Silver sands, sparkling blue waters, the sky mirroring
the sea below, white churches resting against green paddy fields and coconut
trees lining the coastal streets. Goa is a place you can fall in love with,
at first glance, with also homes some of the India's finest beach resorts.
There's much more to Goa than sun, sand and sea. The allure of Goa is that
it remains quite distinct from the rest of India and is small enough to be
grasped and explored in a way that other Indian states are not.
Panaji, Goa's capital since 1843, is among the most pleasant Indian
capitals. Most people use it as a link to old Goa or to the beaches, but
it's worth a visit. The atmosphere is easygoing and the people are friendly.
In the oldest part of the town, the Portuguese heritage is evident: broad
avenues spilling into cobbled squares, grand public buildings, old houses
with overhanging balconies and numerous bars and cafes.
Best Time to Visit
Travel tourism in Goa can be best enjoyed during the winter months between
October and the end of February. The famous Mardi Gras Carnival in
February is a remarkable experience. The tourist season starts in November
and goes on till March.
Summers in Goa are particularly hot and the monsoons heavy. Winters are
pleasant during the days and cool during the nights.
Goa Travel Attractions
13 kms from Panaji, Mapusa is a small town in north Goa. People from all
over Goa come here to buy and sell their wares in the famous Friday market.
Margao (Madgaon)is the second largest city in Goa and a commercial
metropolis. Margao an 18 km stretch of silvery sand: Palolean, Betul and
Colva. Other interesting places around Margao are Chandreshwar Bhutnath
temple and the Rachol Seminary.
This coastal town popularly known as Vasco was originally called Sambhaji.
This well planned city is also the railway terminus for passenger service.
Goa's only airport, Dabolim is also 4 km from Vasco, at the other end.
It is also called Antruz Mahal because of the concentration of culture,
music, drama and poetry. This town also has many temples - Shri Gopal
Ganapati Temple, Mahalakshmi temple, Shri Nagesh temple dedicated to Lord
Shiva, Shri Mangesh temple and the Safe Shahouri Masjid.
Old Goa is the state's showpiece and the only remnant of the Portuguese. In
the 1500's, it was the largest and most flourishing of the great Asian
cities. The monuments and cathedrals today represent just a fraction of the
urban development that was Old Goa.
Se Cathedral at Old Goa
The largest church in Asia, the cathedral in Old Goa, is a mighty 16th
century monument to the Roman Catholic rule of Goa under the Portuguese. Its
huge Golden Bell is the biggest in the world. It has 14 side chapels, the
last chapel, in Mauresque style, preserves a cross upon which a vision of
Christ is said to have appeared in 1919.
Church of St. Francis of Assisi at Old Goa
Built in pure Manueline style, the interior is adorned with a profusion of
carvings and exquisite paintings. The convent at the back of this church is
now the Archaeological Museum. It houses many portraits of the Portuguese
Viceroys and fragments of sculpture from Hindu temple sites in Goa.
Bom Jesus Basilica
Partially in ruins but awesome still, it is a fine example of Jesuit
architecture. The church's most precious relic is the embalmed body of St.
Francis Xavier entombed in a marble mausoleum presented by the Duke of
Tuscany, who received the Saint's pillow in exchange. Once every 10 years,
the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier are exposed for public veneration.
It was last exposed in 1994.
This Fort was built by the Portuguese in 1609-1612 to control the entry
into the river Mandovi and to protect Old Goa from potential enemy attacks.
A spring within the fort provided water supply to the ships that called
there. The fort presently houses the Central Jail.
Cabo Fort (Raj Bhavan)
9 km from Panaji, the Cabo Fort lies on the peninsula at Dona Paula, which
juts into the Arabian Sea. Initially during the Portuguese era, a Franciscan
Convent, was attached to the fort. This later became Coba Palace and is now
the Governor's residence.
Located 10 km outside Mapusa, this fort has a splendid view of nearby
Anjuna and Vagator beaches. The fort, which belonged to Muslim rulers before
the Portuguese wrested it, has some interesting ruins.
Terekhol (Tiracol) Fort
42 km. away from Panaji, at the northernmost tip of Goa's shoreline, at the
mouth of the river Terekhol, stands the Terekhol Fort. In its courtyard is
the century old church of St. Anthony. It is now a tourist resort.
Rachol Museum of Christian Art
About 7 km east of Margao, is the Rachol seminary. Its main attraction, the
Christian art museum is the only one of its kind in South Asia. It was set
up by the Indian National Trust for Architecture and Cultural Heritage and
the Gulbenkian Foundation of Portugal. The Museum has an amazing collection
of artifacts from Goa's churches and chapels, private collections and
Kerkar Art Complex
In Calangute is the only art gallery of its kind on this beach strip. The
gallery stocks a wide variety of art, as well as arts and crafts done by
local artists. Concerts of Indian classical music and dance are held on
Tuesdays and Saturdays.
History of Goa
Goa became one of the youngest Indian states after 451 years of colonial
rule and 26 years as Union territory. Its history harks back to the 3rd
century when it belonged to the Mauryas, followed by the rule of the
Satvahanas, Chalukyas, the Shilharas and Kadambas. In 1312, Goa fell into
the hands of the Muslims. The Portuguese took over in 1510, ending the
Muslim rule. Apart from a brief spell during the Napoleonic wars, when the
British briefly occupied Goa, the Portuguese were the masters of Goa till
1961, when they were finally driven out.
450 years under Portuguese domination produced a unique blend of East and
West that is both exotic and strangely familiar. Christmas and Carnival are
celebrated as enthusiastically as Diwali and Durga Puja. The state's
separate identity is also visible in its Latinate architecture and
preference for a fish- and meat-rich cuisine. Another marked difference is
the prevalence of alcohol, which is cheap in the state and is widely
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