Piece of Portugal on the Indian Ocean – the city of Old Goa
Practically paradise, idyllic place: sandy beaches, beautiful bays, jungles and waterfalls, palm trees and the ocean, rivers and spice plantations, all this is Goa. Easy three-letter name, known to every traveler on the planet, in fact no resort, no city and especially not an island. Goa is the smallest state in India. I say “on the coast of the ocean”, although geographically this is incorrect – the beaches of Goa are washed by the waters of the Arabian Sea.
You can spend a lifetime on vacation here, especially if you’re totally lacking in sun, heat, and fruit. But today we are going to visit one tiny slice of this state-the city of Old Goa .
If you rewind history back thousands of years, we will find mention of Goa in the Sumerians 2,000 years before Christ, in the ancient Indian empires, and even in the grand work Mahabharata, one of the world’s greatest historical epics. By the 15th century the land of Goa was part of the Vijayanagar Empire, which occupied almost all of southern India, and in 1510 the Portuguese came here.
This was, as you know, during the era of Vasco de Gama and the great discoveries. The future Viceroy of India was succeeded by the Duke of Afonso de Albuquerque, a Portuguese general, sailor, and conqueror. He founded India’s first colony – this is Goa.
What attracted Albuquerque, of course, were not beaches, rest and relaxation. The Portuguese were interested in trade routes, caravans of aromatic spices from the East and superiority at sea. They built forts with a permanent garrison in the Indian Ocean and created the largest colonial empire of the New Age.
Aguada Fortress is one of the most interesting historical sites in Goa. The red-stone citadel is spectacularly set off by a snow-white tower. The construction of the fort dates back to the beginning of the 17th century.
Old Goa, or Goa Velha, soon became the capital of Portuguese India. Missionaries arrived here along with sailors, soldiers, and merchants. Led by the future St. Francis Xavier.
The enlightenment and conversion was, as you might guess, voluntary and forced. To strengthen the faith, the most beautiful churches were built (thank you for that!), which have survived to this day. These are the Cathedral of St. Catherine and the Basilica of Jesus the Merciful. Since 1986, temples and monasteries of Old Goa are part of the World Heritage List.
Basilica of Bon Jesus, or Jesus the Merciful
St. Catherine’s Cathedral
These are examples of the unique Indo-Portuguese style of architecture. And the Cathedral of St. Catherine is also a living witness of that era: the first church was laid on November 25, 1510. The temple was consecrated in honor of St. Catherine of Alexandria, and 5 years later rebuilt, more monumentally.
Then the church was reconstructed, and in the middle of the XVI century the Portuguese Viceroy of India set about building a new, grandiose cathedral. The idea succeeded – today St. Catherine’s Cathedral in Goa is the largest Christian temple not only in India but also in all of Asia.
Its dimensions are impressive: 76 meters in length, 55 in width, the classical facade was formerly decorated with two 33-meter square towers. One tower survived to this day, the second was destroyed by lightning in the 18th century. They did not reconstruct it, limiting themselves to one tower and turning it into a bell tower.
The ringing of these bells can be heard many kilometers away. The interior of the temple is classic, with a gilded main altar and a dedication to St. Catherine. In total, there are eight chapels in the temple. Nearby is a nice well-maintained park and the Goa Archaeological Museum.
If you cross the square, you will see the beautiful baroque facade of the Basilica of Jesus the Merciful. A historical monument, a Catholic temple, and one of the architectural calling cards of such a diverse Goa, this church is impossible to miss.
The Basilica of Bon Jésus is a true unicum. It is the first church in India to be officially recognized by the Holy See as a minor basilica. It houses the relics of St. Francis Xavier, is an object of pilgrimage of Catholics, plus the monument in the list under the protection of UNESCO.
It was built at the end of the 16th century. Compared to the ornate façade, the interior decoration is quite simple. Pictures from the life of Francis Xavier, sculptures, an altar, a mausoleum with the remains of the saint. It all looks at least unusual in Indian reality.
A bit of useful information
- Getting to Old Goa is easy from any resort in the north of the state. You can take a bus or cab, or buy a tour.
- That’s what we did. It didn’t take us long to get to the city, but we got to see a lot of things in a day – elephants, waterfall and jungle, a spice plantation and a Hindu sanctuary.
- If you want to take in the colonial charm of the city properly, come for a day. There’s much left over from the Portuguese rule: mansions and villas, the Arch of the Viceroys, museums, and monuments.
And it’s all India too:)
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Beaches of North Goa
The beaches in Goa are very different from each other. Some are suitable for outdoor activities, while others will appeal to lovers of romance and silence.
Some beaches have a huge number of hotels, while others are protected by the state. In this article, we will get acquainted with the best beaches in North Goa.
Goa is the smallest state in India. A third of the state has some of the most beautiful beaches. North Goa is said to be a stronghold for dreamers and those who want to escape from the city. It all started with the hippies who came here in the middle of the last century in search of a place of paradise. Nowadays, there are also many hotels in North Goa, but there is still a special atmosphere that spreads freedom and a sense of constant celebration. In addition to the constant partying, vacationers visit the stores, restaurants, bars, and the many attractions of old Goa. And how can you do without a beach holiday surrounded by clean sea and golden sand.
This is the northernmost beach in the state of Goa. It can be called a real disappointment. The road to it leads through the mountains, which offer an extraordinary view. However, as you drive up to the beach, you see huge mountains of garbage: bottles, bags, boxes. Such a view very spoils the surrounding landscape. That is why it is always sparsely populated here.
The beach is located in the eponymous settlement. This place has become a haven for people who think outside the box: hippies, marginalized, trannies, freaks. And this is still a small part of all those who can be found on the street. But that doesn’t stop tourists from coming to Arambol.
During the season, the beach is literally packed with vacationers. Coming to this place like to come mainly tourists – savages. That is why there are many bungalows and gesthouses on the beach itself.
Mandrem is located close to Arambol, but it is radically different. There is no rush here. It is often called the quietest, most remote place in all of North Goa.
The infrastructure here is in a dilapidated state.
Of holidaymakers on Mandrem can be distinguished only by families with children. The beach is not popular with young people. Mandrem is one of the cleanest beaches in Goa. It is special because literally along the entire coastline are numerous reservoirs of hot water. The descent into the sea is gentle, devoid of stones. All these conditions are ideal for a quiet family vacation.
This picturesque place with soft sand and complete absence of rock formations. The beach is a long way from the next village and is therefore often deserted. On the beach there are several small pits, which fill with water and get very hot. Therefore, whole families like to relax on this beach.
Morjim Beach is recognized as one of the best places to relax. In addition it can be called a truly Russian beach. After all, many Russian tourists just love to come here on vacation. This is not surprising, because Morjim is surrounded by beautiful landscapes and very comfortable coastline with white sand. If you want a bird’s eye view of the beach, you can get a birds-eye view from Fort Chapora.
Morjim for many years was the quietest place in North Goa, but over time, travel companies saw it as a gold mine and began to develop the infrastructure. Every year new nightclubs, hotels and restaurants spring up here.
Vagator can be roughly divided into Small and Large. They are separated by a large hill, which took a fancy to the many tourists. It is understandable, because he offers an extraordinary view of the surrounding area. If Morjim fancied Russian tourists, Vagator is mainly visited by local residents.
This beach cannot be called suitable for swimming. The bottom of Anjuna is completely rocky, and you can’t swim far. However, the scenery is fantastic.
Anjuna Beach is recognized as a club place, the very center of the nightlife industry. Today on the beach is a huge number of nightclubs, working practically all day long.
Kalangut is recognized as the most tourist beach in India. Only here the infrastructure is at the highest level. The whole coastline is just studded with cafes, restaurants, stalls with umbrellas and sun loungers. On the beach constantly stroll masseurs and vendors. It is not uncommon to see cows on Calangute.
This is one of the busiest places, which is very liked by foreign tourists, among whom a lot of Russians.