Goa, India – golden sand beaches and rich history
The main attractions of Goa – it’s not just the spacious beaches and endless sea, but also old Catholic churches, cozy cobblestone streets, powerful forts and waterfalls.
The Indian state of Goa is very popular with tourists. However, if the southern part is famous for its beautiful nature and beaches with golden sand, the Northern Goa combines a lot of places to relax on the beach, and a large number of historical sites. The capital city of Goa is Panaji, located in the northern part of the state.
In our article – sights of Old Goa with photos and descriptions and tips, what is better to see a tourist in Goa.
Attractions of North Goa.
In the list you will find those sights that are worth seeing in Goa in the first place.
Among the things to see in Goa is the Magnesha Temple, the main religious edifice of the state, located in the village of Priol Taulka. It is a Hindu temple named after one of the main deities of India, Sri Mangeshi.
Architecturally, the building is a fine example of a simple but elegant local structure: snow-white walls, a large number of low buildings in the complex and no pompous statues.
The main hall can accommodate more than 500 people. There are also several altars, which are intended for the worship of one of the many Hindu gods. The walls of the room are finished with tiles and bas-reliefs, and the floor is made of marble.
The following rules apply within the temple complex:
- It is forbidden to enter wearing shoes. Since the floor of the building is marble, it is recommended to wear several pairs of socks.
- It is forbidden to take pictures of the interior decoration of the temple. Of course, no one will punish you and will not kick you out, but it will be an extreme disrespect to the worshippers.
- At the entrance they sell wreaths of orange flowers, and many tourists, mistaking them for jewelry, put them on themselves. It is strictly forbidden to do this, as it will greatly offend the worshippers and the servants of the temple. In fact, the wreaths are an offering to the gods, and they should simply be placed at the foot of the altar.
In addition to the main temple, there is a swimming pool, a green area, and several buildings that tourists are not allowed into.
- Location: Dinanath Mangeshkar Rd, Mangeshi Village, Mardol, Goa 403401, North Goa, India.
- Opening hours: 6.00-22.00.
The old Fontenya area of Panaji is the most popular part of the city. Its history began more than 200 years ago, so tourists who visit North Goa try to get to this place in order to:
- Stroll through the narrow cobblestone streets with colorful houses built by natives of Portugal.
- Visit the natural spring “Phoenix”, which has provided fresh water to the inhabitants of the town even today and centuries ago.
- Relax in the shade of grapes or trees.
- Visit the chapel of San Sebastian. You will see this building from afar, as it is actually the only building in the area painted white.
Location: northern Panaji, North Goa.
The Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is the main Catholic church in the state. This North Goa landmark was built in the 16th century for the Portuguese sailors who were gradually arriving in the new lands.
The white church (as it is usually called by the locals) stands out from the rest of the buildings: it is built on a mountain, a long staircase with ornate patterns leads to it, and on the top platform is an interesting blue balcony. It is perhaps one of the most beautiful buildings in the area.
But the interior decoration of the church is much poorer and less beautiful than the exterior: wooden ceilings, benches and dozens of colorful ribbons and flowers on the walls. There are still services held in the church, but because of the local coloring, it looks less and less like a Catholic church every year.
- Location: Church Square, Panaji 403001, North Goa.
- Opening hours: 07.00-12.00.
The Shantadegra Temple is one of the most famous and most visited by locals in the state of Goa. It is a private temple complex, on the territory of which there are many different structures: the main room, Deepthamba Tower (it is a traditional building, typical for all Hindu temples), as well as several smaller rooms, which can enter any tourist absolutely free.
Interestingly, this is actually the only temple in Goa that has a separate room for weddings and wedding photo shoots.
The rules for visiting are the same as in most temples in India:
- No shoes allowed to enter.
- It is forbidden to take photographs.
- Worth bringing gifts for the gods (suitable fresh flowers, which are sold at the entrance).
The site is located in Kavalem village and the distance to Panaji is 31 km.
Tourists who have been here say that it is one of the cleanest and most energetically powerful temples in India. Many also recommend taking a tour with a local guide.
- Location: Kavalem Village, Ponda Taluka, Panaji, North Goa.
- Opening hours: 09.00-18.00.
Things to see on your own in North Goa include Fort Aguada, a powerful Portuguese fort built by Europeans in the early 17th century. It is located on a peninsula in the southwestern part of the quarter Bardez.
Interestingly, the fort was built of Mangalorean red stone, which is mined only in these places.
At the moment, different parts of Fort Aguada are used in different ways:
- The south bastion is converted into a hotel;
- The northern tower is the only prison in Goa where criminals are held either for drug trafficking or for not complying with the visa regime;
- the central part of the bastion is a museum;
- The northwest tower is one of the best observation decks in the state of Goa, offering beautiful views of the sea and Panaji.
It will take at least 4 hours to see all the sights within the fort. It’s best to arrive in the morning – it’s too hot during the daytime hours.
- Location: Candolim Sinquerim Beach, Fort Aguada, Sinquerim 403515 India.
- Opening hours: 08:30-17:30.
Fort Reis Magos or Fort of the Three Kings is the most beautiful sea fort in Goa and was built in the 1490’s. The fort consists of several tiers and each tier has something interesting to see:
- A gallery of works by local artist Mario Miranda;
- The cozy balconies located around the perimeter of the fort;
- spiral staircases leading to the upper levels;
- antique cannons pointed at the opposite shore;
- green corners where grapes grow and wrought iron benches for relaxing.
Tourists say that even if you don’t know much about history, it’s still worth coming here to wander around the fort structures and admire the beautiful view that opens from the top of the fort.
- Location: Mandovi River | Reis Magos Road, Panaji 403114, India.
- Opening hours: 9.30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Cost: 20 rupees.
St. Alexius Catholic Church in Calangute is another spectacular cathedral that stands out strongly from the rest of the buildings. It is located on the outskirts of the city not far from the road, so you will definitely not be able to get past it. The church can be classified as one of the places to see in North Goa.
Like the other cathedrals built during the colonization period, it has high white walls decorated with bas-reliefs, as well as 3 domes. The interior decoration is not rich: in the center is the altar, on the sides – wooden figures of saints, the main part of the main hall is occupied by benches for the congregation. There is an active cemetery next to the attraction.
Tourists who have seen the church say that it is very cozy and well conveys the atmosphere of antiquity. However, many do not advise to go here purposefully.
- Location: CHOGM Road, Arpora, Calangute, India.
- Opening hours: 9.30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Among the must-see places in Goa on your own are the Arpora Night Market, also known as the “Ingo Night Market” – the largest and most popular in the state. Interestingly, not only tourists come to the market – there are also many locals (especially hippies).
This popularity of the Night Market is due to the fact that just in time for the opening of the day the heat subsides, and people can safely move around the city. For locals, the market is not just a place to buy necessary goods, but also an opportunity to have fun by listening to their favorite bands that perform on the concert stage, as well as to talk with friends.
The Night Market in Arpora is worth buying:
- clothing (for example, yoga pants or Indian tunic);
- wool bags;
- postcards with photos of places of interest in Goa;
- quality shoes (leather sandals are especially popular).
In addition to all of the above, you can grab a bite to eat at the Night Market by visiting a cafe or bar, as well as dancing in the center of the bazaar.
Some useful tips:
- Be sure to remember the number of the entrance through which you entered the bazaar – there are several and if you miss this point, it will be very difficult to find your car.
- Vendors only accept cash.
- Try the vegan food at the Night Market.
- Travelers note that many items are overpriced, so don’t buy very expensive items.
- Location: Aguada – Siolim Rd, Xim Waddo, Arpora, Goa 403518, India.
- Opening hours: 4 p.m.-00 p.m. (Sat). Open from November to April.
Tropical Spice Plantation is a Goa attraction (photo and description below), located 6 km from the town of Ponda. The place is unusual – here you can see how spices grow and look like.
Tourists recommend buying a tour, because if you go on your own, it will be just a walk through a beautiful place. But if with a guide, you will be told about each plant and the technology of its preparation. On average, a walk with a guide around the plantation lasts 30-40 minutes.
All guests arriving at the plantation are greeted very friendly: they put a wreath of flowers on their heads, invite them to lunch (buffet) and offer to buy a variety of spices in the local store.
For an extra fee, you can watch a local climb a tree to pick fruit from tall palm trees.
Stay tuned! Earlier in the plantation you could ride an elephant. Now the government of India has officially banned this activity.
- Location: Arla Bazar Keri, Ponda, India.
- Opening hours: 09.00-16.00.
- Cost: Rs. 400, children free.
- Official website: www.tropicalspiceplantation.com
After visiting North Goa, be sure to check out the southern part of the state as well. Below you will find pictures of South Goa attractions with names and detailed descriptions.
Attractions of South Goa
You should come to South Goa in India not only to relax, but also for the sights. In our selection – recommendations from tourists (what to see and where to go in South Goa).
Duhshagar waterfall is the most popular natural attraction in South Goa. Its height is 300 meters, which is why this place is so loved by tourists.
At the foot of the waterfall is another attraction – a small lake with crystal clear water in which the carps live. There are monkeys and even leopards in the tropical forests, but people see them very rarely.
Interestingly, it is better to visit the waterfall during the rainy season – during this time it is the most full-flowing.
Perhaps the only drawback is the road to the waterfall, because to get to this place is possible only with numerous transfers. The best way out in this case is to buy a tour.
The most suitable time to visit this attraction of South Goa in India is early morning, while there are no tourists.
Location: Mandovi River, Mollem National Park 403410, South Goa.
When making your list of things to see in Goa, check out Kotigao, which is the second largest nature reserve in the state, located near Kanakon. Its total area is 86 square kilometers. The following areas are worth seeing:
- The scenic Galjibaga and Talpon rivers;
- 3 lakes;
- 2 viewing platforms, which can be accessed by climbing a rope ladder on a tree;
- Eco-zone, where there is an information center, playground and cafe.
Also pay attention to the fauna. Monkeys, Indian buffalo, wild boars, porcupines, and squirrels can be found in the reserve. The national park is also home to over 200 species of birds, about 100 species of insects and 20 snakes. This is the place to see in South Goa.
There are several trails in Kotigao National Park that are suitable for beginners and experienced hikers alike. The shortest one is 500 m long and the longest one is 6 km. Keep in mind that the reserve is located in the mountains, so the walking will be difficult. You can also overcome the route on a bicycle.
Locals recommend visiting the reserve in the period from October to March, when the weather is dry and warm.
- Location: Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, Canacona Taluka, Khotigao, South Goa.
- Opening hours: 07.00-17.30.
- Cost: 20 rupees – adult, 10 – child (+30 for photography).
- Official website: www.goatourism.gov.in
Margao is one of the main shopping centers of South Goa, often called the commercial capital of the state. Here are indeed the largest active markets: the Big Market, the New Market, the Old Market and the Fish Market. They are all geared towards locals, so you are unlikely to find nicely packaged goods and perfectly clean counters here.
Nevertheless, these places are worth seeing and buying:
Some useful tips:
- Do not be afraid to haggle, because the prices are initially highly inflated, and the seller is sure to reduce the cost.
- It is advisable to take a local resident or a cab driver as a guide, they will lead you to the part of the market where they sell really good quality products, not cheap Chinese fakes.
- Margao markets are very crowded, so keep an eye on your belongings.
- It is in the market where you can get a good exchange of currency.
- Location: Gandhi Market Rd, Margao 403601, South Goa.
- Opening hours: 09.00-20.30.
The attractions in Goa are very diverse and every traveler will find interesting places to see in this state.
What to see in Goa in a day:
Author: Maria Protasenya
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