Considered as the epitome of Portuguese architecture, Fort Aguada was built in the 17th century to deter possible attacks on Old Goa by the Dutch and Marathas. More than 200 cannons were installed for the defense of locals. It stands proudly as the only fort which never fell to invaders thanks to its 1.3 meter wide walls that stretch to a height of 5 meter. The fort derives its name from the Portuguese term Agua which means water.
The beauty of the fort is spellbinding which gets enhanced by the lighthouse on the premises of the architectural marvel. Fort Aguada is one of the most visited tourist spots in Goa that overlooks the vast expanse of the endless blue water in front of it.
While the beauty of the spot is itself going to make anyone speechless, the other attractions are the Aguada Lighthouse and the Aguada Jail. While the former is the oldest of its kind built in 1864 as a four-storeyed structure to guide ships into safe harbor, the latter is the largest jail in Goa where accused were lodged in. Church of St Lawrence is built on the fringes of the fort as a strategy of not being shot down in close range.
It is a photographer's paradise and a nature lover's ultimate delight to find some solace and for soul-searching. It is a spot where several Bollywood movies are shot for its uniqueness in versatility. Treat yourself luxuriously with an overnight stay at the TajAguada Hotel that stands within the fort walls.
Recorded as one of the most popular and buzzing beaches, Anjuna Beach attracts tourists from all over the world. The peak seasons witness several trance parties, flea markets, and lively nightlife by the beach. It lies approximately 18 km away from Panjim, and the beach stretches for over 2 km filled with fun and frolic.
The Anjuna Beach stands out for its stunning ambiance beautifully arrayed with swaying palm trees and is marked by an outstanding envelope of white sand over black rock that extends to the sea. It is most populated by hippies from all over the world. This is the spot that encircles many of the major tourist spots including the Chapora Fort, Albuquerque mansion and St. Michael’s Church.
Anjuna Beach is popular for different water activities including jet skiing and paragliding. While the dawn and dusk are pacifying for the eyes and soul, the bright nightlife is certain to pep you up. One must try the cafes, shacks and seaside pubs to make the most of Anjuna’s exclusive nightlife. Yoga sessions and Ayurvedic massages are available on daily and weekly basis.
Anjuna is a shopaholic's true paradise for its famous flea market. You will get spoiled for choice with Gujarati, Kashmiri and Tibetan shops making Anjuna one of the most sought after places. The main attraction of these shops is that they are open and lively at night time as well – pick a souvenir or two in the form of jewelry, colorful attires and decorative items, or treat your tastebuds with local delicacies available here.
Baga Beach is the most popular beach of North Goa that is known for its water adventures and exotic nightlife. It lies in the Pearl of Orient and comes under the jurisdiction of Calangute which is 2 km from Baga Beach. Baga is located at the north end of the contiguous beach stretch that starts from Sinquerim, Candolim, leading to Calangute finally ending atBaga. It is named after the Baga Creek that gets merged into the Arabian Sea at the north end of the beach.
Baga Beach can be visited anytime of the year though October to March is the best time when the temperature of the water suits the best for swimming and other water sports. Also, during these months, the beachcombers can enjoy the spellbinding sunset.
The main attractions of the beach are the exotic location that pulls the maximum crowd, the variety of water adventures, the mesmerizing sunset and the memorable nightlife. The night market of Baga called Mackie's Night Market located in the Baga city resort is the second night market in Goa which is open every Saturday evening. A huge number of shops and stores offering handmade goods, clothings, souvenirs, jewelry, shoes, leather goods and amazingly lip-smacking food are among the major tourist attractions of Baga Beach.
Among the most popular to-dos by the travelers are the water sports like scuba diving, open water diving, jet skiing, motor boat ride, dolphin rides, river cruise and banana ride. One can also try paragliding which happens to be the best during sunset. Ayurvedic spa, massages and Yoga sessions are also available in Baga Beach to treat you from ailments like migranes, headaches, spinal therapies and more.
Basilica of Bom Jesus is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located at Old Goa around 10 km east of Panaji.It is the most famous church of Goa and one of the most revered churches by Christians worldwide. The church has been devoted to Bom Jesus or infant Jesus. The magnificent architectural edifice is a perfect example of Baroque design in Goa.
The church was constructed by Fr. Alexia de Menezes from 1594-1605. Though it is partially in ruins now, yet the construction beautifully displays a fine example of Jesuit architecture through its simplicity and elegance. The imposing portico is made of black granite that displays a unique combination of Doric, Corinthian and composite styles. It is 183 ft in length,55 ft in breath, and 61 ft in height with the main at 54 ft in height and 30 ft in breadth.
The Basilica of Bom Jesus stands out mainly for its architecture and for the mortal remains of St Francis Xavier, friend of St. Ignatius Loyola with whom he founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). The remains are in a good condition even after more than 400 years and are taken out once every decade. This church is the only one that is not plastered from the outside.
Things to do: While the mortal remains of St Francis Xavier is something one should be checking out first, the interiors as well as the exterior beauty shouldn't be missed. The floor of the church is made of marble mosaic with precious stones. The facade has triangular roofing with a delicate carving of initials IHS abbreviating for Jesuit emblem. The entire interior from floor to ceiling is embellished with the images of St. Ignatius Loyola protecting an infant Jesus.
BhagwanMahavir Wildlife Sanctuary is situated on the Western Ghats to the north of Panjim. The area was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1969 under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. The sanctuary is spread across an area of 240 sq km presenting a rich wildlife and exotic natural beauty. It is the largest protected wildlife area of Goa and is located quite near to The Molem National Park.
One has to seek permission and get tickets from the park office to enter the sanctuary. Also, it is a must to be accompanied by a guide while entering the forest to explore it. The sanctuary houses perfect vegetation exhibiting characteristics ofWest Coast tropical evergreen forests, West Coast semi-evergreen forests and moist deciduous foreststogether harboring 722 species of flowering plants that include 128 species of endemic plants.
The sanctuary is a residence of several mammals and small animals including Leopards, Elephants, Malayan Giant Squirrels, Pythons, Cobras, Indian Bison, Spotted Deer, Slender Toris, Jungle Cats and many more. The avifauna is rich with more than 120 bird species flocking here, that include few of the most endemic species of the Indian subcontinent, especially of southern India.
Devil's Canon Viewpoint is one of the best places to visit inside the sanctuary that offers a great view of the wild animals and also of the birds. One must visit the place early in the morning or at late evenings to make the most of it. Jeep safaris taking you to the interiors of the sanctuary are among the most popular activities among the tourists. Trekking is another exciting activity one must try in the forest to pump up the adrenalin rush.
Calangute Beach in North Goa is the largest beach in the region and is crowded by tourists from all over the country as well as from abroad. The peak season for the tourists to visit Calangute is during Christmas and New Year when the city is decorated to welcome the year ahead and several festivals are scheduled to bring on the party vibes in the crowd.
The sea gets rough during the monsoon, and hence swimming and other water sports are not advised. Rest of year, the beach offers several options of water sports like parasailing, water skiing, Jet ski ride and speed boats ride.
Calangute is one of the most popular beaches of Goa, and among the most crowded ones. The night life of the beach is worth mentioning filled with live music, dance, food and drinks. There are several Indian Yoga centers where you are taught how to keep your body and mind fit. Along with that, much popular are the Ayurvedic massages that replenish skin and help to treat different ailments and conditions like migraine and backaches.
The best thing to do in Calangute is to indulge in water sports activities. Jet skiing, catamaran sailing, parasailing, banana rides, surfing, bump rides, and paragliding are few of the most popular water activities that begin at sunrise and continue till 4pm. Yoga trainings and Ayurvedic massage sessions are also among the suggested ones. Apart from these, daily nightlife involving live music, drinks, food and several other entertainment. What tops the list is, however, the sunset across the beach which is pristine and not to be missed.
Also known as the “DilChahtaHai” fort, the Chapora Fort is one of the most popular tourist destinations especially among the young generation post the success of the Bollywood movie of the same name. The sunset view from the Chapora Fort is exceptionally spectacular when the Chaporariver and the beaches around get merged in the colors of sunset.
The fort was built in 1717 and has been ruled over by many rulers over varied period of time, though it was mainly tried to be won over by competitive armies of Marathas and Portuguese. The fort was mainly built as a strategy for defense purposes, ironically it fell quickly in the test for of military expertise. At present time, there are very less number of barracks and houses to be seen in comparison to what it used to be once inside the fort.
The main attraction of the tourists is the sunset along with the photography of the location which is divine under the expanse of the sunset sky. The views of the Arabian Sea and Chapora beach river offer a pleasant evening at leisure. The serenity and peace of the calm ambiance here is certain to crave for more of the spot.
Take a stroll along the Vagator beach to feel the fresh breeze of the seaside in the calm and composed location. Chapora fort is an amazingly pleasant place to wander offering you the most incredible views across the Chapora river to Pernum, south over Vagator and to the extreme West – Arabian Sea.
Colva is a beautiful beach in South Goa, famous for its white-washed Our Lady of Mercy Church built in 1630. The beach is exclusively famous for its food, pubs and bars. There are several beach shacks, budget hotels, guest houses, food stalls and posh restaurants that speak for the love for food in this particular region.
The beach is distinct for its 25 km of powder white sand that stretches upto2.4 km, with coconut palms lined along the shore. The village has its own significance to Portugal, and used to be the place where the high society of Goa came down for a change. It is also popular for its Portuguese connection that is reflected in a number of buildings exhibiting their own history, elegance and architecture.
The main attraction of Colva beach is the white-washed Our Lady of Mercy Church that houses the miraculous statue of ‘Menino Jesus’ (Baby Jesus), which is believed to have healing powers. The church was built in the mid-seventeenth century along the Mozambique coast after the wreckage of Rev Fr. Bento Ferreira and his party’s shipwreck.
While Colva beach with its white sand, swaying coconut trees and amazing food is a treat all by itself, one must witness the annual Fama festival held in October when the Menino Jesus statue is kept for public viewing. This is the only time when the statue is brought down from the triple-vault locks of the Church, dipped into river and carried in a procession. The water of this river is used for anointment and good luck by the pilgrims.
The spectacular waterfalls with the literal meaning as "Sea of Milk", the Dudhsagar Falls boasts of its breathtaking beauty in every possible way. It is located inside the BhagwanMahavir wildlife sanctuary and lies close to the Karnataka border. It is around 60 km from Panjim. The waterfall is over 1000 ft in height, and it is simply amazing to watch the streams of water falling down on the lush greenery of tropical forest.
The Dudhsagar Falls is counted among India's tallest waterfalls with a height of 1017 ft and an average width of 100 ft. It has four tiers which is the most versatile in the monsoon season. The entire trip to the waterfall is interesting and challenging right from boarding the train to trekking and finally reaching the spot.
The nearest railway station isn't a rail stop and doesn't have a proper platform. Passengers have to climb down the steep ladder from the train during a short 2 mins halt. And the rest 1 km is a walk on the tracks to arrive at the falls, which includes a 200 m dark train tunnel. The trekking route to the Dudhsagar Falls is a thrilling experience, apart from the scenic beauty at the top of the final spot.
There is not much to do here in the waterfalls spot except to trek, enjoy nature and let your adrenaline rush go up. However, if done right, trekking itself is enough to make the most of the trip to Dudhsagar Falls. There are four different trekking routes each one has its own adventurous experience. Among the most enjoyable is the trekking route that begins at Kuveshi village. The rest of the three start from Castle Rock railway station,Collem railway station or Kulhem railway station and via crossing the Mandovi River. Jeep safari is also available directly to the waterfalls.
River Mandovi Cruise is a memorable experience for the tourists one must try in Panaji. It is one of the most popular places to visit in Goa. The cruise begins fropm Santa Monica Boat Jetty and Panaji Jetty on Mandovi River and is extremely beautiful an experience especially during the sunset.
The river cruise is generally accompanied with Goan food and other cultural activities like music, dance etc. The tourists are most welcome to join the dance and music at the end of the program presented on the cruise. Most of the cruise trips are one hour ride that takes you across the Mandovi River to the Miramar Beach point.
The sunset cruise is a beautiful experience where you sit on the deck of the cruise, and enjoy the beauty of dusk while devouring on the Goan food and drinks. The dinner cruise is also enjoyable which lasts for 2 hours and offers you the dinner along with drinks. The backwater cruise from morning till late evening is another of the major tourist attraction that is arranged by Goa Tourist Dept from Santa Monica and takes you along the mangrove-lined banks of the Mandovi River, taking across a trip to Dr. Salim Ali’s Bird Sanctuary at Chorao Island.
Visit the Adil Shah Palace from the river – the first palace of Goa built by Sultan Adil Shah of Bijapur, which was later occupied by the Portuguese. Dr. Salim Ali’s Bird Sanctuary at Chorao Island is a pure bliss for bird lovers to treat their eyes and soul with. The off-shore casino ships are also among the must-try places for the tourists to try their luck at.
Palolem tops among the most beautiful beaches of Goa that attracts mainly the tourists from abroad. Its beauty lies in the fact that it is naturally shaped in a beautiful crescent which makes the tourists view the entire beach from end to end standing right at the center of the beach. The thick forest of coconut palms in far south Goa encloses the Palolem beach adding to its exquisiteness.
The beach changes in ambiance from north to south – while it is quieter and laid back in the north attracting families, the south and central part is dedicated to parties. Not just the natural ambiance, but the ocean too follows the same trend – quieter in the north and deep and restless towards the south.
Palolem is a beach for relaxation and adventure both. You can try the adventures like paragliding, dolphin spotting or fishing, or go for relaxation in a boat trip to backwater canals during high tide, or sail to an island nearby. Hiring a kayak is a good option for exploring the surrounding.
One can go try sports adventures, fishing, boating, and simply a stroll along the sea beach. Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary is a great escape from Palolem especially for the adventure lovers. And at the same time it is equally enchanting for the nature lovers. Refresh your mind with the view of fresh blue water. Go shopping to the huge array of shops selling the usual jewelry, clothes, and souvenirs, and to La Mangrove boutique that stands out for selling up-market beach fashion and accessories.
Reis Magos Fort holds importance for the fact that it is one of the most popular tourist places of Goa and is a major heritage site of the state. Built by the Portuguese Viceroy Alfonso de Noronha in 1551, it was rebuilt in 1707 and played a important role in the defense of the state against the Marathas in 1739. It was initially used by the Portuguese as a shelter for the viceroys and the dignitaries from Lisbon. But later, it was strategically used to ward off Maratha armies.
The Reis Magos Fort is comparatively smaller than other forts in Goa. Primarily used as a residence for viceroys, it was later converted into a fortress, and also served as a prison till 1993. The fort stands on a hill that is accessible via a ramp or a narrow staircase. Built of laterite stone, the fort offers a beautiful glimpse of the river Mandovi. The high sloping walls, underground rooms, passages, cylindrical turrets and other features make the fort a beautiful architectural marvel. The fort was defended by 33 guns and a small military troop, and it is well preserved and taken care of till date.
Standing close to the fort is the Reis Magos Church, the first church of Bardez. It is a beautiful construction that adds beauty to the already charming village. The church is dedicated to St Jerome and is famous for the colorful festival called “Festa dos Reis Magos” (Feast of the Three Wise Men) that is celebrated on 6th January every year.
Catch some of the most beautiful scenic beauty of the river estuary and the sea from the fort. It is beautifully maintained and a gem of a place. Do make sure to visit the fort graveyard and the Garrison Church on the way up. The gun platforms and the emplacements are also must checkouts once you visit the fort.
ShriMangueshi Temple or ShriMangesh Temple is located at a hillock in Mangeshi Village in Pondataluk, Goa. It is one of the largest and most widely visited temples in Goa. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, and Nandi Bull the vahana vehicle of Shiva, stands at the sanctuary of the temple.
The temple stands out for its exceptionally beautiful white towers, which reflect an average Goan Hind style of architecture design. There is a roomy yard that encompasses in the temple complex as a space for wedding or other religious functions. The construction of the temple began in KushasthaliCortalim, a village in Murmugao which fell to the invading Portuguese in 1543. It was later shifted to the place where it stands now, and since its shifting, there have been multiple rebuilding and renovation during the reign of the Marathas, in 1890 and finally in 1973. At the last construction , a golden kalasha was fitted atop the tallest dome of the temple.
Considered as one of the prime tourist spots of Goa, St Augustine Tower is a part of UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes the churches and convents of Goa. A total number of 12 Augustines built the Church and Monastery of St Augustine in 1572 when they arrived in Goa. However the construction was completed in 1602 AD following which the Portuguese government imposed a ban against the Augustines. The church and the convent were abandoned soon after.
The St Augustine Church is one of the greatest of the three Augustinian churches, though only the ruins of the front portion of the church and the tower stand as the proofs of the magnificent construction. The ruins of the church is also called NossaSenhora da Graca Church, and though only the remains are left, yet it is one of the most popular tourist destinations of Goa. It is mainly maintained by the Archeological Survey of India and the church services are maintained by the Archdiocese of Goa.
The remains of the church are still among the major tourist attractions of the place. The ruins of 46 m high Bell Tower attract thousands of travelers from worldwide. Though there is no bell inside the four-storeyed arched belfry tower built of laterite stone, the ruins facing the east still stands proudly as one and only of the four main towers of St Augustine Church. There are 8 ornamented chapels and 4 altars along with a convent with several cells. The bell was put up in the Fort Aguada Light House from 1841-1871 AD before putting it in the church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception at Panaji in 1871 AD. It is still in perfectly working condition.
Se Cathedral is located in Old Goa and is dedicated to the Catherine of Alexandria. It is among the ancient structures in Goa and is classically Portuguese followed by a Corinthian core and a Tuscan peripheral. The Se Cathedral was built to commemorate the triumph over a Muslim armyby the Portuguese led by Afonso de Albuquerque, which resulted in the capture of Goa by the Portuguese in 1510. The cathedral was dedicated to Saint Catherine since the day of the victory happened to be on the feast of her.
The architecture style of the cathedral is Portugese-Manueline with the exterior as Tuscan and the interior displaying Corinthian style. The church is 250 ft long and 181 ft broad while the frontispiece is 115 feet high.
There are five massive bells inside the church that account for the main attractions for the travelers. One of these is the largest named "Golden Bell"inside the tower of Se Cathedral that is popular for its rich tone. The main altar is dedicated to Catherine of Alexandria and is decorated with a number of old paintings on either side.
Do check out the Golden Bell made of an alloy of gold and several other metals. It is one of its kind and its melodic tone is something that gains the maximum popularity. The paintings on either side of the altar depicting the scenes of St Catherine's life is a must check out. Remember to be dressed properly while entering the church as exposed arms and legs are not allowed.