What to see in Goa
The gleaming sunlight bounces off the golden sands making the beaches of Goa a veritable tourist paradise. Colva, Benaulim, Calangute, Baga, Vagator, Chapora and Anjuna are the main beaches frequented by tourists. Seafood, fenni and cold beer together with the local fruits and vegetables tempt the palate of tourists. The velvet soft sands, the turquoise blue ocean, the azure skies softened by the monsoon winds and bathed by the golden sun; the tourist finds all his senses pampered in Goa, the pearl of the orient.
The Portuguese destroyed every Hindu temple in Goa. Hence many temples are found in the deep interior and many have been rebuilt. Distinct lamps like towers are the main feature of these temples. On the main inland route between Panaji and Margao are some of the most important Hindu temples.
- Shiva Temple of the Shri Mangesh: On top of a small hill, the white tower of this temple is a distinctive landmark in this area. It is 22 kms. From Panaji.
- Shri Mahalsa Temple: is a Vishnu Temple just 2 kms from the Shiva Temple
- Shri Santadurga Temple: is dedicated to the Goddess of peace. This is an unusual temple with a pagoda like structure and roof made up of long slabs of stone.
Though Old Goa was a booming and prosperous city even before the arrival of the Portuguese, today it is a small village of huge churches and convents. Some of these are used actively while others are maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The following places are worth visiting:
- SE CATHEDERAL: Built by the Dominicans, this church was begun in 1562 and finished in 1652. Architecturally the building has a Tuscan exterior and Corinthian interior and exhibits a Portuguese Gothic style. One of the tower houses the golden bell, one of the largest in Goa. The main altar is dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria
- CONVENT AND CHURCH OF ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI: Eight Franciscan friars built this church in 1517. It contains gilded and carved woodwork and old murals depicting scenes from the life of St. Francis. The floor is made of carved gravestone.
- PROFESSED HOUSE & BASILICA OF BOM JESUS: Entombing the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier this shrine is famous to the Roman Catholics. St. Francis arrived in Goa in 1542 to spread Christianity for which he travelled extensively. He died in 1552 was buried in sancian and then subsequently taken to Malacca. In 1554 when the grave was opened by Francis’s successor the body was still fresh and lifelike and so was sent to Goa. First kept in St. Paul’s college and then in the Professed House it was then moved to the Basilica of Bom Jesus.
- CHURCH OF ST. CAJETAN: Begun in 1655 by Italian monks this church is modelled on the original design of St. Peter’s in Rome. There are several other churches, old buildings and exotic ruins in Old Goa.
Safa Shahouri Masjid at Ponda is the only surviving mosque in Goa. Built in 1560, it fell into decay during the Portuguese period and has now been restored by the Archaeological Survey of India.
Bondla is a good place to see sambar and wild boar. This sanctuary though small is of easier access. The Molem and Cotigao wildlife sanctuaries are much larger.
Romantic in structure and full of historical melancholy are the many forts that dot Goa. The one at Chapora is worth visiting. Two forts – Aguada and Terekhol have been converted into hotels.