Top 10 Places to Visit in Goa Beyond the Beaches
Goa is a place which has something for every kind of traveler. From a party animal, or solo travelers, to people with friends or family for an annual vacation, Goa will welcome you with open arms. It has an amazing atmosphere and brilliant views for your eyes. One of the biggest attraction of Goa is its beaches. Each and every one of them is unique in some way or the other. Beaches in North Goa are famous for the unending parties while Southern part of the city has beaches which are ideal for a silent getaway or a relaxing quiet vacation. Besides the beaches, there are many other places where one can go and explore the true essence of Goa. If you go for sight-seeing, you will get to see some beautiful places. Some would be with great historical significances while some would be famous for its picturesque views.
Top 10 places to visit in Goa besides the beaches
1. Aguada Fort
This is the first place which you will be visiting in Goa. It is an ancient fort which was made by Portuguese in the 17th century. Situated on the Sinquerim beach in North Goa, this fort offers some picturesque views of Arabian Sea. You will be clicking your best pictures here. There is a light house where various films have been shot. The architecture of this fort is quite admirable.
2. Dona Paula
Dona Paula is a former village, and a tourist destination, in the suburbs of Panaji, the capital of the state. It is a calm area during monsoon months but highly crowded during the tourist season. It is a highly popular area and you can idly watch the waves crashing on its wall. It is a home of the top industrialists and politicians of Goa and hence is the most expensive residential area. You must visit this place because of the whitewashed statue, perched on the rocks beside the popular ferry jetty. It is amongst the most scenic locations in Goa. You can have a quick snack at the food stalls. It is also a host to various water activities.
3. Mae De Deus
The Mae de Deus or Mother of God Church is a breath-taking sight. Located at Saligao, It is the finest example of Neo-Gothic architecture in Goa. It houses the miraculous statue of Mae de Deus (Mother of God) which was brought from the ruins of the convent of Mae de Deus at Old Goa. It looks like a fairytale castle due to its untouched white walls and extremely beautiful. Situated amidst picturesque surroundings of the typical Goan countryside, this Church is attractively illuminated at night.
4. Basilica of Bom Jesus
A highly historical site, it is a UNESCO declared world heritage site. It houses the body of St. Francis Xavier. The remains are in a good condition and are taken out once every decade. This place is known for its exemplary baroque architecture. This church marks the beginning of Christianity in India. The floor of this church is made of marble mosaic with precious stones. The interior of the church is simple and quiet. The Basilica of Bom Jesus is over 408 years old and is open to the public every day. It will take almost 1-2 hrs. to see the entire premise. You will feel really peaceful once you visit here. Even if you are not a Christian, the beauty of the church will leave you stunned.
5. Bogdeshwara Temple
Located 12kms away from Panaji, this is an extremely beautiful temple where one can fully admire the greenery and the calming environment surrounding it. The temple is dedicated to Kanakeshwar Baba or Bodgeshwar, locally known as Bongini. Bodgeshwar is regarded as ‘Angavani’ which refers to one to whom vows are made and who fulfills desires of the devotees. Hence there is a belief among people that all their prayers will be fulfilled and thousands of devotees flock to this temple. The festival of the God Kanakeshwar Baba is usually celebrated during the months of December/January at the Shree Dev Bodgeshwar Temple. An annual fair or ‘Zatra’ is held during the festival which thronged by both locals and the tourists alike.
6. Mangeshi temple
Surrounded by lush green hills, this beautiful temple dedicated to Shree Mangesh is a major tourist attraction of Goa. The temple presents a great mixture of rich history, culture and architectural beauty. The Mangeshi temple is a fusion of Indo-Portuguese & Islamic style of architecture rich in history and culture and a great heritage monument of Goa and our country.
It has a really tall and majestic ‘deepstambha’, which is the highest lamp tower in Goa. When it is illuminated with the traditional oil lamps during the evenings, it is a sight to behold.
Mangeshi gave birth to Dinanath Mangeshkar, India’s greatest musician whose daughters Lata & Asha have created a great name in the country’s music history. Dinanath Mangeshkar’s house was located next to the temple and he used to serve in the temple and entertain the pilgrims and visitors with his songs. He gets his name from the place Mangeshi.
7. Chapora Fort
Situated near the Vagator Beach, this one is responsible for the success of the movie, “Dil Chahta Hai”. It greatly reminds us of the state’s Portuguese past because of its architecture. If you will visit here, do savor the view of Vagator Beach from the top of the fort. It is just stunning and breathtaking; this is a tip from my personal experiences. Also, it is an ideal place to view the sunrise and the sunset which is damn attractive. It will take just 1-2 hrs. to have a look at the fort. This is a highly popular destination amongst the tourist and has recently become a hangout place to spend the evening.
It is easily approachable from Mapusa which is located at a short distance of 10 km. You can either take a personal drive or you can take a bus (starting from Mapusa) which will take you to the fort while ferrying to the final destinations of Anjuna and Vagator.
8. Naval Aviation Museum
India’s one and only Naval Aviation Museum is situated along the Vasco-Bogmalo road six kilometers from the city of Vasco-da-Gama. It is the only one of its kind in Asia. May be perhaps, it has not received the publicity it rightly deserves and hence remained unvisited and unseen by many Goans. If you admire aviation vehicles then you must visit here. 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. 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 side of the corridor are neat paintings of the interiors of the Viraat thereby creating a natural ambiance as though one is at sea on board the Viraat. The other rooms too are planned with the ship in mind.
9. Se Cathedral Church
Dedicated to the Catherine of Alexandria, Se Cathedral is one of the ancient structures in Goa. it also has a Portuguese architecture. It is situated at the opposite of Basilica of Bom Jesus. It overwhelms the visitors with its sheer grandeur. It represents the royal and imperial atmosphere of the Portuguese era. It is one of the largest churches in India. While visiting, visitors must see the magnificent reredos above the main altar whose six gilded panels depict the life of Saint Catherine, the fifteen communion tables, dedicated to Our Lady of Three Needs, Our Lady of Hope and Our Lady of Anguish and the baptismal font, built in 1532 which was used by St. Francis Xavier to baptize converts. Also worth seeing, is the chapel of the Cross of Miracles, where a vision of the Christ has been said to have appeared in 1919.
10. Dudhsagar Falls
The spectacular and steep heights of hills form a majestic cascade of white waters. It looks both breathtaking and awe inspiring. The name ‘Dudhsagar’ literally translates to ‘sea of milk’ which many believe is an allusion to the white spray and foam that the great waterfall creates as it cascades into the waters of the lake. The falls are at their zenith during the monsoon season, although they are a popular attraction all year round. The area around the falls is forested and falls into the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife sanctuary. There are a number of animals and birds that call this place home, and the keen observer may even be lucky enough to spot some. The roads to the falls are maintained by the Goa Forest Department, who charge visitors a nominal fee for entry and a bit higher fee for photography.
There are various other places where you may go and have fun exploring the state. Your visit will surely be marked as an unforgettable one.
Contributor: Akanksha Bhadauria