Goa is undoubtedly the party capital of India. Be it the sandy beaches or the affordable hooch and non-stop revelry – Goa is a perfect holiday destination when you want to let your hair down. However, there is so much more to Goa than its party appeal. So book a hotel in Goa now to explore the unexplored.
Goa was one of India’s most important major trade centres. As a result, lots of influential dynasties and seafarers took an interest in it. The enchanting coastal state remained in the clutches of the Portuguese until 1961, the influences of which are seen to the day. With a colourful history, Goa boasts of a fascinating co-existence of the Indian as well as Portuguese cultures. Here is a list of the testaments to such a history.
1. A Jesuit Jewel
The Basilica of Bom Jesus is perhaps the face of Goa tourism. Held in high reverence by Christians all over the world, the Basilica is a UNESCO site. The foundations of this church were laid by the Jesuit Order in 1594, and even in the face of several threats and disputes, it has continued to render its services for centuries together. Located 9 km from the Panjim Kadamba Bus station, the church also houses a modern art gallery. The simple yet charming interiors, make this basilica a classic example of Jesuit architecture.
2. The Forgotten Fortress
Located 7 km from the city of Panjim, the Reis Magos, dates back to five centuries and is the oldest fort in Goa. It offers an excellent view of the surrounding oceans and the Mandovi river. Originally, a fortress of defence, the Reis Magos doubled up as a prison and later as a hospital. It was not until 2012, that the place rose to fame again to serve as a Cultural and Heritage Centre. It is protected by the Goa Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act and is owned by the government of Goa. “Reis Magos” in Portuguese translates to “three wise men.” At the foot of the fort, there is an elegant church dedicated to the three wise men from the Bible.
3. The Testament of Co-existence
The presiding deity of the Shri Mahalakshmi Temple in Bandora, Goddess Mahalakshmi was worshipped by the earliest Kings of Goa, from the Kadamba empire. However, disparities began with the advent of the Portuguese colonisation. It was not until the 19th century that a call for harmony resounded among the Portuguese and the native Hindus. They built a temple for Goddess Mahalakshmi, to mark this harmony, as she is revered as the Goddess of Peace. The goddess wears a linga on her head, which is in turn symbolic of peace, and her Satvik form. Built in the hollows of the valley, domes and arches accentuate the temple architecture. There are also paintings from the Hindu mythology in the mandapa’s entrance. The Mahalakshmi Temple is located 27 km from the city of Panjim.
4. A Remnant
The St. Augustine Tower is located 8 km from the city of Panjim. The St. Augustine Church is one of the 10 out of 20 surviving churches in Velha, Old Goa. Originally built with three sister towers, the Augustine tower was meant to serve as a belfry. The remains of the high altars and the vestiges of the piers can be traced to the day. The broken nave of the church, now faces the open skies. The troubles of this structure began with the fall of its large vault. The body of the church was soon obliterated. However the veneer stayed in place, and is now revered as the St. Augustine tower.
If you ever get jaded by the endless cycle of drink and debauchery in Goa, head straight to these heritage spots and quench your thirst for knowledge. And don’t forget to book a heritage Goa hotel for your stay.