Old Goa is situated around 9km east of Panjim, the capital of Goa. The churches in this part of the state are amongst the most well-known of places to see while visiting the area. History states that Old Goa was the capital of Portuguese India from the 16th to the 18th century, when numerous trade transactions were carried out across continents. The 18th century plague epidemic drove many foreigners out, but fortunately the unique culture of Goa is still intact in the form of its numerous majestic churches that give one a fine agenda for things to do in Goa.
Some of the most reliable tourist facilities in Goa are provided by the government-owned Goa Tourism Development Centre (GTDC), which runs quite a few decent hotels and often churns out excellent tour packages. The best way to plan your travel is to check into a hotel in Panjim and travel out to Old Goa after doing some research.
Sights to See While Visiting Goa
Basilica of Bom Jesus and Se Cathedral
The first stop while visiting the area is to see the two most famous churches: Basilica of Bom Jesus and Se Cathedral. St. Francis Xavier’s remains can be found at the Basilica of Bom Jesus. Towards the exit of this church is an art gallery that showcases the golden history of the church. It was the first church to be designated as a minor basilica in India in the 1940s. Right opposite to this church is the Se Cathedral on the other side of the road.
Mandovi River Cruises
Mandovi is one of the rivers that dissects through Goa and has a very pleasant aura. Due to its location (close to the sea it drains into) it offers a very beautiful view of the sunset. Most tourists who try out river cruises end up rating this activity as a must-do. There are many cruise boats, with a couple of well-known ones being Santa Monica and Paradise. Cruises are available for 6pm, 7:15pm (sundown) and 8:45pm (dinner). These boats have a lot to offer in terms of entertainment and fine dining. Tickets can be bought well in advance at their respective offices in Panjim. Also there are numerous hotels with rooms that overlook the Mandovi River.
Church of St. Cajetan and Church of St. Francis of Assisi
Apart from the above, other places of interest are the Church of St. Cajetan, built by friars from Italy when they were posted to Golconda, India, and the Church of St.Francis of Assisi. This church is really special for its numerous murals and paintings depicting St. Francis’ life, and the wood carvings here are one-of-a-kind. There is an archaeological museum here that beautifully portrays the history and the meaning behind these marvelously constructed churches. There is an entry fee for the museums though the churches remain entry fee-free.
This post was submitted by Chandralekha Singh. She is passionate about writing destination travel guides and travel tips like this one on Goa tourism. She is currently working with ixigo.com, an online India Travel Guide.