What to see in Goa
Various places to see In & around Goa
ChurchesThe Magnificent Symbols of Christianity
One of Goa's important institutions, Goa's famous and magnificent churches are largely a legacy of Portuguese colonization
Church building was one of the main occupations of the early Portuguese and in fact one of Vasco da Gama's main missions for finding the sea route to India was to "seek Christians and spices".
Christianity was forced upon with religious fervor by the Portuguese during the period of the "Inquisition" with wide scale destruction of temples and this continued till the official end of the "Inquisition" in Goa in 1812. Most of Goa's churches were built on the very site of former temples. The confiscated lands of the temples were handed over to the church and the communidades. In fact, the first Hindu temple allowed to be constructed by the Portuguese in 300 years was in 1818 at Panaji.
With a significant population of Goans being Christians for many generations today, the Church is an important factor in Goa's social, cultural and religious life. For example, the contribution of the Church to education in Goa is immense. Today the churches are all part of the Archdiocese of Goa and function with its help, many are also protected sites.
The architecture of Goa's churches has undergone notable changes with the passage of time and the fashion of the era that they were built in.
The church architecture can be broadly broken down to the following periods
The Early period - From 1510 - 1550 AD
The oldest surviving Church in Goa today is the Church of Our Lady of Rosary on Monte Santo, Old Goa. It was built on the site of Alfonso de Albuquerque's hill of Victory soon after he conquered Goa in 1510. The style of Churches during this time period is termed as "Manueline" after King Emmanuel of Portugal.
This style is an amalgamation of Gothic and Renaissance and is a style peculiar to Portugal of that time. The decorative motifs of this style centered on Portuguese dominance of seamanship and included cables and anchors with seashells etc.
This type of construction was largely not suited for Goa's weather and a number of these Churches were subsequently rebuilt or remodeled and only one or two survives to this day. This was the period that saw wide spread destruction of Hindu temples with new Churches constructed on their sites.
Some notable churches of this era include the Church at the Cabo near Panaji and the Church on the Island of Divar off the coast of Old Goa. Most others are in ruins, especially in Old Goa.
The Baroque period - From 1550 - 1660 AD
This period coincides with the Renaissance period in Europe and also coincides with the period of "Golden Goa" and the influx of Missionaries to Goa including St Francis Xavier. Church building during this time reached a fever pitch with styles and plans that are totally European.
The great churches of Old Goa including the Basilica of Bom Jesus and the Se Cathedral, and the Church of St Cajetan and the largest of them all, the Augustine Church of Our Lady of Grace, now in ruins, belong to this time period and style.
The other notable churches outside of Old Goa built in this period include the Rachol Seminary, and the then newly rebuilt Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, at Panaji. The architecture of this period was a mixture of Tuscan, Doric, Ionic and Corinthian styles.
The Indian baroque period - From 1660 - 1760 AD
The churches of this period represent the local contribution to church building in terms of style and design. The most important being the design of the outer facade and the ceiling with inclusion of flowers, tropical motifs, etc.
The prominent churches of this period include the Church of St Francis of Assisi at Old Goa, The Church of Holy Spirit at Margao and the Church of St Ana at Talaulim and The Church of Our Lady of Compassion at Divar.
The Rococo period - From 1760 - 1899 AD
The churches of this period are characterized by their rather small size but with an accent on exquisite and ornate finishing on the inside with local motifs and paintings. Another element was the use of Stucco on the exterior facade. The style reflected to a large extent the relaxation of the religious fervor of the Portuguese. This was also the period of the New Conquests. One of the classical examples of this style is the Church of St. Stephen's at San Estevan near Panaji. Others include the Church of Our Lady of Immaculate conception at Moira, the Church of St Alex at Calangute and the Church of Our Lady of Rosary at Margao.
The modern period - From 1900 onwards
This period dates from the early nineteenth century onwards. There is a multitude of different styles and represents the freeing of the rigid structure of the past. Some examples include the Church of Nossa Senhora at Saligao built in the gothic style.
Most of the churches are functioning institutions and can be seen and prayed in. Most are revered by both Hindus and Christians alike because of their past.
Once the administrative capital of the Portuguese empire in the East, Old Goa is blessed with churches, chapels and convents of unsurpassed architectural beauty, befitting its label as 'Golden Goa' or 'Rome of the East'. The conquest of Goa by Afonso de Albuquerque in 1510 saw the advent of several religious orders like the Franciscans, Jesuits, Augustinians, Dominicans and Carmelites, who left their stamp with the many monuments they built in Old Goa.
Basilica of Bom Jesus
Built in the 16th century, this magnificent edifice is the most popular and famous of all the churches in Goa. The mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier, kept in a silver casket, are enshrined here. The casket was wrought by Goan silversmiths in 1636 - 37. Dedicated to Infant Jesus, this church is now a World Heritage Monument.
Timings : Sunday : 10.30 to 18.30 hrs. Weekdays : 9.00 to 18.30 hrs Masses: Sundays : 08.00 & 9.15 hrs. Weekdays : 7.00 & 8.00 hrs.
The Bom Jesus Basilica, perhaps Goa's most famous church and among the most revered by Christians worldwide, is partially in ruins but still a model of simplicity and elegance, and a fine example of Jesuit architecture.
This is the only church in Old Goa, which is not plastered on the outside, the lime plaster having been stripped off by a zealous Portuguese conservationist in 1950.
Located at Old Goa, 10 kilometers east of Panaji, the Bom Jesus Basilica is a World Heritage Monument.
The foundation stone of this remarkably large church was laid on 24 November 1594 and the church was consecrated by Fr. Alexia de Menezes, the Archbishop of Goa and Primate of India consecrated it when it was completed on 15 May 1605. In 1946 it was raised to the status of a minor Basilica.
The Order of Jesuits was suppressed in 1759 and its property confiscated by the Portuguese State. The church was, however allowed to continue services.
This magnificent edifice stands as a superb example of Baroque architecture in Goa.
The church is called "Bom Jesus" meaning 'good Jesus' or 'infant Jesus' to whom it is dedicated. The façade has on it, at the top, the letters, "HIS" which are the first three letters of Jesus in Greek.
The imposing facade built out of black granite in an exquisite combination of the Doric, Corinthian and composite styles, is remarkable for its simplicity. It measures 183 ft in length,55 ft in breath, and 61 ft in height. The main altar is 54 ft high and 30 ft broad. The pillars and detail are carved from basalt which was brought from Bassein, some 300 kilometers away. The interior of the church is built in Mosaico-Corinthian style and is remarkable for its charming simplicity.
The roof was originally tiled. The church is cruciform on plan. The flying buttresses on the northern side of the church are recent additions. A single storied structure adjoining the church on its southern wing connects it with the Professed House.
The three-storied facade of the Church shows Ionic, Doric and Corinthian Orders, and has a main entrance flanked by two smaller ones, each having Corinthian columns supporting a pediment. There are two chapels, a main altar and a sacristy besides a choir inside the Church itself. There is a belfry is at the back.
As one enters, beneath the choir, to the right is an altar of St. Anthony and to the left is an exceedingly well-carved wooden statue of St. Francis Xavier. In the middle of the nave on the northern wall is the cenotaph of the benefactor of this church, Dom Jeronimo Mascarenhas, the Captain of Cochin, who died in 1593, bequeathing the resources out of which this church was built. The two columns supporting the choir bear slabs inscribed in Portuguese and Latin the dates of beginning of construction and the consecration.
Opposite the cenotaph, projecting on the southern wall is a profusely carved wooden pulpit with a canopy on top. The pulpit has on its three sides the figures of Jesus, the four evangelists and four doctors of the church. The bottom of the pulpit depicts seven figures as though supporting it.
A projecting gallery, which was intended for the use of dignitaries on solemn occasions, runs along the two longer sides of the Church.
The main altar at the end of the nave is flanked by two decorated altars in the transept, one dedicated to Our Lady of Hope and the other to St. Michael. The richly gilded main altar has the figure of infant Jesus and above it is a large statue of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the order of Jesuits, gazing with fervour at a medallion on which is inscribed "HIS". Above the medallion, the Holy trinity - the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are depicted. In the transept on the northern side is the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament.
On the southern side in the transept is a chapel with gilded twisted columns and floral decorations of wood, where the sacred relics of the body of St. Francis Xavier are kept. The interior of this chapel is richly adorned with wooden carvings and paintings, depicting the scenes from the life of the Saint.
A beautiful silver statue is kept in front of the casket. The silver casket, which serves as a reliquary containing the sacred relics of the body of St. Francis Xavier, is exquisitely carved, and was once studded with precious stones. The casket is divided on each side into seven panels, each of which has two plates representing in relief important incidents in the life of the saint.
Adjoining the Chapel of St. Francis Xavier is a corridor that leads to the sacristy, entered through an exquisitely carved wooden door. It is an oblong vaulted structure with an apse at the end. Alongside the walls are kept the portraits of various saints above delicately carved chest of drawers. In the altar at the apse in an iron chest containing a golden rose blessed by the Pope Pius XII and gifted to this city in 1953. At the foot of the altar is the grave of the founder of the vestry, Balthazar da Veiga who died in 1659. A painting giving a fair idea as to the state of the body of St. Xavier about a hundred years ago is displayed near the altar.
Inside the basilica the layout is simple but grand. A simple wooden one has now replaced the original vaulted ceiling. To the left of the door as you enter the basilica is a statue of St. Francis Xavier, but the visitor's attention is drawn to the huge and ornate gilded reredos which stretches from floor to ceiling behind the altar.
The Professed House of the Jesuits located next door to the Basilica is a two storey laterite building covered with lime plaster which actually predates the Basilica, having been completed in 1585 despite strong opposition to the Jesuits. Jesuit missions to the eastern regions were planed and organised from here.
Completed in 1589 under the able supervision of Br. Domingos Fernandes, the Cassa Professa or the "Professed House" according to Jesuit law is one which is intended for the exercise of the ministries of the Society and should be conspicuous for the exactness of the Jesuit way of life.
There is an extremely interesting story behind the construction of the Church. The Jesuits faced strong opposition from the Senate, the Santa Cassa da Misericordiaa and the Franciscans for their planned construction in the spacious square called Terreiro dos Gallos. However on the night preceding the day on which they were to be legally restrained from building the site, two fathers and one brother converted a small house into a temporary church and on its door inscribed the word 'JESUS'.
The next morning the Church was thrown open and a bell rang to call the surprised people from the neighbourhood to celebrate mass. After that the opponents were never able to dislodge the occupants.
The ravages of time and the raging flames of the great fire in 1663 destroyed some of its lengthy corridors and spacious apartments but it was rebuilt in 1783. One more storey on the top was demolished between 1886 and 1887.
Today there's a modern art gallery attached to the Basilica.
The most imposing of all the churches at Old Goa, its vaulted interior overwhelms visitors with its sheer grandeur. This Cathedral has five bells, among them the famous Golden bell, the biggest in Goa and one of the best in the world. The church is dedicated to St.Catherine of Alexandria.
Masses - Sunday 7.15 a.m. 10.00 a.m. and 4.00 pm Weekdays : 7.30 am and 6.00 pm.
One of the most ancient and celebrated religious buildings of Goa, this magnificent 16th century monument to the Roman Catholic rule in Goa under the Portuguese is the largest church in Asia. 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 Cathedral was commissioned by the Portuguese Viceroy, Redondo to be "a grandiose church worthy of the wealth, power and fame of the Portuguese who dominated the seas from the Atlantic to the Pacific". The final edifice is bigger than any of the churches in Portugal itself.
The construction of this imposing edifice began in 1562 during the reign of King Dom Sebastião (1557-78) and substantially completed by 1619. The main altars however were not finished until the year 1652. It was consecrated in 1640. The Cathedral was built for the Dominicans and paid for by the Royal Treasury out of the proceeds of the sale of the Crown's property.
The Cathedral stands to the west of the great square called Terreiro de Sabaio and has its façade turned to the east. Its beautiful courtyard is approached by a flight of steps. The building is Portuguese-Gothic in style with a Tuscan exterior and Corinthian interior. The church is 250 ft in length and 181 ft in breath. The frontispiece stands 115 ft high.
There were originally two towers, one on either side of the façade, but the one on the southern side collapsed in 1776. The exterior of the cathedral is notable for its plainness of style built in the Tuscan tradition. The loss of one bell tower, which was never rebuilt, has given the building a unique look.
The Sé Cathedral has five bells. The existing tower houses a famous bell, one of the largest in Goa and often referred to as 'Golden Bell' on account of its rich tone which has been immortalized in a Portuguese poem. The main altar is dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria, and old paintings on either side of it depict scenes from her life and martyrdom.
The Cathedral has been built on a raised plinth of laterite, covered over with lime plaster. There is a long nave, two aisles and a transept. A bell tower is located to the southern side of the façade. The nave is barrel-vaulted while the crossing is rib-vaulted. Massive pillars support the vault in the nave and the choir, while the chapels on either side are separated by internal defenses. The building is oblong on plan but has a cruciform layout in the interior.
The main entrance in the façade has Corinthian columns on plinths supporting a pediment containing an inscription in Latin recording that, in 1562, in the reign of King Dom Sebastiao, this Cathedral was ordered to be erected, the Archbishops and the primates being administrators and that the succeeding kings continued the same at the cost of the Royal Treasury.
There are four chapels on either side of the nave, two of which have perforated wooden screens across the entrance. The screens have a high degree of filigree carving which has transformed wood into most delicate insinuations of foliage. Of these two screened chapels, the outstanding Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament has a magnificently gilded and beautifully decorated wall and ceiling, in complete contrast to the sober look of the cathedral's interior.
On the right of the nave, is the other screened chapel, the Chapel of the Cross of Miracles. A vision of Christ is said to have appeared in 1919 on this huge, plain, cross. Towering above the main altar is the huge gilded reredos. Scenes from the life of St Catherine, to whom the cathedral is dedicated, are carved on its six main panels. The Saint was beheaded in Alexandria and among the images here are those showing her awaiting execution and being carried to Mount Sinai by angels.
The two small statuettes inset into the main pillars supporting the choir are that of St Francis Xavier and St Ignatius Loyola. To the right is a chamber containing the baptismal font made in 1532, perhaps brought from the old Cathedral. St Francis Xavier is said to have baptized thousands of Goan converts using this font. A large painting of St. Christopher is hung beneath the choir.
To the left of the entrance are four chapels dedicated to Our Lady of Virtues, St. Sebastian, the Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady of Life. To the right, again are four chapels dedicated to St. Anthony, St. Bernard, the Cross of Miracles and the Holy Ghost.
In the nave are two wooden pulpits projecting from two columns on the right. In the transept are six altars, three on either side of the main altar. The altars on the right side are those of St. Anna, Our Lady of Doloures and St. Peter, while those on the left are those of Our Lady of Sorrows, Our Lady of Three Necessities and Our Lady of Hope.
The arches accommodating four of these altars are decorated with paintings depicting scenes from the lives of the saints. On either side of the nave is a niche in which are kept the wooden statues of St. Paul and St. Peter.
In the nave, near the altar, to the right is a projecting gallery on which is kept an 18th century organ. In the nave near the altar are seats for the canon and a throne for the archbishop. There is also a richly carved ebony stand, which was originally in the Church of St. Francis of Assisi.
To the right is a door that leads to the sacristy, which is a barrel-vaulted structure with gilded altar showing a church modeled after St. Peter's Church in Rome.
The adjoining convent has been turned in to an Archeological Museum and is open to the public. Just behind the cathedral lies a two storied edifice, the Palace of the Archbishop, which is no longer in use. The Franciscan church lies to the west of the cathedral.
The Convent and Church of St. Francis of AssisiTo the west of the Se Cathedral is the former palace of the Archbishop that connects the Se Cathedral to the Convent and Church of St. Francis of Assisi. The structure is built of laterite blocks and is lime-plastered.
The church faces west and has a nave with three chapels on either side, a choir, two altars in the transept and a main altar. To the north of the main altar are belfry and a sacristy. The convent, which forms an annexure to the church, now houses the Archaeological Museum.
The exterior of the Church is of the Tuscan Order while the main entrance is in Manuline style. The main altar is Baroque with Corinthian features. There are no aisles but only a nave, which is rib-vaulted.
The internal buttress walls, separating the chapels and supporting the gallery on top, have frescoes showing intricate floral designs.
In a niche on the façade, stands a statue of our lady of miracles brought from Jaffna in Sri Lanka. A wooden statue of St. Francis of Assisi adorns a pedestal bearing the insignia of the Franciscans. A wooden pulpit, richly carved with floral designs is to the left as one enters.
Beneath a ribbed vault with frescoes showing floral decorations, is the main altar, which is gilded and has a richly carved niche with a tabernacle supported by the four evangelists.
The tabernacle was used for displaying the holy sacrament. Above the tabernacle, in the main altar, is a large statue of St. Francis of Assisi and an equally large statue of Jesus on the cross. Beneath the two figures are inscribed the three vows of the Saint - poverty, humility and obedience. On either side of the main altar, in the nave, are beautiful large paintings on wood, depicting scenes from the life of St. Francis of Assai.
The origin of this church and the attached convent can be traced to the humble beginnings made by eight Franciscan friars, who, on their arrival in 1517, secured from the then Governor a few houses that belonged to a deceased Thanadar. By their persistent efforts they constructed a small chapel with three altars and a choir.
A church consecrated to the Holy Ghost was built in 1521 and was later pulled down and the present church was built on the same spot in 1661 retaining only the entrance of the earlier church.
The Reis Magos ChurchThe small hamlet of Reis Magos lies on banks of the Mandovi river and is home to two famous landmarks of Goa - the Reis Magos fort and the Reis Magos Church. It is also one of only three places in Goa, where the unique Feast of the Three Wise Men is held.
Reis Magos lies off the main road, which passes through the fishing and boat-building villages of Betim and Verem on the way to the more famous tourist spots of Calangute and Candolim beaches. At the Verem Bazar, a turning past a Hindu tree shrine takes the traveller to Reis Magos.
The Church, whose whitewashed gabled facade is visible from across the river in Panaji, was built in 1555. Fransiscan friars, who were in charge of missionary work for the area, took over the church and founded a small seminary here.
The church, which was built shortly after the fort above it, was dedicated to St Jerome. Historians have found evidence to support the fact that the Church was built on the ruins of an old Hindu temple. Two typical symbols of the Hindu Vijayanagar temple architecture - bas-relief lion figures can be seen on the flanks, at the start of the steps going up to the Church.
Not long after its construction, the Church and the Seminary became a well established site for learning and its prominence can be gauged from the fact that the Portuguese royal coat of arms is imprinted below the crucifix at the top of the gable. Two of Goa´s former Viceroys are actually buried here, their tombstone inscriptions in Por4tuguese and Latin still clearly legible.
One of the tombs is that of Dom Luis de Ataide, who gained fame all over the Portuguese empire for his spirited defense of the colony of Goa, when just with a force of 700 men, he managed to keep at bay 10,000 Muslim attackers supported by 2000 elephants for a period of ten long months.
The Church interiors are quite colourful and impressive, with the highlight being the multi-coloured wood relief showing the Three Wise Men (Reis Magos) bearing gifts to the baby Jesus, which is the centerpiece of the elaborately carved and painted reredos behind the high altar.
Every year on the 6th of January, Reis Magos comes alive with the colourful Festa dos Reis Magos, when the story of the three Kings is re-enacted by local youth playing the parts of the Magi. The locals celebrate the journey of the three kings who went to worship the holy Infant Child with a procession which starts from the Church and goes around the village.
The Church of Our Lady of The RosaryNot far to the west of the Basilica of the Bom Jesus is the Holy Hill at the extremity of which is the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary. Built of laterite and plastered with lime mortar, it has a two-storeyed portico. The portico as well as the façade of the church has rounded towers on either side with the cross on top. The roof of the church is tiled, supported by wooden rafters.
The Chapels And Altars
There are two chapels and three altars. The main altar is dedicated to our Lady of the Rosary. The church, with windows near the roof and with rounded towers giving an impression of a fortress church, is Manuline in style though Gothic influence can be seen in the rib-vault at the portico.
Cenotaph of Dona Catarina
To the right of the main altar is a marble cenotaph commemorating Dona Catarina whose marriage with Viceroy Garcia De Sa was performed by St. Francis Xavier.
The cenotaph slightly projecting from the wall is artistically decorated with carved miniature pillars and inscriptions in Portuguese and has a triangular pediment crowned by a shell moulding. The foliage and other decorations emanating from a vase closely resemble those on the tombs of Gujarat, thus suggesting influence of a regional art-style.
This votive chapel was built in fulfillment of a vow taken by Afonso de Albuquerque while reviewing the battle between his forces and those of the Bijapur sultan from the same spot, on which the church stands. The vow, however, could be fulfilled only after his death, since this church was built in 1544-49.
Church of St Anne, TalaulimOf all the churches in Goa, the most ostentious and notable for its excellent architecture is that of St Anne. It was reconstructed by Mons Francisco do Rego with his own funds and with the contributions of some villagers. Unfortunately he could not complete the task thus the onus befell on Fr Antonio Francisco da Cunha for its completion which he did 1965. The main altar is consecrated to St Anne.
There is a belief that the main altar is pledged to this beloved Saint due to certain reasons as narrated By Fr F de Souza in his ‘Oriente Conquistado’ - In the island of Goa (Tiswadi) in the year 1577 some devotees purchased the site which came to be known as ‘Quinta de Sant Ana’ where every week the students of ‘Colegio de S Paulo’ used to indulge themselves in some leisure activities.
The priest who was residing at the local was entrusted for the conversions of the villagers of Moula and Talaulim decided to construct a small hermitage though he failed to consecrate the same in honour of any known saint.
However a ‘Gaokar’ Bartalomeu Marchon said that he saw an old woman coming down
the hill with a walking cane and a hat and claimed that the hermitage was her abode and wanted to set her residence therein.
Not knowing the name of this lady the priest propagated in the village this reported instance. On hearing about this incident, an old Brahmin lady, claimed that when she was seriously ill the same old lady appeared to her in her dreams and held her hand to rise from her stricken bed and said that her name was Anne and wanted a house in the village.
The result of this dream was her miraculous cure and subsequent conversion which precipitated the priest to avow that the glorious St Anne had to be revered in theta village as such the Church was consecrated to St Anne.
The festivity of St Anne which falls on July 26 is celebrated throughout Goa, but more with aplomb in the tiny village of Talaulim (near Goa Velha) where it is known as ‘Touceachem Fest’ (Cucumber Feast). It is a recorded fact that though the Portuguese introduced their Christian festivals to Goa, Goans with their characteristic ingenuity modified these festivals to befit their seasons without altering the dates.
The ‘Touceachem Fest’ is a well attended festival by people of all walks of life and communities who beseech the venerable saint with various offerings to comply with their most ardent wishes. The most common ones being: ‘Senhora, Tomai Colher, dai me mulher’ - pertinent to the bachelors who pledge with a wooden spoon to appeal for a wife; the females intone - ‘Senhora, tomai urido (Dhal type - phaseolus max) dai me marido’; the newly weds supplicate - ‘Senhora, tomai pepino (cucumber) dai me menino’. Devotees say that the boons in most of the cases are granted.
It is notable to mention that the Church of St Anne follows the Indian architecture amalgamated with Western propensities to adopt the 5x5 scheme appropriate the Indian way to a grand temple but modifies the proportions of the pilasters according to the native flavour, forsaking the European fixedness, while molding the shafts in consonance to the rural needs.
The Church of St Anne at Talaulim can be termed as the master-piece of the Indian Baroque style. It is poignant to note that this admirable church is in a fairly derelict state at the present time.
St. Augustine's TowerOne of the most spectacular of all monuments in Goa, reproduced on innumerable travel brochures and advertisements is the St Augustine tower in Old Goa. This highly visible landmark, a 46m-high tower served as a belfry and formed part of the facade of a magnificent Church.
Out of the more than twenty fabulous churches which once existed in the old city of Velha Goa, only ten remain today. And of these four are actually chapels. The churches were located on and between seven hills around the Velha Goa region.
The Monte Santo (Holy Hill) at Velha Goa was the site for the monastery of the Augustinian order, attached to which was the enormous church of Nossa Senhora da Graca (Our Lady of Grace). The Tower and Church were built in 1602 by the Augustinian friars who arrived in Goa in 1587.
The tower is one of the four towers of St. Augustine Church that once stood at the site. Initially built of laterite and colossal in size, almost forty-six meters high, it had four storeys. The Tower was meant to serve as a belfry and the Church had eight richly adorned chapels and four altars and a convent with numerous cells attached to it.
The construction of the building began more than 400 years ago and was finished between the years 1597 to 1602. The name of the designer of this magnificent piece of construction is not known, but he is thought to have been Italian.
Incidentally, the construction was begun in the same year as the arrival in Goa of Julio Simao (1565-1641) who was himself influenced by the great Spanish architect Juan de Herrera (1530-1597). Simao was the chief architect of the Indian colonies of Portugal having been appointed by Philip II, ruler of Spain and Portugal between 1580 - 1598.
When it was completed in the 16th century, the grand Nossa Senhora da Graca Church was recognised as one of the three great Augustinian churches in the Iberian world, the other two being the Basilica of the Escorial in Spain, St. Vincente de Fora in Lisbon.
On entering the church, the visitor would have a glimpse of the grand retable of the high altar, with its large gilt tabernacle sheltered within an arch, through a screen of arched piers. Vestiges of most of these piers were visible until recently; they supported a spacious choir which could have accommodated a large number of Augustinian monks.
The nave of the Church now lies open to the sky, under whose broken arches locals sometimes gather and talk. Covering the vast nave was a barrel vault, whose enormous weight unfortunately hastened its collapse.
The church was abandoned in 1835 due to the repressive policies of the Portuguese government, which resulted in the eviction of many religious orders from Goa.
The church fell into neglect and the vault collapsed in 1842. The church's demise began with the collapse of this vault. The body of the church was soon destroyed, but the facade remained intact.
The tower's huge bell was moved in 1871 to the Church of our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Panjim, where it remains and can be seen and heard today. In 1931, the facade and half the tower fell down, followed by more sections in 1938 leaving only half the tower that is seen and visited by thousands of tourists today.
This remnant, the renowned St. Augustine's tower is all that remains of what was once one of the largest buildings in Goa - The Augustinian Monastery.
The Convent of St. Cajetan and Church of Divine ProvidenceThe 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 Vice regal Palace. This church, which is said to have been modeled on the original design of the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome, is architecturally Corinthian both externally and internally while the gilded altars with rich carvings are in rich Baroque style. The Church building itself is built of laterite blocks which are lime plastered.
The Church of St. Cajetan as it is popularly known, (originally called The Church of Our Lady of Divine Providence) and the Convent of St. Cajetan were built by Italian friars of the Order of Theatines, (known in Portuguese as Clérigos Regulares da Divina Providência). Although the church altar is dedicated to Our Lady of Divine Providence, the church is named after the founder of the Theatine order, St. Cajetan, a contemporary of St Francis Xavier.
In 1639, three Italians of the Order of Theatines were sent by Pope Urban VIII to the kingdom of Golconda (near Hyderbad) to preach Christianity. They were D. Pedro Avitabili, D. Francisco Marci and D. Antonio Maria Ardizone. The friars were not permitted to work in Golconda, so they came to Goa on 25th October 1640.
In their new abode, they began the construction of a hospital but the local Viceroy stopped their activities in 1643 and asked them to leave Goa in 1645. However, D. Pedro Avitabili, their courageous leader went all the way to Portugal to explain to the King, Dom João IV, that it would be in the interest of Christian religion if they were allowed to work in Goa together with the Portuguese priests.
Impressed by the determination of the Italian friar, the King gave permission to build the hospital in 1650. In 1655, the Theatines managed to obtain permission to build the Church and also a Convent. The construction of the Church was completed in 1661. Although built around the same time, the Convent was much smaller in size and was enlarged only later.
The grand façade of the Church has two towers on either side to serve as belfry. There are Corinthian columns and pilasters supporting a pediment, and four niches in which are kept the statues of the apostles.
Inside a clever use of internal buttresses and four huge pillars has turned the interior into a cruciform. The main body of the church forms a Greek cross on plan internally and oblong externally, with a nave ending in an apse and aisles marked by four massive piers faced by Corinthian pilasters. These piers also form the base for supporting, at the crossing, a circular dome that rests on a drum and was crowned by a lantern. The inscription around the inside of the base of the dome is a verse from St Matthew's gospel.
The ribbed vaults of the nave and aisles are of varying height and are coffered with different floral designs. Two-octagonal rooms with domed roofs on either side of the main altar serve as the sacristy.
There are six altars besides the main one dedicated to Our Lady of Divine Providence. Profusely carved and gilded in Baroque style, these altars have twisted shafts dominated by figures of angels. The altars also have Italian school paintings on canvas, some depicting scenes from the life of St. Cajetan. The niches running along the sides of the vault have wooden statues of saints.
The composition of baroque reredos is different from those of the neighbouring churches since it tapers gracefully towards the ceiling, with large carvings of angelic figures near the base and the whole crowned with a symbolic sun.
As one enters the Church, there are three altars on the left side dedicated to the Holy family; Our Lady of Piety and St. Clare, while to the right are those of St. John, St. Cajetan and St. Agnes. The largest of the altars on the right hand side of the church is dedicated to St Cajetan himself.
There is a decorated wooden pulpit projecting from one of the piers. In the crossing is a square raised platform, which serves as a pulpit. Underneath the beautiful cupola, in the middle of the nave, there is a well which remains covered. The presence of the well has led to the conjecture that the site was once the setting of a Hindu temple.
The building which housed the Theatine Monastery near the Church is currently the setting for Diocesan Pastoral Centre. In the grounds of the Church are the remains of the doorway that once was the entrance to an Islamic palace belonging to Adil Shah, the ruler of Goa before the Portuguese took control.
The Church and College of St. PaulUnfortunately all that remains today of this once massive structure is the façade of the Church built in Doric style. By the year 1827 the College and the Church were already in a pretty devastated state. This was finally completely demolished in 1829 by the Government except for the façade and the material was taken to Panjim to be utilized for new constructions. The remaining arch of the façade of the Church lies on the road from Old Goa to Ponda just a short distance from the Gandhi Circle, on the left side of the road among a cluster of trees.
It was started as a seminary of the Holy Faith for training young converts by two priests Diogo de Borba and Miguel Vaz who had established the Santa Fé confraternity. The construction began in November 1541 and completed on January 25, 1543, the day of feast of Conversion of St. Paul to whom the church was dedicated.
The College of St Paul was among the largest in India. Beside elementary instruction, higher education in Music, Latin, Arts and sciences was also imparted, capped with lectures in Philosophy and theology. Even the degree of Master of Arts and the Doctorate were conferred here.
In 1548, when Fr Borba passed away, the seminary was handed over to St. Francis Xavier who had recently arrived in Goa and was residing at the Hospital Real (Royal Hospital). The College of St. Paul's was the first house of the Jesuit Order in Goa. After some years, the old college building was demolished and the two separate buildings were constructed, Both connected to each other by a passage. Seminário de Santa Fé was for the students and the other building called Colégio de São Paulo was for the residence of the Jesuits.
In 1556, King Dom João III issued an ordinance by which the College was opened for secular studies. By 1568 around three thousand students from India and other parts of Asia were enrolled at the college.
Besides the Seminary of Santa Fé, the following institutions were attached to the College: a novitiate, a professed house, a hospital and a house for the newly converts. The College had a large library and the first printing press in Asia was set up in this College, through which came the first printed publications.
In 1560 the Church was demolished on account of its weak condition and the foundation stone for a larger Church with three naves was laid on 25th January, 1560. It was twenty years later that one of the walls developed cracks and three arches of magnificent dimensions covering the existing road were built as support under the supervision of Jesuit João de Faria. As such it was popularly known as São Paulo dos Arcos (St. Paul of Arches).
It was for the first time that Santos Passos (dramatic representation of Passion of Christ) were introduced in Asia in this institution. The penitential procession was characterized by public self-flogging. There were booths erected in different places to provide first aid. The tradition of spreading or throwing flowers on the occasion of the feast of Our Lady of Mount originated here. Above all, the greatest honour that this institution received was the presence of Francis Xavier whenever he was in Goa and the first public exposition of his incorrupt body after his death. The martyrs of Cuncolim were also buried here.
In 1570 there was an epidemic and the Jesuits acquired some houses belonging to Pedro de Faria on the hill of Nossa Senhora do Rosário in 1578 for the residence of the Convalescents. The complex was named as Colégio de São Roque (1580). All the departments of studies from College of S. Paul were transferred to College of S. Roque which was also known as Colégio de São Paulo-o-Novo (St. Paul, the New).
The construction of a new building in this place met with a stiff opposition of Augustinians and nuns from Santa Mónica. The Jesuits had some other enemies too, who set fire to the building four times between 1591 and 1675. Once, the Rector of the Colégio de Dom Jerónimo Xavier, a relation of Francis Xavier was the victim of these flames. There was a surplice of Francis Xavier deposited in a silver box in this College which was later taken to Basilica of Bom Jesus.
The printing press from the old college was also transferred to College of St. Paul. The new and the third edition of Purana of Fr. Thomas Stephen were printed here, in 1654. The Hospital Real functioned here from 1760 to 1764 after the closure of the college. Today there is nothing left for the visitor to admire, not even the stones.
Our Lady of The Immaculate Conception Church, PanjimThe church was one of the first to be built in Goa, certainly being there by 1541.
The early church was completely re-built from its foundations in 1619 and this was even considered, taking account of the still negligible population of the area and the size of the new church, is a striking commentary on the religious climate of the time and the wealth available to the churches.
The interior of the church is relatively simple by the standards of the time although the backdrop to the main altar, dedicated to Mary Immaculate, is impressive enough.
However, it is the two flanking altars that catch the eye, on the left dedicated to Jesus Crucified and that on the right to Our Lady of the Rosary.
Each is a riot of heavily gilded, deeply carved ornamentation, yet compact and controlled, a fine example of the period. 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.
TemplesThe temples of Goa are in essence like most Hindu temples in India, based around a deity which is worshipped. The architecture of Goan temples is a little different mostly because of historical reasons.
The basic Hindu temple architecture
The fundamental design of any Hindu temple is organized around the central shrine or the "Garbagriha" or the "sanctum sanctorum" that houses the main deity. A tower or "Shikara" arises from the main shrine and is traditionally pyramidal shaped. There are usually two or more smaller shrines housing other deities known as "Parivar Devatas" around the entrance to the Garbagriha.
There is always a surrounding free area or a passage around the Garbagriha that is kept free for an essential Puja ritual known as "Pradakshina" performed by almost every devotee. This is the ritualistic left sided circum-ambulation around the shrine usually an odd number of times.
The "Garbagriha" is accessed via a large hall with pillars and walls either carved with religious motifs or scenes from the mythology pertaining to the deity. This hall is usually known as the "Mandapa".
The "Mandapa" opens to the outer courtyard or "Prakara" where usually a statue of a mythical animal or Vehicle of the deity is placed. There may also be a sacred plant the "Tulsi" or one of the sacred trees usually either a Pepul or a Banyan tree with some small artifacts or statues of more deities at its base.
The courtyard also might open into a large water tank or the side of a river or stream or "Tirthastan". This is where devotees take their ritualistic cleansing bath before entering the temple on festival or auspicious days.
The courtyard sometimes also is common to the residence of the head priest and also other halls where devotees stay commonly known as "Dharmasalas" and sometimes perform ceremonies like marriages and thread ceremonies.
The Goan Hindu Temple architecture
The Goan modification lies in the assimilation of local building traditions into this rigid architectural style giving it a special local flavor. One of the special features of Goan temples is the Lamp Tower or "Deepmal" or the "Deepa Stambha" rising anywhere from two to six storied high. This is said to be a Maratha influence.
On festival days the "Deepmal" or the "Deepa Stambha" or the Lamp tower is decorated with hundreds of oil lamps and the effect is spectacular.
Another distinctive feature of a traditional Goan temple is the the Dome that covers the main shrine instead of the traditional Shikara. This is said to have been a muslim or Mughal architectural influence. See an example below.
Another muslim or Mughal influence is said to be the "Naubat Khana" or the small tower over the entrance to the courtyard where the temple drummer sits and beats the drum to the music of religious hymns especially on auspicious days.
The curvilinear roofs of the Mandapa is said to be of Christian / Portuguese architectural influence. See some examples below.
The oldest temple in Goa is said to be the rock cut caves at Aravalem known as "Pandava Caves" dedicated to Lord Shiva and dating back to the 1st century AD.
A classical example of the other oldest pre-Portuguese era temple is the Temple of Shiva at Tambdi Surla dating back to the Kadamba period circa 13-14th century AD. It is the only temple of its period in existence because all of the rest were destroyed by the subsequent Muslim and Portuguese onslaught.
Temples in Goa under Portuguese rule
Goan temples today are more modern as compared to most of India's ancient temples, mostly because these are second homes to most deities that were re-established outside of Portuguese controlled areas during the early days of Portuguese invasion and the dreaded Inquisition.
The edict of 1540 gave the Portuguese Viceroy the authority to destroy all Hindu temples and shrines within the area of Portuguese control, "not leaving a single one on any of the islands" He was also ordered to confiscate temple estates for the maintenance of churches that were ordered to be built on their sites. This was meticulously carried out by many loyalists including the famous "Temple destroyer" Diogo Rodriguez, buried at Rachol. In the areas under the Old Conquests, all traces of any temples have vanished without a trace. They even forbade Hindus to cross the border to worship at shrines and temples outside of their areas.
The first temple to be approved for construction by the Portuguese in their 300+ years of control was the Mahalaxmi temple in Panaji, approved in 1818 after bitter opposition.
Anant TempleThe small village of Savoi-Verem in Ponda taluka is the site of the only temple dedicated to Lord Anant in the state of Goa. The temple is about 45 kilometers away from the capital city of Panaji.
This temple unlike other temples in Goa has only a tiled pyramid as roof and surprisingly no domes. The walls too, are only plain with plastering. But the insides are in stark contrast to the outside. There is a presence of all the seven colors of the rainbow in all the intricate wooden carvings.
The Anant temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, appearing here in his incarnation as Ananta, the serpent. Although no definite date is available for its original construction, the temple appears to be quite ancient. The current building is circa 1923 and has pillars with intricate wooden carvings and plated with silver.
The idol of the deity is carved in black stone and Lord Vishnu is shown here in his Anantashayya (a sleeping position where the Lord rests on the multi-headed snake king Seshnaga, whose heads shelter the head of the Lord like an umbrella). This is the only temple in Goa showing Lord Vishnu in this special posture.
The sprawling temple complex also consists of temples of other deities - Shantadurga, Kamini, Narayan and Grampurush.
A number of festivals are celebrated at the temple including Shibikotsav in which the palakhi (palanquin) of Lord Ananta is carried by devotees on their shoulders around the temple complex.
Devki Krishna TempleThe small town of Marcel is the location of the temples of more than 15 deities of the Hindu pantheon. Marcel lies 17 km from Panaji in Ponda taluka about 3 kilometers away from Banastari Bridge on the Panaji-Ponda road.
The unique feature of this temple is that this is the only temple in India where Lord Krishna is worshipped alongside mother Devaki as Devakikrishna.
The main Deities Devakikrishna and affiliate deities of Bhumika Devi, Laxmi Ravalnath, Mallinath, Katyayani, Chodaneshwar and Dhada Shankar were originally located at Choodamani island (known as Chorao island today).
To avoid persecution during the Portuguese Inquisition they were taken to Mayem in Bicholim and from there shifted to the present location at Marcel.
The Garbha Griha (inner sanctum) of the temple has the beautiful idol of Devaki and Lord Krishna. The idol of Devaki is in standing posture with a child Krishna, between her legs.
This particular pose is considered to be unique. The idols are beautifully carved in black stone.
The palakhi is taken in Shukla and Trayodashi (except in Chaturmas). Ramanavmi, Gokulastami are celebrated on a grand scale. Limited accommodations are available. The major festival is Malni Purnima from Paush Vadya which is celebrated over here with great fervour and excitement.
Mahalsa TempleThe temple of Mahalsa Narayani is located at the small village of Mardol, just about a km from the famous Mangueshi temple and about 22 kilometers from Panaji, the capital city.
Originally, the deity was housed in a temple at an ancient shrine in village of Verna which is now the site of an industrial estate. Along with other Goan temples, this beautiful temple at Verna was also marked for destruction by the Portuguese around 1543.
However, before the actual demolition could take place the idol of the deity was smuggled away across the river by faithful devotees, to the safer locale of Mardol, where it is located today.
The Goddess Mahalsa is supposed to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, hence the name Mahalsa Narayani (Narayan being another name for Vishnu). There are a number of legends associated with the deity and how she came into being.
The more famous legend has it that, in ancient times, a beautiful goddess appeared on the Sonsada plateau at Verna. She was first seen by a shepherd named Sahastrapal, who was taking his master's cattle for grazing to a nearby spring. The goddess asked the shepherd to bring his master to the location. When the shepherd appeared reluctant saying that the cattle were thirsty, the goddess created a spring by hitting the ground with her nupur (musical ornament worn on the ankle). The small Nupur Lake which was thus created can still be seen today.
The shepherd went to get his master, but could only get his son-in-law name Mhal Pai who was asked by the goddess to build a temple in that location where she would reside as Mahalsa Narayani.
The temple is located in peaceful environs at Mardol. The temple has huge wooden pillars and a silver framed doorway. In the courtyard, there is a magnificent brass samai (ornamental lamp pillar) which is 40 feet in height and has 21 rings of a hundred fifty small lamps. When it is lit up with oil wicks on the annual festival day or Jatra, it is a sight to behold.
Besides the Jatra, there are two other special festivals held at the temple – the Jaiyanchi Puja around the month of August and the Kojagiri Pornima just after the mosoons on full moon day.
Mahalaxmi Temple, BandivadeThe village of Bandode or Bandivade is the location of a number of temples among which is the large and beautiful temple of Goddess Mahalaxmi. Bandode is approximately 22 kilometers from the capital city of Panaji, off the main road to Ponda, at Farmagudi.
The temple has been in existence since at least the year 1413, when information about the rituals of the temple is found on stone plaques carved during the reign of Nanjan Gosavi Pratihast over Goa.
However, there was another temple of Mahalaxmi in the fifteenth century in the town of Colva in Salcette. As is the case with most Hindu deities in Goa, the idol of Mahalaxmi from this temple was also smuggled away in the middle of the night to avoid persecution during the Portuguese Inquisition era of the sixteenth century.
The two devotees Safto and Fato took away the idol in a trunk and first took her to the town of Talauli near Ponda. Till today, the people of this village worship the sign of the feet of the goddess. The idol brought from Colva was then taken to Bandode and installed along with the existing idol.
So today there are two idols of Mahalaxmi in the temple premises, along with other deities such as Shri Ravalnath, Shri Baleshwar, Shri Narayan Purush and interestingly also idols of the two devotees i.e. Safto and Fato who managed to save the Goddess from Colva.
The second Goddess Mahalaxmi from Colva is taken out in a procession only once a year on the auspicious day of Ramnavmi when she is taken around in a palakhi (palanquin) and a chariot.
On the second day of this festival, both the idols are taken out in one chariot to be paraded in a huge procession. The main idol of the Goddess Mahalaxmi is also taken out during the festival of Mahashivratri, on a chariot carried on the shoulders of devotees.
Mahalaxmi Temple, PanajiOne of the capital city's most discerning assets is the Mahalaxmi Temple. Located on the Dada Vaidya road (Rua de Saudade during the Portuguese times), the Mahalaxmi deity is the chief object of veneration for all Panjimites, irrespective of caste, class, sex or creed.
The city, blessed by three historic ecclesiastical monuments - the Jamma Masjid, the Church of Immaculate Conception and the Mahalaxmi temple - surprisingly standing on the same road pose a perfect symmetry of communal harmony and camaraderie.
This 182 year old temple has a fascinating history. In the 16th century the Havig Brahmins from Karwar-Kumtha areas who lived on alms and charity of others worshipped the Mahalaxmi deity and wherever they went in search of alms they carried this deity along. In the 16th century, they moved to Goa along with this diety and reached Taleigo village of which Panjim was then a mere ward, along the river Gomati (Mandovi).
The Havig Brahmins whose whole day was spent begging for alms had sought shelter in the precincts of the Vetal temple of Taleigao. But when they learnt of the conversion policy of the Portuguese, fearing desecration of their revered Mahalaxmi idol made of marble, they moved away from Taleigao and as they were moving on they found a horse stable which actually belonged to the Portuguese government.
A gentleman called Raghavendra Kamat Mhamai who worked for the Portuguese military found that this place selected by the Havig Brahmins to hide their deity was unsafe and hence moved it to his palatial house opposite the Adilshahi palace (Secretariat) in the heart of Panjim city. Still fearing for the safety and security of the deity, he moved it to Mayem village of the Bicholim Taluka where it remained till 1817.
Sometime later in 1817, Narayan Kamat Mhamai of Panaji dreamt of the deity and the next day itself he along with others went to Mayem and brought the deity to Panjim and hid it at a place where stands the People's High School today. That corner at the People's High School is still venerated where the deity was kept hidden.
He later moved it to his house and started worshipping it there. He expressed his desire to a friend Mr. Sinari of building a temple to consecrate this deity. They seeked the permission of the liberal Portuguese Governor Conde De Rio Pardo. Permission was granted to them on 2nd July 1818.
On 10 July 1818, the deity was consecrated there and the foundation stone of the Mahalaxmi temple was laid. Refusing to be cowed down by the heavy monsoon downpours of Goa, the pious devotees led by the late Shri Narayan Kumar Mhamai, Mr. Sinari and others consecrated the Mahalaxmi deity in the backyard of Panjim city on 10 July 1818.
By 1819, the temple was completed. The original deity today lies in a small box in the rear wall of the temple which faces the present day main idol of Goddess Mahalaxmi. The magnificent subhamandap of the temple has been added later and today the recently completed new building of the temple stands proudly as a superb addition to the landmarks of Panjim city.
Mallikarjun TempleThe ancient temple of Shri Mallikarjun is located near the small village of Sristhal, in the southern most taluka of Canacona. Sristhal is about 5 km drive away from the taluka headquarters of Chaudi which is about 75 kilometers from Panaji.
The temple lies in an enchanting location in a valley, completely surrounded by blue mountains and greenery. The temple is at least 200 years old, as per the writing on a plaque near the temple dome.
The temple is believed to have been constructed during the Middle of the 16th century by ancestors of the Kshatriya Samaj. It was renovated in the year 1778.
There are some extremely beautiful carved wooden pillars inside the temple building the likes of which are not found in any other temple in Goa. The carving has been done by skilled craftsmen who were brought here from the southern Indian states.
The six pillars in the mandap (hall) have scenes from the Puranas and Mahabharat carved on them. There are beautifully carved profiles of dwarpal (doorkeeper) on either side of the door leading to the inner sanctum.
The temple is dedicated to Shri Mallikarjun who is yet another incarnation of Lord Shiva and he is also known as Adavat Sinhasanadhishwar Mahapati Canacona among the locals. According to legend, the location of the temple is supposed to be the place where Lord Shiva met his consort Parvati after a long separation.
The annual festival or Jatra held at the temple is quite unique among the temple festivals of Goa. Early morning on the day of the festival, the idol of the deity is taken out in a procession which travels for almost 2-3 hours to reach the nearby Kindlebag beach. A number of rituals including a special bath for the deity are held at the beach, after which the deity returns to the temple. Hundreds of devotees have a holy bath at the same time on the seashore.
Besides the annual Jatra, the temple is also famous for some unique occasions on which some special rituals are held.
Avatar Purush: These are actually smaller deities called Avatar Purush located at three nearby places: Asali, Khalvade and Bhatpal where they are worshipped. But once a year, they are taken in a magnificent procession at night to the main temple at Sristhal.
Veeramel: This celebration is held once every two years at the time of the traditional Shigmo festival. This is alternated with the Shisharanni ritual described below. During this celebration which occurs close to midnight, selected local youth who are called Gade, rush from house to house with swords in their hands followed by people with drums and other musical instruments.
Shisharanni: This ritual alternates every year with the Veeramel celebration held at the time of the traditional Shigmo festival. The word Shisharanni is supposed to mean a cooking place on top of a human head. This is an absolutely amazing ritual involving three persons who sleep on the ground with their heads touching each other. A vessel of rice is kept on their heads and fire is lit between the heads to cook the rice.
Mangueshi TempleThe Mangueshi temple or the Manguesh Devasthan is perhaps the most famous of all Goan temples. It is located at Priol in Ponda taluka, about 21 kilometers from the capital city of Panaji. The surrounding area is known as Mangueshi.
In ancient times the temple was located at Kushasthali (presently known as Cortalim). During the Portuguese Inquisition, a number of Hindu temples were destroyed in Goa.
To avoid a similar fate, the devotees of God Manguesh removed the linga (symbol of Lord Shiva) from the original temple and transferred it in the middle of the night to the present location at Priol which was under the control of Adil Shah.
The shifting of the deity took place in the year 1560. The area surrounding the temple was given to the temple by Ramchandra Sukhtankar an important officer in the Court of the Peshwas after obtaining it from the Raja of Soundem.
Since the time of shifting, the temple was rebuilt and renovated twice during the reign of the Marathas and yet another time in the year 1890. The final renovation occurred in the year 1973 when a golden kalash (holy vessel) was fitted atop the tall dome of the temple.
There is a fascinating legend attached to the name of the Lord Manguesh, who is an incarnation of Lord Shiva. The name Manguesh is not used for Lord Shiva anywhere else in India. The ancient legend states that Lord Shiva once lost everything he had in a game of dice with his wife Parvati. He decided to go into self-imposed exile and arrived in Goa.
Parvati, unable to stay without Lord Shiva for long, came looking for him in the jungles of Goa. Lord Shiva decided to play a prank to frighten her and disguised himself as a tiger which attacked her. Parvati cried out for help in terror, 'Trahi Mam Girisha' (O Lord of Mountains Save Me).
Lord Shiva immediately turned himself back into his normal form and the two were united. But the cry for help and the words 'mam girisha' became associated with Lord Shiva. In the course of time the words abbreviated to Manguirisha or Manguesh by which name he is known today.
A linga which was left to mark the place where the legend occurred was discovered by a local shepherd and eventually a temple was built to house Lord Manguesh.
The temple architecture is a mix of Hindu, Christian and Muslim influences and is lit up in magnificent lights during the annual Jatra which is held in January. The deity is taken out in a palanquin and paraded in huge chariots during the festival which is attended by thousands of devotees.
Naguesh TempleAround 25 kilometers from Panaji, in the village of Bandode, lies the temple of Lord Naguesh. The area surrounding the temple is known as Nagueshi and lies just 800 meters from Farmagudi on the way to Ponda.
There is a stone plaque near the temple, dating back to 1413, which describes the donation of surrounding lands to the temple by a local family. This was in the reign of Veer Pratap Devraya of the Vijayanagar kingdom. There are stone idols of Shiv-Paravati and Ganesh inside the temple which actually date back to the seventh and eight century which has led to the conjecture of the temple being in existence since that time.
Thus, unlike most temples in the area, the Naguesh Temple has been in existence in its original location for centuries. However, the present day building is a recent construction having been renovated and patched up around the year 1880.
The temple is dedicated to Lord Naguesh, who was known as Nagnath in ancient times. Lord Naguesh is another incarnation of Lord Shiva. Worth noting at the temple, are the colourful images of gods and goddesses around the base of the deepstambha (lamp tower).
The temple has a magnificent ancient tali (water reservoir) surrounded by palms. The reservoir is built in such a way that standing at a certain location around the tali, a person can view the reflection of the idol of Lord Naguesh and the lighted lamps in the inner sanctum.
Ramnath Temple, BandivadeThe second temple in the small village of Bandode or Bandivade as it is also known is that of Lord Ramnath. Located about 22 kilometers from the capital city of Panaji, the temple is just a few minutes away from Farmagudi, off the main road to Ponda.
Legend has it that the name of Lord Ramnath comes from the place Rameshwar. It is said that Lord Rama, after slaying Ravana in the battle was filled with remorse at the killing. In order to seek redemption for his act, he installed a Shivalinga (symbol of Lord Shiva), on the shores and hence came to be known as Rameshwar or Ramnath.
The idol of Lord Ramnath was initially housed in a temple at a settlement called Lotli (present-day Loutolim) which was set up by Gaud Saraswat Brahmins who had migrated from Rameshwar on the southern shores of India.
Lord Ramnath, like many other deities in Goa, was removed from the original temple at Loutolim and smuggled away to its present day abode of Bandivade, to avoid persecution by the Portuguese regime. Bandivade was under the control of Bijapur at the time.
The temple also houses other deities viz. Shri LaxmiNarayan, Shri Kamakshi, Shri Santeri and Shri Sidhanath. Unlike most temples in Goa, the sabhamandap (grand hall) of the temple has no pillars and yet has a special gallery for the ladies. There is a five-storied deepstambha (lamp tower) in the courtyard with images of Hindu saints carved on its base.
The door to the inner sanctum has some exceptionally beautiful scenes depicted on it in silver metal. Once scene depicts devotees worshipping a linga, and the other shows Lord Vishnu with his consort Lakshmi sitting on his couch of a coiled snake.
The annual festival or Jatra of the temple is celebrated with pomp and gaiety by the devotees with the traditional palakhi (palanquin) parading around the temple carrying the idol of the deity.
Saptakoteshwar TempleThe Saptakoteshwar temple at Narve is considered to be one of the six great sites of temples of Lord Shiva in the Konkan area. The village of Narve is located about 35 kilometers from Panaji and can be reached via an interesting route which requires a a ferryboat from the island of Divar.
This is also an ancient temple, Saptakoteshwar having been the deity of the Kings of the Kadamba dynasty around the twelfth century. Coins found from this era mention the name of the deity along with that of the King Jayakeshi.
In 1352, when the Kadamba kingdom was conquered by the Bahamani Sultan Allauddin Hasan Gangu and Goa was under the rule of the Sultan for about fourteen years. A number of temples were destroyed during this period and the Linga (symbol of Lord Shiva) at the Saptakoteshwar temple was also dug up by the troops.
In 1367, the army of Vijayanagar King Hariharraya defeated the Bahamani Sultan's troops in Goa and managed to restore most of the temples to their former glory including that of Saptakoteshwar.
After the Portuguese conquest, in the year 1540 during the years of the Inquisition, once again the Linga at the temple was removed and misused. Soon afterwards, it was smuggled away by one of the locals named Narayan Shenvi Suryarao and taken to a place called Latambarsem where it remained for 3 years. In 1543, it was installed in a temple near the island of Divar.
The Maratha King Shivaji conquered the area in 1664. On one of his many expeditions to Goa against the Portuguese in 1668, he gave the order for the Saptakoteshwar temple at Narve to be rebuilt and the Linga installed in its proper place. The stone plaque mentioning this order can still be seen near the temple entrance today.
The legend behind the name Saptakoteshwar is also quite interesting. According to the legend, seven holy sages once set out to pray to Lord Shiva near the place where five holy rivers met the sea. They prayed for seven crore years at the end of which, Lord Shiva appeared to grant their wishes and agreed to stay at the place in one of his incarnations. This incarnation is known as Saptakoteshwar (sapt means seven and koteshwar means lord of crores).
The most important festival celebrated at the temple, attended by thousands of devotees from Goa and other parts of India, is Gokulashtami which is considered to be the day on which Lord Shiva appeared in this incarnation to grant the wishes of the seven holy sages.
28 kms from Panaji in Pernem Taluka, the temple is said to be more than 500 years old. Made of black stone, two life size images of elephants in a standing position at the entrance welcomes visitors. Dussehra is celebrated with gaiety when over 25 thousand devotees assemble at the temple.
Shree Shantadurga (Sangodkarin) Temple, SangoldaThe temple is situated at Sangolda, in Bardez Taluka about 7 kms. from Panaji and 5 Kms. from Mapusa. The temple deity here is Shantadurga, one of the forms of goddess Durga. The deity is originally from Sangolda and was moved to Bicholim to avoid the Portuguese destruction in the early days of its rule. The present temple at Sangolda was constructed in the year 2000 and original idol was installed in the temple on 07.02.2000. The annual Jatra is celebrated here is in the month of November / December every year. Other festivals celebrated in the temple are Navratra, Maha Shivratri, Ganesh Jayanti, besides monthly Palakhi. Top
Shree Vasudevanand Saraswati Datta MandirThe temple is located at Ambirna ward of Socorro village 1½ Km. from the N.H.17 and 7 Kms. from Mapusa and Panaji city.
This is a unique temple in whole of Goa. The temple house two deities. One idol of Swami Vasudevanand Saraswati, popularly known as Tembe Swami, which is only temple in Goa. The chief deity of the temple is Lord Dattatreya along with Panchayatan on the 1st floor of the temple and on the ground floor there is a temple of Godess Bhuvaneshwari. There is special Maha Aarati on every Thursday at 7.30 p.m
7 kms from Valpoi, in the village of Brahma Carambolim, this shrine belongs to the 5th century A.D. It is one of the few temples dedicated to Lord Brahma found in India.
Situated on the 350-metre high hill of Chandranath at Paroda, Quepem, Chandreshwar was the titular deity of the Bhoja kings who ruled South Goa till the middle of the 8th century. They had named their capital Chandrapur after the deity. The temple is so designed that the Linga receives moonlight on every full moon. The temple commands a panoramic view and its surroundings are enchanting.
Tambdi Surla TempleThe most ancient temple in the whole of Goa is located at a place called Tambi Surla which is approximately 65 kms from the capital city of Panaji and 12 kilometers from the border crossing post of Mollem. Tambdi Surla itself is in the midst of a forested area accessible via a 22 kilometers route from the main town of Valpoi in Sattari Taluka.
The temple itself is built in Jain style in the twelfth century. There are some interesting details about the construction itself which has led to debates about the actual origins of the temple. The temple is built in a place which is quite inaccessible and away from the main settlements of the time. The size of the temple is quite small as compared to the size of the average Goan temple. And finally the top part of the temple has never been completed.
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 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 which surround the site in a sheer wall of impenetrable vegetation.
The temple is located at the foot of the Anmod Ghat, which connects Goa to the state of Karnataka. It is considered to be the only specimen of Kadamba-Yadava architecture in basalt stone preserved and available in Goa.
The Kadamba dynasty ruled Goa between the tenth and fourteenth centuries and built the temple from the finest weather-resistant grey-black basalt, carried across the mountains from the Deccan plateau and lavishly carved in situ by accomplished craftsmen.
The intricate carvings created by these craftsmen adorn the interior and the sides of the building. The temple faces east so that the rays of the rising sun fall on the deity at the crack of dawn. There is a small mandap (pillared hall) and the inner sanctum is surmounted by a three-tired tower which is incomplete or which has been dismantled sometime in the distant past.
Bas-relief figures of Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma, with their respective consorts appear on panels at the sides of the temple. Surprisingly the mandap is covered with a roof of plain grey sloping slabs.
The river Surla flows nearby and can be reached via a flight of stone steps. There is a headless Nandi (bull, Shiva's vehicle) in the centre of the mandap, surrounded by four matching columns. The symbol of the Kadamba kingdom, an elephant trampling a horse is carved on the base of one of the columns.
There is a Linga (symbol of Lord Shiva) mounted on a pedestal inside the inner sanctum and local legend has it that a huge King Cobra is in permanent residence in the dimly lit interior.
The festival of Mahashivratri is celebrated with all pomp and gaiety at the temple by the local people residing in surrounding villages.
Situate 26 kms from Margao at Sanguem and built in the last century, the Jama Masjid was completely renovated in 1959. The new structure is remarkable for its harmonious proportions and elegant simplicity with its four minarets.
Safa MasjidOne of the only two sixteenth-century Islamic monuments which managed to survive the excesses of the Inquisition, the Safa Masjid lies 2 km west of the centre of the town of Ponda, in a district known as Shahpur. The elegant structure was built in 1560 by Ibrahim Adil Shah, the Sultan of Bijapur.
The mosque was the focus of attention in a fairly extensive complex of gardens and fountains which lies in ruins today. The rectangular prayer hall of the mosque rests above a high base and is capped with a pointed terracotta tile roof.
There are elegant Islamic arches decorating the walls. Remnants of octagonal pillars can be seen all around the mosque; perhaps these supported a covered courtyard to provide shade to worshippers.
There is a well-constructed water tank with small chambers with 'meharab' designs nearby which is located to the south of the prayer hall unlike most mosques where it is located outside the main entrance.
This has led to speculation that the tank may have been part of another religious structure which once stood there. Local legend also has it that there are hidden tunnels in the walls of the tank which connect it to a nearby water reservoir.
This mosque is a venue of celebration during festivals of Id-Ul-Fitr and Id-Ul-Zuha, by the local Muslim community. There are rickshaws available at the main Ponda bus stand which can take you to the site of the Safa Masjid.
NamazgahThis mosque is located in the Ponda area through the attractive countryside a further 2 or 3 km from the Safa Masjid.
This is one of the areas of great natural wealth laden ore-barges, seen chugging down river on their way to Vasco, are filled with ore from here. Viewed from the height from Bicholim is spread out below and in the distance are the sivalik mountains with the mines to the left, and behind.
A short distance to the right there is a small structure set on the crest of a bleak hillside. This is Namazgah mosque, an interesting diversion to see a tiny remnant of Muslim history this mosque was built by Prince Akbar, to commemorate a battle which he and the Marathas, led by Sambhaji, fought against the Portuguese in 1683.
It was an unlikely alliance which came about after Prince Akbar had rebelled against is father the Emperor. High above Bicholim on this bare hillside with extensive views to the east, the mosque is of most unusual design and interesting layout.
Protecting The Legacy of NatureThe rugged Western Ghats make it an ideal haven for many species of birds and animals and also provide a corridor for migration. The Western Ghats called the Sahyadris in Goa; extend for a total of 600 kilometers in Goa of their total length of 3702 kilometers.
The widest belt of forests along the Western Ghats is in Goa and neighbouring Karnataka state. The high rainfall accounts for this because the elevation of the mountain range here is lower.
The coastal areas on the other hand, provide the tropical backdrop. There are several plants and trees unique to Goa and some introduced by the Portuguese, most famous of which is the green Chilies, which today has become an essential ingredient in the Indian Curry.
The tropical location of Goa is responsible for its warm humid climate and laterite and lateritic Clayey-loamy soil. The mean temperature even in the coldest month is over 20 degrees centigrade.
Average rainfall is over 500mm along the Western Ghats and a little less elsewhere. The length of the dry season averages from 5 to 6 months. For all these reasons, the dominant vegetation is of the moist deciduous type.
Goa is endowed with over 1512 documented species of plants, over 275 genera of birds, over 48 genera of animals and over 60 genera of reptiles.
About 10% of Goa is set aside as wildlife reserve and this area include four large wildlife sanctuaries.
Bhagvan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National ParkAlong the north from Panaji on the road to Belgaum, is a sanctuary that covers 240 sq-km. Thick forest clad slopes of the Western Ghats that is rich in wildlife and a paradise for bird watchers.
The Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Goan town of Mollem. With a total area of 240 sq km, this is the largest of Goa's four protected wildlife areas, and contains within it The Molem National Park.
The sanctuary is situated on the eastern border of Goa, with Karnataka 53 kilometers away from Panaji and 54 kilometers away from Margao. It is easily accessible by both road and rail.
Unless you stay for at least a couple of days, it is unlikely that you will catch a glimpse of many of the animals that are sheltered in the sanctuary, including Gaur, Sambar, Leopards, Spotted Deer, Slender Tories, Jungle Cats, Malayan Giant Squirrels, Pythons and Cobras.
There are important geographical and historical features in this sanctuary. Jeeps on private arrangements go to the interior of the forest. The sanctuary is particularly known for its Leopards, Elephants, Deers & Gaur also known as Indian Bison.
It is more convenient to view wild animals from the Devil's Canon View Point. Bird lovers may also find their best time over here. The famous temple of Tambdi surla of the Kadambas is situated 13-km from here. In Mangalore to Margao journey on Konkan Railway one can enjoy the beauty of Dudhsagar through the windows.
Mollem has comfortable cottages and dormitories built by the Directorate of Tourism for accommodation. Police Outpost at the gateway of the sanctuary in calm and quiet surroundings is like a painting on a canvas in Mollem.
The sanctuary's setting in the foothills of the Western Ghats is wonderful and the countryside is one of the most peaceful that you'll come across in Goa. One hundred meters west of the entrance to the Molem Tourist Resort is the Nature Education Centre, where you can contact the Range Forest Officer, from whom you can obtain permission for vehicle access through the main park gate (which is about 3 kilometers east along the National Highway 4A). There is also an observation platform a few kilometers into the park and the best time to see wildlife is in the early morning or late evening.
The Department of Tourism has built comfortable cottages and dormitories for tourists. Entry fee Rs.10/- per adult, Rs.5/- per child and Rs.3/- per student. Top
Bondla Forest38 kms from Margao is the smallest of the three wildlife sanctuaries of Goa - the Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary. More than a sanctuary, it is an ideal jungle resort, a major attraction for school going children and nature lovers.
Its mini zoo, sprawling deer park in natural habitat, botanical and rose gardens attract people throughout the year.
The Bondla wildlife sanctuary is about 50 Kilometers from Panaji and 38 Kilometers from Margao and 20 Kilometers east of Ponda. It is more of a jungle resort with tourist cottages available on site run by the Forest Department.
The common animals that inhabit the sanctuary are the Gaur and the Sambhar deer. It is a popular destination for school picnics. It is closed on Thursdays. There are tour buses that make a stop over at Bondla from Margao and Panaji.
The Sanctuary is just 8 sq. km. in size, located among hills at the junction of three Talukas viz. Ponda, Sanguem and Sattari. It boasts of a Mini Zoo, Deer Safari Park, Formal Gardens, Botanic Gardens and Eco-Tourism Cottages.
It is connected to Ponda as well as Molem by a good tar-road. Late evenings and nights are very pleasant. Bondla is a Paradise for Eco-Tourists.
The area is covered with Moist Deciduous Forests, with small patches of Evergreens and Canes along the nullahs. The State Tree Terninalia crenulata (Matti) and Rosewood are common here. Others are Lagerstroemia (Naked Maiden of the Forest / Nano), Kindall, Jamba, Mimusops, Saraca indica, etc. The thorny bamboo Bambusa arundinacea and Giant Lianas (Entada) abound.
Gaur the state animal is frequently seen. The Panther is the largest carnivora and the Jungle Cat, Leopard Cat, Toddy Cat are others. Herbivorous consist of Deers (Sambar, Spotted, Hog, Barking and Mouse) Wild Boar, Porcupines Scaly Ant Eater, and Malabar Giant Squirrel. The diminutive Flying lizard (Draco) is fairly common.
Over a hundred species of birds are residents. The State Bird (Ruby Throated Yellow Bulbul) can be seen. And the Common Grey Hornbill and Golden Backed Woodpecker are daily visitors to the Garden.
Zoological Park - A tiny Zoo permits one to see the fauna of Goa in moated enclosures with natural surroundings. Animal exhibts include Panther, Lion, Gaur, Sambar, Deers (Spotted, Hog & Barking) Sloth Bear, Crocodiles, Reptiles, etc.
Deer Safari Park - Visitors can move among deers in vehicles inside the sprawling Deer Safari Park housing Sambar and Spotted Deers.
Formal Gardens - Spacious lawns, exotic trees, varieties of roses, and colourful flowering plants in the middle of the forest do please the eye.
Botanic Gardens - The large collection of plants is of interest to students.
Nature Education Centre - The NEC houses several exhibits, which visitors can see, feel and interpret. An attached Library provides details to the inquisitive, and video and cine movies are screened on request.
Birds - Bondla is home to over a hundred bird species. For details on bird-watching areas contact the Park Range Office.
Wild Animals - For those seeking greater adventure and excitement, we have watch-towers where wild animals like Gaur, Sambar and Wild Boar can be seen at water-holes.
Nature Trails - For the more energetic the Nature Trails provide information simultaneously affording opportunities to see nature as it is.
Comfortable cottages are available here for tourists. Top
Cotigao Wildlife SanctuaryIf one wants to see multi-storeyed forests with tall trees and rare plants, where hardly any light reaches the ground, Cotigao Sanctuary is the place to go to. It touches the border of Karnataka state and in the lean season, several gaurs are known to come into Cotigao from its neighbourhood. The vegetation is mostly moist-deciduous type, interspersed with semi-evergreen and evergreen patches.
It is situated in Canacona Taluka, in the south of Goa. It lies at about 2 kilometers from Poinguinim , which is 10 kilometers away from Chaudi, the main town of Cancacona on NH17. So the approach is very convenient.
The Nature Interpretation Centre run by the Forest Department is a valuable repository of knowledge. At present, the Department is capable of providing rudimentary facilities like snake-proof camping sites, canvas tents, reference material and loads of goodwill. For those who really want to rough it out, there is no end of possibilities.
If you are brave enough, the Forest Dept can provide cots and mosquito-nets. So that all that lies between you and the jungle is a thin mesh. Otherwise, the Forest Department has one two-bedded suite available at Poinguinim, 2 kilometers. away from the Sanctuary. The dense forests, perennial streams, and picturesque undulating terrain provide for a unique wildlife refuge.
The Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 1969 to protect a remote and vulnerable area of forest lining the Goa- Karnataka border. Encompassing 86-sq-kms of mixed deciduous woodland, the reserve is certain to inspire tree lovers, but less likely to yield many wildlife sightings: its tigers and leopards were hunted out long ago, while the Gazelles, Sloth Bears, Porcupines, Panthers and Hyenas that allegedly lurk in the woods rarely appear.
Visitors however, stand a good chance of spotting at least two species of Monkey, a couple of Wild Boar and the odd Gaur. The sanctuary is best visited between the months of October and March. Cotigao is a peaceful and scenic park that makes a pleasant day trip from Palolem beach, 12-km northwest. The wardens at the reserve's small Interpretative Centre will show one how to get to a 25m-high treetop watchtower, overlooking a waterhole that attracts a handful of animals around dawn and dusk.
Any of the buses running south on NH-17 to Karwar via Chaudi will drop one within 2-km of the gates. However, to explore the inner reaches of the sanctuary, one really needs one's own transport.
Written permission for an overnight stay, either in the watchtower or the forest department's small rest house must be obtained from the Deputy Conservator of Forests, 3rd Floor, Junta House, Panaji, as far in advance of one's visit as possible.
Dr Salim Ali Bird SanctuaryOn the western tip of the island of Chorao along River Mandovi, mangrove swamps cover this bird-watchers' paradise aptly named after India's best-known ornithologist.
This is Goa's only bird sanctuary, 1.8 Sq Km in area. A variety of local and migratory birds can be found on this island.
From Panaji, one needs to take a bus or a cab to the Ribandar ferry wharf and then take a ferry across the Mandovi river to the island of Chorao. The sanctuary is within walking distance from the ferry wharf at Chorao.
Open throughout the year, the sanctuary can be visited with the permission of the Chief Wild Life Warden, Forest Department, Junta House, Panaji. Apart from a rich variety of coastal birds, one may spot flying foxes, jackals and crocodiles.
The area consists of mangrove vegetation. Mangrove ecosystems are among the most productive ones known to us. They provide refuge and breeding grounds for several varieties of fish and insects which fall at the base of the food-chain.
The "Mangrove Scrub" type of vegetation that is found here occurs in small isolated areas along the banks of Mandovi and Mapusa rivers and also along the Cumbarjua canal.
This Sanctuary is criss-crossed with a network of water channels. Hence movement is restricted to the duration of high tide, if one wants to go by boats. However for canoes, the creeks are accessible even during low tides.
A watch-tower has been erected in the Sanctuary for better viewing of birds. Apart from the several resident birds, the Sanctuary also has some winter visitors like coots and pintails.
The Wildlife Division of the Forest Department proposes to start conducted tours through the water channels. It is envisaged that a group of 8-9 persons could be taken at one time.
However, the exact modalities are yet to be worked out. Resource material and useful information could be acquired at the Range Forest Office at Campal, in Panaji.
Shaped like the new moon, Goa's beaches are known the world over. Fringed by swaying palm and coconut trees with cool and comfortable shacks offering a variety of refreshments, Goa's 103 km coastline is blessed with the most enchanting beaches lapped by the Arabian Sea. And almost all of them are swimmer friendly with the assured presence of lifeguards on all the popular beaches.Sun, Sand, Surf and the Sea
105 kms of Konkan coast stretches across the state of Goa providing a wide range of choice in beaches to suit everybody's needs. There are unspoilt pristine stretches of sand for the solitude seeker and there are those ones jammed with people in every square feet of sand.
There are beaches far from human habitation with very basic or sometimes no facility for accommodation. Then there are some with ultra modern comforts like internet cafes, massage centers, gyms, swimming pools, night clubs, etc. With such an enormous choice, one might feel confused about which one to take.
But on the contrary, it's quite easy to plan an itinerary for getting suntan allover the body. Taking the capital Panaji and the next major city Margao as base points, all the beaches can be visited in a stretch. North from Panaji lies the most famous beach of Calangute.
From here onwards to the northern tip of the state, swaying palms and shimmering sands stretch giving an enchanting sight. The further north, the emptier the beaches become. The same can be said about the silvery sands, which stretch down southwards from Margao. Right from Colva, the famous silvery white sand beach, there is an uninterrupted continuity in beaches. The more you move south the lonelier the beaches are.
When it comes to beaches, the visitor is spoilt for choice.Top
North Goa CircuitThis stretch begins from the headland of Fort Aguada just outside Panaji city and moves up north towards the border to Maharashtra. Right from the Fort Aguada Beach Resort, an interrupted stretch of sand lies awaiting tourists, sunbathers and party animals.
Sinquerim, Candolim, Calangute, Baga, Anjuna, Vagator, Morjim and Arambol are the beaches that can be covered in the North Goa Circuit.
CandolimCandolim is the first beach that can be approached from the city of Panaji. But most part of it is acquired by the Fort Aguada beach resort and other package tourist companies. Though it is difficult to find individual accommodation here, there are a few hotels with restaurants attached.
The nearest place to find tourist information and travel agencies or other facilities, is Calangute. One highlight of Candolim is the Parasailing and Water skiing facility, besides other sports available here.
CalanguteCalangute is the beach to which everyone heads for the moment they land in Goa. So it is natural that it is overcrowded in both in peak and off seasons. This huge seven kilometer sweep of sand located 15 kms from Panaji, is called the 'Queen of Beaches'. All the travel agencies and tour operators have a base here from where bookings are done for most of all the other beaches.
Years of tourism has brought in a tremendous change in the scenario and therefore, hotels and guesthouses stretch uninterrupted from Calangute to Baga. The village of Calangute has all basic facilities like post office, banks, foreign exchange offices, resort companies, all kind of eateries and medical facilities. The number of internet cafes in Calangute might totally exceed the number in the entire city of Panaji.
Huge showrooms filled with exquisite handicrafts from Kashmir, Tibet, Indonesia, Rajasthan and other exotic places line up the main road running towards Anjuna. But the beach as such is not the best of all. There are neither swaying palms nor are there any traditional boats lying there to add variety. The waves are bigger and heavier here due to the rapid drop.
BagaThis is part of a 30 km stretch of beach coastline along the west coast of Goa by the Arabian sea that begins at Fort Aguada continues as Sinquerim Beach, then as Candolim Beach and merges into Calangute Beach and then to Baga beach and then Anjuna Beach and then to Vagator Beach finally ending at Chapora Beach and Fort.
As compared to Calangute Beach, it is quieter and isolated. Its scenic beauty, with the creek, the Retreat House perched on the hill and the lack of local tourist buses all have contributed to its unique beauty. It is more popular with western tourists who love to use it as a base for water sports and fishing in the area.
VagatorThis beautiful beach is located about 22 Kms from Panaji and is situated in Bardez taluka. This is part of a 30 km stretch of beach coastline along the west coast of Goa by the arabian sea that begins at Fort Aguada continues as Sinquerim beach, then as Candolim beach and merges into Calangute beach and then to Baga beach and then Anjuna beach and then to Vagator beach finally ending at Chapora beach and Fort.
The beach adjoining Anjuna is secluded, crescent shaped and situated on the Caisua bay along the Chapora river basin, in the shadow of Chapora fort. During the tourist season, it is a favorite venue for mid night parties. There are a number of buses that run from Mapusa and Calangute Beach to Vagator. The nearest interstate bus station is at Mapusa, the KTC bus station.
AnjunaIt is located about 18kms from Panaji and is situated in Bardez taluka. This is part of a 30 km stretch of beach coastline along the west coast of Goa by the Arabian sea that begins at Fort Aguada continues as Sinquerim Beach, then as Candolim Beach and merges into Calangute Beach and then to Baga Beach and then Anjuna Beach and then to Vagator Beach, finally ending at Chapora Beach and Chapora river and Fort.
The Village of Anjuna is a five square mile enclosure nestling between the Arabian Sea and the hill overlooking the beach. This beach is known for its swaying palms, soft sands and natural beauty. It has an unusual rocky formation overlying a cove of white sand and black rock that juts into the Sea.
SinquerimWith a magnificent 17th century fort which has now been converted into a prison. It is one of the best beaches in Goa with international class facilities for water-skiing, para-sailing, fishing, scuba-diving and wind-surfing.
You can stay here either at the Fort Aguada Beach Resort, Taj Holiday Village or at the Aguada Hermitage which is situated on the hillside, overlooking the sea.
Sinquerim is located some 13 km from Panaji. Taj Hotel group has set up the Heritage Complex here which dominates the headland around the historic Fort Aguada. There is uninterrupted firm sand from here all the way to north to Baga and if you want a long beach walk, there cannot be a better place to start from.
MiramarThis beautiful beach is located about 3kms from Panaji. It lies adjoining the estuary of the river Mandovi as it opens into the Arabian sea. It was originally known as the "Gasper Dias Beach".
From the beach across the river is an excellent view of Fort Aguada. Apart from its proximity to Panaji, it is very much commercialized and a large number of hotels and exclusive homes of Goa's rich and famous stud the area.
The beach is crowded with locals and tourists alike on most days. The Dhempe College of Arts and Science is located here and so is the memorial to Goa's first chief minister, the late Dayanand Bandodkar. A lovely golden beach of soft sand gridled with palm trees facing the blue Arabian Sea, is the nearest to Panaji.
AguadaAguada beach is almost synonymous with the top-notch Fort Aguada Hotel complex, a superb hotel that is built on the cliff, around the remnants of the early 17th century Portuguese fort. Although access to the beach is not possible through the hotel grounds, which are private, you can walk along Aguada beach, for in India private beaches do not exist.
The hotel has been constructed in three parts, consisting of expensive cottages on the upper reaches of the hillside, the fort jutting out to sea, and a delightful Goan village, with individual cottages. Drawn by the clientele of the hotel, Aguada beach has cafes, itinerant vendors of everything from Kashmiri carpets to massages, and a good range of water sports.
South Goa CircuitAnother major base to begin the beach conquest is from Margao, the second most important city in Goa. This railway junction connects Goa to all major cities in the coastline like Mumbai, Mangalore and Kochi.
Beginning from Majorda beach, a 20 kms long silvery white sand stretches across till the headland of Cabo de Rama.
Velsao, Majorda, Betalbatim, Colva, Benaulim, Varca, Cavelossim, Mobor and Betul beaches are all interconnected.
PalolemIt’s a beach of white sand facing a blue bay between two headlands. The little wooded islands on the northern headland look interesting but as we’ve never ventured onto any of them we don’t know what landing on them would be like.
If you’re interested, try to persuade one of the fishermen. This is also a fishing beach to ferry you across. They do offer to take you out to spot dolphins. Tourists have discovered Palolem and so there are a few shacks selling seafood snacks, souvenirs and clothes of the shapeless, bright, informal kind. Panaji, the capital, is more than 70 km away.
Palolem is just 3 km away from Canacona Railway station, now on the Konkan Railway. You can hire taxis and auto-rickshaws to reach Palolem beach from Margao, 40 km away. There are regular buses from Margao to Palolem that would drop you at Canacona village.
There are beautiful beach huts and family room to choose from in Palolem. Try to avoid the weekends, as there is a big crowd of picnickers who throng the beach on weekends.
There are now beautiful beach huts and family rooms to choose from in Palolem. Further south is the cove of Colomb where you can enjoy peace and quiet. Two kilometres away from Palolem is Rajbag Beach which is isolated and stretches all the way to the mouth of the Talpona River. And then on to Galgibaga Beach which is the second nesting site in Goa for turtles. Further south is Agonda Beach.
AgondaIf you continue driving towards Panaji from Palolem, the next beach is Agonda.
It’s long and lonely, fringed with palms and casuarinas and dominated by a large hill to the south.
It’s not safe to swim out too far on this beach. There are very few facilities available here and you are needed to carry all the essentials.
Agonda is a three kilometer long beautiful cove of white sand, safely secluded in the palms. There are no tourists, no souvenir stalls, no restaurants, nothing.
Just the trees, the beach, the big beautiful ocean and you. It also makes for a great day trip from Colva and Covelossim. For real adventure, hire a tent and camp for the night, listening to the crashing of the sea waves.
Not far from Agonda beach is Cabo de Rama, untouched by most of the visitors in this region. The atmosphere of the fort creates a sense of history and drama that very few would fail to appreciate. The fort is named after Rama, hero of the Hindu epic Ramayana. According to the local legends, Rama stayed here with his wife Sita during the period of 12-year exile.
The best way to reach this beach is by a scooter or motors bike.
Varca, Cavelossim, MoborVarca, Cavelossim, and Mabor are the most beautiful beaches south of Benaulim. These beaches are much cleaner and quieter than most of the famous beaches of Goa. There are numerous beach shacks offering a variety of Goan dishes and seafood at reasonable prices.
There are several food joints around Dona Sylvia where you can get entire package of good food, good drink, nice service, and a pleasant service in quite reasonable rates. There are facilities for Dolphin watching up river Sal.
These beaches are home to some of the most exclusive and luxurious beach resorts in Goa. Accommodation is also available for budget and economy class travelers though not on the beach itself.
There are plenty of transportation facilities available to reach these beaches from Margao. From Cavelossim village, Margao is 18 km away and buses and autos are available easily. You can also hire taxis from Dabolim Airport (41 – 48 km) to reach the beach resorts here. To move locally, use cycles and scooters that are available on hire.
ColvaThis is the most important beach in the south circuit equipped with all modern amenities like air-conditioned resort complexes, tourist cottages, discos, seashell artefact stalls, refreshment stalls, eateries, guest houses, expanding the village enormously.
The Church of Our Lady Of Mercy in Colva is famous for its miracle statue of Menino Jesus. The road leading from the Church to the beach is where all the facilities are located.
Colva is a small village in south Goa on the shores of the Arabian Sea. It lies 39 km away from Panaji, capital of the Indian state of Goa. Two km further ahead from Colva is Benaulim.
With 20 km of virgin white sands, palm fringed, and sun drenched beaches, Colva is the most loved beach of Goans. Colva, unlike Anjuna or Calangute, gained popularity only lately. It was little disturbed and life moved on quietly.
While taking a stroll on the Colva Beach, silver carpets of bangdde (mackerels) can be viewed shimmering on the golden sands for drying. Fishermen’s motor trawlers can be seen anchored in a line offshore. Tourists, Indian and foreigners, as well as locals can be seen in colorful dresses, coming either for a walk or ‘for a change of air’. Many tourists can be seen having a sunbath on the golden sands.
The trinket stalls and the drink stands on the golden sands under the moonlight make the evening on the Colva Beach utterly romantic.
MajordaThis small stretch beach stretches about 5 Kms north of Colva Beach along the coastline. The beach is the location of many hotels. It is in no way comparable to Colva Beach that lies just south along the coast.
From Bogmalo down south, there is Majorda beach and the Majorda Beach Resort. Majorda is the village where the Jesuits, fond as they were of the good things of life, discovered the best Goan toddy (sap from the coconut palm), which they used to leaven the bread. Naturally, then, Majorda is the place where the Goans were first trained in the delicate art of baking European breads.
The Majordans are still Goa's best bakers. The delights of the beach, however, were discovered much earlier, in the mythical times when the gods above went through a lot of turmoil. There is a Goan version of Ramayana and therein Lord Rama was kidnapped as a child and brought up at Majorda. Later, in pursuit of Sita, he camped at Cabo de Rama - a headland further south - where the stretch of developed beaches ends.
BogmaloThis beach dominated by a huge 5-star hotel located right on its edge and is cut apart from both the North and South beach circuit. Being just 4 kilometers away from the Goa Airport at Dabolim, it is a favourite among the elite classes and has an air of exclusivity.
Although the resort hotel towers above the village, there are couple of smaller places to stay. Windsurfing and water skiing facilities are available.
BenaulimLess than 2 kms south of Colva is the more tranquil beach of Benaulim. Benaulim is one of the few places in Goa where one can glimpse handicrafts typical to this area. The best of the traditional rosewood furniture is made here. Also Benaulim is famous as the place where the legendary Parashuram's arrow landed, by which Goa was created.
About 2 km away from Colva is the Benaulim, which is more peaceful and serene than Colva. The best thing about Benaulim is that it is still rather undiscovered by domestic tourists even though it is a fishing beach. It gets fairly crowded in the evenings and on weekends; it gets fairly crowded with local visitors who get off buses about a kilometer away and pour onto the beach.
The Church of St John the Baptist is situated on a hill beyond the village and worth a visit. On the arrival of the monsoon, Feast of St John the Baptist (Sao Joao) is celebrated as a thanksgiving. Young men wearing crowns of leaves and fruits tour the area singing for gifts. To commemorate the movement of St John in his mother’s womb when he was in his mother’s womb and visited by Mary, the mother of Jesus, the young men of this village jump in the wells.
BetulBetul is one of the most important fishing ports where all the mechanized boats and deep sea trawlers bring in their catch. Here headlands from the slopes of the Western Ghats protrude into the shore giving it an imposing backdrop.
Beyond this secluded beach is the hill of Cabo De Rama where the Portuguese have built a fort. From the fort a great view of the sunset on the beach can be viewed. There are very few places to stay in Betul.
These caves are also called the 'Pandavas Caves' as folk tales say that the Pandavas stayed here during their exile. These caves were encarved in the 5th or 6th century A.D.
The celebrated caves of Arvalem, found in a remote area but not far from the temple of Rudreshwar, are of great archaeological interest. Cave No. 2 has a Shivalinga with a circular top with Sanskrit and Brahmi characters dating back to the 7th century A.D.
They have 5 compartments among which the middle compartment holds the 'Linga' which is till today regarded with great respect
Rock Cut Caves of KhandeparThese caves were encarved way back in the 12th century and were rediscovered in 1970. These caves are found 36 kilomters from Panaji in village called Khandepar in the Ponda Taluka.
The 4 caves are situated in close vicinity, with the 1st and the 2nd one being almost linked, the 3rd is just at a distance of one meter and the 4th is opposite the first cave. The 4th cave was probably used for meditation and prayers and has the pedestal to hold the 'Linga' in it.
Waterfalls, Springs and Lakes
Descending from the temple of Rudreshwar, one catches sight of a majestic waterfall cascading from a height of about 70 ft. to form a sizeable lake at the bottom-a tempting sight to seasoned swimmers.
A short distance from the regional town of Bicholim, along the road from Mayem Lake, lies the village of Sanquelim. This is the place where the colonial government settled its Rajput mercenaries (known as the 'Ranes') in the mid-1700s and where the same mercenaries staged their successful uprisings during the 19th century.
Of interest near Sanquelim are the Arvalem Caves, about a mile from the south-eastern end of Sanquelim. A short 10-minute drive from the caves, the Harvalem Waterfalls are worth visiting after the monsoon (in October) when they cascade noisily through the surrounding trees, but through the dry winter the flow is reduced to a trickle.
This waterfall, which cascades down from the mountains from a height of 50 meters, is not as awe-inspiring as the Dudhsagar Waterfalls spectacle, but is interesting all the same.
This waterfall is set amidst charming surroundings, with the Rudreshwar temple in its vicinity. The temple holds importance for the Hindus who believe in releasing the soul on the 12th day after death. The Rock cut caves are just situated nearby. The Government has also developed a park from which the view of the waterfall can be peacefully relished.
Sanquelim can be easily reached by bus from Mapusa, but you will have to walk for about half an hour or take a motorbike taxi to get out to the caves or the falls.
Dudhsagar WaterfallsThe magnificent Dudhsagar Waterfall is perched in the high peaks of the Western Ghats and is a sight to behold especially in the monsoons when it is in full and furious flow. From a distance, the waterfall appears like streams of milk rushing down the mountainside. The exhuberent and spectacular waterfall is located in the Sanguem taluka.
Measuring a mighty 600m from head to foot, this waterfall on the Goa-Karnataka border, attracts a steady stream of visitors from the coast into the rugged Western Ghats. After pouring across the Deccan plateau, the headwaters of the Mandovi River form a foaming torrent that splits into three streams to cascade down a near-vertical cliff face into a deep green pool.
The Konkani name for the falls, which literally translated means "sea of milk", derives from clouds of milky foam which rises up at the bottom of the falls. Dudhsagar is set amidst breathtaking scenery overlooking a steep, crescent-shaped head of a valley carpeted with pristine tropical forest, which is only accessible on foot or by train.
Like most places in Goa, the Dudhsagar waterfall too has a legend attached to its name. The legend tells the story of this powerful and wealthy king who ruled a kingdom in the Western Ghats. His lavish and opulent palace in the hills was surrounded by vast gardens which were full of deers and gazelles.
The King had a beautiful daughter, who used to enjoy taking a bath during the hot summers, in the picturesque lake near the forest on the edge of the King's palace grounds. It was her habit to finish her bath and have a jug full of sugared milk in a jug made of pure gold.
One day when she was finishing her usual jug of milk, she found herself being watched by a handsome prince standing amongst the trees. Embarrassed by her inadequate bathing attire, the resourceful Princess poured the sugared milk in front of her to form an improvised curtain to hide her body, while one of the maids rushed to cover her with a dress.
Thus was the legend born. The sugared milk (dudh) poured down the mountainside and continued to flow in torrents as a tribute to the everlasting virtue and modesty of the Princess of the Ghats. The Dudh Sagar (Sea of Milk) continues to flow to this day and attracts thousands of visitors to one of the most popular and famous tourist spots in the state of Goa.
A number of private operators offer special trips to the Waterfalls and the tours operated by GTDC (Goa Tourism Development Corpn) also have Dudhsagar Waterfalls as one of the tour stops.
The falls can also be reached by a train journey from Vasco or Margao. At Collem, in the Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary near Mollem, there is a railway station where the train stops to pick up passengers for the journey to the waterfalls. There are two trains a day that stop at Dudhsagar Station and it's possible to catch a morning train up and spend several hours at the falls before taking an afternoon train back.
Near the top of the falls, the railway line from Vasco to Londa crosses the mountainside, with excellent views from the train. There also a couple of pools that you can swim in, making Dudhsagar a great place for a day full of fun and frolic. The alternate way of reaching the falls is only advisable between January and May, when the level of the water in the rivers abates enough to permit jeeps to approach the base of the falls.
A popular destination for hikers and trekkers, the waterfall is also accessible by jeep through the sanctuary. However, one needs to obtain permission in advance from the Department of Forests at Junta House, Panaji. Top
Kesarval SpringThe spring at Kesarval is located 22 kilometers away from Panaji, near the Verna plateau, off the main National highway road which goes on towards the town of Margao. The spot can be reached soon after crossing the bridge on the Zuari river and passing through the village of Cortalim.
There is dense undergrowth surrounding the site and above its gorge the hills stretch out in the east and south. A little further down the slope of this ridge to the east, surrounded by the tropical woodlands and waving betel-nut palms is the celebrated spring of Kesarval.
The word "Kesar-val" is derived from the Indian word for eagles that used to maintain a colony here among the magnificent forested slopes. Unlike earlier when a stony zigzag trail was the only route to reach the spring, steps were built in the 1950s below the hill so that bathers could reach the spring without difficulty.
The spring has a reputation among the locals and the bathers who come from faraway places, of having medicinal properties in its waters. It is a very popular spa, where bathers go to wash out ailments once a year by a course of "healing waters."
Many middle-aged people are seen giving a "pep-up" to their ailing bodies with a good bath. Some folks still swear that the spring waters have magical curative properties, which can heal skin and eye ailments.
The Tourism Department has designated the Kesarval spring as a tourist spot. The spring is at its resplendent best, during the monsoon when it tumbles forward in a dashing cascade. But during the sweltering Goan summer in April-May, when the hills above are parched for water, the flow of the spring is broken and weak.
Kesarval, with its rolling terraced hills, running down to the forested countryside is a place where time stands still.
Mayem LakeThis 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 the market town of Mapusa. The region, in which the lake is located, is mostly unspoilt countryside full of sleepy villages.
The lake itself sits on wooded shores in a landscape of low hills. Birdlife is plentiful here, with a variety of birds making their home on the shores of the lake.
The placid waters of this lake are ideal for boating. Small pedal operated boats are available for a charming boat ride on the lake.
The lake has in its grounds a shady park which boasts of an excellent cafeteria and several other stalls, the most popular of which are the soft drink ones.
The GTDC-run Mayem Lake Resort offers inexpensive accommodation in self-contained cottages and dormitories.
A short drive away from the lake is the residence and chapel of the erstwhile count of Mayem. En route is a small water fountain built in 1927 as the plaque indicates which still supplies water to neighbouring residents.
Worth visiting nearby in the picturesque village of Mayem is the Kumbharwado where villagers belong mainly to the farming community. But they do not till the lands until after the celebration of the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi.
They are engaged in an activity of an entirely different kind. Most families of the Kumbharwado locality make Ganesh idols out of terracotta which are shipped all around Goa for the festival. The idol making is an art passed on from generation to generation and produces some of the most beautiful and colourful idols in the state.
The discovery of rare Stone Age rock carvings at Kajur, Panasaimol of Pirla village in Sanguem Taluka and Mauxi in Sattari Taluka has opened new vistas and thrown up new challenges to historians and archaeologists. The State Museum of Goa in Panaji has created a model of this entire site of Panasaimol.
FortsSentinels of the Past
Compared to Indian standards, Goan forts are very small in size. Nonetheless, these are historic specimen of immense military, political and economic importance in a land crisscrossed by rivers and canals and bordered by sea on the west. The old monuments, now in ruins are mute testimony to the joys and sorrows, and colourful and dark events of a bygone era.
Some are awesome in sheer size like the Ruins of the St. Augustine's Tower, while others are marvelous pieces of architecture, such as the Gate of the Adil Shah's Palace at Old Goa.
There are quite a few old Portuguese forts dotted around Goa, most of them on the coast. Most of them are in reasonable state of preservation and are worth a visit if you have the time.
Goa has several imposing forts, though most of them lie in ruins today. One marvels at the massive effort which was involved when the huge laterite stones were lifted to the top of inaccessible hills, to erect the forts.
Sans cement, steel or mortar, the giant walls have stood the vagaries of nature for centuries, and would have gone on to last for several centuries more were they to be looked after properly.
The Portuguese found the need to raise the fortresses at several strategic points facing the river mouths to defend their new acquisitions in the East. Of course, they also acquired forts built by the neighbouring chieftains, when the latter's lands were annexed by the Conquistadores. However, once the defense priorities receded, the forts too were abandoned by the Portuguese.
Aguada FortThis is the largest and the best-preserved Portuguese bastion in Goa and was built in 1609-12, to control the entry into the river Mandovi and to protect Old Goa from potential enemy attacks.
A freshwater spring - from where the fort derives it's name - within the fort provided water supply to the ships that called there. Ringed by thick battlements, the heart of the fort was protected by two hundred cannons and a deep dry moat, which one still has to cross to get inside.
Strategically located at the estuary of the river Mandovi, this fort was constructed in 1612 as a guard against invasions from the Dutch and the Marathas. The walls of this fort are 5 meters high and 1.3 meters wide. Little surprise is that, the only fort that was not conquered by any invaders during the 450 year long rule of the Portuguese empire.
The area around the fort housed a large well and a number of springs that provided fresh drinking water to the voyagers that arrived by ship. "Agua" in Portuguese means water, thus the fort derived its name "Aguada" to denote a place where water is accumulated.
Steps lead down from the middle of the courtyard within to an enormous vaulted cistern capable of storing ten million liters of fresh water. The other unusual feature of the fort is a four-storey Portuguese lighthouse, erected in 1864 and the oldest of its kind in Asia.
An interesting feature in the precinct of the fort is a 13 meter high lighthouse. This lighthouse, built in 1864, initially used an oil lamp. It was later renovated and modernised in 1976.
This lighthouse was home to a gigantic bell that was retrieved from amongst the ruins of the St. Augustus monastery at Old Goa. However, the bell has now been moved to the Our Lady of Immaculate Conception church at Panaji.
Though the entire fort is no longer intact, some buildings that are still in good shape have been converted into a prison. Interestingly, it happens to be the largest prison in Goa.
En-oute to the fort, one comes across the church of St. Lawrence, the saint of the sailors. The Portuguese used to build churches on the outskirts of the forts to prevent the enemy from firing at a close range.
Cabo De Rama FortLocated in Canacona Taluka Cabo da Rama - Cape Rama -, takes its name from Rama, the hero of the Hindu epic Ramayana, who, along with his wife Sita holed up here during his exile from Ayodhya. The promontory was crowned by a fort centuries before the Portuguese cruised in and wrested it from the local Hindu rulers in 1763.
They erected their own citadel soon after, but this now lies in ruins; a crumbling turret still houses a couple of rusty old Portuguese cannons. Until 1955, the bastion housed a prison; now its only habitable building is a lonely government observation post occupied from time to time by a couple of young scientists from the National Institute of Oceanography.
Moving south of Madgaon, a deviation from the National Highway going to Karwar at Chinchinim, a quiet bumpy road goes towards the hills on the edge of the sea. At the end of this long winding road is the lonely Cabo De Rama. The headland of Cabo De Rama had been a fortress much before the Portuguese ever reached Goa.
The fortress on this site was held by various rulers for many years, and it was in 1763 that it was gained by the Portuguese from the Raja of Sonda. It was subsequently rebuilt, and what remains today, including the rusty cannons, is entirely Portuguese. Although the fort saw no real action after the rebuild, it was briefly occupied by British troops.
There is little to see of the old structure beyond the front wall with its dry moat and main gate, and the small church which stands just inside the walls. The church is still used, and its pristine whitewash contrasts notably with the blackened stone of the ruined front rampart.
The western side of the fortress, where the cliffs drop sharply to the sea, provides a great view both to the north and south. There is practically no sign of life on the hilltop at all, apart from a few soaring sea eagles, and the occasional monkey scampering between clumps of vegetation. Own transport has to be arranged to reach the fort.
Chapora FortLocated 10 kilometer from Mapusa, the red-laterite bastion was built by the Portuguese in 1617 on the site of an earlier Muslim structure. Intended as a border watchpost, it fell to various Hindu raiders during the 17th century, before finally being deserted by the Portuguese in 1892.
Today, the fortress lies in ruins, although you can still see the heads of two tunnels that formerly provided supply routes for besieged defenders, as well as a scattering of Muslim tombstones on the southern slopes of the hill, believed to be relics of pre-colonial days. However, the main incentive to climb up here is the splendid view of nearby Anjuna and Vagator beaches.
Though Bardez in North Goa was ceded to the Portuguese in 1543, the security of !he territory continued to be threatened by several enemies- the Bahamani kings from the north, Maratha horsemen from the east and the local chieftains in the area itself. As a result, the Portuguese built a series of fortifications including the one in Chapora. It was constructed in 1617 only five years after work began on Fort Aguada. Frequent buses ply from Mapusa to Anjuna and Vagator with stopover near the fort.
In 1684, the Portuguese troops surrendered to the courageous Maratha ruler, Sambhaji. But the locals were not too pleased with this. They had a number of conflicts with the Marathas and finally in 1717, the Marathas withdrew their force. The Portuguese then took over again and rebuilt the fort. The new structure of the fort was equipped with underground tunnels that ensured a safe getaway in case of an emergency.
But this glory was not to remain. Yet again in 1739 the Marathas captured the Chapora fort. However, two years later, in 1741, the Portuguese regained the fort when the northern taluka of Pednem was handed over to them.
In 1892, the Portuguese completely abandoned the fort. What remains today are only ruins but one does manage to see the heads of the escape tunnels built by the Portuguese. Though, there isn't much to see, the history lingers on.
Rachol FortThe ruins of the Rachol fort lie close to the famous Rachol Seminary, about 7 kilometers from the town of Margao. Of the fortress itself, only a single gateway remains in existence, straddling the road which leads to the seminary.
The imposing fortress once encircled the hill on which the Seminary stands today. The dried-up moat can still be seen in places. The Muslim Bahmani kingdom built the fortress at the height of its power.
However, the Hindu Vijayanagar kingdom under King Krishnaraya, captured it from the Sultan of Bijapur, Ismail Adil Shah, only to cede it to the Portuguese in 1520 in exchange for military help against the Muslims.
The Rachol fort remained in Portuguese hands over the years, defending the area against Muslim and Hindu attackers, including a siege by the Maratha King Sambhaji in 1684. At the peak of its power, it had as many as 100 guns on its ramparts, helping it to hold the Maratha armies at bay for months.
As the Portuguese empire in Goa expanded with the New Conquests, the guns found new areas of deployment and the fort fell from favour and was finally abandoned. The fort soon fell into a state of disrepair and nothing remains of it today except the stone archway which spans the road and the old moat around the hill.
Reis MagosReis Magos fort, surrounded by sturdy laterite walls studded with typically Portuguese turrets was erected in 1551 to protect the narrowest point at the mouth of the Mandovi estuary. The fort formerly accommodated viceroys and other dignitaries newly arrived from, or en route to, Lisbon, and in the early eighteenth century proved a linchpin in the wars against the Hindu Marathas, who were never able to take it. The bastion was used as a prison and is not open to the public.
It is situated on the southeastern extremity of the tableland on the right bank of the Mandovi, in the province of Bardez, about two miles to the northeast of Fort Aguada.
It was enlarged subsequently on different occasions, and finally re-erected in 1707.
Though far inferior in size to the fortress of Mormugao, yet standing on an eminence, it commands, a splendid view all around.
It is in a good state of preservation, and is defended by 33 guns and accommodation for a small garrison. Towards the east, at a little distance from it, flows a spring with abundance of excellent water, while at its base rises the church of the Reis Magos, ascended by a beautiful flight of stairs.
This edifice was built on the ruins of a pagoda in 1550 by the Franciscans, with the sum allotted to them by the Government, and bears a crown on its façade, and the royal arms on its sanctuary and other places.
The pavement is dotted with inscriptions, the most important of which, found in the sanctuary, indicated the spot enclosing the remains of Dom Luis de Ataíde, Count of Athoughia, who twice held the position of Viceroy of Portuguese India and Goa.
This Fort stands on the north bank of the Mandovi at Reis Magos, and is very much visible from the Panaji side of the Mandovi river. It was used as a residence for viceroys and later converted to a fortress. It was occupied briefly from 1798 - 1813 by the British army. It was subsequently abandoned by the military and served as a prison until recently.
Terekhol FortOften mis-spelt as Tirakol or Tirakhol, situated on the Terekhol River, this fort lies on the northern tip of Goa. Maharaja Khem Sawant Bhonsle, the Raja of Sawantwadi, built this fort in the 17th century. It was then rebuilt in 1764 after the Portuguese Viceroy Dom Pedro Miguel de Almeida captured it. However, Terekhol was legally incorporated into Goa only in 1788.
In 1825, Dr. Bernado Peres da Silva, the first Goan born Viceroy of Goa, used the fort as a base for an armed rebellion against the Portuguese.
The outcome however, was not very fruitful and the Portuguese took over the fort once again. He never returned to Goa.
The remains of the fort have now been converted into a hotel, the Terekhol Fort Heritage. In its courtyard is the century old Church of St. Anthony. But it is not open to the general public except on certain occasions such as the annual feast that is usually held some time in May.
42 kms from Panaji, Terekhol fort stands at the northern most tip of Goa's shoreline, on a hillock overlooking the Arabian Sea, at the mouth of river Terekhol.
Cabo Raj Niwas (Raj Bhavan)Cabo fort lies on the peninsula land jutting out in the Arabian Sea, at Dona Paula, 9 kilometers from Panaji. The fort was erected by the Portuguese in 1540 to guard the entrance to Goa harbour.
The Portuguese planned a fort here in 1540, and as per long-established defense strategy, quickly built a church. Subsequently, they built a fort and the church was made into a convent.
Since the fort’s canons were never used `in anger’, the buildings were used as temporary accommodation for the archbishop from the 1650s. The British took it over in 1798 and stayed in residence, apart from a brief break, until 1813.
Initially during the Portuguese era, a Franciscan Convent was attached to the Fort. These days nothing remains of the old citadel.
You can, however, see the ruins of the small military cemetery the British built at the time of their brief occupation of the Cabo during the Napoleonic wars - a move intended to deter the French from invading Goa. This later became Cabo Palace and is now the official residence of the Governor of Goa, known as the Raj Bhavan.
Corjuem FortThis fort is situated 4km north of Pomburpa, alongside the Mapusa river near the village of Aldona. It was built in 1705 by the Portuguese.
Built in 1705, the fort has a rather interesting story set in it. One Ursula e Lancastre, an ambitious Portuguese woman determined to succeed in a man’s world, dressed like one and travelled the world, eventually landing up here as a soldier. Finally, her secret was discovered when she was captured and stripped. But the woman was in a different league - she ended up marrying the captain of the guard.
The ruins of the Fortress of ColvaleStanding on the northern frontier of Bardez, on the left bank of the Bardez River, this fortress was erected in 1681 by the court of Alvor as a barrier against the inroads of the Marathas and Bhonsles.
It was taken by the Marathas in 1739, and later recaptured by the Marquis of Lourical on the 13th of June 1741, and had a small garrison, besides a regiment, posted about the same time in a convenient situation.
The regiment was removed to Mapusa in 1841, while the Fortress, which had been abandoned and neglected a few years previously, went to ruin, and now presents only a few traces of its former might.
Ancestral Goa - A glimpse into Goa of the PastFour centuries of Portuguese rule and that of other rulers before them has given Goa an unique life-style that consists of a blend of Indian and Western influences as can be seen in its varied culture and architecture of its towns and villages. Today Goa also boasts of glorious traditions that have been handed down to it over the ages.
Dedicated to the preservation of art, culture and environment and inorder to preserve Goa's past and its rich traditions this magnificent project named "Ancestral Goa" is the result of a lot of meticulous research, planning and hardwork. It opened to the public in April 1995.
Ancestral Goa is miniature Goan Village as it would have existed 100 years ago. It is located on a nine acre verdant hillock at Loutulim in South Goa, about ten kilometers from Margao.
Graceful swans charm the entrance to the reception. Elephants carrying flowered pillars with multi-hued and decorated beams deck the entryway.
A spacious room redolent of the Goan - Portuguese aura replete with a palanquin, sepia-toned photographs, domed lamps and a designed marble floor feeds one the anticipation of a moment when a whole treasure in the book of history will unfold. The traditional 'aarti' is performed as part of the greeted welcome by a sari-clad goan girl.
An incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Parashuram shot the legendary arrow into the bosom of the Indian Ocean resulting in the emotive paradise known as Goa. The visitor is treated to a sight of Parashuram at the entrance itself, all ready with the proverbial bow & arrow.
One step out of the high- ceilinged entrance, sporting a "punkah" and one moves into a landscape spread over a gently rolling hill where laterite steps lead to "Demo" (the caretaker of the landlord's property).
The Ancestral Goa project, the brainchild of Goan artist, Maendra J. Alvares who has used his family's ancestral property to keep Goa's culture alive and is a place worth visiting as any lay visitor can get a glimpse of Goa in its original grandeur and authentic form.
This place also gives visitors a glance of a sight other than beaches, churches and temples which Goa is famous for and imparts a culture based education about the roots and heritage of Goa. Ancestral Goa is included as one of the sight seeing spots by Goa Tourism Development Corporation's buses in their cultural tour package.
Local feasts and festivals are celebrated with traditional style and fervour. A visit to Ancestral Goa on any of the feast days, allows for a pure experience of Goan customs and lifestyles. The Eat-out offers a menu full of traditional Goan Specialties. Local vegetables, fish and sweets are treats to be indulged in.
Other places of interests
The project is made up of various points of definition :
The open-air museum tracing Goa’s historical evolution of “Rural” trade and culture, also depits man’s close co existence with nature.
A spice, fruit, vegetable, medicinal and herbal garden with an ancient irrigation system on display with descriptions of the medicinal values.
The “Legend of the Big Foot” is a footprint embedded in a rock face, where the pure of heart place their hand and are rewarded with Good Luck or Blessings.
A bird habitat ensuring a sighting of atleast 35 varieties oflocal and exotic birds. The majoe attraction, Natural Harmony” – India’s longest laterite scultpure of “Santa Mira” the singing saint, 14 x 5 mtrs. in length and sculpted in a record time of Maendra Alvares. This feat and the sculpture, itself have entered the Limca book of Records.
Other features are : A Butterfly - Cactus garden – A rubber plantation where rubber is tapped and processed – Various handicraft and local artifact outlets –An “Art Exhibition Centre” where many artistic ad photo exhibits are held.
Open all days 9.00 am to 6.00 pm
Entry Fee Rs.50/- per person, Rs.25/- for children from 3 to 10 years
Tel: 2777034, 2750430 TeleFax: 2750401
Web: www.ancestralgoa.com www.bigfootgoa.com
Ancestral Home: With immenso Heritage potential for tourist visit belongs to Mrs. Sara Fernandes, situated at Cotta in Chandor.
Christian Art Museum, Old GoaThe Christian Art Museum, the first and only one of its kind in Asia, was earlier located at the famous Rachol Seminary at Rachol near the town on Margao. However its relatively remote location had prevented it from being a popular destination for the tourists.
The museum which has enriched cultural heritage and history of Goa was originally set up in 1994 with technical and financial assistance from Calouste Gulbentian foundation of Portugal and the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) New Delhi.
This fabulous museum is now relocated within the precincts of the convent of Santa Monica, Old Goa, in the vicinity of the Old Goa world heritage monuments.
The museum houses some of the best specimens of Goa´s distinctive and exquisitely crafted church art. In the early days of Portuguese colonization, most statues to be installed in churches were brought by ship from Portugal.
These were supplemented by images, furnishings and decorations crafted by local Hindu artisans who were roped in to keep up with the demand as church building activity of the Portuguese accelerated.
The ground floor of the museum has an area of 350 sq. mts. It also has an upper floor gallery with an area of 150 sq. mts. The museum has in its collection beautiful artifacts like the Pelican monstrance based on the legend that in times of famine, the mother pelican plucks open her breast and feeds her young on her own blood. The artistic iconography explicitly suggests that the holy sacrament is the food for man's salvation.
The collection also includes rosaries and other items made of gold and precious stone. St. Francis Xavier a popular theme is shown in silver plaques and on the panels of a silver casket. Image crowns and other rituals objects were also made in silver.
The museum also possesses some beautiful ivory images. The Good Shepherd depicts Jesus as an allegorical shepherd watching his flock. He sits in a pensive posture on an elaborately carved rocky mountain.
Beneath him are frolicking lambs, a fountain and St Mary Magdalene lies in the front grotto, in what is described as a pose of Indian influence, studying the scriptures.
The museum is open everyday from 9.30 am to 5 pm.
State Archaeology Museum, PanajiThe State Archaeology Museum was initially located in rented premises at St Inez in Panaji. It was opened for public on 29th Sept 1977. A new building was constructed on the outskirts of Panaji at the Patto Plaza, and the museum was shifted to this new building and inaugurated by the President of India on 18th June 1996.
At present there are seven galleries in the museum which are 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 at present has the collection of about 8000 objects, which includes Stone Sculptures, Wooden objects, Bronzes, Paintings, Manuscripts, numismatic collection, anthropological objects, clay models etc.
There are also around 645 objects loaned from Institute Menezes Braganza Art gallery and the Kala Academy.
This gallery has some of the best objects of the entire collection of the museum.
In the Sculpture Gallery, the stone sculptures and bronzes of different deities, Hero stones and Sati stones are displayed. This gallery also includes inscriptions or photographs thereof dating from the 4th century A.D.
A significant among these is a copper plate inscription of Viravarma, the Kadamba king, dating back to 1049 A.D. The oldest object in the museum i.e. fossil bone dating 10000 B.C. is also exhibited here.
Christian Art Gallery
The gallery exhibits wooden statues of various Christian Saints and others including Pieta. There are also portraits of past Portuguese Governors of Goa and Prime Ministers.
It also includes some rare paintings on wood, metal and canvas, some furniture pieces like a carved table and chair of the Portuguese Governor General, a sofa set with ivory inlay work, small ivory idols, chest of drawers and few chairs of western style.
An interesting item is a flag which was used to commemorate the Portuguese victory over the Dutch.
Banerji Art Gallery
Shri S. K. Banerji, an Ex-Governor of Goa, has donated a very rich collection to the Goa State Museum. This collection is housed in this gallery named after him.
It includes terracotta objects of Indus Valley Civilization, seals of Janapadas, stone sculptures of Gandhara school of Art, South Indian bronzes, wooden sculptures of South East Asia and Dhokra ware.
In addition to this, Rajasthani miniature paintings of Jaipur School, Marwar School, Mewar School, etc., paintings of Mughal style, Nathdwara and patachitras of Orissa and few contemporary paintings are also displayed here.
Religious Expression Gallery
An ancient image of Lord Vishnu from the Gupta period is one of the most striking and valuable possessions kept in the Religious Expression gallery.
This gallery reflects the varied and multi-cultural religious expressions of Goa over the years. It includes a model of "Tarang", traditional musical instruments, worship utensils, palm-leaf manuscripts and paper manuscripts of different religious texts and also few old photographs of various religious ceremonies and festivals.
Cultural Anthropology gallery displays the objects related to cultural anthropology such as household utensils, different games, weights and measures. It also exhibits a model of a sugarcane crusher, crane and agricultural implements. The most remarkable are the clay models showing different professions.
Contemporary Art Gallery
In the Contemporary Art Gallery, paintings and sculptures of well-known Goan and Indian artists are exhibited. There are paintings of eminent artists like R. Chimulkar, F. N. Souza, S. H. Raza, M. F. Hussain, K. H. Ara and many others received on loan from the Kala Academy and Institute of Menezes Braganza are displayed here.
Western Bronzes Gallery
In the Western Bronzes Gallery, replicas of the bronze sculptures of European Artists like Claude, Dalon and others are displayed.
These bronzes form an important of the museum collection.
A Museum Week is celebrated every year in the second week of January, during which various programmes are arranged including display of new collection. The Museum also arranges other programmes during the year such as Painting competition, Essay competitions and Quizzes.
Museum is open from Monday to Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Goa State Museum
Pato, Panaji, Goa – 403001
Phone: +91 – 832 - 2438006
Smt. Radha R. Bhave
Phone: (O) +91 - 832 - 2437306
Pilar Museum, Goa VelhaThe Pilar Museum is located on the Pilar hillock where the Pilar Seminary is also located. The Museum was founded by Fr Costa, and highlights various finds on and around the Pilar hillock and now preserved in the seminary museum.
The ethos of the hillock of Pilar, situated twelve kilometers to the South of Panjim, is illustrative of the rich tradition of communal harmony that Goa has had from very ancient times. Buddhist Bikshus, Hindu Rishis, Jain Acharyas and Christian pilgrims have lived together and their caves and places of worship can be seen at various places in Goa.
One of the ancient capitals of Goa, known as Govapuri, was centered on the hillock of Pilar. Presently Pilar is the hub of educational activities, the Pilar Seminary being an important theological college among them. The Pilar Museum has artifacts, found around Pilar, belonging to all religions - Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Christians and Muslims.
They relate to the different dynasties and rulers that held sway over Goa, the most important being the Shilaharas (765 AD to 1020 AD) and the Kadambas of Goa; the artifacts also point out the connection to the Thomas Christians (around 700 AD) and are witness to later Portuguese influences.
The Kadamba dynasty started ruling from Chandrapura (modern Chandor in Salcete) in 980 AD. However, in Chandrapura the rule of Guhalladeva I, was opposed by the Brahmins and Kshatriyas because of his Jain leanings. Therefore, Guhalladeva I, and his successor Shasthadeva II went on solemn pilgrimages to the Somnath temple in Dwarka, Gujarat in order to advertise, with great pomp and fanfare, that they owed allegiance to Hinduism.
However, Shasthadeva II met with an accident and was saved from drowning by the Muslim Taji (Arab) merchant Modamod, who repaired the mast of his ship. Shasthadeva II later conquered Govapuri. His son Jayakesi transferred his capital from Chadrapura to Govapuri (now Goa Velha) and appointed Saddam (Chaddam), the grandson of Modamod, as his Chief Minister.
An Arab traveller, Ibn Batuta, who in his book "Travels" written in the 14th century in Arabic, reported that he found a Christian settlement on the banks of the river Zuari in Govapuri, the capital of Kadambas of Goa. The recent find of a Christian Pahlavi Cross of the 7th Century AD confirms that there were Christian settlements in Goa long before the conquest of Goa by the Portuguese. The finding of this cross in May 2001 on the banks of the Zuari near Pilar made world wide headlines and is now a prime exhibit in the Pilar Musuem.
After 1313 AD the capital of the Kadambas fell preys to invasions of the Muslim Sultans of Delhi and was finally destroyed by the Nawab of Honavar in 1345 AD and was thus reduced to the relatively insignificant village of Goa-Velha.
But in this insignificant village, the hillock of Pilar became the hub of educational activity, first as the Pilar Monastery of the Capuchos (1613 to 1835), then of the Carmelites (1854 to 1887). These religious orders had founded a university at this place, one of the first universities in Goa. From 1890 it has become the headquarters of the Pilar Society till the present.
A cave like structure in Pilar with a granite sculpture depicting St. Mary Magdalene is a typical illustration of the Pilar tradition of communal harmony. (This sculpture is now exhibited in the Pilar Musuem). According to legend, St. Mary Magdalene did great penance in a cave in the last days of her life on earth.
This sculpture shows her figure, flat on the ground with the symbols of penance and meditation around her: the scourges, a skull, a Gospel book, and a Cross surrounded by a crown of thorns.
Curiously enough, the sculpture also has symbols of other religions then prevalent in Goa. The Linga (Hindu tradition) signifies the great penance of the Rishis or Bhagwans, the Bodhi tree at her feet reminds one of the Buddhist traditions. In the clouds above her is seen an angel with bread and water in the hands.
The Jewish prophet Elijah was fed by an angel and with the strength of the bread and water he walked to Mt. Horeb where he encountered God and became a great prophet. And finally the half moon is shown in the form of a thick halo around her head - a symbol of Muslim religion.
Among other interesting artifacts in the musuem (all found in Pilar) a seal of the Kadambas, sculptures of Jayakeshi I and Shivachita Parmadideva and his queen Kamala Devi, a Roman amphora, various ancient coins which include two Roman coins and a unique Kadamba gold coin, an eight century idol of Ganesha, a silver gem box dating to Kadamba times, the Khrista Purana (a handwritten Marathi translation of the Bible from 1609), various paintings of Portuguese times etc.
The small but unique museum of Pilar has been widely acclaimed as one of the best maintained museums in Goa showing the great traditions of religious harmony that Goa is known for.
Goa ChitraGoa Chitra – a fusion of Goa – the State and Chitra meaning pictures, is a tribute by its founder to his ancestors and their way of life. The museum is set against the backdrop of an organic farm, and its environs highlight the traditions of the past. It is a project to promote awareness and appreciation of the traditional agrarian lifestyle and the eco-friendly techniques that were practiced by our ancestors. As an institution it sets and executes finite goals and activities to creat a healing environment, promote health and vitality and devising one’s own life enhancing programs aimed at creating a more harmonious environment.
The goal of this museum is to assist a broad range of visitors, from children to adults, to enjoy and become familiar with tradional indigenous implements these objects from a variety of different view points.
Address: St. John the Baptist church road, Mondo vaddo, Benaulim.
Three Kings Heritage VillageSituated at the foot of the picturesque Three Kings Hills, in the serene and scenic village of Cuelim, Cansaulim in South Goa. The Three Kings Heritage Village provides an unique opportunity for the visitor to have a deeper understanding and imbibe the true spirit of this Beautiful place called GOA known the world over for its natural splendour, hospitable people and unique culture.
Contact: Jose Mario Furtado on mobile +91-9850452627, Email:info[@]greengoafoundation.com Website:www.threekingsheritage.com
Visiting Hours: Every Monday & Tuesday from 9.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.
Wax World Museum at Old GoaWax World Museum at Old Goa is the home to India’s 2nd wax meseum. Each figurine is carefully sculpted of paraffin wax, the hair used is natural, although the eyes and teeth are artificial. The museum has over 30 life-size, statues of famous persoanlities of indian culture, heritage and religion. One of the main attractions is the sculpting of the “Last Supper” which is 22 ft. in length and weights 500 Kgs. A guide talks to your through the statues at the musuem and explains about the statues.
There is a small gift shop where one can purchase candles of various designs and shapes and smells
Entry costs Rs 30/- and Rs.10/- for cameras
Address: Wax World – Goa, Gandhi Circle, Old Goa.
Naval Aviation MuseumIndia's one and only Naval Aviation Museum is situated along the Vasco-Bogmalo road barely six kilometers from the port city of Vasco-da-Gama.
This Naval Aviation Museum established in Oct'1998 is the only one of its kind in the whole of Asia. May be perhaps, it has not received the publicity it rightly deserves and hence remained unvisited and unseen by many Goans.
Situated atop a plateau overlooking the wide expanse of the Arabian Sea where from you can get to see the Bogmalo Beach, the Naval Aviation Museum is divided into two sections, one that is out-door in the open air and the other that is housed indoors.
As one enters the Main Gate, one is welcomed by the site of the huge 'Super Constellation' standing like a sentinel keeping a watch over the entire place. This Aircraft was first used by the Indian airlines for transporting passengers; later on it was passed on to the Air Force for use as a transport craft. Thereafter the Navy borrowed the same from the Air Force and till now lies in their custody, though de-commissioned.
As you walk into the outdoor section of the museum you are greeted on the left by the display of the various Aircraft engines like the Sea Hawk, Helicopter engine, Sealand Aircraft engine and an old Fire Engine too used by the Navy in the early 60's. As you move a little further there are the seven different aircraft on display.
The seven types of aircraft are
the Sea Harrier, a single sitter Jet Fighter used as a reconnaissance aircraft
the Dove, a twin engine aircraft was used for light transportation and a variety of other roles the Sealand, plays a dual role of plying on land as well as on the sea
the Seahawk, a single sitter single Engine Jet Fighter
the Vampire, a small bodied side-by-side 2 sitter fighter trainer
the Hughes, a two seater helicopter with side-by-side seating
the Alize, a 3 seater carrier borne anti-submarine and reconnaissance aircraft
As you enter the indoor section of the museum one gets the feeling that you are entering the aircraft carrier INS Viraat itself. Since on either sides of the corridor are neat paintings of the interiors of the Viraat thereby creating a natural ambience as though one is at sea on board the Viraat. The other rooms too are planned with the ship in mind.
First on your left is the room where all armaments are on neat display. Here you come in close contact with torpedoes, bombs of varying sizes, rockets, war heads, missiles, depth chargers etc.
As you come out of the armament room you are faced with the 'Sonobuoy Room'. Sonobuoys are Sensors that are used by Aircraft for detection of underwater enemy targets.
The Suraksha Room has on display the various gadgets and protection gear used by the naval personnel while at sea and in air in the event of any dangers and eventuality. Items on display here are the floating dingy, the parachute, Fighter Pilot’s Ejection Seat, Pilot's outfit, etc.
A little further there is the Multimedia Room, which houses the simulator. Here the children and adults too can have a first hand experience of the Jet Fighter cockpit in a simulator.
While you walk along the corridor admiring the beauty of the place you notice "Shradhanjali" the granite slab adorning the wall paying tributes to all the men in uniform who laid down their lives while flying for their motherland from the year 1958 to 1997.
Adjacent to this is the heart of the museum, the "Hall of Silence". This is the Meditation Room. The place is serene, cool and calm. Richly done up in granite, a beautiful painting in blue colour brightly lit adorns one wall.
The bigger hall has the photo gallery where old photos are on display profiling the Naval Aviation History from 1959 onwards in pictures and footnotes. Black and White Photos of "Operation Vijay" during the liberation of Goa are also on display.
On your visit to the Museum do not forget to step into the small Museum Souvenir Shop. It stocks various items from pens to key chains, leather wallets, and caps and T-Shirts too and pick up a memento or two to remind you of your visit to this beautiful landmark.
The Naval Aviation Museum is worth going miles to see for it's a source of knowledge and inspiration to youngsters to instill in them the love to join the defense forces. It is best to plan the visit to the Museum in such a manner so as to wind it up with a picnic at the scenic picnic spot at 'Hollant Beach' just about two kilometers from this point.
The Museum remains open from 10.00 am. To 5.00 p.m. on all days except Mondays.
A Peaceful Corner of ParadiseHave you ever wondered where your powdered Cinnamon came from, and what is mace? Are spices for you small plastic bags with colourful powder? If 'yes' is your answer, you should visit the Spice Plantations scattered around the interior of Goa's beautiful rural landscape.
Goa is a state which is gifted with incredible natural beauty from her beaches and gently rolling hills to her Vegetation and Animal life.
The mild temperature throughout the year and high rainfall favours great richness and a variety of vegetation.
Traditional Goan methods of organic farming are conducted here and crops like coconuts, betel nuts, pineapples, different kinds of spices ad much more are grown here. You can have a walk in the plantation with a local person briefing you about the crops, roots and herbs.
One can also make a few purchase of spice during the tour. After that, experience a typical Goan Hindu Cuisine served in mud pits and banana leaves. Due to this scenic landscape and the tranquil atmosphere, these Plantations are an ideal place for those who want to forget the busy world they have left behind.
Trekking the nature walks are most recommended. You could stumble upon ancient groves with a deity or two.
Observe interesting organic farming techniques. Orchids, anthuriums, mushrooms, American Corn, Red Bell peppers, Cocum, Mango, Cashew and many more varieties of vegetables are grown at most plantations.
Among the well known plantations in the state are:
Pascoal Farms: Set in the hills of the Mandovi river is the Pascoal Spice Farm at Khandepar, rich in the abundance and diversity of its plants.
Rustic Plantation: This is a magnificient countryside sanctuary of nearly 100 acres of rural farmland nestled in the valley beneath the foothills of Western Ghats, situated in the north east part of Goa.
Savoi Plantation: Located near the village of Savoi Verem, 10 kilometers north of Ponda, is one of the oldest and largest tropical spice plantations in Goa situated right on the banks of the Mandovi River and is a treat to visit.
Abyss: Also located near Savoi Verem, Abyss is set amidst sky-kissing mountains with picturesque beautiful surroundings with hundreds of medicinal herbs on the propertyy and is developed on organic farming basis.
Sahakari Spice farm: Sahakari Spice Farm is situated amidst lush green surroundings at Curti. The taluka of Ponda in which it is located, is extremely popular amongst tourists for its rich cultural heritage and magnificently designed places of worship. The farm is used to dissipate knowledge about the different spices and their medicinal values.
Mangal Plantation: Cradled in the foothills of the Western Ghats that run through Goa is Mangal near Quepem, in area rich in archaeological sites, ancient groves and fabulous bio-diversity.
Tanshikar Spice Farm: The Farm is situated in a quiet village of Netravalli, Sanguem blessed by nature is 50 km from Margao city and 32 km from Palolem beach and is away from noise and pollution.
Tanshikar family is in this organic traditional farming since last two generations. This farm has won an award farm by Government of Goa. This farm also have very good vanilla plantation. Here you can buy various types of organic spices. In this farm you find compost generation pit with recyling of farm waste. One can walk through deep jungle on waterfall. Many species of birds and butterflies to watch. One can do adventure sports by advance booking.
Tel: +91-832-2608358, Mobile helpline +91-9421184114.
Website : www.tanshikarspicefarm.com
Nagesh Love Forest: Nagesh love forest is situated at Gudi in Paroda Village of Salcete Taluka in Goa covering an area of 88,000 m². The top most portion of the hill is at a height of 200 mts. above sea level. Bounded by “Parvat” with famous temple of Chandreshwar Bhutnath towards South and North by “Chandor” or “Chandrapur” once the capital of Kadamba Dynasty.
Age old Temple of Lord Shiva and remains of Nandi protected site is at a distance of 3 kms., the palatial houses of 150 rooms known as “Menezes and Braganza Pereira House” is at a distance of 4 kms. Damodar Temple is at a distance of 9 kms. Seraulim Dam with botanic garden is 18 Kms away and the famous Colva beach is at a distance of 19 Kms. Margao Railway Station is 8 Kms.
For enquiries contact: Tel: +91-832-2730577, Mob: +91-9822121824 / +91-9881361038 / +91-9850755370 Email: rajan_lotliker[@]rediffmail.com
Atreya Vedic Farm : Set amidst nature’s abundance at the foothills of the Western Ghats at Molem is Atreya Vedic Farm, a truly unique ecotourism venture. It has been concieved and nurtured by environmental activist, Nirmala Sawant, who believes in greening the planet today for a better tomorrow. The 36 – acre estate comprises of sylvan forest land, wooded groves, perfumed tropical gardens, an orchard, an astrological plant park, Charak vatika – medicinal plantation, Coconut and Areca Nut Plantation, Wildlife and Birding and Restuarant, Souvenir shop. and above all, presidica Butterfly House.
Address: Bondu Mol, Molem, Goa. Mob: +91-9011445736
Panaji (Also known as Panjim)This is the capital of Goa, and the North Goa district. It is situated on the banks of the river "Mandovi". It is connected to the mainland by bridges.
History: The origin of the name Panaji or Panjim has many explanations. Some of them include it being the corrupted version of "Ponjy" said to mean "the land that never floods". The Portuguese called the city "Panjim" and after liberation it has seen its name changed to "Panaji".
It was a small fishing village with lots of coconut trees, creeks and fields. For centuries it remained so and was a neglected ward of Taleigao village with the only massive structure, the Adil Shah Fort by the Mandovi river. In 1632 the then Viceroy, Count de Linhares, Dom Miguel de Noronha built the 3.2 km causeway linking Panjim with Ribandar village.
It exists even today and is known as the "Pointe de Linhares" and at the time it was constructed, was the longest bridge in existence. Around this time, against the backdrop of the decline of Old Goa, the idea of Panjim becoming the Capital of Goa slowly gained momentum.
On December 1 1759, the then Viceroy, Dom Manuel de Saldanha de Albuquerque, Count of Ega, shifted his residence from Panelim (near Old Goa) to Panjim. He moved to the newly re-modeled Adil Shah Fort, since known as "Idalcao's Palace". The "Father of Panjim" is a title that is said to belong to the Viceroy, Dom Manuel de Castro de Portugal (1826-1835).
He began the process of slowly reclaiming land, initiated public projects, drainage systems and was also responsible for many of its government buildings and set the stage for Panjim to evolve into a magnificent city. By a royal decree on March 22, 1843 its status was elevated to a "City" and became the capital of Goa and was called "Nova Goa". The city was electrified in 1931. Over time it has undergone many changes under different administrations.
There are two old sections of the city existing today, one called "Fontainhas" and the other "Sao Tome". The hillock overlooking the city is called "Altinho".
Today, It is not only the state capital, but also an educational, commercial and cultural center of Goa. The Goa Medical College used to be situated here (since moved to Bambolim) and so do the Goa College of Pharmacy, the Goa College of Art, and the Government Polytechnic. The Dhempe College of Arts and Sciences is situated in nearby Miramar. Some of the important parts of the city are discussed separately in the links below. It boasts of a cultural center-The Kala Academy, and a number of theater complexes.
The main transportation hub is across the "Patto Bridge" over the Rua de Ourem creek at the Kadamba Bus Station. From this Bus station buses take off regularly to other Goan cities like Margao, Vasco da Gama, Mapusa , Ponda and other towns in Goa and to neighboring states. The nearest train station is Karmali, near Old Goa.
Typical of a Goan town, Panaji is built around a church facing a prominent square. The town has some beautiful Portuguese Baroque style buildings and enchanting old villas. The riverside, speckled with brightly whitewashed houses with wrought iron balconies, offers a fine view.
There are some fine government buildings along the riverside boulevard, and the Passport Office is especially noteworthy. In the 16th century, the edifice was the palace of Adil Shah (the Sultan of Bijapur). The Portuguese took over the palace and constructed the Viceregal Lodge in 1615. In 1843, the structure became the Secretariat, and today it is the Passport Office.
Trudge around town in the cobbled alleys to see quaint old taverns and cafés with some atmosphere, and practically no tourists. They are a good place to meet the local people.
The Church Square is a fine illustration of the awesome Portuguese Baroque style. The Church of the Immaculate Conception is easily one of the most elegant and picturesque monuments in Goa. Built in 1541 AD, atop a high, symmetrical, crisscrossing stairway, the church is a white edifice topped with a huge bell that stands in between two delicate Baroque style towers.
The Braganza Institute, houses the tiled frieze, which depicts the 'mythical' representation of the colonisation of Goa by the Portuguese. Fountainhas is a lovely old residential area amidst shady cobbled streets connecting red-tile-roofed houses with overhanging balconies, much like a country town in Spain or Portugal.
West of Fontainhas, the picturesque Portuguese quarter, the commercial centre's grid of long straight streets fans out west from Panjim's principal landmark, Church Square. Further north, the main thoroughfare, Avenida Dom Joao Castro, sweeps past the Head Post Office and Secretariat Building, before bending west along the waterfront.
MapusaMapusa (pronounced as Mapsa by the locals) is Goa's third largest town and the capital of the northern Bardez taluka. It is mainly a market town for the surrounding beach areas of Calangute, Candolim, Anjuna and Baga among others. Even its name is thought to be derived from the Konkani word for a measure - "map" and the phrase 'fill up' - "sa".
It is a fairly small town with mostly modern building spread around the slopes of a small hillock called Altinho. It lies about 13 kilometers from the capital city of Panaji and on most days there is hardly anything to entice the casual visitor to its environs.
But come Friday morning, the whole town has a lively look when the famous weekly Friday Market begins. The market attracts people from all over Goa who come here to buy and sell their wares. Everything from fresh and dried fish, incense, spices, fruits and vegetables to souvenirs from other states of India is available here.
Local Goan specialties such as spicy sausages (chouriços) and the Goan spirits such as toddi and cashew feni are much in demand amongst locals and outsides. Another item to look out for is the magnificent banana crop from the nearby village of Moira. Most of the items are sold after a few rounds of bargaining and the prices are usually much lower than anywhere else.
Most of the items are piled up in heaps on the sidewalks, with most of the vendors being colourfully dressed womenfolk from the nearby villages who come here to sell their produce. The market also draws a large number of foreign tourists from the nearby beach areas that come here to stock up on their provisions.
Mapusa does not have many tourist sites worth visiting. There are a few colonial era Municipal building on the Altinho hill, a fairly modern temple of Lord Hanuman just a few minutes from the main bus stand and most importantly the Church of Our Lady of Miracles about 2 kilometers east of the market area.
The church is also known as St Jerome's locally and dates back originally from the year 1594 when the first edifice was built. Since then it has been rebuilt several times, most recent reconstruction being in 1961. During the Liberation of Goa that year, the Church was razed by a fire which was allegedly sparked off when the retreating Portuguese army tried to blow up the nearby bridge to stall the advance of the Indian army.
The Church of Our Lady of Miracles has a beautiful gabled facade but is more famous for its annual feast than for its architectural splendour. Since the Church is located on the original site of an ancient Hindu temple, the Hindu community also considers it sacred area. Consequently, in a fine display of communal harmony that exists in Goa, the annual feast held on the 16th day after Easter is enthusiastically celebrated by Christians and Hindus alike.
The other famous shrine is that of Lord Bodgeshwar, located on the outskirts of the town in the middle of some rice fields, which is beautifully lit up at night and draws thousands of devotees for its annual Jatra (festival).
MargaoMargao, often called the commercial capital of Goa, is the capital of the southern taluka of Salcette and also of the South Goa district. Because of its location, it serves as a service and transport hub to the areas of south Goa.
It is a typically crowded Goan town, with chaotic, noisy traffic and quite a few architectural reminders of its Portuguese past. Margao is Goa's second largest town and a bustling commercial centre.
Surrounded by fertile farmland, the town of Margao was once a major religious centre, with dozens of wealthy temples and dharmshalas (dormitories). In fact the name Margao is thought to be the Portuguese corruption of the word Mathgram (from Math - a Hindu religious centre that used to exist there). However most of these were destroyed when the Portuguese absorbed the area into their Novas Conquistas during the 17th century.
Margao has an old-worldly charm about it because of its Portuguese churches, and some magnificent specimens of old Portuguese houses complete with shady balcaos (porches) and oyster-shell windows in its Borda area.
The Largo de Igreja, or the Church of the Holy Spirit as it is also known, dominates the entrance to the city, just north of the Municipal Garden square. The church area is surrounded by beautiful old residential houses still in pristine condition. The church was built by the Portuguese in 1675 and is one of the finest examples of late-Baroque architecture in Goa, boasting a pristine white façade and an interior dripping with gilt crystal and stucco.
Just within walking distance of the Church, is the famous "House of Seven Gables" or "Sat Burzam Ghor". This magnificent mansion was commissioned in 1790 by Sebastino da Silva, emissary and private secretary of the Portuguese Viceroy. Although only three of the seven gables remain today, they are enough to give the visitor an idea of the size of the original edifice.
The town has an excellent market area stretching from the south edge of the main square to within a stone's throw of the old railway station. The Bazaar centres on a labyrinthine covered area that's a rich source of authentic souvenirs and a good place to browse for some bargain shopping.
In the centre of the town is the Municipal Garden (known as Praça Jorge Barreto), around which most restaurants and office buildings are located. The colonial style red washed Municipal building built in 1905 and the Library lie on the park's south side. From this main square, bylanes lead to the bazaar and the area that used to be the fish market.
Margao's fish market was earlier located opposite the Municipal building and was a spectacular sight, with the fisherwomen from coastal areas of South Goa hawking their wares at the top of their voices, dressed in superbly coloured cotton sarees. The market has since been shifted to a complex located at the entrance of the city.
The road from the Largo de Igreja splits into two at the entrance to Margao, one going into the proper city and the other winding up towards another Margao landmark. This road called Calçada de Nossa Senhora de Piedade leads up to Monte Hill. There is a small chapel at the top of the hill which remains locked most of the time. But it is worth coming up here for a spectacular view of the Salcette countryside in general and Margao in particular.
The famous Colva beach is just 6 kilometers away from Margao, so most travelers coming to this area of Goa, tend to spend their time in the beach area, rather than enjoy the charms of Margao town itself.
There are some interesting places around Margao. About 3 Km. from the small village of Raia, which is on the road from Margao to the Borim Bridge, is the Rachol Seminary and Church. Margao is also the last stop for a number of trains coming to Goa especially from Mumbai.
PondaPonda, known as Antruz Mahal because of the concentration of culture, music, drama and poetry also houses the temples of Lord Mangesh (Shiva), Lord Nagesh, Lord Ganapati, Lord Ramnath and the Goddesses Mhalasa and Shantdurga.
Ponda can be described as the Hindu heart of Goa. It is famous for the five important temples that are situated around the town, and also has the largest mosque in Goa. Most of these temples look relatively new as they have been restored after being destroyed by the Portuguese. That explains why there are no temples around the coast, which was the prime territory of the Portuguese. Ponda is also an important transport link.
The city of Ponda lies about 28 kilometers south-east of Panaji and 17 kilometers north-east of Margao and is also the capital of Ponda Taluka.
The town was born after the Portuguese took over the area in 1791 from the Raja of Sonda and annexed it along with Quepem, Canacona and Sanguem forming the New Conquests.
It began as an administrative center with the establishment of administrative offices and court and soon became a commercial center. Most of the area known as Ponda today was a part of "Quela" village. It lies strategically along the main Panaji-Margao highway and is also connected to the neighboring state of Karnataka via the Ponda-Belgaum highway or the NH-4.
Today it is an industrial city with many large factories and industrial estates nearby. Goa College of Engineering is located at nearby Farmagudi.
Ponda taluka is most famous for its temples, most of which have made the area their home for centuries following displacement from their original sites elsewhere in Portuguese occupied Goa during the early days of the Inquisition.
Ponda is also the gateway to Goa's wildlife sanctuaries, both the Bondla and the Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and also the Dudhsagar Waterfalls.
The temples are concentrated in two main clusters: the first to the north of Ponda, on the busy NH4, and the second deep in the countryside, around 5 km west of the town. Most people only manage the Shri Manguesh and Shri Mahalsa, between the villages of Mardol and Priol.
Among the most interesting temples in the state, they lie just a stone's throw from the main highway and are passed by regular buses between Panjim and Margao via Ponda. The others are farther off the beaten track, although they are not hard to find on motorbikes: locals will wave you in the right direction if you get lost.
VascoThe industrial town of Vasco-da-Gama, named after the Portuguese voyager, lies around 30 kilometers away from the capital city of Panaji and is spread around the base of the peninsula which leads to the Mormugao harbour.
The area came under Portuguese rule around 1543, and within a few years, it was transformed into one of western India's busiest ports. The Portuguese built a fort at Sada, near the tip of the land jutting into the Arabian sea. This allowed them to effectively control the movement of ships into the Zuari river.
The fort had its most glorious moment in 1685, when Old Goa came under attack from King Sambhaji of the Marathas and the Portuguese moved women, children and other non-combatants here for safe keeping. The fort was abandoned soon after, despite plans to make Mormugao the capital of the Portuguese colony of Goa, and today only some remnants of the ramparts can be seen.
At the base of the ruins of Sada fort, there is a small but beautiful beach which can be reached via steps leading down the steep cliff side. The beach remains pretty isolated fro most of the day except for a few locals who venture down for a dip in the sea. There is also a fresh-water spring in the hillside which has a constant flow of water round the year.
The main town of Vasco is well laid out pretty much in a straight line along parallel roads interlinked by small bylanes. There is hardly any landmark worth making a visit to Vasco, except for the 400-year old St. Andrews Church which lies at the entrance to the city. In recent times, the city has been attracting local visitors, to what is easily the best cinema theatre in the whole of Goa.
The port of Mormugao, around one of India's few natural harbours, lies 4 kilometers from the city centre and the only airport in the state, the Goa Airport at Dabolim, is also about 4 kms from the city. Vasco also has a railway terminus for passenger trains to nearby areas outside Goa and more importantly a daily service which takes tourists to the magnificent Dudhsagar waterfalls near the state border.
There are two beaches near the city. The bigger and the more famous is the Bogmalo beach which is about 8 kms south-east of the town and the smaller one named Hollant lies just about halfway along the same road. Bogmalo beach has luxury and mid-range hotels in the neighbourhood along with quite a few shacks where you can sample some tasty sea-food dishes.
Along this same road to the Bogmalo beach is located the Naval Air Museum, the only one of its kind in the whole of Asia. It has on display, some of the fighter aircraft which have done duty for India in its conflicts with the enemy.
Vasco-da-Gama is a key shipping centre, very important for the economy of Goa, which has a large number of mines in its interiors. The Mormugao port handles heavy traffic of container vessels and iron ore barges carrying ores and minerals to countries such as Japan and Korea.
Legacy of The PastOne legacy of the long period of Portuguese colonization which is still quite in evidence and in everyday use is the magnificent architecture of the traditional mansions of the Goan gentry. Goa can perhaps claim to be the only place on the subcontinent where houses dating back to the 1700s are still in pristine condition and still inhabited by generations of the original owners.
Unlike the other colonial powers in India, the Portuguese managed to leave a much more visible mark on the residential architecture of the area they ruled. The British and the French left their mark on the architecture of huge buildings such as assemblies and railway stations which have since become landmarks of the period.
The Portuguese in Goa built residential houses reflecting a style which is hardly found elsewhere on the Indian subcontinent. These magnificent palatial houses inspired by European architectural style are still found in Goa today, although they are confined to the rural areas such as Chandor and Loutolim. An exception is the commercial town of Margao, which still has some fabulous houses in its Borda area.
These mansions were built in an era which saw the Portuguese raking in a handsome profit from their trading colonies in Africa and South America. Interestingly, the owners were not usually Portuguese noblemen, but wealthy Goan merchants and high-ranking officials who were granted land by the Portuguese.
The materials and techniques for the construction of such houses was usually local while the furnishings and decorations came from all around the world. The walls and pillars were built of red laterite stone and local wood while the roof was overlaid with terracotta roof tiles from Mangalore. Inside there was fine porcelain from China and Macau, cut glass and mirrors from Venice, chandeliers from Belgium and tapestries from Portugal. The exquisite furniture was carved from rosewood by the local craftsmen.
The exterior facade of these mansions is not the only thing that attracts the visitors. The interiors are much more impressive, with some houses even having their own mini-chapels and dance rooms. There are long, well-preserved dining and drawing rooms usually with a magnificent collection of blue china ceramics and glass items.
Most such houses are accessible only on special request or appointment either directly from the owner or through the nearest Tourist Office. It is also advisable to seek such an appointment well in advance and it is customary to make a small donation which helps towards the upkeep and maintenance of these superb specimens of a bygone era.
In this section, you can find some of the more famous of the Portuguese style mansions which can be visited to have a glimpse of the lifestyle of the higher echelons of Goan society under the Portuguese rule.
Salvador Costa mansion - This mansion in Loutolim, a South Goa village is famous for the many large and beautiful houses spread out in a radius of about 1 km from the nucleus of the village. The Costa mansion was built in the 19th century by two wealthy siblings and priests, Padre Pedrinho and Padre Laurence. Built in the Indian style (low pitched tiled roof, wide verandas) with European accouterments (Gothic- style windows, cluster columns), its architecture straddles both worlds just as Goa still does.
Solar dos Colacos mansion - is at Ribandar on the left bank of the River Mandovi, mid-way between Old Goa and Panjim. It is built in baroque style with an imposing facade with a spectacular view of islands and the historical churches of Old Goa. It is, probably, the only Goan mansion that faces the river. Typical of the ambivalence of the times, Nazario Colaco II carved a sideboard of his dining room with scenes from the Ramayana. But this is counterbalanced by the strident Catholicism of the family's private chapel.
Pinto de Rosario mansion - In Porvorim, half-way between Panjim and Mapusa, reflects more the joy of possession than reverence for style. Piled up in side-boards and cup- boards are rare pieces of cut-glass, silver, blue china, and ivory. The objects d'art is yet to be categorised and dated. But the sheer quantity and doubtless quality of most of the items are quite simply astounding with Indo-Portuguese furniture and European and Chinese knick- knacks. The Italian floor tiling is the highlight of the parlour. Above the exquisitely carved sofa is a Dutch tapestry, a replica of Rembrandt's Night Watch. The love- chair is said to be 200 years old.
Mascarenhas mansion - in Anjuna, north Goa is classic due to its characteristic 'balcoes'(balconies). It is monumental. The riches overpower you. The seat along the length of the porch are L-shaped, of expensive wood, the glare is cut off with a mixture of brightly coloured stained glass and, as if to contrast it, light tinted flint glass "such as which is no longer made" with fine floral etchings.
Fernandes House - Fernandes house in Chandor village is one of the oldest remaining palacios in Goa. Occupied by sara Fernandes and her son Rajeev. The house has a decided air of elegance. The original house, which exhibits a Hindu Influence, was built some 500 years ago. The portuguese influence is noticeable in the portion of the house constructed in 1821 by the Fernandes family. There is a salon in the first floor of the building that is used for receiving guests. What distinguishes this house from others is its occupants to escape in case of an attack.
Call: 2784245 for a guided tour on the house.
Vivian Coutinho mansion - in Fatorda at the entrance of Margao reveals the care that went into the planning of the entrance of a house. The Coutinhos had a well kept garden, the green pleasantly contrasting the red of the masonry seats. They broke the monotony of the red wash and the outer wall, interspersing decorative tiles.
Colaco mansion - The corridor runs along the front facade and faces the Mandovi river. This is the only extant Goan mansion that faces the waterfront. The walls are washed in ox-blood colour, one of the three traditional colours of Goan exteriors, the other being white (very Portuguese) and indigo (very Indian).
Palacio do Deao - This 213 years old mansion was built by a Portuguese noble man, who was the Dean of the Church, and founder of Quepem town. The house faces the Church he built and is on the banks of the wildly beautiful Kushavati River. It is built in an unusual style blending elements of Hindu and Portuguese architecture. The lush gardens which have managed to preserve their historical features and have, since old times, been known as the most beautiful pleasure gardens in Goa.
Braganza House - Located in Chandor Village, Braganza House was built in the 17th century. This huge house is situated on one side of the village square. It has now separate houses, with a common entrance. The east wing occupied by the Pereira-Braganza family, has a small chapel with a relie of St. Francis Xavier, which is a fingernail. The artefacts collected by the family over a number of years, have added to the beauty of the house. There is a Great Salon, a big ballroom with the floor made of italian marble antique chanderlier from Europe adorning the ceiling, and heavily carved , ornate rodewood furniture. What stands out among the furniture is a pair of high-backed chairs, beating the family crest, which was given to the Perira – Braganza family by King Dom Luis of Portugal. Most of the furniture dates back to the 18th Century and is made from local seeso (martel wood), lacquered or inlaid with mother of pearl by craftsman from Curtorim Village. For antique aficionados, the house holds many delighful finds. Call: 0832 - 2784227
The west wing of the house belongs to the Menezes braganza family. Apart from its exquuisite furniture and Chinese porcelain from Macau, it also houses a collection of family portraits, dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. The libbrary is believed to be the first private library in Goa .It has almost 5,000 leather bound books collected by Luis de Menezes Braganza (1878-1938), a reputed journalist, renowned for the part he played in Goa’s independent movement. Call: 0832 - 2784201
Pilar SeminaryThe Portuguese built four seminaries in Goa, only two which survive today. Of these two, on is the famous Rachol Seminary which once housed the Christian Art Museum. The other surviving Seminary is at Pilar, which lies near the village of Goa Velha, where the magnificent Procession of Saints takes place on the Monday of Holy Week.
Set on a small hill just south of the capital city of Panaji, along the National highway NH17 to Margao and Vasco, the Pilar Seminary is worth visiting for its quiet ambience, the small but interesting one-room museum and the spectacular views of the countryside from its location.
The Capuchin monks founded the Seminary in 1613. They established a centre of learning along with the Church, which was named after Our Lady of Pilar, whose statue they had brought along with them from Spain.
The Seminary flourished until the year 1835, when the Portuguese decided to ban all religious orders in Goa except for the Carmelite Nuns, who managed it from 1858. In 1890, the Missionary Society of St Francis Xavier made the Seminary its headquarters. This order slowly disbanded until in 1936, the Seminary was taken over by the Xavierian League.
The beautiful old Church at the Seminary has an exquisite baroque doorway made out of carved stone. A niche above the doorway holds a statue of St Francis of Assissi and the door has on it a carving of two crossed hands, symbolising Christ and St Francis. The tomb of Fr Agnelo d´Souza, who was the spiritual director of the seminary (1918-27), lies inside.
Around a small garden inside, there are cloisters decorated with seventeenth century frescoes. There is an interesting pictorial depiction of the history of the world, drawn by a missionary in the 1940s and a reredos with Fransiscan saints in the niches.
The new seminary, which opened in 1942 for training of priests to be sent all over India, lies at the top of the hill. There is a small museum, which houses fragments of pottery and temple sculpture excavated from the site including a lion - the Kadamba symbol, Portuguese coins and a beautiful carving of Mary Magdalene done in 1733 by a Goan sculptor. There are also some palm-leaf manuscripts and a copy of the first Marathi translation of the Gospel.
The chapel on the first floor of this building is surrounded by some magnificent stained-glass windows, hardly seen anywhere in Goa. And if you can make it up to the roof terrace which is two floors higher, you are rewarded with some spectacular views of the Zuari river towards Vasco and also of the rice fields and coconut plantations of the Tiswadi taluka.
Off The Beaten Track
Budbudyanchi Tali (The sacred tank of bubbles)The small village of Netravali (Netorli) is located in Sanguem taluka about two hours drive from Panaji via the towns of Margao and Quepem in south Goa. One of Goa's most unique and mysterious heritage sites is located near this village on the banks of river Netravati.
The famous Budbudyanchi Tali (also known locally as Budbud Talli or Bomadyanchi Talli) - the sacred tank of bubbles is attached to the Gopinath temple which is situated near the village which is surrounded by mighty emerald and blue hills and forest cover with a wide variety of trees and groves.
The Budbudyanchi Tali is a squarish piece of laterite masonry with a flight of steps all around leading to the sacred tank. At the centre of the tank is located a huge box-shaped laterite pedestal. The tali (tank) appears green and clean.
The natural phenomenon of the tank becomes quite obvious to the onlooker, in a few minutes. Continuous groups of bubbles start appearing from below the tank all over at different spots. They rise up and settle together in concentric rhythm on the surface of the water of the tank forming a beautiful pattern and then they break. The continuous ripples of bubbles (budbude or bomade in Konkani) follow a peculiar rhythm and synchronised pattern as if they are performing a dance to the beat of nature's music.
These bubbles of various sizes create a gurgling sound as they appear on the surface. It is definitely an enchanting and unique experience. The local children are often seen in the tank watching the bubbles below surface of the water as they emerge.
There are various theories as to the origin of these bubbles. Some locals attribute them to acoustics, others call them a miracle of the local deity, and the scientists say that they could be caused by sulphur dioxide or carbon dioxide or even limestone or methane.
It is interesting to note that the locals mention the name of the Kadamba king Jayakeshi-I who performed the renovation of the Budbudyanchi Tali and the Gopinath temple. Hence its building is attributed to the Shilaharas in the 9th-10th century A.D. At the rear of the temple there are rock carved niches where granite Shivlings (symbols of Lord Shiva) are worshipped.
This Gopinath temple is a very simple house like structure of mud coated with lime. It houses the image of Lord Krishna called Gopinath locally as the Lord of Gopis. The four columns of the temple are carved in the Shilahara-Kadamba pattern and resemble the Tambdi Surla temple pillars with typical Kadamba motifs.
Apart from the Budbudyanchi Tali-Gopinath temple at Netravali, many other heritage sights notably the Mahalaxmi temple from the Shilahara era are situated on the banks of the river Netravati with cave like niches at the rear of the temple and an ancient laterite stone ghumti (dome) on the side.
The other heritage structures include the ancient old Siddeshwar temple, ancient rock carved Dattatray temple located on the bank of the Netravati. You can also visit the Durga temple and the exquisitely carved naked Kalbhairav at Vargani village in the vicinity of Netravati. On the hills of Vargani village is located the Chandrasurya temple.
Adil Shah´s PalaceAlthough its architecture appears to be typically colonial, the Secretariat as it is known, is Panaji´s oldest surviving building, originally built by the Muslim ruler Yusuf Adil Shah of Bijapur around 1500.
It was actually Adil Shah´s summer palace cum fortress and formed an important part of his defense with an arsenal of 55 canons and a salt water moat.
But it was no match for the might of the Portuguese. Afonso de Albuquerque´s troops stormed the building in 1510. Soon afterwards it was converted into a rest house for the Portuguese Viceroys, who used it for an overnight stop, on their way to and from Portugal.
As per tradition, the new incoming Viceroy stayed here while awaiting the receipt of the ceremonial keys to the city of Old Goa at the Viceroy´s Arch. Similarly, the outgoing Viceroy had to wait here, for a ship going back to Portugal, after handing over his responsibility at Old Goa.
Around 1759, when Old Goa was no longer the preferred capital, the palace became the official residence of the Viceroy. It was known by then as the Idalcaon Palace, from the words Adil Khan, the Portuguese corruption of the words Adil Shah.
The Portuguese carried out quite a few demolitions and renovations changing the overall appearance of the building, which retained its official vice regal residence status until the Viceroys moved to a new residence at Cabo near Dona Paula in 1918.
Since the time of Goa´s liberation in 1961, the building served as the home of the Goan State Legislature or Assembly and was known as the Secretariat. However, with the construction of the new Assembly building in Porvorim across the Mandovi river, the Secretariat now houses the Administrative offices of the Government.
There are plans to move these offices also to a new building in Porvorim, near the new Assembly building and open the Secretariat to the general public as a Museum.
On either side of the Secretariat there is a statue depicting a famous Goan personality of the past. One statue is that of Dayanand Bandodkar, the first elected Chief Minister of liberated Goa. The second statue is that of Abbe Faria, one of Goa´s most famous sons of the Portuguese era, who did pioneering work in the field of hypnotism.
For more information please visit: Goa Tourism website