Cities of Goa
The scenic capital of Goa, Panaji is located along the river Mandovi. Tiers of white washed red tile - roofed buildings rising up the hillside give it a Mediterranean flavour. Panaji is noted for its fine buildings. Once the Governor's residence, the present Government Secretariat is located along the river and was built at the site of the palace of Adil Shah, the ruler of Bijapur. The Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception dominates the City Square and its steps zigzag ups the hill. The Old Latin Quarter of Fontainahas has immense Old World charm. It’s little lanes and stairways going up the hill are lined with quaint street houses with wrought iron balconies. The little Chapel of San Sebastian blends into these surroundings. The Kala Academy, the focus of all cultural activities in Goa, is a beautifully designed modern complex along the river and close by is the Miramar beach. Margao to the south of Panaji is a major commercial center. It also has some beautiful old houses and churches. The towns of Vasco Da Gama and the Mormugao port are close by. Mapusa is another town with great charm that comes alive each Friday when a local market springs up.
The largest of the churches in Old Goa, it is in the Portuguese-Gothic style with a Tuscan exterior and Corinthian interior. Its bell is one of the oldest in Goa and is called the Golden Bell. (Gallery timings: 9 am to 12.30 pm & 3 pm to 6.30 pm.)
Convent and Church of St Francis Assisi:
This old church has carved woodwork and old murals depicting the file of St Francis. The floor is made of gravestones carved with the coat of arms of families going back to the 16th century. Open from 9 am to 12.30 pm & 3 pm to 6.30 pm. The archaeological museum is open Saturday to Thursday , 10 am to 5 pm.
Basilica of Bom Jesus:
This contains the tomb and mortal remains of St Francis Xavier who was on a mission to spread Christianity in the Portuguese colonies of the East. The Professed House is next to the basilica and is a two-storeyed laterite building covered with lime plaster. Open from 9 am to 12.30 pm & 3 pm to 6.30 pm.
Church of St Cajetan:
This church was built by Italian friars who were sent to the kingdom of Golconda to preach Christianity. Since they were not allowed to work in Golconda, they settled in Old Goa in 1640.
Church of St Augustine Ruins:
This church, constructed by Augustinian friars, was abandoned in 1835 due to the repressive policies of the Portuguese government. Other buildings of interest in Old Goa are the Chapel of St Anthony, the Chapel of St Catherine and the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary.
Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception:
This is Panaji’s main church where Portuguese sailors gave thanks to Our Lady for a safe voyage.
Goa State Museum:
This is near the bus stand in Panaji. (Open from 9 am to 1.15 pm and 2 to 5.30 pm, Mondays to Fridays). It has a collection of Christian art and Hindu and Jain sculpture and Indian paintings of different styles.
Chapel of St Sebastian, Fontainhas:
This is famous for its striking crucifix which was originally in the Palace of the Inquisition in Old Goa.
Molem & Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuaries:
These are larger than Bondla Sanctuary but you will need your own transport to get there. Accommodation is available at Molem but not in the Cotigao Sanctuary.
A one-day trip from Margao, you can get to the Falls and back to Margao by late afternoon.
Shri Shantadurga Temple:
This temple, dedicated to the goddess of peace, has a pagoda-like structure and a roof made of long slabs of stone. The annual carnival held here is well worth attending to see the blend of Christian and Hindu cultures.