Situated at Molem 160km from Panaji, this sanctuary covers an area of 240sq.km.of thick forest.
Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary
52km from Panaji, this is the smallest sanctuary in Goa. The Sanctuary has a zoo, a botanical garden and a deer-park.