Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Vasco da Gama -- The headquarters of Mormugoa taluka

The headquarters of Mormugoa taluka was named after Vasco da Gama, the discoverer of sea route to india. Also known as Vasco, the town is set on the western tip of the Mormmugoa peninsula overlooking the left bank of the mouth of River Zuari. Vasco first came under the Portuguese rule in 1543 and went on to become one of the busiest ports of India’s western coast. In 1684, due to the increasing threats of Maratha invasion over old Goa, the women folk and non-combatant men were shifted here for safety. Th construction of the town was finally completed in the late 18th century, as the residential and commercial portion of Mormugoa Port, which by then had become Goa’s major harbour.

Reaching There

Airport: Dabolim (4 Kms)

Railhead: Connected by rail
Road: Vasco is well connected by road and is 30 kms from Panaji.

Around Vasco-Da-Gama

Mormugoa ( 4 Kms): Mormugoa is an important commercial port town on the western coast of india.
Mormugoa Harbour: This natural harbour is one of the finest anchorages on the western coast. Several steamers and vessals can be seen anchored in the stream, which carry the iron ore and bauxite mined from the hills of Goa. Ferry service ply from Mormugoa to Dona Paula across Zuari river. From the bay relics of 17th century Portuguese fort, chapel and colonial villas nestled atop a promotory can be seen.

Hansa Beach: It lies inside the Naval base(INS Hansa)
Mormugoa Fort: The fort overlooking the harbour is now in ruins and only parts of the ramparts and a small chapel are visible.
Pilot Point: It lies at the base of the Old Mormugoa fort and affords a fine view of the river Zuari, Dona Paula and Mormugoa Harbour.
Dabolim( 4 Kms)
Dabolim has the only airport of Goa, which is actually a naval aviation base and houses the headquarters of the Indian Navy’s aviation arm, as well as the Museum. During the Navy week(end of Nov to early Dec) the base is opened for tourists and spectacular aviation shows are held here
Bogmalo ( 6 Kms)
The silvery beach just 4 kms. south of the Dabolim airport is dominated by the huge building of Park Plaza Resort. It has watersports facilities like windsurfing, water-skiing etc. A small diving school has been opened here, which is one of few PADI- approved institutes in india. It operates from Joet’s Guest house

Monday, November 30, 2009

Margoa - Second most important city of Goa

This second most important sity of Goa was a major religious and educational centre, well known for its numerous wealthy temples. But its glorious heritage was destroyed when the portuguese took over the area into their ‘Novas Conquistas’ during the 17th century. The portuguese influence can still be seen in its imposing old mansions, which are considered to be the finest examples of Portuguese architecture in entire Goa. The city is also a shoppers delight and the weekly Friday fairs held here are very intresting and popular.

Church of the Holy Spirit: The church at old Market Square was built in 1675 and is considered to be the finest examples of Baroque archtecture in India.

Largo de Igreja or Main Church Square: Some of the grandest Portuguese mansions built in Spanish and Colonial architecture can be seen here. These are noted for spacious terraces, patios and red tiled sloping roofs.

Damodar Temple: Famous for the Dindi Festival.

Reaching there

Airport: Dabolim
Railhead: Margoa
Road: Margoa lies on NH 17 and is 33 Kms from Panaji.

Around Margoa:
Loutulim (9 Kms): This peaceful village is a fine place to explore the Gaon countryside. Some Grand old houses built in Gaon country house archtecture are noteworthy.

Ancestral Goa (Big Foot) : This center for art, culture, and environment has a mock village setup amidst eco friendly surroundinngs to illustrate a cross-section of Gaon village life as it wass a hundred years ago. It exhibits Goa’s lifestyle and heritage as well as daily vilage activities and folk culture. Local artefacts and handicrafts are avaialble at the handicraft centre and art gallery. The legend of Big Foot is narrated here, which says that if you place your foot on the rock embedded foot print, with a pure heart, the lady luck will smile at you. A 14*5 metre sculpture of saint poetess mira bai playing her ektara is quite intresting. It is the countrys longest laterite monolithic sculpture and was sculpted Greco-Roman style.

Chandor (13 Kms): This small village is noted for its spledit villas, farmhouses and shady tree-lined lanes. It is also the site of ancient Chandrapur, the capital of Kadamba dynasty.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sun, Sand and Sea in Goa

I am a complete water baby. I am the happiest when I am near the sea. I find the expanse of the ocean both fascinating and intriguing. The treasures it holds within itself, the sound of the waves hitting the shore are all so amazing. One day I’d like to have a house that opens up to the sea and I can wake up in the morning and just walk down to the beach barefeet. My favourite holiday spot has always been Goa. It’s a place I went to when I was much younger, with my family, cousins, and it was our idea of a perfect holiday. And it has remained the same since then.

If you are a beach lover, Goa is definitely the place to go to. It has all the elements that make some of the well-known beaches in the world a tourist haven. Although I am somebody who likes going to Goa during the season, which is around November to March, going to Goa during monsoon has its own advantages. The place is stunningly pleasant when it rains, the lush greens are enchanting and since the place is quiet, you can have your peace. Having said that, I like the buzz when tourists from all over the world come to Goa and it wears a very global village look.

I hear people saying that it’s too crowded and losing its charm, but I don’t think so at all. There are still some quiet beaches in the South for those who want that kind of serenity. And then there is Panjim, the capital, which is like any other old town in the world — quaint and charming. I like walking through the narrow lanes of Panjim, looking at the old villas and churches when I want a day away from the beach. But that doesn’t happen often as I am most often on the beaches, soaking in the sun.

I spend most of my day on the beach and read a book, go for a swim, come back and read some more, and the day continues. You somehow never seem to get bored of that even if it might sound like another routine. And each trip I have made to Goa, I like to go and sit in a different shack, and go to that same one each day during the trip. So I have made friends with the guys who work at this shack. They are really friendly and warm people. People here in general are very warm, chilled out and fun loving, which adds to the attraction of the place.

I am a complete foodie and prawn curry rice is my absolute favourite. I can have it at a shack or go to a fancy restaurant and gorge on it. And who doesn’t love the ambience and scrumptious sea food at Britto’s, a perennial favourite. After hanging out all day on the beach, it’s fun to dress up and go out for dinners in the evening and if your heart fancies, go out clubbing to some of the best nightclubs in the country.

Goa has music running through its system, so be it at clubs where they play amazing music, to restaurants where musicians play live, you can tap your feet and shake your head to the beats. I always buy music that you somehow get only in local stores or flea markets here. And whenever there is a live concert, mostly for trance or lounge music, you will find the who’s who of Mumbai attending.

Shopping is fun in Goa, from flea markets to local talented designers; you get what you want here. It’s a place you will never have enough of no matter how many times you have been there.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ponda -- The Commercial town

This busy commercial town is experiencing an economic boom due to its proximity with some large iron-ore mines of the state. Around Ponda are a number of important Hindu shrines set amidst lush landscape full of swaying palms, numerous spice plantations and the wildlife sanctuaries of East Goa. Portuguese could not accupy Ponda for nearly two and a half centuries, after their arrival in Goa. Thus, it became a haven for the Hindus, who escaped the Inquisition in the Old Conquests(Velhas Conquistas) and crossed the river to settle down here. It came under the Portuguese in 1791, by then they had become more tolerant towards other religions.

Ponda Fort: It was originally built by Adil Shahi rulers and was destroyed by the Portuguese in 1549. Shivaji conquered the town in 1675 and rebuilt the fort and was again destroyed by the portuguese. Within the fort ruins lies the mausoleam of saint Ghazi Abdullah Khan Shaheed.

Safa Masjid: Safa or the Shahouri was built in 1560, by Ibrahim Adil shah of Bijapur and is best preserved Muslim monument of Goa.

Reaching There:
Airport: Dabolim (45 Kms)
Railhead: Karmali ( 17 Kms)
Road: Ponda lies on NH4A that connects Panaji to Belgaum. Panaji ( 28 Kms) & Margoa(17 Kms)

Around Ponda:

Shri Shantadurga Temple, Kevlem( 3 kms)
This largest and most popular temple of Goa was built in 1713 and dedicated to Shantadurga, a manifestation of Parvati or Durga. According to mythological legends. Once Lord Vishnu and Shiva were engaged in a fierce battle. At the insistence of Lord Brahma, the Goddess Jagadamba appeared and calmed the fiery combatants. Thus the Goddess came to be known as Shatadurga or peace-maker.

The beautiful pagoda likje temple is peculiar to Goa, as it is Neo-Classical in design with distinct influence of European architecture. In front of the entrance is the six storeyed deepmal or Lamp Tower. Marble has been used extensively in the interiors of the temple fine chandeliers add to the beauty of the shrine. A pair of dwarpals(guardian dieties) embossed on the silver screen flank the Garbhakuda or the holy of Holies, where an impressive idol of Shantadurga stands between the images of Vishnu and Shiva.

Shri Mahalakshmi Temple, Bandode( 4 Kms)
It is considered to be the abode of the original Goddess of the Shakti cult. The stone plagues found in the temple indicate that the shrine has been in exixtence since 1413. The temple was rebuilt in 1913, but the old outline and the architectural style was retained. The unique image of Mahalakshmi has a representation of linga on her head and it is considered a peaceful or Satwik form of the Goddess.

Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Velinga( 5 Kms)
It is one of the most picturesque temples located around Ponda. The idol of presiding diety, Lakshmi-Narasimha devta was brought here from Salcete in 1567.

Shri Mahalsa Temple, Mardol( 7 Kms)
It lies just 1 Kms south of Mangueshi temple along the panaji – ponda road and is dedicated to Mohini, a female attribute of Lord Vishnu. The beautiful temple was constructed in 1567 and a seven storeyed deepmal or lamp , made of five metal(panchalayi). This dip stambha is considered to be the largest of its knid in the world and symbolizes the mythological churning of sea.

Shri Manguesh Mandir( 7.5 kms)
The temple is dedicated to Shri Manguesh, a manifestation of Lord Shiva, is one of the most important Hindu shrines of Goa. The present shrine situated at the side of the hill was built in 1565 and enlarged in the mid – 18th century. Its archtecture reflects typical Gaon style, with Christian and Muslim influences. The courtyard has a 7-storeyed deepdaan or the Lamp tower, which is undoubtedly , the most impressive in Goa. The majestic white tower at the entrance is a special feature of Hindu temples of Goa. The interior is illuminated with graceful chandeliers, which is quite unlike Hindu temples and gives a church like appearence. The Manguesh linga is placed in the main silver sanctum, flanked by a solid gold idol and is illuminated by oil lamps. There are also shrines dedicated to Lakshmi Narayan, Sattiti and Mulkeshwar behind the main temple.

Keri ( 8 Kms)
This typical Gaon Village is endowed with exceptional scenic beauty and has a rich heritage in Ayurveda, Indian classical music as well as cottage industries. The Vaidya family, has been practicing the Ayurveda for generations.

The parvati Madhav plants Park, Arya Cashew Products Factory, Laterite stones mines and Sri Vijayadurga Temple are worth visiting sites.

Bondla Sanctuary ( 20 Kms)
This small sanctuary covers an area of 8 sq. Kms in the lush foothills of Western Ghats. It is a major attraction for nature lovers as well as children. There is also a mini Zoo, Deer Safari Park, Gardens, Botanical Gardens and Eco-Tourism Cottages.

Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary, Molem ( 28 Kms)
The Sanctuary set in the foothills of pictuesque Western Ghats is spread across 240 sq. kms of semi-evergreen and moist deciduous forest dotted with clearings and grasslands and ocassional tribal village. Key fauna -gaur, sambar, spotted deer, slender loris, jungle cat, leopord and monkey. Molem lies on the NH 4A, about 53 kms, from panaji and 54 kms from Margoa. Colem (6 kms) is the nearest railhead. The famous Tambdisurla temple is just 13 kms from here. The mangalore – margoa journey on the Konkan Railway provides excellent view of the silvery Dudhsagar falls.

Dudhsagar Waterfalls: The fabulous falls to the south-east of molem lie within the bhagwan Mahavir Sanctuary and are the second highest falls of the country. A tributary of the Mandovi river plunges down majestically from a height of 603 m and creates a foaming torrent that splits into three streams which cascades downa near-vertical cliff face into a deep green pool full of lush foliage. The bast time to visit the falls is just after the monsoons, from Oct to Mid dec.

The Devils Canyon at the base of the falls , is a very charming spot with a deep pool formed between the step sided rocks. it is also an excellent site to view wildlife.

The best way to visit the falls is by the train from Vasco to Londa. It stops at Dulhasagar station, from where you can walk back down the line through a small path which leads to the falls. The train stops at the Collem railhead, to pickup passengers for the trip to the waterfalls. The railway line from Vasco to Londa crosses the mountainside and one can enjoy the great view of the falls from the window of the train

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Panaji - The Capital city of Goa

Panaji, the capital city of Goa sprawls along the southern bank of the river mandovi and is dominated by a wooded hill, called Altinho. This well planned town is noted for its beautiful red-roofed houses in Latin style and a network of streets laid out at right angles, which are lined with gulmohor, acassia and other ornamental trees. the area between the bus terminal and town centre is marked by the church square and the municipal garden and is indeed the most pleasant part of panaji.
Secretariat Building (Idalco Palace): It occupies the site of the castle built by Yusuf Adil Shah of Bijapur in 1510 and is the oldest building in this part of Goa. The Portuguese rebuilt the castle in 1615, to defend the mouth of the river Mandovi. The fort became the official residence of the Viceroy in 1759, which was shifted to Cabo Raj Bhawan in 1918. In 1843, the secretariat was shifted here and now it houses the passport office.

Statue of Abbe Faria: The bronze statue of Abbe Faria, located next to the secretariat is an important landmark of Goa. It portrays Faria, regarded as the ‘Father of Hypnotism’ in an act of mesmerizing a woman patient.
Church of the Lady of Immaculate Conception: This imposing church at the main square in the heart of the town was originally built in 1540 and was rebuilt from the foundation in 1619.It is modeled on the church of Reis Magos and has tall twin towers in Portuguese Baroque style.

Municipal Gardens: The well laid out garden at the city centre has an ashoka pillar at its centre.

Jama Masjid: The domeless mosque lies just south of Municipal Gardens. It was built by Suleiman Shet and Aba Shet, about 200 years ago and was recently renovated.
Azad Maidan: It is the venue for flower shows and also has a small pavilion where modern Indian sculptures are displayed.

Menezes Braganza Institute & Central Library: It is located to the north-west corner of Azad Maidan and was established in 1871, as a scientific and literary institute. The institute also has a small art gallery, which displays some rare points and paintings. The central Library at the lower floor of the building was set up in 1832 and is the oldest public library in India.
State Archeology Museum: It was initially located at st. Iniz and has now been shifted at Patto Plaza. The museum has about 8000 exhibits, which includes sculptures, wooden articles, bronzes, paintings, manuscripts, numismatic collection etc.
Sculpture Gallery: It has Hindu carvings and bronzes dating back to 4th century. Other places of interest at Panaji are – Astronomical observatory, Christian Art Gallery, Mahalakshmi temple, fountainhas, Chapel of St Sebastian etc.
Old Goa:

The former capital and the principal city of Portuguese eastern empire was known as the ‘rome of the east’ and the ‘Pearl of the Orient’. It is set on the southern bank of Mandovi river and is an splendid showcase of the massive and overpowering Portuguese presence in India. Old Goa is studded with majestic cathedrals and monuments, reflecting the rich history and glory of the bygone era. The impressive monuments of Old Goa are considered to be the finest examples of Renaissance architecture in the world. A visit to Goa is rendered incomplete without visiting this religious historic town.

Main Square & Se Catedral.

Archeological Museum & Portrait Gallery

Chapel of St Catherine

Basilica of Bom Jesus

Viceroys Arch

Gateway of Adil Shah’s Palace.

Church of St. Cajetan
Around Panaji:

Aguada Fort( 18 kms.)

It was built by the Portuguese in 1609-1612, to guard the entry into the river Mandovi. Today, it hoses the central jail. A light house is located nearby.

Dona Paula(9 kms)

It is set on the scenic headland between the Zuari and Mandovi estuaries and is named after Dona Paula de Menzes, whose tombstone can be seen at the chapel in Cabo. The site is associated with various myths of Dona Paula and has earned the epitaph of ‘Lovers Paradise’. The delightful Dauna Paula Bay, where Goas two most famous rivers Zuari and Mandovi meet the Arabian sea, is an important tourist attraction. One can enjoy picturesque view of the Zuari estuary and Moemugoa harbour.

Ferry service is available between Dona Paula Jetty and Mormogoa, except during the monsoons.Water-scooter and boat rides here are very popular amond the tourists. Near the ferry Jetty on a small outcrop of a rock is the beautiful sculpture of a couple named ‘Image of India’, made by Baroness Yrsa von Leistner. On the westernmost tip of the peninsula is Cabo Raj Bhavan, the official residence of the Governer of Goa. The famous Institute of Oceanography is located nearby.

Miramar Beach(Gaspar Dias)(3 kms)
The lovely golden beach beyond a small forest attracts a large number of locals and tourist. It is not ranked among the safe beaches for swimmers.
Mapusa(13 kms.)
It is one of the most important towns of northern Goa, especially for the tourist holidaying on the beaches of northern Goa.Mapusa is 45 kms from Dabolim airport, on the Mumbai-Goa National highway 17 and is an important junction. Mapusa Rd. railhead lies on the Konkan Railway.

Pilar(11 kms)

It was an important religious and educational centre of Christian Missionaries. The Church, Seminary and school perched atop a hillock affords a panoramic view of the Mormugoa Harbor, Zuari river and scenic countryside.
Dr. Salim Ali Bird Santuary(3 kms)
The beautiful santuary sprawls over an area of 1.78 sq.kms.on the south-western tip of Chorao Island along Mandovi River. It is covered by lush mangrove vegetarian criss-crossed by a network of tributaries and inland streams. Although small in size, the santuary plays host to several species of local as well as migratory birds and is aptly named after Dr. Salim Ali, Indias most celebrated ornithologist. It can be easily reached from the Ribandar ferry wharf in Panaji. After crossing over on the Ribandar – Chorao ferry, one has to walk to reach the santuary. Taking a boat tour on a canoe fitted with an outboard motor is very exciting..

Friday, November 20, 2009

South Goa Beaches

South goa is also endowed string of beautiful beaches. The beach journey can be commenced from Margoa which is a railway Junction..

Majorda: The tranquil beach has some excellent beach complexes.

Betalbatim: It lies to the south of Majorda, near the famous Colva beach.

Colva: This beautiful beach is 6 Kms west of Margoa. It is also known for the Church of our lady of Mervy.
Benaulim: the tranquil beach is hust 2 kms south of Colva and 4 Kms from Margoa. Benaulim village is also famous for exquisitely carved wooden furniture.

Varca & Cavelossim: The fine coastline extending for about 10 kms south of Benaulim beach is dotted with some charming beaches.

Mobor: The Salestuary meets the sea over here.

Betul: It is 22 kms from Margoa.
Agonda: This picturesque beach flanked by lush hills is 7 kms from Chaud and 14 kms south of Cabo da Rama.
Palolem: The secluded palm fringed beach flanked by hills is the one of the most enchanting spots on goa. It is about 37 kms from Margoa.
Galjibaga Beach: It lies towards the south bank of Talpona river.
Polem: It is the southern most beach of Goa, about 30 kms south of Chaudi. The solitary beach is a strip of smooth white sand and is very clean. It is visited regularly by dolphins and fish eagles.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

North Goa Beaches

A 30 Kms, stretch of beautiful beaches starting northwards from fort Agauda near panaji has made Goa a popular tourist destination
Sinquerim: It is 16 Kms from panaji and the first among the string of beaches starting from Fort Aguada. Taj Groups Fort aguada Resorts are located here.
Candolim: The Sinquerim-Candolim beach stretch is dotted with excellent resorts.
Calangute:: The ‘Queen of Goan Beaches’ is the most commercial and busy beach resorts.
Baga: Beautiful Baga is a continuation of Calangute and is bounded by a wooden escarpment in the north and a fresh rivulet merges into the sea here. Baga is 18 Kms from Panaji and 10 Kms west of Mapusa.
Anjuna: The most interesting and exciting part of Goas coastline begins beyond the baga river from Anjuna onwards. Cool waves washing the white sands of the shores, lined with palm trees presents one of the most fascinating views.
Vagator: The beautiful beach is about 22 Kms  from panaji, is Northern half faces a bay which curves from the headland to the hillock crowned by the chapora fort.
Chapora: The beach amidst dense coconut palms is dominated by the Chapora Fort.
Arambol(Harmal): This Unique beach is a rocky as well as a sandy beach . There is also a fresh water lagoon, extending right up to the shore. The banks of the lagoon are lined by hot springs.
Querim: Virgin white sand and foamy beach is fringed with fir trees.

Goa Carnival

The  carnival is celebrated in various European and Latin American countries, but in Asia it is held only in Goa. The Portuguese are credited to bring the carnival to Goa, which marks the start of the Lenten season, a time of fast and abstinence. Formerly, it was celebrated as a Family festival, but the Carnival in its present form started after the Portuguese left Goa. The three day colorful festival of fun and frolic opens up with a huge procession through the streets of Panaji. Colorful floats mounted on buses, trucks, trailers and giant flatbeds depict various interesting themes. The floats are accompanied by dances, parades and rhythmic beats of goan and western music. The Float of King Memo, the lord of the carnival and his court is the main attraction of the Carnival.
The Carnival has become an important tourist attraction of Goa and a large number of tourists come here to enjoy the celebrations. Earlier, the parade used to end at the panaji Church and participants attended the first Lenten service at the Church. But after the church raised objections, this ceremony is conducted at the Azad Maidan. On the whole the carnival festival is a gala time for the Goans and is the best time to visit Goa.

River Cruises of Goa

The river cruises run by the Goa Tourism (GTDC) on the Mandovi river are a must for every visitor. There are different kinds of cruises – daytime, sunset and moonlight. The two types of day cruises ply from the Panaji jetty, down the Mandovi into the Zuari bay and up the Mandovi to Aldona and a mineral water spring. Some private operators also offer a variety of cruises or boat tours for sunset views as well as for crocodile or dolphin spotting. GTDC operates three launches – Santa Monica a luxury launch built on twin hull is the pride of GTDC. it is used for daily evening cruises with live cultural programmes performed by the best cultural troupes of Goa.


Gorgeous Goa, the tiny tropical paradise tucked away on the western coast of the Indian peninsula is endowed with exceptional scenic beauty and rich cultural heritage. Goa has lured mankind since time immemorial, it was referred as ‘Goyam’ by the ‘Mundaris’, one of the oldest tribes of the world. The Aryans named it the ‘Garden of Shepherds’, while the enraptured European travelers called it the ‘Goa Dourada’ or the ‘Golden Goa’. This Former Portuguese enclave presents a rare blend of occidental and oriental cultures. The Western influence is quite evident in various facets of Goan lifestyle that abounds with Indian Mythology. The very Name Goa, spells sun, sea, sand and socegado (feelings of peace and fun). Its pristine beauty is quite in ebriating, everything is so special and unique that no visitor can escape the magical charm of Goa. With the coast line extending for about 125 kms and a stretch of about 83 kms of silvery palm-fringed beaches. the state has emerged as a virtual paradise for the nature lovers and water sports enthusiasts. The state is also dotted with ancient forts, ruins, mansions, churches, temples, and tombs etc. The numerous fairs and festivals as well as the weekly markets show cases the rich cultural heritage of the region. As one reaches this colorful state, what strikes you first is the easy going, fun loving, free and tolerant Goan life style. The Impact of Portuguese rule is distinctly evident. Goans are very proud of their culture and their love for music, dance, food and festivities is legendary.