Goa is a Tourist Haven. From beaches, forts, wildlife sanctuaries, temples, churches, heritage houses, Latin quarter, museums to architectural marvels, just to mention a few. The list compiled below contains the top spots tourists’ can explore during their stay in Goa.
1) Old Goa
The area bloomed under the Portuguese rule until it was abandoned as the capital in 1843 due to an epidemic. The city now contains many churches and structures dating back to Portuguese rule. One of the most famous of them is the Basilica of Bom Jesus which houses the mortal remains of St Francis Xavier, the so-called Apostle of the Indies and patron saint of Goa and the ruins of an Augustinian monastery (which once housed a church dedicated to St Augustine, but all that’s left is the 46m-high tower, which served as a belfry and formed part of the church’s facade) located on Monte Hill.
Besides, the museum of Christian Art, Archaeological Museum and Portrait Gallery are worth a visit for their exquisite exhibits. Tourists can also visit the Viceroy’s arch that served as the entry point to the new Viceroys and Governors that took over the administration of Goa. This old city ‘Velha Goa’ has to be on a tourist’s list of places to visit in Goa.
2) Galgibaga beach
The specific reason for choosing Galgibaga as a top beach is for its pristine beauty and location. The journey to Galgibaga beach itself is rejuvenating. Its like entering a different realm of Goa. The area is very laid back with its natural beauty still intact.
Galgibaga beach is relatively isolated compared to other popular beaches in Goa. It serves the purpose of providing peace and solitude away from the hassels of life. Galgibaga beach is also famous for its Olive Ridley turtle nesting site, hence access to a few points maybe restricted.
There are lifeguards posted on the beach in case of emergencies. A few restaurants operate a little away from the beach, providing delicious world cuisine to the visiting tourists. Adjacent to them there are beach huts for rent.
To reach there, you can take the NH17 to Canacona, South Goa as ‘Galgibagh’ or ‘Chaudi’ is located there.
3) Mangeshi Temple
Mangeshi or ‘Mangueshi’ Temple is the most visited temple in Goa. It is dedicated to one of Lord Shiva’s avatars. The temple was originally located in Cortalim and moved into a humble structure in Mangueshi Village, Priol (Ponda Taluka)in the 16th century. The magnificent structure that stands today was designed in the 18th Century.
An exiled Goan by the name of Ramchandra Sukhtankar played an important role in promoting the renovation of the temple to the Raja of Sonda who ruled over the area as the vassal to the Maratha kings. He also persuaded the king of Sonda to donate enough land to the temple for its upkeep.
Today the temple receives scores of tourists and is easily one of the most popular places to visit in Goa.
4) Chapora fort
Not much survives today inside the defence structure except for the walls and a cross located inside the fort. Chapora fort became immensly popular among the domestic tourist after it was featured in the bollywood movie ‘Dil Chahta Hai’.
The walls of the fort provide a vantage point of the nearby areas. The view of the horizon is most popular among the visitors. The vicinity around the fort serves as a very good place for photography. It offers fantastic views north across the Chapora river to Pernem, south over Vagator and also far out to the Arabian Sea in the West.
5) Bondla Wildlife sanctuary
Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary is the smallest wildlife sanctuary in Goa and also contains a mini zoo. It acts as a jungle resort with cottages available on rent to visitors. The botanical gardens, zoo and deer safari attract visitors throughout the year. It is a very popular picnic spot among school children.
The Bondla wildlife sanctuary is 50 kms from the state’s capital and certainly worth the trip. Two Hippopotamuses, Devdas and Sarita have made the Bondla zoo their home since 2013. They have attracted quite a few spectators since their arrival.
It also offers nature trails, wild animal watch towers where one can see Gaurs, Wild Boar and Sambar at the watering holes and bird watching areas (as the sanctuary houses over a hundred bird species) where you can catch the State Bird, Ruby throated yellow bulbul or common Grey hornbill or Golden backed woodpecker.
Buildings in Fontainhas belong to the Portuguese era. It is often referred to as the ‘Latin Quarter’ in Goa. One of the reasons these buildings survive even today is because they always enjoyed good maintenance. By a law under the then Portuguese government all urban residents were asked to paint their houses soon after the monsoon season was over, a practice being followed even today as a custom.
Traditional colours like pale yellow, green, blue and white are still used to paint these houses. Architecture of the houses is the USP (Unique selling property) of this place. Single or two storied houses with tiled roof and hanging balconies, located in close proximity instantly gives you an idea of what life must have been like during the colonial days.
Today Fontainhas accommodates hotels, pubs, taverns, coffee shops, eateries etc. it has been receiving a high frequency of visitors, many of them being tourists (Domestic and foreign as well). The area is covered in heritage walks conducted in Panjim, giving the visitors a chance to fully understand the lifestyle of Goa. Fonte Phoenix, a natural spring is a must visit spot here.
These places provide a glimpse of the unusual from the usual stereotype state. Although this isn’t the ultimate list of places to visit in Goa, It may help a tourist in his choices.