Goa is often called the Pearl of the orient. With its white beaches and laidback attitude, the state is a hot favorite for tourists not only from India but also from all over the world.
While planning a trip to Goa, here are some places which you can visit.
Approximately 8 km west of Mapusa and 18 km away from the capital city of Panaji, Anjuna Beach has become one of the most sought after get-away in Goa.
Rightly called the “Queen of Beaches”, Calangute Beach is one of the most crowded beaches in Goa, and is also one of the most beautiful too.
Also known as Panaji Beach in popular parlance, Miramar Beach is located 1 km ahead of the confluence of the Arabian Sea and Mandovi River. One of the most visited beaches in India, Miramar Beach is located on the way towards Dona Paula.
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 of Goa’s first chief minister, late Shri. Dayanand Bandodkar. A lovely golden beach with soft sand, riddled with palm trees facing the blue Arabian Sea, is the nearest to Panaji.
One of the most beautiful beaches, Vagator Beach is located 22 km from the capital city of Panaji. The beach’s main claim to fame are the magnificent red cliffs overlooking the Arabian Sea.
Baga Beach is one of the prominent beaches in Goa.Visitors can easily spot dolphins, explore coral reefs and be amazed by the variety of colorful fishes swimming there.
Situated some 50 km away from Panaji, the Arambol Beach is strikingly beautiful and has a peaceful ambience.
Never overpopulated or hurried, Benaulim Beach provides great alternative to vacationers who are tired of crowded destinations. Located in South Goa, Benaulim Beach starts at the end of Colva beach and is 8 km from Marago and 41 km from Panaji. The nearest rail-head is Marago.
Just 3 km away from Canacona Railway station, now on the Konkan Railway, Palolem is situated at the West of Chaudi in South Goa. About 1.61 km long, Palolem Beach is endowed with crystal-clear azure waters of the Arabian Sea.
It has a magnificent 17th century fort which has now been converted into a prison.Located 13 kms from Panaji, Sinquerim Beach is one of the best beaches in Goa with international level facilities for water-skiing, para-sailing, fishing, scuba-diving and wind-surfing.
Famous Churches in Goa
Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception.
Built in 1541, Church of the Immaculate Conception is a fine specimen of the Portuguese baroque style. Located in the town center of Panaji, Goa’s state capital, this imposing Church is one of the main attractions of the town.
Reis Magos Church
Lying on the banks of Mandovi river, the small hamlet of Reis Magos 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.
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 largest church in Goa, the Se Cathedral is dedicated to St. Catherine. Built in the Portuguese-Gothic style, Se Cathedral has Corinthian interiors and Tuscan exteriors. The main highlight of the cathedral is the Cross of Miracles that attracts a large number of visitors. The bell of Se Cathedral is one of the oldest in the state and is known as the Golden Bell.
Basilica of Bom Jesus
Situated in Old Goa, Basilica of Bom Jesus was built in 1605 AD. The basilica is home to the tomb and mortal remains of St Francis Xavier. St Francis Xavier came to Goa with a view to spread Christianity.
Saint Cajetan Church
Lying about half a kilometer away, towards the north-east of the Se Cathedral, and quite near the ruins of the Viceregal Palace, the large and beautiful Church of St. Cajetan is said to have been modelled on the original design of the Basilica of St.Peter in Rome. 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 Church of Our Lady of Rosary
Church of Saint Francis of Assisi
To 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 late-rite blocks and is lime-plastered.
Saint Augustine Tower
One of the most spectacular of all monuments in Goa, is the St Augustine tower is located 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.
Other attraction of Panaji is an old palace of a ruler of the Adil Shah Dynasty of Bijapur, now the Secretariat.
Temples in Goa
One of the most famous attractions in Panaji is the Mahalaxmi Temple, located on the Dada Vaidya road.
Shri Saptakoteshwar Temple at Narve
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Saptakoteshwar temple is an old shrine located at Narve, 35 km from Panaji and can be reached via an interesting route which requires a ferryboat from the island of Divar.
The most important festival celebrated at the temple, attended by thousands of devotees from Goa and other parts of India, is Gokulashtami.
Shri Mahalsa at Mardoli
The temple of Mahalsa Narayani is located at the small village of Mardol, just about a km from the famous Mangueshi temple and about 22 km from Panaji, the capital city. Located in a peaceful area, 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 hundred and fifty (150) small lamps. When it is lit up with oil wicks on the annual festival day or Jatra, it is a sight to behold. A must visit.
Shri Mahalaxmi at Bandode
The village of Bandode or Bandivad has a large number of temples, situated among which is the large and beautiful temple of Goddess Mahalaxmi. Bandode is approximately 22 km from the capital city of Panaji, off the main road to Ponda, at Farmagudi.
Shri Naguesh at Bandode
The temple of Lord Naguesh is another shrine in Bandode. The area surrounding the temple is known as Nagueshi and lies just 800 metres from Farmagudi on the way to Ponda. 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 colorful images of gods and goddesses around the base of the deepstambha (lamp tower).
Shri Ramnath, Bandode
The second temple in the small village of Bandode or Bandivade, as it is also known, is that of Lord Ramnath. Located about 22 km from the capital city of Panaji, the temple is just a few minutes away from Farmagudi, off the main road to Ponda.
Shri Manguesh Temple at Pirol, Ponda
The 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 km from the capital city of Panaji. The surrounding area is known as Mangueshi.
The most ancient temple in the whole of Goa is located at a place called Tambi Surla which is approximately 66 km from the capital city of Panaji and 12 km from the border crossing post of Mollem. Tambdi Surla itself is in the midst of a forested area accessible via a 22 km route from the main town of Valpoi in Sattari Taluka.
Built in the 12 century, the beautifully carved and perfectly proportioned black basalt temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and. The festival of Mahashivratri is celebrated with pomp and gaiety at the temple.
Shri Shantadurga Temple
Situated 33 km from Panaji, Shri Shantadurga Temple is dedicated to the goddess of peace and is known for its annual carnival. Resembling a pagoda, this temple attracts people during the carnival which is a rare mix of Hindu and Christian culture.
Safa Masjid at Ponda
Built in 1560 by Ibrahim Adil Shah, the Sultan of Bijapur, the Safa Masjid lies 2 km west of the centre of the town of Ponda, in a district known as Shahpur.
Aguada Fort (18 km)
The largest and the best-preserved Portuguese bastion in Goa was built in 1609-12, to control the entry into the river Mandovi and to protect Old Goa against invasions from the Dutch and the Marathas.
Tiracol Fort (42 Km.)
One of the most famous forts of Goa, Tiracol Fort is home to the Hotel Tiracol Fort Heritage. This wonderful Old Portuguese fort at Tiracol is also home to a beautiful small church and offers a panoramic view of the beaches, the river Tiracol and the blue waters of the sea.
Panaji 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.
Goa’s third largest town and the capital of the northern Bardez taluka, Mapusa is mainly a market town for the surrounding beach areas of Calangute, Candolim, Anjuna and Baga among others.
Often called the commercial capital of Goa, Margao serves as a service and transport hub to the areas of south Goa. Margao has an old-world 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 famous Colva beach is just 6 km away from Margao, so most travelers spend their time here.
Sanctuaries that you can visit
Bhagvan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary at Molem (60 km.), Bondla Forest (53 km. & 38 km. from Margao), Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary (60 km.) and Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary (Chorao).
Located 60 km from Panaji and 10 km from Colem, the magnificent and famous Dudhsagar Waterfall is perched in the high peaks of the Western Ghats and is a sight to behold especially in the monsoons. From a distance, the waterfall appears like streams of milk rushing down the mountainside. The exuberant and spectacular waterfall is located in the Sanguem taluka.
Measuring a mighty 600m from head to foot, this waterfall is on the Goa-Karnataka border. It attracts a steady stream of visitors from the coast into the rugged Western Ghats.
Located in Bicholim taluka in north Goa, east of the market town of Mapusa, it is a famous lake in Goa and is also one of the most popular tourist destinations of Goa.
Harvalem (Arvalem) Waterfall
A short distance from the regional town of Bicholim, along the road from Mayem Lake, is the village of Sanquelim. You can visit the Arvalem Caves, which is located 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 monsoons (in October), where they form a picturesque state.
Located 22 km away from Panaji, near the Verna plateau, the spring at Kesarval can be reached after crossing the bridge on the Zuari River and passing through the village of Cortalim.
Goa State Museum at Patto
A crucible of Christian art, Goa State Museum, located in the EDC Complex in Patto, contains some of the finest specimens of Hindu and Jain sculptures. Do visit to get a slice of the history of the state.
Other Attractions in Goa
Fontainhas, which means “little fountain” in Portuguese, is a place where Portuguese influence is still visible in the form of narrow winding streets, quaint bye lanes, old villas and buildings.