Beaches of Goa
Beaches of Goa
North Goa is the state’s wild child. If you’re looking for where the buzz is, stay here, close to one of the rollicking beaches so well-known for their water sports, sands, and carnival-like atmosphere. Several luxury and heritage resorts dot the coast here. Foremost of these is the historical Fort Aguada, its ramparts originally built by the Portuguese in 1612. The legendary Anjuna Beach has a lovely Goan vibe; this is where the Flea Market – begun in the 1970s by hippies – thrives week after week, every Wednesday. Other popular stretches are the Arambol, Baga, Calangute, Candolim, Miramar-Dona Paula, Mandrem-Ashwem, Morjim, Vagator (dominated by the magnificent Chapora Fort), and Coco beaches.
However, if its peace and a gentle lull you’re seeking, then the sands of South Goa are where you must string your hammock up on. Colva is South Goa’s most charming beach. The Church of Our Lady of Merces was built here in 1586 and famously houses a statue of the Menino (infant) Jesus, said to have been discovered on the African coast! Nearby Benaulim is even more tranquil and makes for a lovely holiday spot; more southerly Varca-Fatrade and Mobor-Cavelossim are immensely picturesque and boast pristine sands, a rare joy in beach destinations; Velsao, Sernabatim, and Agonda are especially for the solitude seekers; pretty Bogmalo offers a comprehensive water sports experience, as does Utorda; Palolem is one of Goa’s most beautiful stretches; for a truly fallen-off-the-radar experience, though, you must veer away from the larger luxury stands to the little explored sands of Majorda and Arossim.
The crowning glory of Mollem is the milky Dudhsagar (literally translating to ‘sea of milk’) waterfall. At its most magnificent during and just after the monsoon season, the waterfall gushes down from an impressive height of 310 metres, its sparkling white waters splitting into three streams as they pour over the near-vertical cliff face, cascading against the rocks. The roaring water flows down into Devil’s Canyon, a rock formation criss-crossed by underwater passages. (Due to the immense turbulence in the water, the area is considered dangerous for swimming).
Beginning on the Deccan plateau in Karnataka, the River Mandovi winds its way through the Western Ghats and plummets over the highest peaks on the border of Goa and Karnataka – to form the Dudhsagar Falls. The waters form a deep green pool at the base of the falls, before continuing westward to join the Arabian Sea.
Beginning from Collem Station, the 18-km hiking route to the Falls is a trekker’s delight, leading partly through the Sanctuary. Alternatively, one can hire a jeep with a driver to get closer in; however, there will still be a walk to reach the base of the Falls.
Dense deciduous to evergreen forests around the Falls are the perfect habitat for diverse wildlife such as the bison, monkey, panther, deer, porcupine, wild boar, sloth bear, jungle cat, flying squirrel, giant squirrel, flying lizard, pangolin, and several stunning species of snakes and birds.
Old Goa (Velha Goa)
Old Goa (Velha Goa)
Once known as Goapuri, Old Goa was a flourishing, prosperous port of the Bahmani Sultanate, before Afonso de Alberquerque conquered it in 1510 and made it the capital of Goa and the administrative seat of Portuguese India. From here, the Portuguese traded across continents, till the 19th century, when they shifted their seat to Panaji.
Considered an invaluable cultural treasure, the glorious Portuguese-era churches, cathedrals, and convents of Old Goa are together inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
St Francis’ Tomb at the venerable Basilica de Bom Jesus is even now the foremost of Christian pilgrimage destinations in the East. For this is where Goencho Saib (Lord of Goa, the appellation used to address St Francis Xavier) is interred. Built of red laterite bricks, the Basilica was completed in 1605. St Francis arrived in Goa in 1542 and established the Jesuit headquarters here. He is the patron saint of the state’s Catholic community.
Across the square sits Velha Goa’s oldest cathedral – the Se Cathedral, dedicated to St Catherine of Alexandria. Completed in 1652, it was built to represent the wealth, fame, power, and glory of the 16th century Portuguese rulers.
The Church of St. Francis of Assisi, Chapel of Saint Catherine, Church of Saint Catejan, Saint Anne's Church, Church of Saint Augustine (now in ruins), Church of Lady of Rosary, Church of Our Lady of Mount, Church of Saint John of God, Royal Chapel of St. Anthony, Museum of Christian Art, and the Archaeological Museum of Goa are some of the other noted sites here.