First thing to bear in mind is that when you are visiting Goa, you are visiting a whole state, not a city or a beach. Goa tourist places are perfect place for sightseeing tour. Every corner of this tropical paradise displays a fine blend of traditional and modern aspects of life. On one hand you have the most alluring natural charms where as on the other hand you have an excellent array of architectural masterpieces, which are dotted in various towns of the state. There are a number of worth visit tourist spots in Goa, which are the key factors behind the people’s love for Goa tourism. All the information on Goa and Goa tourist places is available in the Goa destination guide. Hence, a sightseeing trip to Goa is very important to behold various treasures of the state.
Some of the famous Beaches in Goa.
1. Arambol Beach-: A unique beach in North Goa, is both rocky and sandy beach.
2. Vagator-: It is popular beach dominated by Chapora Fort to the North, on its imposing headland. To the South of Vagator is Calangute beach. The Ozrant beach or the mini Vagator beach is south of the main stretch of Vagator beach. Tourists can walk down the headland flanked by rocks and view mini Vagator. The geographical beauty of mini Vagator is tranquil and inspiring.
3. Anjuna:- A popular beach area adjacent to Chapora Fort. In Anjuna there is magnificent Albuquerque mansion built in 1920, flanked by octagonal towers and attractive Mangalore tiled-roof. The mesmerizing beauty of the sea, surf and sand is overpowering! Come Wednesday and Anjuna beach is buzzing with activity with the flea market agog with buying and selling of items from trinkets and knick knacks to the pricy. People visit Anjuna in conjunction with the flea market and many visitors lay their hands on their best buy ever. Anjuna is comparatively rocky and only a small stretch of the sea is recommended for swimming.
4. Calangute and Bagha-: are next to each another and are the most popular and more crowded beaches with holiday resort in Goa. These panoramic beaches were a serendipitous discovery by the hippies in the 1960 and are touted as the ‘Queen of beaches.’ The picture perfect picture beach with its exquisitely compelling beauty is replete with verdant hillocks, coconut groves, saltpans, glistening sea by dawn and shimmering moon-lit waters by night coupled with stretches of soft white sand. Calangute beach has been eulogized in the famous Konkani song ‘Calangute’ sung by Goa’s very own nightingale ‘Lorna’. Shacks and eateries are ideally located under the coconut palms. Tourists both domestic and foreign throng to Calangute beach during the peak tourist season and this is when the beach is bustling with people and activity.
5. Miramar Beach-: (Gaspar Dias)-: A lovely golden beach of soft sand girdled with palm trees facing the blue Arabian Sea, is the nearest to Panaji.It is a palm-canopied two kilometre long beach located very close to the heart of the capital city of Panaji. Miramar has the Portuguese connotation the means ‘viewing the sea. ‘The Miramar beach is also called Gaspar Dias and lies along the estuary of the famed river Mandovi as it meets the vast Arabian sea. Several species of migratory birds like Plovers, Gulls, etc. make their way here.
6. Vainguinim Beach -: This is a small beach cosseted and closeted by Mother Nature. A very popular tourist destination several beach resorts have sprung up in the Vainguinim valley. This beach has the best of worlds, the lushly vegetated hills and the gorgeous beach with all its entrapments. One can revel in the pleasures of bird watching, water sports or just sit vacantly and bask in the sun.
7. Dona Paula -: An idyllic picturesque spot. Command a fine view of the Zuari River and Mormugao Harbour.
8. Benaulim Beach -: Legend has it that the village of Benaulim was created when the arrow of the Hindu sage Parashuram landed here. Caught in the middle of of Mobor and Velsao beach, the stunning Benaulim beach is usually crowded during weekends. Framed by tall coconut palms, this beach offers a great escape from the humdrum of life. One can sit in a meditative stance on the clean sands and stare vacantly into the horizon and witness the sunset. There are numerous earthy shacks and restaurants that offer a taste of Goa. This beach is indeed a haven for naturalists, swimmers, and the like.
9. Colva Beach-: 6 kilometres from Margao, Colva beach is at the tip of the tongue of tourists and is by far the busiest and most frequented beach in Salcete. A predominantly fishing beach, it also offers avenues for boat trips, parasailing, paddling, water skiing etc. During the peak tourist season, one is caught in the vortex of the hustle bustle of the touring populace especially Indian tourists, shacks belting out Goan songs and dishing out Goan food and drinks by the beachside which is characteristic of this beach. Here, sand, sea and sky blend in enchanting natural harmony unspoilt by men.
10. Agonda Beach -: is 37 kms from Margao and its natural bounty and beauty is bound to give birth to a Wordsworth every time one visits this pristine beach. A small picturesque and secluded beach much sought after for its serenity.The rocky mountain on the southern tip of the beach with its promontory jutting into the Arabian sea is a hypnotic sight and gives the imagery of land meeting the azure sky. Ample accommodation by the beach makes it more exiting and enjoyable for the visitor as one is greeted by the sea every moment of the day. The Saint Annes Church for the parishioners of Agonda is located bang on the beach and serves as a divine ornamentation to the beach and its ambience.
11. Cola Beach-: is a remote, languorous, petite yet breathtakingly amazing beach located 10 kilometres from Agonda beach. A picture postcard effect is created with the beach bounded by coconut palms whose fronds sway in the breeze and hills with varied vegetation. The rustic Rajastani beach tents located on the beach have an equally magical feel and transports one beyond time and space!
12. Palolem-: About 60 kilometres from the airport and 37 kilometres from Margao. Just west of Chaudi in the Southern Region of Canacona is one of the most enchanting beaches. It is higly recommended for the people who want to have a relaxing quality time spent in Goa . This southern beach is the equivalent of the northern beach Candolim in terms of popularity, vibrancy etc. Chock-a-block with beach huts, shacks and numerous visitors for most part of the tourist season the Palolem beach also has an enchanting bay that holds one and all in its spell. Palolem beach indeed offers the best of both the worlds and is one beach where both the recluse and the maverick can feel at ease in their own comfort zones. Accommodation at Palolem beach mainly consists A/C and Non A/C eco-friendly beach huts, Guest houses and small resortsActivities here includes Dolphin,fishing trips, Kayaking, Wind sailing.
Sight seeing in Old Goa Town -: 10 kms East of Panaji, lies the small town of Old Goa, founded by Adil Shah in the first decade of 16th century. It was being developed by them with a view to shifting their capital from Bijapur. However, Afonso de Albuquerquw made a short work of it when he stormed and took it over to house the centre of power of the Portuguese colonies.
1. Basilica of Bom Jesus-: The church is dedicated to Bom Jesus meaning Good Jesus or Infant Jesus. Belonging to the Jesuit order this world heritage monument’s construction started on 24th November 1594 and was consecrated on 15th May 1605.It is here the Sacred Relics of the body of St. Francis Xavier is kept. A co-founder of the Jesuit order the Saint while returning from Japan during his missionary work got ill and breathed his last at Sancian Island a Chinese province on 3rd Dec 1552.The body was brought to Goa on 16th March 1554 and later in 1613 transferred to the present site.The Coffin is made of silver and the tomb was carved by the well known 17th century Italian Sculptor Giovanni Battistta Fogini. The first exposition of the body for public viewing was in 1622.Since 1891 there have been regular expositions every 10 years, the last being in 2004.
2. Se Cathedral-: Most imposing of all churches at Old Goa. Its vaulted interior overwhelms the visitors by sheer grandeur. This Cathedral has five bells of which one is the famous Golden bell, the biggest in Goa and one of the best in the World. The church is dedicated to St. Catherine. Masses.
3. Church of St. Francis of Assisi-: The entrance and the choir are in Manueline style, the only fragment of its kind in the East. Ther interior is illustrated with exquisite paintings. The adjacent convent now houses the Archaeological Museum.
4.St.Augustine church and tower -: The tower and the church itself, were built in 1602 by the Augustinian friars who arrived in Goa in 1587. With the religious suppression in 1835, the Augustinians deserted the church and the convent. The latter was used for some time by the charitable institution of the Misericordia. The buildings fell into neglect resulting in the collapse of the vault on 8 September 1842. The Government appropriated the property, selling the materials the following year. The facade and half of the tower fell in 1931 and some more parts of it collapsed in 1938.
ASI’s Mini Circle conducted conservation work in the St. Augustine Church complex. The crevices found in the exposed walls, pillars and pilasters were consolidated. Water-tightening was also carried out on the exposed walls of the adjacent convent.
During the conservation work carried out by ASI’s Mini Circle, on one of the side altars of the St. Augustine Church complex, a burial chamber was discovered below the floor in front of the altar. The chamber had a flight of five steps and was built of laterite blocks. It was also plastered in lime-mortar and had a vaulted roof. Inside the chamber, was a grave pit, which contained bones in three places. The pit was also found to be lime-plastered. The chance discovery of the burial assumes a greater significance in the light of the fact that during the last quarter of 1998, a Georgian team visited Goa in order to search for and locate the mortal remains of the Georgian Queen,St. Catevan. The Queen, who died a martyr in 1624, was buried in Goa, presumably in the St. Augustine Church complex. According to the description given in the records, the mortal remains were supposed to have been buried either above the second window near the main altar or between the side chapels on the south-west side in the transept. However, the search did not yield any mortal remains. A detailed study of the present discovery of the grave along with the mortal remains is likely to throw more light on this matter.
5. St. Cajetan Church-: Built in the style of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
6. Church of Our lady of Rasary-: One of the earliest built in Goa, bears an inscription about the conquest of Goa by Afonso de Albuquerque in 1510.
7. Nunnery of Santa Monica-: Built like a fortress is significant for its massive walls and butresses. It is the only nunnery in Goa.
8. Ruins of Church of St. Augustine-: Close to the Nunnery is a lofty tower defying the torrential rains. The tower is one of the four of St. Augustine church that once stood there. The Church when intact was perhaps the biggest in Goa.
9. Viceroy’s Arch-: One of the gates of Adil Shah’s Fort. It was renovated by Portuguese and was the gateway to Goa for Portuguese Governors. Every incoming Viceroy used to disembark at this place.
10. Reis Magos Church-: ( 7 kms) The Reis Magos Church was constructed in 1555. It is one of the earliest Churches built in Goa and the first in Bardez region, dedicated to three Magi-Kings. This Church was once the residence of all dignitaries and also a mission centre of the Franciscan order. There is a fort adjacent to this Church.
11. The Church of Mae de Deus at Saligao (Bardez)-: ( 13 kms)Built in 1873, is situated amidst picturesque surroundings. The shrine of the miraculous statue of Mae de Deus (Mother of God) was brought from the ruins of the convent of Mae de Deus at Old Goa. This beautiful church is the finest piece of gothic style. The Church is well illuminated at night.
12. The Church of St. Alex at Curtorim-: 9 Kilometres. from Margao. It is one of the Oldest churches in Goa, built in 1597.
13. The Church of St. Ana at Talaulim, Ilhas -: 11 Kms. Dedicated to St. Ana, is a remarkable piece of ancient Christian archirecture. It was built in 1695 on the right bank of Siridao river and has picturesque surroundings. The unique feature of this church is that it has hollow walls through which people could walk in secrecy for the purpose of confession.
14. Rachol Seminary-: Situate just off the banks of Zuari river, 12 kilometers from Margao in South Goa. In 1521 the Portuguese, in their customary fashion first built a church, then a prison, later in 1574-1610 a seminary to impart philosophy and theology. It is in this seminary that the museum of Christian Art is housed.
Other Interesting Sights in Goa-:
1. Aguada Fort-: Built by the Portuguese in 1609-1612, to command the entry into the river Mandovi, in order to protect Old Goa from potential enemy attacks. A spring within the fort provided water supply to the ships that called there. The fort houses presently the central jail. A lighthouse is situated nearby, the visiting hours for it being 16.00 to 17.00 hrs.
2. Arvalem Caves-: The celebrated caves of Arvalem, belonging to a remote era, are in a westerly direction not far away from the temple of Rudreshwar and are of archaeological interest. A mythical background is attached to these caves. Some are of the opinion that these caves have been carved by the travelling Buddhist monks. An inscription is noticed on a Shivalinga with a circular top in cave No.2 Its is in Sanskrit and in Brahmi characters of the 7th century A.D. It reads as Sambalura-vasi Ravih.
3. Arvalem Waterfalls-: Leaving the temple of Rudreshwar, one can descend the staircase to look at a majestic waterfall shedding its exuberant silvery showers. The beautiful fall, with a head of about 70ft., forms a sizeable lake at the bottom which offers a temptation to seasoned swimmers. The fall is best seen when in full flux, just after the copious monsoon, when it presents a raptures, ravishing and riotous aspect.
4. Dudhsagar Waterfalls-: 60 kms. (10 kms from Colem Railway Station) is accessible by train only. Water plummets hundreds of feet in large volume, in cascades, forming one of the most spectacular of all natural phenomena in Goa and a life line of our ecosystem in one of our Sanctuaries. A popular destination to hikers and trekkers. It is also acessible by jeepable(4 wheel drive) route (14 kms) through the Bhagvan Mahavir Sanctuary. However, one needs to obtain permission in advance from the Department of Forests at Junta House, Panaji.
5. Kesarval Spring-: (22 kms) The spring emerges from hard and compact rocks and people bathe in its water with strong belief that it has medicinal properties.
6. Mayem Lake-: 35 kms surrounded amidst rolling green hills is an ideal picnic spot. Good accomodation facilities are available in Cottages. Boating is available on the lake.
7. Ancestral Goa-: (Big Foot) A centre for Art, Culture & Environment. Located at Loutolim, 9 kms from Margao, it is an aesthetically developed open air site designed to illustrate Goa’s traditional past. Set in eco-friendly surroundings, this mock-up village traces 100 years of Goa’s lifestyles and heritage along with a depiction of daily village activity and folk culture. Local artefacts and handicrafts are available at the handicraft centre and art gallery. The legend of the Big Foot is narrated there- With a pure heart, place your foot on the rock embedded footprint and you will be blessed with luck. The Big Foot Eat-out offers exotic Goan cuisine with spices, vegetables and fruits handpicked from the spice garden and fruit orchard, watered by an ancient system of irrigation. Flanking this is a bird habitat and a rubber plantation from which rubber is extracted and processed. A giant size footprint, ‘Big Foot’-the only designer dance floor in Goa is used as a venue for the promotion of art, dance, music and traditional culture.
Another major attraction here is ‘Natural Harmony’- the longest laterite monolythic sculpture in India measuring 14 x 5 metres which makes this a must see place for every visitor Sculpted in grecoroman style, in a record time, this horizontally ethced, Sant Mirabai playing the ektara found its way into the Limca Book of Records.
Casino’s -: Goa has some of the best onshore and offshore floating casinos where betting is legitimate. Onshore casinos are housed in starred hotels and resorts while the latter is on board floating vessels in water. Casinos enliven the nightlife and one can rake in the moolah as well with live gaming facilities like roulette, blackjack, baccarat etc. Most of the casinos are cosmopolitan with a genial hospitality faculty and good food and drink and thumping music. One can make both money and merry at these casinos. Casinos in Goa are now increasing in popularity and are a common destination of many an adventurous and fun loving vacationer.
Goa carnival -: VIVA CARNIVAL…………THE GOAN WAY! Come February and there is much in the air with the Valentines Day celebrated universally! Come February in Goa and its time to usher in the annual carnival, the festival of fun, fun and simply more fun! It’s that time of the year when all and sundry just get caught up in a time warp, and let their hair down with all the fun n’ frolic. Carnival and Goa go back a long time. Legend has it that it was the Portuguese that first introduced it some 500 years ago and it has stayed and caught on. People from all walks of life and all faiths celebrate this festival with much fervour. Carnival spans a period of three mirthful days where the only mantra is gaiety.
The nomenclature of the festival seems to find its roots from the Latin word ‘Carnavale’ which is other words means’ to do away with meat’. Carnival incidentally is celebrated before Easter and veritably marks the end of the feasting spell and the beginning of the fasting spell! The forty-day austere period of lent soon follows carnival.
Carnival is customarily flagged off by King Momo, the king of merriment. On this day, it is his diktat that reigns supreme and he mandates all his subjects to have ONLY fun! King Momo is seen on the summit of his carriage meandering through the towns of Margao, Panaji, Mapusa and Vasco accompanied by the floats put up by various groups. Nubile girls and boys dance their way on the streets and are greeted by crowds that flank the streets eagerly. Music fills the air and people find themselves gyrating to popular Goan folk songs as well as Western and Indian music. Shutterbugs snap furiously trying to capture every moment of this festival.
Generally, and especially in the hinterlands of the Goan villages, the true flavour of the Goan carnival is seen at its hilt. Fun-seeking men folk, in the garb of women, amuse and entertain the denizens with their jocular antics. There is singing and dancing and various competitions are held at this time that gets the whole village going. Such is the carnival spirit in Goa! Street plays vernacularly known as ‘Khell Tiatres’ are another striking feature of this festival. In the larger towns, evenings are usually marked by dance or culminate into a ball.
Carnival falls during the peak tourist season in Goa and hence all roads lead to Goa and visitors both domestic and foreign are drawn to Goa by the compelling nature of this festival.
Wild life sanctuaries and Waterfalls.
1. Bhagawan Mahaveer Sanctuary & Dudh Sagar Water fall ( 55 kms) -: Nestled in the lap of Mother Nature along the eastern border and along the lush Western Ghats, Bhagwan Mahaveer sanctuary and Mollem national park are a treasure trove of luxuriant flora and varied fauna. A sprawling area of 240 square kilometers, this wildlife sanctuary and national park and protected area has geological and historical facets like the Doodhsagar Waterfalls and the Devil’s Canyon.
Jointly they form the largest contiguous wildlife protected area, covering 240 sq. kms in Goa. Thick forests varying from moist deciduous to evergreen types can be seen here.The dense vegetation provides ample cover to wild animals. If you are lucky, there are chances to see Gaur ,Deer, Wild Boar, Leopard, Panther, Jungle Cat and Leopard cat, but the chances to view wildlife is poor.
Dudh Sagar Falls - Hidden away in an evergreen valley in the Westerm Ghats the highest and largest waterfalls of Goa, cascades down 306 metres in two segments, 12 km from Collem is a good oppurtunity for trekking enthusiasts.
Devil’s Canyon - A formation of rock broken into criss-cross sections and under water passages through which Dudshsagar river flows with great turbulence.Lord Mahadev’s Temple (Tambdi Surla Temple)-This 13th Century A.D. temples is the only one constructed from black basalt in Goa. It is 13 km from Mollem, situated at Tambdi Surla.
Bird Watching : The sanctury nestled in western mountain ranges is an ideal spot for bird watching enthusiasts. Horn bills are frequently sighted indicating the ecological balance of the sanctuary.
2. Cotigao Sanctuary -: Touted the second largest wildlife sanctuary in the miniscule state of Goa, the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary is strategically located off NH17 (7 kms) before Canacona town, Goa and is hence easily accessible. Ecsconced in the lap of nature in the southern end of Goa,Canacona, Cotigao wildlife sanctuary spreads over an area of 85 square kilometers and houses several species of plants and animals.A special feature of this wildlife sanctuary is the 25-metre high treetop watchtower from where one can surreptitiously gaze at the inmates of the sanctuary as they moisten their parched throats at the various waterholes in the vicinity. The vulnerable flora and fauna in the sacrosanct confines of Cotigao sanctuary merit protection and hence the area is also a protected zone.
It is approximately 12 kms from Palolem beach and 45 kms from Margao and the best time to visit the Sanctuaries is from October to March. However, during the monsoon (June to September) also it is enchanting to visit the wilderness of Goa, which is at its best at this time of the year and truly a feast for the eyes.
3. Bondla Sanctuary & Zoo -: Circumscribed in a rather small area of 7.98 square kilometers, the zoo in Bondla wildlife sanctuary is the only zoo in Goa. Located off the national highway 4A, Bondla zoo is closest to the town of Ponda in central Goa. It is 52 kms from Panjim – the stae capital and 37 kms from Margao. Bondla wildlife sanctuary is home to over a hundred bird species Endangered species of wild animals are kept at the zoo including the Tiger, Sambar (deer) Gaur (Indian Bison) etc.Early mornings ,late evenings and nights are very pleasant in Bondla sanctuary and has an ideal environment for eco – tourists.Bondla wildlife sanctuary is covered with moist deciduous forests, with small patches of evergreens and canes along the nullahs. The state tree Terminalia Crenulata (Matti) and Rosewood are common here.
This sanctuary has been developed with a view to accommodate day as well as overnight visitors. It has furnished ecotourism cottages, that can accommodate 24 persons, and has 2 dormitories with a total of 48 beds. A spacious restaurant “The Den” adequately caters to the food requirement of the visitor. < strong>4. Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary -: It is located on the Chorao Island, in the Mandovi River about 4 kms from Panaji-the state Capital of Goa. It is the smallest of the protected areas of Goa and is basically a wetland ecosystem with dense mangrove vegetation. .The area of the sanctuary is 1.78 sq.km. and has a number of canals interspersed within. This wetland attracts migratory birds like pintail ducks in large numbers in the winter months from October to February every year.The sanctuary has been named after the famed ornithologist of India Dr. Salim Ali who is also known to have visited the sanctuary before it was declared protected area. The Forest Department operates regular boating excursions in to the sanctuary. A 12-seater boat departs every morning at 7 a.m. from Chorao and takes the visitor to the watch tower. The ride lasts about one hour (The boat service is available only from October to May).From the reception office, a 1 km walkway leads right in to the sanctuary along a specially constructed pathway along the embankment and provides a view of the dense mangrove vegetation. The characteristic features of the mangroves like root system, the propagules etc can be viewed first hand by the visitor. The lesser fauna like the mudskipper and fiddler crab can be observed at close quarters. Specially built observation points at three different places off the embankment provides view of the bird life on the mudflats.
Come here in the winter( November to February) and this place plays home to several migratory species of birds, indeed every birdwatcher’s ecstasy! The rich mangrove habitat harbours Pintails, Blue-winged teals, maddar ducks, purple herons, Adjutant storcks, flying foxes, crocodiles etc. There are locals who takes tourist around in canoes for a fee.
Nature Interpretation Centre-: A walk-through Nature Interpretation Centre is located at the entrance of the sanctuary at Chorao and provides information about the floral composition and some of the frequent bird visitors.
Watch Tower -:A three-storied watch tower located right inside the sanctuary provides a panoramic view of the sanctuary – below canopy level, at canopy level and above canopy level of the dense vegetation.