Maruti Temple

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In the middle of the market town of Mapusa is a pretty pastel coloured temple which is dedicated to Lord Maruti, better known as Hanuman, the monkey god of the Hindu pantheon. The temple itself is more than 150 years old and was constructed by the people themselves.

Timings

The temple is open for worshippers all days of the week from 6am to 8pm. Please note that it is customary to cover one’s head and remove one’s shoes when entering places of worship.

History

The history of this place of worship is an interesting one. For many years, under the Portuguese regimen there was no temple in Mapusa as they did not encourage worship of other religions. One day the travelling sage Ramdasibuva came to Mapusa in 1842. He took up residence in the guesthouse and would conduct pujas chanting Bhajans (devotional songs) in praise of Lord Maruti, son of the Wind God, and worship his picture.

The devotees quietly placed this picture of Hanuman in a humble fireworks shop and conducted their worship under a veil of secrecy, after Sri Ramdasibuva left. The sage returned the following year bearing with him a silver idol of the deity which he then gifted the Mapusa people.

The people then acquired the land on which the fireworks shop sat, and thereupon built the temple which still stands today. The idol was placed in the temple facing south, as that is where it is believed evil spirits enter from, and Hanuman is the protector god who would protect his devotees from the evil spirits.

Art and Architecture

The temple building itself shows all the hallmarks of Indian temple architecture of that period. The temple was built in stages thanks to the sponsorship of the local business communities. There are entrances to the north and the south, although the idol of the deity faces south.

The floors are made of the finest marble and the temple has a richly carved doorway, cast in silver, which is a tribute to the skill of the local artisans. On the north side of the temple reposes a carved teak wood palanquin, which is used to carry the idol in procession on feast days.

This temple, like many others in Goa is a testament to the devotion of the people especially in the face of the opposition that they faced from the colonists.

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Lakshmi Narasimha Temple

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The Lakshmi Narasimha temple, also known as the Anant Narasimha temple is unique in that it is the only temple dedicated to Lord Anant in the state of Goa. It is also unlike the other temples in the state due to its simple exteriors with its tiled pyramid roof and lack of domes. However, the interior of the temple is adorned with intricate wooden carvings and colorful relief work

Location

The Lakshmi Narasimha temple is located in the village of Veling in the Ponda Taluka of North Goa. It is about 45km from the state capital of Panaji.

Timings

The Anant Narasimha temple is open to the public from 9.30am to 1.30pm and again from 4.30pm to 7.30pm all the days of the week. However the temple authorities might not allow people in who are not appropriately dressed (heads covered) or those who they feel might disturb the worshippers and devotees.

Deity

The Lakshmi Narasimha temple is dedicated to Lord Narasimha who is the 4th avatar of Lord Vishnu. In this avatar he is anthropomorphic in that he has the head of a lion and the body of a man albeit with lion’s claws. Ananta refers to the Shesha-naga or celestial snake upon whose body Lord Vishnu reclines. Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth and the consort of Lord Vishnu.

History

This temple was originally located in the Salcette Taluka of South Goa. However the idols were relocated to their current location in 1567, during the time of the Portuguese rule of Goa. The current temple building can be dated back to 1923 although the interiors appear much older and display a number of artistic and intricate wooden carvings and inlays of precious metals characteristic of the 18th century work by Goan artisans.

Architecture and Interiors

The temple is deceptively simple on the outside. Having a pyramid shaped, tiled roof and no outer adornment or domes as are popular in temple architecture it conveys a sober and unassuming appearance. The interior of the temple, however, is richly decorated with wooden carvings and painted in all the colours of the rainbow. The carvings are inlaid with precious metals and the entire temple appears to glow.

The idol of Lord Vishnu in his Narasimha avatar is extremely unique. It depicts the god reclining upon the body of the Shesha-naga, or celestial serpants, while the thousand hooded heads of the serpant form an umbrella-like structure over the god’s head. Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and cleanliness, who is the consort of Vishnu is depicted washing her lord’s feet. The entire idol had been carved out of black stone.

Significance

The intervention of Lord Anant Narasimha is sought by his devotees in the following aspects of life :

  • Fame
  • Freedom from diseases
  • Wealth
  • Courage
  • Relief from adverse effects of bad planetary aspects
  • Relief from bondage

This temple is well worth a visit especially since it is located in the Shantadurga temple complex and a visit here can be combined with a visit to some of the other temples in the vicinity.

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Devaki Krishna Temple

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The ancient origins of the Devaki Krishna temple far predate the existing structure that houses the idols at Marcel. This temple is unique in that it is the only one in all of India that depicts Lord Krishna with his mother Devaki. The other deities in the complex include Bhumika Devi, Laxmi Ravalnath, Mallinath, Katyayani, Chodaneshwar and Dhada Shankar.

Where to Go

The Devaki Krishna temple is located in the village of Marcel, also known as Mashel which is in the Ponda Taluka of North Goa about 17km away from the capital city of Panaji.

When to Go

The Devaki Krishna temple is open every day from 6.30am to 1.30pm and again from 3.00pm to 8.30pm. Aartis are performed daily at 12.30pm and 8.30pm.

The temple is open to visitors throughout the year and also has accommodations for those who wish to make a longer pilgrimage to the shrine. The festival of Chikal Kalo is celebrated in a major way at the grounds near the temple complex and is a fun monsoon festival to experience.

History

The original site of the temple was on the island of Chorao (then Chodan) in the Mandovi river. The insurgence of the Portuguese forced the devotees to remove the idol from there between 1530 and 1540. The deities were then relocated to Mayem. They only came to be in Marcel between 1540 and 1567. The present structure was not built until 1842, with the deities previously residing in a small and modest shrine.

This is the only temple in all of India that represents Lord Krishna with his mother Devaki. This makes it a most unique shrine.

Architecture and Interiors

The temple structure is simple and graceful with each temple being encircled by a narrow pathway for circumambulation. The idols in the temple are carved from black stone. The most prominent one depicts Devaki holding the infant Lord Krishna on her hip, whilst one of the others shows Krishna standing in front of his mother Devaki.

Besides the main shrine is a smaller one dedicated to Bhoomika Devi. Laxmi Ravalnath is another of the important deities here and is the reason why the place is often referred to as ‘Pisso’ Ravalnath. In addition the deities Mallinath and Katyayani are also represented here.

Deities

There is a charming and intriguing tale told of Krishna’s meeting with his mother. At one time Krishna and his brother Balaram were fighting a war against Jarasand. In the initial skirmishes, Jarasand gained the upper hand and drove Krishna to take refuge in the Gomanchal Parvat. This was located in the South of India.

It was at this time that Krishna’s birth mother Devaki conceived of an immense desire to see her son and so she made the long and arduous journey south. When she met him, she was most surprised by his appearance and did not immediately greet him. Krishna was surprised by this and asked her why she was so indifferent towards him, her son. She replied that he could not possibly be her son since her son was but a little boy. When she said this he realized that she had not seen him for many years, not since he was a baby. He immediately used his divine powers to appear in the form of a child, and they embraced lovingly.

Their meeting took place on what is now the island of Chorao in Goa. The island was then known as Chodan or Chudmani. The place came to have great religious significance to the devotees of Lord Krishna, hence the unique temple. The ruins of the very first ancient temple can still be seen on the island.

Legends of the Temple

There is a tale told that Vasco da Gama, in his later years was touring the island of Chorao, where this temple was located at the time. The door to the sanctum was ajar and he glimpsed the idol and immediately fell to his knees. He had thought that the statue was a representation of the Virgin Mary carrying the infant Jesus, when his error was explained to him he was most annoyed by this misconception that he had made, and this is part of the reason the temple was moved.

This beautiful temple, which has such a fascinating history, is a great place to visit, not only as a pilgrimage and religious space but by virtue of its unique deity.

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Ancestral Goa

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The little state of Goa, located on the western coast of India in the verdant Konkan region boasts a long and varied history. Variously ruled through the ages by Hindu and Muslim rulers as well as the more recent Portuguese colonists, the land itself has imbibed a variety of customs and traditions which blend those of all the various communities which call it home.

Goa today of course, has been greatly modernised to keep up with the ever changing times and technological progress. However, all of its history is still a large part of the culture and atmosphere of the state. If you’ve ever wondered what a Goan village would have been like a hundred years ago, wonder no more. With the setting up of ‘Ancestral Goa’ you can visit a miniature village which has been planned and executed in minute detail.

Where to Go

The Ancestral Goa theme park is located in Loutolim, a village in the south of Goa. Located about 8km from Margao, this miniature village is easily accessible by road.

When to Go

The Ancestral Goa theme Park and Bigfoot Museum are open to visitors all the days of the week from 9.00am to 6.00pm

What to See

  • A Welcome Entryway – The entryway and foyer have been designed to look like the gates of a castle and the foyer of an old-fashioned mansion, gracious and welcoming.
  • The Legendary Creator of the land of Goa – Legend has it is that Goa was created by an arrow shot by Lord Parashurama, and his statue, taking aim with his bow is one of the first sights within the compound.
  • Salt Pans – Traditional Goan salt pans where river and sea water was collected and allowed to evaporate, leaving behind unprocessed salt.
  • Coastal Treasure – The coastline of Goa was vital to the state’s trade and commerce. Traditional occupations included fishing and coconut husking, which are depicted here.
  • Rural trade-off – Those who did not make their living off the sea, made it growing rice, the staple food of Goa. The typical village house has been constructed here in miniature.
  • Brewing Nectar / Ambrosia – Perhaps one of the most famous occupations of Goa is the cultivation of cashew nuts, both for the nuts themselves and for the feni which is brewed from the fruit.
  • Fount of Life – The Boca da Vaca or “Cow’s Mouth” is a spring like many which are seen in traditional villages, often believed to have medicinal properties.
  • Hinterland Ethics – These sites found on the edge of villages were thanksgiving shrines for a safe journey through the forested hinterlands where traveling had to be done on foot.
  • From Craft to Trade – Besides farming and fishing, there were craftsmen who plied their trade in Goa, like cobblers and potters.
  • Rural trade trends – The rural marketplaces were not only a place to buy your groceries but also a meeting place where gossip and the news of the day were exchanged over vegetables, meat and fish.
  • Bairo Alto – The land of Goa is a melting pot of cultures and traditions and is one of the best examples of communal harmony with various cultures living in peace with each other and their surrounding eco-system.
  • Anandachem Ghor – The traditional Hindu homes of Goa, complete with the tulsi plant out front in its decorated clay pot, a symbol of purity and good health.
  • Casa de Dona Maria – The traditional landlord’s house in Goa, with tiled roof and altar room, the house was modelled on Portuguese architectural styles with a hint of Goan décor thrown in.
  • Taverna – With an abundant feni production comes the taverna, a small village bar and liquor store, still seen everywhere today.
  • A Escola de Musica – Music formed an integral part of Goan culture and tradition and continues to do so today. All children of affluent families were taught at least one musical instrument.
  • Legend of the Big Foot – A wealthy land owner used to generously give of his own monies to the less fortunate. However, unscrupulous people took advantage of his good nature and fleeced him of all his worldly goods. Seeing his generosity of spirits the gods granted him a boon. The man being humble and pure asked only for a small place to pray. The gods gave him a hot rock where he could stand on one foot and pray. The man used this rock day and night until the gods, impressed with his devotion, took him up to heaven, leaving behind his footprint on the rock with the legend that all those of pure heart would be blessed with luck.
  • Sant Mirabai (Sculpture) – This is the longest laterite sculpture in India, and depicts Sant Mirabai strumming her Tambori. It shows influences of the famous Gandhara school of Art.
  • The Verdant Patio – Many of the traditionally grown fruits and vegetables of Goa have long since been replaced with high yield varieties. This place attempts to preserve the traditional produce.
  • Feathered Friends – Goa is home to more than 450 species of birds and butterflies.
  • The Rubber Plantation – This depicts the traditional methods of tapping rubber trees as well as the making of sheets of rubber. It also makes a great place to relax in the shade of the rubber plants.
  • Art Gallery – Housing about 20 canvases at a time, the art gallery is a forum for the display of traditional and modernist Goan artists and has played host to a number of events and art shows.
  • Bigfoot Cross Museum – The museum houses photographs of 1062 crosses from around the world which have been classified into 80 categories.
  • A Handicraft Fair – Local artisans and craftsmen have their wares on display here, from clay pottery to lamps, cane and bamboo work visitors can shop for a variety of traditional Goan crafts.
  • Bal Kala / Amphitheatre – An open-air stage, the Bal Kala has hosted a number of events including the plastic drive, book releases, musical evenings, the coco’ju festival and educational programs for children.
  • The Artisan Habitat – A place where artists and artisans are provided with eco-friendly accommodation and a chance to give their creativity free reign.
  • The Big Foot Dance Floor – Shaped like a large foot, this dancefloor has been created to be a versatile venue with the ability to host a variety of functions like weddings, anniversaries, seminars, dances etc.

The entire complex has been built with the idea of allowing people a glimpse into the lives of everyday people from Goa’s rich history. Populated mostly by statues which depict the various traditional activities of Goan villagers, this is both a fun and educational experience.

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Goa Science Centre

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One of the newer additions to Goa’s tourist attractions is the Goa Science Center which was opened in 2001. Spread out over 5 acres of land, the science center features a variety of large interactive exhibits which demonstrate simple physics principles. There is also a dome planetarium and a 3D theater, which boast the latest technology and promote ‘edutainment’ i.e. a combination of education and entertainment.

Where to Go

The Goa Science Centre is located on a 5 acre property at Miramar, which is one of the suburbs of Panaji, the capital city of Goa.

When to Go

The science centre is open throughout the year with the exception of Holi and Diwali. It remains functional from 10.30am to 6.30pm and the entry fee is Rs. 10 per person.

What to See

The Goa science center has a variety of interactive exhibits that are largely geared towards teaching children basic principles of physics. There are also two thematic galleries which hold participatory exhibits; Science of the Oceans and Fun Science. The exhibits have variables that can be adjusted to satisfy the curiosity of the child’s mind. However, there are also a number of other activities available that are fun for people of all ages to participate in.

Science Shows – There are a number of science shows organized on a daily basis that are suitable for people of all ages. These include 3-D Film Shows, Science Demonstration Lectures, Science Film Shows, Taramandal Shows, Cyberlab Shows, Sky Observations etc.

In addition, there are also activities that are organized periodically like Science Quiz Contests, Seminars, Creative Science Workshops, Science Drama Competition, Astronomy Olympiad, etc. which are geared towards enhancing science interest and aptitude amongst students. Additionally, teacher’s training programmes and computer awareness for teachers help in educating those who train young minds.

The centre also holds commemorative events, exhibitions and seminars about breakthroughs in the field in collaboration with other institutions in the scientific community.

Zenith Cyber Lab – This multi-media computer lab is purposed to provide IT awareness to the general public. They hold daily multimedia sessions for general visitors and regular Computer awareness and training programmes for Students, Teachers, Homemakers and Senior citizens etc.

Taramandal – The mini-planetarium is equipped with the latest in dome technology onto which scenes of stars, planets and other celestial objects can be made to appear and move realistically to simulate the complex Motions of the Heavens. The planetarium seats 53 people at a time, and four shows are held for the public on a daily basis.

Auditorium – The Goa science center boasts a fully-equipped, air-conditioned auditorium that can seat upto 140 people. This is used to conduct seminars and programs and for the screening of science shows.

3D theatre – With high definition projection and Dolby surround sound, the 3D theatre screens various science-based movies for audiences every day.

For a fun and interactive experience which also allows for plenty of learning, a visit to the Goa Science Center is an excellent choice. The extensive and beautifully tended grounds are also an excellent spot for a picnic.

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Arvalem Caves

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Goa, like the rest of India, is steeped in a rich history and cultural background. This history extends much, much further back than the arrival of the Portuguese invaders and encompasses ancient civilizations dating back centuries ago.

So skilled were these ancient peoples that the monuments and structures that they created have survived into the present day notwithstanding the depredations made by invaders, conquerors, the marauding elements and inclement weather.

One such historically significant site is that of the Arvalem Caves sometimes known as the Pandava Caves or the Harvalem Caves.

Location

These caves are located near Bicholim Taluka near the Arvalem falls, and can easily be reached by road.

Timings

The caves are open to the public every day from 9.00 am to 1.00 pm and again from 2.00pm to 5.00pm.

History

These caves are believed to have been carved in the 6th century. The origins of the caves have been speculated upon by scholars time and time again. Due to the duality of the carvings and artefacts in the caves, they have narrowed this down to two possibilities that they are either of Buddhist origin or Brahmin origin.

Another legend states that the five chambers of the caves were once occupied by the five Pandava brothers, Yuddhistir, Bhim, Arjun, Nakul and Sahadev during their exile.

Many believe that the caves were in fact carved by travelling Buddhist monks out of a single laterite rock probably because their architecture resembles that of similar caves known to have been carved by the monks, i.e. rock cut caves with the sanctuary at the northern end and the vihara at the southern end. This lends credence to the Buddhist origin theory.

However, the presence of four shivlings in the caves leads one to believe that they were of Brahmin origin or were converted into shaivite caves. These lingas (phalluses) are carved and inscribed in Sanskrit and the style of these carvings is attributed to the Bhoja period.

Architecture and Design

These rock-cut caves were mined out of a single enormous laterite rock. The caves consist of five compartments which are held up by pillars. There are also Shivlings carved out of granite which have been placed on pedestals within these compartments. The Shivlings are sacred to the local people who still pay homage to them.

The walls and ceilings of the caves are bare and innocent of any cave paintings. In fact, to those used to the effusive carvings and intricate work usually found at such sites, the caves present an unusually simplistic and rustic appearance. It is this which makes them unique among similar heritage sites.

The Shivlings show carvings which are similar to those seen at the Ellora and Elephanta caves. The one in the middle compartments is known as the Lingam and is greatly revered till the present day.

The Ling in the second cave is dedicated to the sun. It bears an inscription which read “Sambalur Vasi Ravih” which has been dated circa 600 A.D. This particular Ling and inscription is ascribed to the Bhoja period, specifically during the rule of King Kapalivarman.

There is further credence given to the tales of Buddhist origin by the discovery of an enormous statue of Gautama Buddha situated not far from the caves. There was also a Buddha head that was found at the Mhamai Kamat house which was dated to the 4th Century. This is on display at the Goa Museum.

Simple and rustic, these caves are a great place to visit to see with one’s own eyes the enduring nature of the endeavours of man. A visit to the caves can be clubbed together with a visit to the Arvalem Falls as well as the famous Rudhreshwar temple. which is located in the nearby village of Harvalem.

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Fort Tiracol

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This ancient and imposing fort on the river Tiracol is perhaps the best preserved and most visited fort in Goa. This is partly due to the Fort having been converted into an exclusive hotel. However, even with the modernizations made by the hotel, the fort is still steeped in historical lore and has been witness to many a gory battle.

Timings
The Fort Tiracol is open to the public every day from 9.00am to 7.00pm.

Location

Located on the Tiracol River (North Goa, Goa 403524) it is about 40km from the capital city of Panaji, and one needs to take a ferry in order to reach the fort.

The Fort Today

The fort stands tall and proud crowning the hilltop at the confluence of the Tiracol River with the Arabian Sea. Topped by turrets, it is an awe-inspiring sight. The fort also commands spectacular views over the confluence of the river and sea waters as well as a bird’s eye view of the Querem and Kalacha beach.

Today the fort has been converted into a luxurious boutique hotel. Visitors to the fort can also treat themselves to a gorgeous luncheon at the hotel restaurant.

This fort is more than just the sum of the walls and ramparts which still stand today. It a symbol of hope for all of Goa; it gives silent testimony to the hard won freedom that Goa enjoys today. If these old walls could talk they would surely be able to tell us many stories of battles fought, of victory and defeat, of pain and sacrifice, strategy and cunning, bravado and daring.

History

The fort was originally built by the Maharaja of Sawantwadi, Khem Sawant Bhonsle. However, it was wrested from him by the Portuguese invaders in 1746. After being revamped by them in 1764, it became an important military bastion, guardian of the mouth of the Tiracol river and the first line of defense for the Portuguese colony of Goa.

In 1895, during the Portuguese Civil war it was used as a rebel stronghold under the command of Dr. Bernardo Peres da Silva, the first Goan born Viceroy of Goa. However, the rebel forces were overthrown and the fort returned to the empire.

The fort was also the site of many historic Satyagraha marches during the freedom struggle of Goa, and was finally ceded to India by the Portuguese in 1961.

Architecture

While the fort was under the command of the Maharaja of Sawantwadi it was well equipped with defensive and offensive weaponry. When the Portuguese took it over, the earliest accounts say that the fort was equipped with 12 guns, a barrack and a chapel.

The conquering general, de Almeida also began the construction of a church within the fort premises, as was the Portuguese custom. This church was originally dedicated to the Holy Trinity but later became the church of St. Anthony. The church is still standing, and moreover celebrates mass within its walls till today.

The church is now within the walls of the hotel that has been constructed in the fort. Masses are said most Sundays and especially on the feast of St. Anthony, which is celebrated in the month of May.

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Mormugao Fort

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This ancient behemoth, still well-preserved and standing proud today is considered to be one of the foremost coastal forts in Goa. Mormugao was an important port for Portuguese ships. It is said that the fortress, which is just a few kilometres away from the Mormugao port, was built to guard the mouth of the harbour.

This fortress is one of Goa’s pre-eminent tourist spots and remains exceedingly popular to this day, probably due to the degree to which it has been preserved. Its formidable bulwarks and bastions are intact and fortify the area to this day.

Location

The fort is located near the Mormugao port, a few kilometres north of Vasco.

Timings

Although there are no specific timings, it is advisable to visit during the daylight hours rather than at night when the uneven nature of the terrain is hard to navigate. The fort is said to be at its best during the summer season.

History

The Portuguese always feared attacks in the coastal regions as their most important source of income was from trade ships. They therefore needed to be in complete control of the harbours and ports of Goa. The Mormugao fort was constructed to secure the port and the harbour.

In 1624, the Portuguese began the construction of a fortified town in this area. The then Viceroy was disturbed by the repeated forays of the Marathas and considered shifting the capital city of the Portuguese Empire in India from Old Goa to Margao. This necessitated additional fortification of the surrounding areas.

In 1703 it is said that the then Viceroy of Goa shifted his residence to within the walls of the fort. However, subsequent Viceroys felt that this area was not central enough and they shifted base back to Old Goa. This turned out to be a fortunate move, since the Marathas conquered the fort in the 17th century and it spent a few years under Maratha rule before being ceded back to the Portuguese.

Architecture

This monstrous fort covers an area about 10 kilometres in circumference when measured outside the existing walls. Although the bulk of the fort owes its architectural features to the prevailing style of Portuguese architecture there are also places where traces of the Maratha occupancy can be seen, where they have refurbished or added to the original fortifications.

The original fort included three magazines, towering bulwarks, five prison blocks, a chapel and accommodation for a garrison. Additionally this fort was equipped with the firepower of 53 guns and canons. Many of these features remain intact till today.

One of the unique draws of the fort is the presence of two fountains, the Fonte de Malabar and the Fonte Santo Ignacio, which were believed to originate from a gold mine and sulphur mine respectively. These fountains are said to be operational in the present day.

The entrance to the fort has also been carved with the names of the King and the Viceroy under whose aegis the fort was constructed i.e. King Dom Fillip and Don Francisco da Gama. The inscription commemorates the then Viceroy and was carved at the inauguration of the fort.

The Fort Today

Tall and proud, guarding the mouth of the harbour till this day, the Mormugao Fort has become a popular tourist attraction. The fort provides ample scope for lovers of scenic beauty and also for imaginative people who enjoy places steeped in historical significance.

The fort’s position overlooking the scenic Varca beach, has also added to its charms. During the summer, when the traditional wooden fishing boats are lined up on the shore, the beach presents a pleasing spectacle of which the fort has a bird’s eye view.

All in all this is a not to be missed attraction on your trip to Goa. The fort is a great place for a day trip although it is advisable to carry food and water with you, especially water. The location, not too distant from the city makes it a convenient stop over. It is also a brilliant example of fort architecture in Goa.

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Cabo Raj Niwas

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The official residence of the governor of Goa, known as “Raj Bhavan”, is located at the extreme end of a narrow cape jutting into the Arabian Sea , it is one of the Palaces of historical and architectural significance and antiquity in Goa. Earlier, during the Portuguese regime, it was the Official Residence of the Governors-General, which was then known as “Palacio do Cabo”. Later, it was the Official Residence of the Lt. Governors of the Union Territory of Goa, Daman and Diu, under the name of “Cabo Raj Niwas”, which name it retained till Goa was given the status of a State in 1987.

Raj Bhavan Chapel

At one corner of the Raj Bhavan, there is a beautiful Chapel which is about 500 years old. The Chapel, which has always formed part of the Raj Bhavan, is open for the Morning Mass on all Sundays, as also on Christmas and Easter. The Feast of the Chapel is celebrated on 15 August, (morning), which coincides with the Independence Day of India.

Grotto

At a small distance away from the Chapel, down on the slope, passing through steps, is the Grotto, a place of worship. The Altar in this Grotto, which is installed in a cage cut out of a rock, is dedicated to St. Paula, The history, as written on a board hung at the place, states as follows: “St. Paula (347 – 404 A.D.), a Roman Senator’s widow and her daughter Eustochium were living an austere life in Rome when St. Jerome (341 – 420 A.D.) came there from Palestine in 383 A.D. Four years later, mother and daughter followed the great doctor to Palestine and went with him to Egypt to visit the hermits in the Nitrain desert. Upon returning to the Holy Land, they settled at Bethlehem. Here, they erected a monastery under St. Jerome’s direction and three convents ruled by St. Paula”.

The Feast of the Grotto is celebrated on 2 August (evening).

British Cemetery

Just outside the gates of Raj Bhavan, there is a 180-year-old cemetery, which is the only remaining evidence of the presence of British forces in the Fortress. The British occupied Goa for about 14 years from 1799 to 1813. The Cemetery was built sometime in 1802 to serve the purpose of British Garrisons stationed at Fort Mormugao, Cabo and Fort Aguada.

Mr. W. Walker, a traveller, described the cemetery in 1855 thus: “I visited the burial ground at Cabo built and used by the British force of 10,000 (sic) men when they held possession of the seaboard points of Goa, to prevent the French entering India by this route in 1805.

There are 47 tombstones and 56 gravestones in the cemetery. The earliest burial according to the tomb plates was on the 19 December 1808 and the latest on 10 August 1912.

The cemetery, which was repaired by the British Consul in 1941, is in good condition.

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Cabo da Rama

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Deriving its name from the Hindu Epic the Ramayana, this ancient fort far predates the Portuguese rule in Goa, making it one of the oldest forts in Goa. Though time and the elements have weathered this proud structure, it still stands today, guarding the mouth of the Sal River and commanding panoramic views of the ocean and the surrounding countryside.

Best time to visit

This fort provides a good vantage point to watch the sunset over the Arabian Sea and this is a good time to visit. It is also advisable to not visit during the monsoon season as there is little shelter to be had from a sudden shower of rain.

Location

The fort is located in Cancona, a town in the South of Goa, about 16 km north of Agonda Beach.

History

This ancient fort has been standing on the bluff overlooking the Cape for centuries. It changed hands many times during its history and was controlled sometimes by the Hindu rulers and sometimes by the Muslim rulers. The Portuguese wrested it from the control of the Raja of Soonda in 1763 and remained in control of it for the rest of the colonial rule of Goa.

When the fort was no longer useful as a military bastion, it was converted into a prison in 1935 and continued to be used in this capacity until 1955.

Architecture

The fort covers an impress 180,000sq.m. and is built, like most of the other ancient structures of Goa out of laterite rock. When the Portuguese took over the fort, they constructed military barracks, command posts and officers’ quarters. They also equipped it with 21 canons and the embrasures to hold the same.

As was their habit they constructed a church within the walls of the fort. This church, dedicated to St. Anthony, is still in use today. Its cleanly white washed structure makes a vivid contrast with the blackened walls of the fort.

The citadel now lies in ruins and only one of the walls is completely preserved. However, the main entrance to the fort has been completely reconstructed and lends an imposing air to the monument. Although this fort cannot be said to be in good repair, it is nevertheless still an impressive and historically significant monument.

The Fort today

Today only the Church is still in regular use and consequently is the best maintained part of the fort. The buildings that were used as a prison are also reasonably habitable and are used as a government outpost, occasionally housing scientists and researchers from the National Institute of Oceanography.

It is notable, however, that there are still a couple of ancient canons which were left behind when the Portuguese abandoned the place, and have been left there ever since. One can walk around the fort walls, taking in the view of the surrounding countryside. From the Western wall, the full panorama of the Arabian Sea lies beneath. There is also a narrow, and steep pathway that can be used to travel from the fort down to the beach below.

Legend and Lore

The fort gets its name from Lord Rama, hero of the epic Ramayana. It is said that he and his beloved wife Sita took refuge here during the time they were exiled from Ayodhya. Hence the fort and the cape have been named for him. Although not as impressive as some of the other forts, those who prefer to do their sight-seeing with a certain amount of solitude would probably appreciate the peace and quiet that prevails here. Although there are a couple of soft drink vendors at the fort entrance, the rest of your visit can be passed without any untimely intrusions by humanity. A little slice out of time, it is easy to imagine it restored to its former glory, defending the cape with the roar of artillery and blasts of canon fire.

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Fort Aguada

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Standing on the crumbling ramparts of what was once the most formidable and impregnable of the Portuguese forts in India, one looks out at a panoramic ocean vista, witnessing the confluence of the Mandovi River and Arabian Sea, over which the fort has kept watch for more than four hundred years.

This is so majestic a sight that it is easy to picture a Portuguese galleon or carrack on the horizon, on the last leg of its arduous voyage from far off Portugal around the Cape of Good Hope, finally able to make safe harbour and replenish its supplies.

Timings

The Fort Aguada is open all days of the week from 9.30am to 6.00pm

Location

This fort is located on the Aguada-Siolim Road in Sinquerim (Candolim, Goa). There are two options to reach the hilltop fort. The 4 km long road from Sinquerim beach is used by motor vehicles. The other is a shorter 2 km foot path, but it should be noted that it is a steep climb.

History

The Aguada fort is a monument to Portuguese construction and engineering. Although parts of it have fallen to the ravages of time, much of it is intact and it remains the best preserved Portuguese fort in India today. Built over three years from 1609 to 1612, it once defended the Portuguese stronghold against Dutch and Maratha invaders.

It is named for the fresh water spring that gives the fort a constant supply of potable water, ‘agua’ being the Portuguese word for water and ‘Aguada’ signifying a place where water is collected. So well built and fiercely armed was this fort that it has never fallen into enemy hands.

Architecture

Fort Aguada is a typical example of Portuguese military architecture. Built of durable laterite stone, so easily available all over Goa, its massive bulwarks which stand fully 5 metres high and 1.3 metres thick, have stood the test of time, lashed as they are by fierce monsoon storms and winds. The fort covers the entirety of the peninsula, and is built using the natural terrain in order to make it more difficult for its walls to be breached.

In addition to an enormous cistern in which over 2,000,000 gallons of water could be stored, the fort also contained a formidable citadel, secret passageways and the capacity for up to 200 canons.

Aguada Lighthouse

The Aguada fort also numbers among its splendours a four storeyed lighthouse. This lighthouse was built in 1864 and is the oldest of its kind in Asia. It once used oil lamps to emit a beacon of light once every seven minutes, which was later upgraded to emit light every 30 seconds.

Although this lighthouse fell into disuse in 1976 and is most often closed to the public, there is a new lighthouse built closer to the edge of the cliff, called the Aguada Lighthouse and DGPS. One can, for a small fee, climb the steps of the lighthouse and enjoy the view of the areas surrounding the fort. Photography and videography are allowed.

Aguada Jail

Part of the fort has been converted into the Aguada Jail, which mainly houses those accused of narcotics, sale of drugs and trafficking. This is one of the largest jails in Goa, and since it is very much in use, is closed to members of the public.

The Fort Today

The hilltop fort, though only a fraction of the original area of the fort is a popular tourist spot, especially to watch the sun set. To reach the hilltop fort there is a winding 4 km road that heads east from Sinquerim beach, alternately there is steep 2 km walking path that starts just near the Marbella guest house. Some, however, choose instead to walk out to the sea level fort walls, along the road past the Taj hotel.

No visit to the Fort is complete without a visit to the Church of St. Lawrence, patron saint of sailors. Built just on the outskirts of fort, this was one of the tactics used by the Portuguese to prevent their bastions from being fired upon at close range.

The Taj Aguada hotel now stands within the fort walls. A luxurious hotel on 88 sq km of beachfront property, it has been host to many Bollywood movie shoots, which make it instantly recognizable.

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Rachol Fort

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An ancient and historically significant fort, this fort is today little more than a ruin being swiftly reclaimed by nature. Little remains of its wonder and glory save an archway over the road leading to the Rachol seminary and a dried up moat surrounding the hill upon which the seminary sits. Known more for the scenic beauty that surrounds it rather than any architectural merit, the fort nonetheless has a fascinating if bloodied history.

Timings

Since there is little left of the fort itself it is wise to try to combine the viewing of it with a visit to the seminary.

Location

The town of Rachol lies in the Salcete taluka of South Goa, 7km Northeast of Margao

History

This is a fort that predates the Portuguese invasion. It was in fact built by the Bahamani Sultanate and fell into the hands of the Vijayanagar kings after a prolonged and bloodied battle. These kings later bartered with the Portuguese, exchanging the possession of the fort for help against the Sultanate of Bijapur.

The Portuguese, meanwhile once they gained control of the fort armed it to the teeth. It is said that at the height of its power it held up to one hundred great cannons and guns, which would of course be how they managed to repel the powerful Maratha armies under the control of Sambhaji.

The fort was constructed by the Bahmani Sultanate, most probably during the rule of Mahmud Gawan (1461-1481) who recaptured Goa from the Vijayanagar kings. This was the golden era of the Bahmani dynasty which ended with the death of Mahmud Gawan. Legend has it that he executed his chief advisor because of erroneous court intrigue, thus leading to the machinery of state failing to run smoothly. The story goes that when he realized his mistake, he dwindled into depression and died within a year.

Following his death, the Vijayanagar king Krishnadevaraya, launched an attack on the Bahmani Empire and in the process (among other things) gained control of the Rachol Fort. When the Portuguese gained dominion over Goa in 1510, the canny Krishnaraya set up cordial relations with them, even going so far as to use their expertise to facilitate a better water supply to his kingdom.

When the Portuguese helped him to overcome the Sultanate of Bijapur, he gave them the Rachol fort as a gesture of gratitude and friendship. The Portuguese took command of the fort in 1520 and set it up with 100 cannons and many other refurbishments to make it a fierce defensive position.

It’s location on the banks of the Zuari river made it fort of great strategic importance in defending the newly formed Portuguese colony from both internal and external threats. By 1521, they had built a chapel within its walls dedicated to St. John the Baptist. A church was built in 1565. In 1604, the fort was renovated and rebuilt.

In 1684, the Rachol fort held the armies of the Maratha ruler Sambhaji at bay for months. Even though the Marathas had gained control of the Chapora fort and some Northern territories, the Rachol fort fiercely defended the southern part of the Portuguese empire in India. To commemorate this, there was a plaque sent from Portugal reading “Sendo o conde de Alvor vice-rei da India mandou reformar esta fortaleza depois de se defender do cerco de Sambagy, em 22 de abril de 1684” which means “Sent from the Count of Alvor, Viceroy of India after reform of this fortress on defending the siege of Sambhaji, on 22 April 1684”

With the expansion of the Portuguese empire which resulted from the success of their ‘New Conquests’ the fort lost its military standing and was abandoned by the Portuguese military and subsequently fell into a state of decay and disrepair.

Architecture

Nothing much remains to be seen of the original fort save the archway spanning the road which leads to the Rachol seminary. Historical records state that the fort once surrounded the entire hill upon which the seminary now stands. The fort contained within it a chapel and church dedicated to St. John the Baptist as well as a formidable citadel.

The fort was surrounded by a deep moat, the dried up remains of which can still be seen today.

Although little physical evidence remains of a once great fort, a visit to Rachol will not leave the visitor unrewarded. The village of Rachol has many historical monuments to delight the eye and stimulate the mind, and with a little imagination, it is not hard to stand atop the hill and imagine the legendary battles fought between the heavily armed fortress and the enemy armies which besieged it.

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Reis Magos Fort

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Standing tall and proud overseeing and protecting the taluka of Bardez, across the river from the capital city of Panaji, this fort was one of the first bastions of the Portuguese rulers against enemy invasion. The structure exudes majesty and grandeur and though it is not the biggest fort in Goa, it still commands respect and awe.

Pre-dating even the prestigious and much larger Fort Aguada, and situated at the narrowest point of the mouth of the Mandovi, it’s skilful construction and strategic placement made this fort nearly impregnable and it was an important asset to the Portuguese colonists.

The fort has also been skilfully repaired in recent years and partly restored to its former glory. It is clearly visible, with its distinctive reddish stone walls, all the way from Panaji which lies across the Mandovi River from it.

Timings
Tuesday to Sunday – 11.00am to 5.30pm

Location
Verem, Bardez, Goa 403114, India

History

The fort which stands on the hill overlooking the Reis Magos Church today, is by no means the original structure, nor is it the first to have been constructed in this locale. The first incarnation of this fort was a military outpost, built in 1493 by the Adil Shahi Sultanate of Bijapur.

When the Sultanate was defeated by the Portuguese, a fort was constructed in 1551 to be the first line of defense for the then capital, Velha Goa. This fort was enlarged at various times, before being completely reconstructed in 1707.

The Reis Magos Fort was initially used to house Viceroys and other dignitaries who were arriving from or departing to Portugal. However, with the threat of invasion from neighboring Indian states, the fort became a military stronghold and in 1739 it was used to repel the enemies that occupied much of the Bardez taluka.

Such was the construction and strategic placement of the fort that the invaders were unable to sack it. It is said that the British occupied the fort from 1798 for the duration of the Napoleonic wars. With the decreased threat of naval attack at the dawn of the 1900’s, and with the shifting of the capital of Goa from Velha Goa to Panjim, this fort fell into disuse as a military fortification.

Architecture

Constructed of the readily available and extremely durable laterite rock, the walls are high and formidable due to their steep slopes. There are cylindrical turrets or watchtowers, typical of Portuguese fort architecture at strategic points along the walls. The fort also has within its walls a fresh water spring which kept the troops well-supplied with this essential resource.

Boasting an arsenal of 33 cannons of various sizes, the fort was well equipped to deal with invaders making their way up the Mandovi to the then capital of Goa. However, it was not sufficient to stop the insurgence of Dutch ships and was replaced by the Fort Aguada as the main safeguard of the Portuguese Colony.

The fort could accommodate a fully armed garrison and has a wealth of underground rooms and passages.

Current Status

From the early 1900’s the fort lost its position as a strategic line of defense and was subsequently converted into a prison, in which capacity it continued to be used until 1993. Having weathered two and a half centuries of monsoon winds and rains, as well as the damage inflicted by invading parties, the fort was in need of restoration.

The restoration work was started in 2008, by INTACH (an NGO dealing with the restoration of historical landmarks) and the Government of Goa, with additional funds being provided by the UK based Helen Hamlyn Trust. The restoration work took place under the direction of Gerard DaCunha, a well-known architect.

The fort now serves as a cultural center and is a prominent tourist attraction along with the nearby Reis Magos Church.

An enduring testament to the skill and strategic planning of man, this fort is well worth a visit. A visit here can be teamed up with one to the Reis Magos Church which lies only a short distance away, and is also a tourist hotspot. The fort commands glorious views of the surrounding countryside which make for great photographs by which to remember your Goa vacation.

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Corjuem Fort

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Although this is one of the smaller forts in Goa, it has gained a name for itself, not only for being one of only two inland forts which have survived into the 21 st century, but also for the panoramic vistas that can be seen from its ramparts. This fort is surrounded on all sides by exceptionally beautiful swathes of Goan countryside, and as such is a great place for a scenic walk or a little photography.

Quite apart from its visual appeal, the fort also possesses a rich historical backstory and is steeped in legend.

Timings

The fort is open to the public every day of the week from 6.00 am to 7.00 pm. It is best visited in the cooler hours of the morning and evening rather than during the afternoon heat.

Location

Located in Corjuem, it lies across the Mapusa river from the village of Aldona. The river is spanned by a picturesque cable suspension bridge which is quite the tourist attraction in itself. Corjuem lies about 12 km northeast of Panaji.

History

Corjuem fort was built in 1550 and was originally the property of the Bhonsle rulers of Sawantwadi. However, in the time of Viceroy Caetano de Mello e Castro, the fort was annexed to the Portuguese administration of Goa. The colonists rebuilt the fort in 1705 to boost their defences of Panaji, which had by then become the capital city.

Although small, the fort had great strategic importance. During the 18th century, it held off Maratha invasions by Rane Rajput and the Bhonsles. In the early 1800’s the fort was used as a military school. It was armed with a small battalion of four guns and it defended the town of Corjuem.

Architecture

Like most of the other forts in Goa, Corjuem fort is constructed of laterite stone. Built in a square shape, it has bastions at each of the four corners with embrasures for cannons. The walls are wide and have multiple gun ports and/or murder holes.

At each corner of the fort is a ramp-like stair which can be mounted so that one can walk around the ramparts. There is also a well, living quarters for the defenders and a chapel dedicated to St. Anthony.

Legends

The story is told of a brave woman, a woman out of her time who was unhappy with the restrictions that were laid upon women of that era. This remarkable lady, Ursula e Lancastre, disguised herself as a man and took off to see the world. In this guise, she ended up as a soldier and was posted as one of the defenders of this fort.

Her masquerade went undetected until she was caught as a prisoner of war and stripped. Fortunately, the Captain of the Guard was impressed by her daring and valour and rather than taking harsh punitive action, courted and wed her (which was probably not as great a punishment as death would have been).

The Fort Today

When the fort lost its strategic importance, it fell into disuse. Although weathered and ruined by the elements, it is still in pretty good condition today. Thanks to its vantage point atop a hill, it provides stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

Its history and picturesque setting, combined with its archaeological and architectural significance, make this fort a popular spot with tourists, trekkers, history and architectural buffs alike.

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Naval Aviation Museum

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Inaugurated in 1998, this museum is one of only two military museums in India. In fact, it is the only Naval aviation museum in all of Asia. The museum displays a number of aircraft that were used by the indian navy throughout its history. These are displayed outside in the museum’s open air gallery.

The interior of the museum is designed to look like the interior of a naval aircraft carrier the INS Viraat and has a number of interesting galleries displaying naval equipment, prominent battles, a simulation room and an extensive granite plaque paying tribute to those brave souls who gave their lives in service of their country.

Where to Go

The museum of Naval Aviation in Goa is located near Bogmala, on the Vasco-Bogmalo road about 6km from the port town of Vasco da Gama, more commonly known as Vasco. The museum is built on a plateau which overlooks the popular Bogmalo beach and gives one an unimpeded look at the splendid ocean vistas.

When to Go

The museum is open to public from Tuesday to Sunday from 9.30am to 5.30pm. The museum does, however, remain closed on National Holidays. A day at the museum is a pleasant outing at any time of the year.

What to See

Upon entering the museums premises, the first sentinel is the bulking form of the Super Constellation, a craft originally used as a passenger plane by the Indian Airlines. It was later handed over to the Air Force as a transport vehicle, who then gave it over to the Indian Navy. It was eventually decommissioned but has remained within the Naval purview.

The outdoor gallery has an impressive display of 13 aircrafts, both planes and helicopters as well as a display of aircraft engines and parts. The thirteen crafts on display are

  • Short Sealand Mk 2 (IN 106) – It is the only surviving aircraft of its kind in India and one of three known to be in existence in the world. The Sealand was the first aircraft type to be inducted after the establishment of the Directorate of Naval Aviation in 1953. They were phased out in the year 1965.
  • Fairey Firefly TT Mk1 (IN 112) – It is the sole craft of its type in India, it is also one of 12 still in existence in the World. It was one of the British WW2-era carrier-borne fighter and anti-submarine aircraft. These crafts were acquired in May 1955 for target towing purposes.
  • HAL HT-2 (BX 748) – The Navy used the HT-2 as primary trainers from 1956 to 1964. The aircraft which is currently on display has IAF markings.
  • de Havilland Vampire T-55 (IN 149) – The T55, two-seater variant of the Vampire was procured in September 1957 by the Indian Navy to train Naval airmen on Jet fighter aircrafts before the Navy inducted its Sea Hawks.
  • Hawker Sea Hawk FGA Mk 100 (IN 234) – The Sea Hawks entered into the naval service along with INS Vikrant, India’s first Aircraft carrier and served the country for two decades before eventually being replaced by the Sea Harriers.
  • Breguet Alizé (IN 202) – The Alize was the Navy’s first aircraft carrier based Anti- Submarine and Maritime Surveillance (ASM) aircraft and was inducted into the service in 1961.
  • de Havilland Dove (IN 124) – The Dove was procured by the Indian Navy from the Indian Air Force in 1965 to replace the Short Sealands that were being phased out at the time.
  • HAL Chetak (IN 475) – The Chetak entered the naval service along with the INS Vikrant (aircraft carrier) in 1961 primarily for use in training, transport, CASEVAC (Casualty Evacuation), communications and liaison roles. It was phased out of use by the Navy in 1986.
  • Hughes Hu-300 (IN 083) – The Hughes were two-seater helicopters that were inducted into Naval service 1971 for ab-initio training of helicopter pilots and were phased out in the mid 1980’s.
  • Westland Sea King Mk 42 (IN 505) – The Sea King was procured in 1970 to engage in Anti-Submarine Warfare in the Navy, should such a condition arise. A variant of this helicopter known as the Commando was also adapted by Westland for the transportation of troops in wartime.
  • Lockheed L1049G Super Constellation (IN 315) – The guardian at the gates as it were, this Lockheed L-1049G was originally delivered to Air India (commercial airline) in 1955 and named “Rani of Ellora”. It was transferred to the Indian Air Force in 1961; from there it went on to be lent to the Naval Aviation arm in 1976 and was finally retired in 1983.
  • Kamov Ka-25 (IN 573) – The Kamov helicopters were commissioned in 1980 and were essentially for use in Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW). Their secondary role was that of surveillance and Search and Rescue (SAR) duties.
  • Sea Harrier FRS.51 (IN 621) – The single-seater Sea Harriers and were based both on the INS Vikrant as well as the INS Viraat. These fighter jets were part of the Indian Naval Air Arm and provide reconnaissance, carrier-based strike capability, fleet air defence and anti-submarine warfare.

The interior galleries of the museum are accessed through a ship’s hatch and are designed to look like the interior of the INS Viraat, a naval aircraft carrier. The two main galleries are the Viraat gallery and the Vikrant gallery. Both galleries boast wooden models of the ships that they are named for.

One of the first rooms displays a collection of arms and armaments including bombs, torpedoes, rockets, warheads, depth charges, etc. The Sonobouy Room has a collection of sonobouys which are sensors that are used by Aircraft for detection of underwater enemy targets.

The Suraksha room has various gear and gadgets used for protection while at sea and in the air, including the floating dinghy, parachute, ejector seat, pilot’s overalls etc. Perhaps the most interesting room is the Multimedia room which also houses the Jet cockpit simulator; a programme that allows visitors to simulate the experience of being in the cockpit of a fighter jet.

One of the museum walls is adorned with a granite slab known as ‘Shradhanjali’ which has inscribed on it the names of all those who have given their lives in the service of their country. These are the Naval Pilots from the year 1958 to 1997. Adjacent to this plaque is the Meditation room which is the heart of the museum. Decorated with cool granite and graceful art, the room exudes peace and serenity.

The museum also houses a photo gallery that commemorates all the major naval battles that have taken place since the formation of the Indian Navy. The freedom struggle of Goa, notably the ‘Operation Vijay’ is depicted by a stunning series of black and white photographs.

The museum also boasts a gift shop that sells a number of souvenirs fashioned along the lines of the exhibits in the museum.

The museum is a great place to visit, not only for its uniqueness in subject matter, but also for an in-depth look at the glorious military history of the country. The museum is also meant to inspire people to look to the seas and the skies and their protectors.

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Museum of Christian Art

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Richly embroidered vestments, chalices and other sacred receptacles made out of precious metals and inlaid with precious and semi-precious stones, carved ivory, gorgeous paintings and statuary, all this and more is on display at the museum of Christian Art. The most unique aspect of this wonderful collection is that much of it was in fact created by local artists and artisans, many of whom were traditional Hindu artists.

Located as it is in the old convent of Santa Monica, the museum is in the heart of Old Goa, a place steeped in religious history and crowned with many important religious monuments. The museum’s collection is extensive and well maintained. It is one of the few institutions of its kind in Asia.

Where to Go

The Convent of Santa Monica in Velha Goa is the current location of the Museum of Christian art in Goa. The Convent building itself is of architectural importance due to its age and history. Located in North Goa, this museum is easily accessible from both Panaji and Margao.

When to Go

The museum is open all the days of the week from 9.30am to 5.00pm. The crowds are at their max during the tourist season (October to March) but it is also a great way to spend an afternoon, or even a full day during the rainy season (June to September)

What to See

The intricately and lavishly embroidered vestments which priests would use to say mass, are some of the most popular artefacts in the museum. Along with these is a portable “mass kit” that priests could carry with them when going to say mass in the outlying villages.

There is a beautiful painting of St. Ursula which once adorned the walls of the Se Cathedral, and is now a permanent part of the museum’s collection.

The 17th century image of Jesus, the Good Shepherd is carved from ivory and is a well-known piece in the museum’s collection.

There is curious bust of St. Margaret of Antioch which has a well-defined cavity in the chest, meant for the repose of a relic of the saint. In front of the statue is a reclining mythical creature, most probably a dragon.

In addition to these well-known artefacts there are a number of other pieces on display at the museum. These include chalices and salvers made of precious metals, sculptures, paintings, carvings on wood and ivory, crucifixes and other adornments and implements used in the ritual of holy mass.

History

The museum was founded in 1994, and was the first of its kind in all of Asia. INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) with assistance from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Portugal and under the auspices of the Archdiocese of Goa originally set up the museum at the Rachol seminary.

However, when this location was found to be not central enough, the museum was shifted to the Convent of Santa Monica, one of the architectural and religious monuments of Old Goa. The purpose of the museum has been to highlight the treasures of Indo-Portuguese Christian art from churches around Goa. The age of the pieces ranges from the 17th century to the middle of the 20th century.

The museum also highlights the fact that many of its treasures were created by Hindu artists and artisans during the time of the Portuguese colonialism. The story goes that the demand for religious artwork was extremely high at the time and pieces could not be shipped from Portugal to satisfy the demand and so many Hindu artists were contracted to complete the religious artworks.

Over the course of the years, the artisans came to incorporate many of their own techniques and vision into the Christian art, thus creating a unique style of art. The saints subtly became less emaciated, the facial expressions became less pained and more serene and the flourishes and enhancements became subtly more Indian.

The Church of the Weeping Cross

As part of the shift in venues from the old Rachol seminary to the new location at the Nunnery of Santa Monica, the building itself was given a facelift. In particular the Church of the Weeping Cross or Cross of Miracles underwent extensive repairs and renovations to restore it to its former glory.

Besides superficial work like repainting, wooden altars that had decayed with age due to termites and rot were refurbished, statues and other decorative touches were painstakingly restored, and plasterwork was undertaken in keeping with the building’s heritage status.

The chapel is well known because of the cross within. It is said that the statue on this cross wept tears of blood in the 17th century. After this, pilgrims from around the world visited the site to pray and be blessed and hopefully to witness a recurrence of the miracle.

The museum is a slice of time, preserved for the generations to come. The history that it holds shows what can be accomplished when two cultures and religions come together harmoniously to create something of beauty and value.

Please note : Photography is not allowed within the museum premises.

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Archaeological Museum of Goa

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Located at the back of the Convent and Church of St. Francis of Assisi, this museum contains many important and beautiful artefacts of the Portuguese rule in India. Its treasures are divided amongst eight galleries. The most important of these are considered to be the portraits of the long-dead Viceroys and Governors of Goa.

The museum also has a phenomenal collection of stamps, religious artefacts and other such treasures.

Where to Go

Housed in the convent formerly attached to the heritage Church of St. Francis of Assisi, this museum is in the heart of the most historic part of Goa, i.e. Velha Goa. It is close to a number of other monuments in this place, like the Se Cathedral, the Church of St. Cajetan, the Bom Jesus Basilica, St. Augustine’s tower and the Nunnery of Santa Monica as well as the Museum of Christian Art that is housed there.

When to Go

The Archaeological Museum of Goa is open from 10am to 5pm from Saturday to Thursday. It remains closed to the public on Fridays. Although this museum in Old Goa sees the maximum number of visitors during the height of the tourist season, from October to May, it is also a great way to spend a rainy afternoon during the monsoon months.

What to See

The extensive collection covers the Portuguese rule in Goa, and also the pre-historic and early historic and late medieval periods of Goan history. The museums treasures include lovely fragments of sculpture from Hindu temple sites in Goa, and some Sati stones, i.e. stone which once marked the spot where a woman immolated herself on her husband’s funeral pyre.

Besides these there two larger than life bronze statues, portraits of the Viceroys of Goa, spanning the 400 year Portuguese rule, postage stamps, coins issued by various Hindu, Muslim and Portuguese rulers, wooden sculptures, pillars, hero stones, Persian and Arabic inscriptions and Portuguese weapons comprised of rifles, swords and daggers.

Visitors are greeted by a bronze statue of Afonso de Albuquerque in the visitors lobby along with maps of seafaring routes and maps of Goa. There are also pictures of various historical monuments in Goa, Daman and Diu.

The first gallery is the Key Gallery which shows a timeline of the history of Goa through the artefacts on display, starting with middle and upper Paleolithic stone tools, Microliths and a few Neolithic Celts. Visitors will also find the excavated materials from Chandor; one of the ancient capital cities of Goa. The ground plan of an ancient Brahmanical temple and early historical antiquities; cast copper coins of 3rd century BC, copper nails, rings, etc. are also on display.

Must See
The most notable treasures are:

  • The bronze statue of Luís Vaz de Camões, a prominent Portuguese poet, which once stood in the main square in Velha Goa.
  • Vishnu with ten incarnations carved from grey basalt rock and dated to the 11th century
  • An upright statue of Surya dated to the 12th century
  • Gajalakshmi
  • Hero stone and sati stone one depicting a fight in country boats while the other depicts a Kadamba naval battle.
  • The wooden sculpture of John the Baptist
  • The ivory sculptures of Jesus’ Crucifixion
  • The large bronze statue of Afonso de Albuquerque (first governor of Goa), which once stood in the centre of the Azad Maidan in Panaji city.
  • Portrait of Vasco da Gama the Portuguese explorer who reached India in 1498

History and Construction

The Museum was initially set up in 1964 by the Archaeological survey of India (ASI). Originally confined to one long hallway, it was later expanded in 1982. A wide staircase was added to allow for access to the first floor.

An annexe building was also constructed to give the museum more floor space. The entire floor was laid with teakwood flooring, in order to facilitate continuity in the architecture of the old and new spaces. The entire museum is now maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India.

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Ruins of the Church of St. Augustine

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Close to the Nunnery of Santa Monica, stands a lofty tower still proudly, defying the vagaries of the weather and the ravages time. This is the only surviving tower of the four that were once a part of the Church of St. Augustine. What was once perhaps the biggest Church in Goa is now a crumbling ruin, largely deserted, with its glory days behind it. However, this ruin still has some secrets left to divulge to those who are willing to dig deep enough to find them.

Claim to fame: In 1986, UNESCO declared the ruins to be a World Heritage Site. It is also the site of the archaeological discovery of the remains of Queen Ketevan.

History, Construction and Architecture

This complex was built by the Augustinian order. It comprised the church of Our Lady of Grace, the Convent of Saint Augustine, The College of Populo, and The Seminary of St Guilherme.

The church is dedicated to Our Lady of Grace. Its construction was started in 1597 and was completed around 1602. Originally comprising of four towers and a massive vault, the dimensions of this superb edifice placed it on par with the great imperial cathedrals of the Renaissance era.

The tower which still stands is built of laterite. This great structure stands four stories high. It was intended as a belfry. The ancient bell that once resided there has since been moved, first to the Fort Aguada and more recently to Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church at Panaji, where it remains till today.

The original Church of Our Lady of Grace once contained eight chapels, four altars and had a convent attached to it. Upon entering the church, there was a High altar backed by a richly carved retable, the whole structure being supported by soaring pillars, the vestiges of which remain visible today.

The immense vault of the church collapsed in part due to its weight, and the nave of the church is now open to the sky. There was also an immense choir loft, capable of holding a large chorus of monks.

The convent was built on three levels and once contained two cloisters, numerous corridors, pillars and galleries. The remains of a refectory i.e. dining hall, Guest house and Infirmary, all of which were very spacious, have also been found. It also had vast dormitories and numerous cells where the monks spent their day to day lives.

Abandonment and Ruination

In 1835, the Augustinians were expelled from Goa and as a result, the church was abandoned. In 1846, the main vault of the church collapsed and the convent rapidly decayed. Of all the majestic buildings, that once stood here, all that is left to see today is the belfry of the tower that soared 150 ft. high.

Legend and Lore

An old tale recounts how the vault of the church was problematic to construct and in fact fell down twice whilst being erected. The third time that it was put up, the architect, to show his confidence in his design stationed his only son within the church and ordered that a cannon be fired at the structure. Fortunately, his confidence was not misplaced, and the structure held.

Archaeological Heritage

Even though the original church lies in ruins, it becomes ever more apparent that it yet has unplumbed depths. Careful study beginning in 1990 has recently resulted in the discovery of the remains of the lost martyr, Queen Ketevan of Georgia.

Queen Ketevan was the dowager queen of Kakheti, a kingdom of Georgia. After the death of her husband, the king, her kingdom was invaded by Shah Abbas I.

Having easily conquered the kingdom, he took the Queen prisoner and she languished in Iran for almost a decade. In 1624, she was served an ultimatum by Shah Abbas I, she could convert to Islam and join his harem, or be tortured and executed. The Queen chose to die for her faith.

Accordingly, she was tortured by being stripped to the waist and having her flesh torn off with the use of red hot pincers before being strangled to death with a bow string. This took place on the 22nd of September 1624.

She was then buried, without ceremony. However she had, in her last days, befriended two Augustinian monks. These faithful men dug up her remains, smuggled them out of the country and brought them to Goa. An ancient Portuguese document suggests that the remains were entombed in a black sarcophagus and kept in the window embrasure of the convent of the Augustinian monks in Goa.

However, when the convent and church were abandoned and fell into disrepair, many of the relics were looted and plundered. The remains of the good Queen were similarly thought to have been lost. However, recent archaeological excavations have resulted in the discovery of an arm bone and other bone fragments as well as the remains of a black box. After DNA testing, these bones are believed to be the remains of Queen Ketevan.

There is little that can be seen today of the gracious and imposing church and monastery which once stood at this site, however, it is still considered worth a visit. Clambering over the old ruins causes one to reflect on the passage of time, and its vagaries.

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Basilica of Bom Jesus

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Don’t let its unassuming air fool you, the Bom Jesus Basilica is a World Heritage Monument, and has been christened so by UNESCO. Its un-plastered exterior appears at first glance to be inferior as compared to the sparkling facades of churches like the Se Cathedral, but this little Basilica is rich in art, architecture and history, and the relics of Saint Francis Xavier are enshrined here.

Timings
Masses are held regularly at the Bom Jesus Basilica, the timings are as follows
Sunday – 8.00am, 9.15am and 6.00pm in Konkani, 10.15am in English
Mon to Sat – 7.00am, 8.00am and 6.00pm
Mass is also held at the chapel of St. Francis Xavier on the 6th of every month at 10.00am. Holy hour is held on the first Friday of every month at 5.00pm followed by Mass.
If you do not want to hear Mass, the Basilica is open to the public for viewing and exploration at the following times,
Mon to Sat – 9.00am to 6.30pm
Sunday – 10.30am to 6.30pm

Claim to fame: Houses the relics of St. Francis Xavier and is the only Basilica in Goa.

Must View

  • Quadrangular pediment at the top of the un-plastered façade
  • Carved columns both inside and outside
  • Statue of St. Francis Xavier
  • Main altar with carvings and gilding
  • Gilded reredos with the statues of St. Ignatius and the Infant Jesus
  • Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament
  • Chapel of St. Francis Xavier
  • Sacristy – chest containing the Golden Rose
  • Painting of the relics of the saint
  • Paintings of the saints
  • Modern art gallery paintings, especially “The Last Judgement” and “Genesis”

History, Construction and Architecture

The Basilica of Bom Jesus is a monument typical of the classic forms of plane architecture, introduced by the Society of Jesus, otherwise known as the Jesuits. The façade, which is of granite, represents features of five styles of architecture: Roman, Ionic, Doric, Corinthian and Composite. It is a large single Nave structure built ( 1595-1605) and paid for with legacies left by Dom Jeronimo Mascarenhas, a wealthy Portuguese Captain of Cochin.

It is the only monument with a façade not covered with plaster. The plaster was stripped off in 1970 by an over-zealous Portuguese conservationist who believed that this would help preserve the carvings on the façade better. Unfortunately, even though this was soon seen to be a false assumption, no one has put the plaster back.

Interior and Artwork

The interior of the church is a study in contrasts. The design in itself is simple, but the floor is laid with the finest marble and was inlaid with precious stones. The altar is elaborately carved and gilded.

The retable of the main altar exhibits a huge statue of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder (along with St. Francis Xavier who was a founding member) of the Society of Jesus and below it, a small image of Bom Jesus (Child Jesus), the patron of the church.

On the southern side of the transept lies the Chapel of St. Francis Xavier. This chapel has carved and gilded columns and wood-carved floral decorations. This is where the relics of the saint are kept. There is a gorgeous silver statue placed in front of the silver casket where the body of St. Francis Xavier reposes.

Modern Art Gallery

The Basilica also contains a modern art gallery with paintings depicting various Biblical scenes. The gallery can be accessed using the stairs near the sacristy. It is one of the largest of its kind in Asia. It contains 36 paintings executed between the years 1973 and 1976. The artist was paid only for the materials used as his talent was given gratis, for the greater glory of God.

The most notable paintings are entitled “The Last Judgement” and “Genesis”

Tomb of St. Francis Xavier

Fr. Francis Xavier died of a fever in 1552 on the island of Shangchaun, whilst waiting for a boat to travel to China. His last rites were performed and he was laid to rest in a simple coffin in the Portuguese colony of Malacca. When his remains were disinterred some years later, they were found to be “fresh and intact”. Upon hearing of this, the Vatican canonized him a saint. His remains were buried in three different places before they came to their final resting place in Goa.

The arrangements of keeping the body of St Francis Xavier in the Chapel were completed on 24th April 1659. The mausoleum, in Florentine style, was the offer of the last of the Medici’s, Cosimo III, Duke of Tuscany. It is a masterpiece setting and was made by Giovanni Batista Foggini and assembled in Goa by Placido Francesco Ramponi.

The silver casket is made up of silver panels which depict 32 scenes from the life of the saint. These panels were created for this purpose by Goan silversmiths under the supervision of Fr. Marco Mastrilli SJ.

Professed House

The construction of the Professed house, which lies next door to the Basilica, began in 1585 and so predates the Basilica by a few years. It is a two-storied building, built of laterite rock and covered with lime plaster. Its construction was completed in 1589 under the aegis of Br. Domingos Fernandes.

This became the mission centre for all Jesuit missions to the eastern regions of the known world. The “Casa Professa”, according to Jesuit canon, was intended for the exercise of the Ministries of the Society of Jesus, and should be conspicuous for its exact adherence to the Jesuit way of life.

Legend and Lore

The legend has it that the Jesuits who wanted to construct the Professed House and later the Basilica met with stiff opposition from the Portuguese administration. They had a house on the property, but were being denied permission to build the church. On the eve of the day when they were to be evicted, the wily priests converted the house into a make-shift church, painting the word “Jesus” on the door and putting up a bell. The next morning the bell was rung, much to the surprise of the inhabitants of the surrounding areas, to call them for Mass. After that, the Portuguese were never able to evict the Jesuits from this place.

Another interesting tale from the history of this Basilica is that the Duke of Tuscany, who sponsored the building of the mausoleum of St. Francis Xavier, did so out of gratitude. He had been presented with the pillow upon which the saint’s head had been resting by the Jesuit Procurator General of Goa. He felt that such a great saint deserved a grander resting place.

Many stories have originated around the relics of St. Francis Xavier. Some believers claim that his body shrinks every year, and when it shrinks to nothing, it will signify the end of the world. Others tell a tale of a woman, who whilst bending to kiss his feet in devotion bit off his big toe. They say that though the toe was bitten off a corpse it yet bled and so she was caught out and the toe returned to the rest of the relics.

Simple yet regal, austere yet opulent, unassuming yet grand, this Basilica has risen from its humble beginnings into a world famous monument that commands respect and worship from religious pilgrims and architectural buffs alike. The atmosphere of the Basilica is cool, calm and majestic. The awe-inspiring feeling of being in the presence of something much greater than oneself is a truly humbling experience.

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Se Cathedral Church

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Standing with its gracious façade facing east to welcome each new day, and to the west of the great square Terreiro de Sabaio, Se Cathedral is the most imposing of all the churches at Old Goa, its vaulted interior overwhelming visitors with its sheer grandeur. Se Cathedral Goa, is dedicated to St. Catherine

Timings
Open everyday from 7.30 am to 6 pm.
Mass Timings
Weekdays – 7.30 am and 6.00 pm
Sunday – 7.15 am, 10.00 am and 4.00 pm

Claim to fame : The Se Cathedral wast built to commemorate the victory of Afonso Albuquerque, which was won on the feast of St. Catherine of Alexandria, this edifice is the largest church in Asia. It is the Cathedral of the Archbishop of Goa.

With its superb Iberian façade, soaring ceilings, fabulous mosaic work, intricate wood and gilded carvings, the Se Cathedral, also sometimes called St. Catherine’s cathedral is an absolute must-see for any visitor in Goa.

Must See :

  • The existing bell tower containing the Golden Bell
  • The baptismal font used by St. Francis Xavier
  • The main altar with its gilded reredos depicting scenes from the life of St. Catherine of Alexandria as well as her martyrdom.
  • The Chapel of the Cross of Miracles, where a vision of the Christ was seen on the plain and unadorned cross in 1919.
  • The Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament with its skillfully carved and gilded wall and ceiling.
  • The wooden filigree screens separating the chapels from the nave.
  • The six additional altars in the transept with the paintings depicting the lives of the saints
  • The 18th century organ housed in one of the galleries.
  • The statuary and paintings along the walls and in the niches of the pillars, including statues of St. Francis Xavier, St Ignatius of Loyola, St. Peter, St Paul and St. Christopher.

History, Construction and Architecture

The construction of Se Cathedral in Goa started in 1562 and ended in 1652. The hundred years spent on this construction, have indeed been well worth it, as the proud cathedral still stands tall and almost unblemished today. Built on a raised laterite plinth and covered in lime plaster, this cathedral measures 250 feet (76 m) in length, 181 feet (55 m) in breadth whilst its frontispiece stands 115 feet (35 m) high

The construction began during the reign of King Dom Sebastiao, under the administration of the Archbishops of Goa and the ensuing rulers were charged with completing it using the monies from the Royal Treasury. It was substantially completed by 1619 but the main altars were not erected until 1652, however, it was consecrated in 1640.

The Se Cathedral is built in the Portuguese-Manueline style. This sumptuous, composite style of architecture was extremely popular in the late 16th Century. It combine elements of Late Gothic architecture with the Spanish Plateresque style, Mudejar, Flemish architecture and Italian Urban design. The exterior of this great cathedral is of the Tuscan order of architecture, notable for its plainness and simplicity.

Interior and Artwork

The interior is laid out in a traditional cruciform shape, even though the exterior appears rectangular. The interior architecture is Corinthian. The main altar is dedicated to St Catherine of Alexandria. Besides the main altar there are eight chapels along the sides of the nave and six altars at the transept.

Pope Pius the XII conferred upon this shrine the Golden Rose, which is a gold ornament, a token of reverence and affection. The ornament itself has since been placed on the tomb of St. Francis Xavier.

Visitors to this shrine should make it a point to see the magnificent reredos above the main altar whose six gilded panels depict the life of Saint Catherine, the fifteen communion tables, dedicated to Our Lady of Three Needs, Our Lady of Hope and Our Lady of Anguish and the baptismal font, built in 1532 which was used by St. Francis Xavier to baptize converts. Also worth seeing, is the chapel of the Cross of Miracles, where a vision of the Christ has been said to have appeared in 1919.

As you enter through the main façade, there are Corinthian columns supported on plinths, with a pediment surmounting the portico with a Latin inscription recording the beginning of its construction in 1562 by Dom Sebastiao and the instructions for its completion by future Monarchs.

The Baptismal font, used by St. Francis Xavier is to the right of the entrance and faces two statues, one of St. Ignatius of Loyola and the other of St. Francis Xavier himself, whose sacred relics were first displayed in the Se Cathedral.

The cathedral interior contains soaring ceilings supported by massive pillars on which the choir loft rests. The nave is barrel-vaulted, whilst the transept is rib vaulted. On either side of the nave there are four chapels. Two of these chapels have been concealed by wonderfully intricate wooden filigree screens, which have been carved to resemble foliage. On the right side of the nave you will find the chapels of St Anthony, St Bernard, the Cross of Miracles and the Holy Ghost whilst the ones on the left are devoted to Our Lady of Virtues, St. Sebastian, the Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady of Life. The Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament has a beautifully decorated and gilded wall and ceiling, completely at odds with the rest of its rather Spartan interior.

The main altar is intricately and wonderfully carved and gilded; additionally it is backed by an awe-inspiring reredos depicting scenes of St. Catherine’s life and her martyrdom. Near the altar are seats for the Canon, and the Throne of the Archbishop. There is also a carved ebony stand which was once in the Church of St. Francis of Assissi. Set into the pillars, in the nave, on either side of this altar are wooden statues of St. Peter and St. Paul whilst a massive painting of St. Christopher is suspended beneath the choir loft.

There are two wooden pulpits projecting from the columns on the right of the nave, and a gallery in which is kept an 18th Century organ. The transept holds six additional altars. The ones on the right are devoted to St. Anna, Our Lady of Dolours and St. Peter, while those on the left are those of Our Lady of Sorrows, Our Lady of Three Necessities and Our Lady of Hope. The arches containing four of these altars are decorated with paintings of scenes from the lives of the saints.

St. Catherine of Alexandria

Usually numbered among early women martyrs, Catherine of Alexandria holds a special place among the prophetic saints in the church because of her role as philosophical defender of the faith. She is also the patroness of Christian philosophers besides being the patroness of the City of Old Goa, aka Velha Goa or Goa Velha.

In Church art, St. Catherine of Alexandria, is depicted wearing a crown, (denoting her royal Birth), holding a book, (denoting knowledge), and steering a spiked wheel (denoting her martyrdom). The reason for this is tradition is to denote the notable epochs in her life.

The story goes that Catherine was born of a noble family of Alexandria, and was an extremely learned girl. She was converted from paganism to Christianity by a vision of Our Lady, the Madonna and baby, and she dared to protest the persecution of the Christians under the Roman Emperor Maxentius. Since he was unable to refute the arguments she raised directly, the Emperor had a battery of 50 eminent philosophers assembled to counter her views. However, their admittance of defeat before her prowess, and their subsequent profession of Christian faith rung the death knell both for them and for her.

They were burned alive, whilst she was scourged and put in prison where she succeeded in converting not only the gaolers but the Emperor’s wife, Valeria Maximilla, as well. All told, as many as 200 people were said to have been converted after listening to her eloquent profession of the Christian faith.

As a result of these conversions and her refusal to yield under torture, she was sentenced to death by means of being fastened to a spiked breaking wheel. However, the wheel mysteriously broke apart, leaving Catherine miraculously unscathed; which is why she is known as the patroness of the wheel-wrights. She was finally beheaded and the angels are said to have taken her remains, and laid them to rest atop Mount Sinai.

Legend and Lore

Contrary to the idea that this chapel was built using funds from the Royal Treasury, some sources instead claim that it was built using money from the sale of properties that were impounded by the government.

The Cross of Miracles (Khuris Milagre) is also credited with phenomenal power and significance some legends state that it is constantly, if slowly, growing, whilst others claim to have seen water spring from the rock upon which the cross is built.

This Cathedral in Goa is not only worth a visit in its own right, but it is also convenient to several other tourist spots. The convent which adjoined the cathedral has been converted into an Archaeological Museum which is open to the public and the world famous Bom Jesus Basilica, lies just on the other side of the square. Small wonder then, that no visit to Goa could be considered complete without gazing at the awe-inspiring art and architecture of this most revered cathedral.

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Bambolim Beach

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Located in North Goa, this peaceful little beach is a haven for those who want to enjoy the sand and surf without the crowds that pepper most of the other beaches in North Goa. The beach is a secluded stretch of sand and rocks, lined on the landward side with swathes of swaying coconut palms, which provide a cool and shady place to relax.

Where to Go

The Bambolim beach is located near the little seaside town of Bambolim which is about 7km from Panaji, the capital city of Goa. Although there is no bus service to the beach, it is quite accessible by road and can be reached using the services of a pilot or taxi service.

When to Go

Bambolim beach, like most of the beaches in Goa is at its best during the tourist season, from October to March. Those who choose to visit between March and June, should beware the hot sun, and carry water and sunscreen. From June to September, the monsoon season, the beach has its own peculiar charm, but the sea is not safe to swim in

What to Do

The Bambolim beach is a great place to have a beach picnic and enjoy the quiet and solitude of one of the less frequented beaches in Goa, whilst at the same time, being more accessible than most of the other secluded beaches.

The Bambolim Beach Resort, which is located nearby provides rooms for rent and also has a great restaurant which serves a variety of different cuisines ranging from authentic and spicy Goan fare to cool continental delights.

Unlike most of the other beaches of Goa, the Bambolim beach is not cluttered with vendors and shacks lining the shore cheek by jowl, instead it is a stretch of golden sand interspersed with rocky outcroppings, and of course boarded by the blue waters of the Arabian Sea.

The beach is also a popular hangout for university students who like to chill there for a while after their lectures, since this is the closest beach to the University of Goa. The beach is also popular with fishermen, both pleasure fishing and serious fishing.

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Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary

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Named for Dr. Salim Moizzudin Ali, India’s pre-eminent ornithologist, the Salim Ali bird sanctuary is one of the smallest protected areas of Goa. This slice of ornithological heaven is undoubtedly a fabulous insight into the fragile eco-system that is the mangrove marshes. Ornithological enthusiasts will have a field day being paddled around the sanctuaries narrow canals in a dugout canoe, spotting rare bird and animal life.

Where to Go

Located on the island of Chorao in the Mandovi river, the sanctuary is accessible by a ferry which starts at the Ribandar ferry wharf, about 15mins drive from Panaji, the capital city of Goa. Once the ferry passengers disembark, there are boat men ready to take passengers in canoes around the Salim Ali sanctuary’s marshy canals. There is also a boat service organized by the Forestry Department of Goa.

When to Go

The best time to visit the sanctuary is during the winter months i.e. October to March when the migratory birds that frequent the area are also in residence. The maximum number of the sanctuary’s inhabitants can be seen in the early hours of the morning and at sunset. The sanctuary is open from 6.00am to 6.00pm all days of the week

However, it should be noted that the Mandovi is a tidal river, and at low tide, not all areas of the Salim Ali sanctuary are accessible especially by boat. However, the canoes which are much more shallow crafts can usually access more of the sanctuaries watery by-lanes.

What to See

The Salim Ali Sanctuary is host to a number of common and uncommon species of marsh dwelling birds and animals. Visitors can most probably see white egrets and purple herons, you can expect to see colourful kingfishers, eagles, cormorants, kites, woodpeckers, sandpipers, curlews, drongos and mynahs on a fairly regular basis. Other, more rare inhabitants of the sanctuary include the little bittern, black bittern, red knot, jack snipe and pied avocet (on transient sandbanks).

In addition to birds there are some species of reptile and crustaceans that make their home amongst the mangroves. These include mudskippers, fiddler crabs, crocodiles, otters, flying foxes and jackals. The migratory birds that make their home here include pintail ducks.

Resources

The sanctuary boasts a well-equipped Nature Research Centre which is available for public use, so that tourists and locals alike can gain further insight into animal and bird life on the mudflats amidst the rare and fragile eco-system created by the mangroves.

There is also a three storeyed watchtower that keen observers can use to observe bird life at three levels, below canopy level, at canopy level and above canopy level.

The local boatmen are available to take visitors through the canals in dugout canoes that can move easily through the shallow waters at low tide, and give the visitors an impressively close up view of marsh life at its finest. Additionally there is a boat tour organized at high tide by the forest department which takes about 9 people at a time.

Whether or not you are a keen ornithologist and biologist, a trip to the sanctuary is not unrewarding as the life and eco-system are rare and beautiful aspects of nature that everyone enjoys experiencing. Additionally, there is no need to walk around but rather one can enjoy a leisurely canoe-trip round the shady marshes of the island of Chorao.

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