Interesting Places In Goa

30 kms from Candolim, Agonda is a picturesque and secluded beach preferred for sunbathing, relaxing and swimming, with still relatively few tourists. It is a long pristine stretch of beach which is yet to hit the tourists’ radar. It is generally cheaper, quieter, hassle-free and relaxed in comparison to the rest of Goa.

The fort was built by the Portuguese to control the entry into the river Mandovi in order to protect 'Goa from the enemy. A spring within the fort provided water supply to the ships that halted there. The fort currently houses the Central Jail. There is also a light house is nearby which might be of interest. Aguada Fort is merely 3.4 kms away from Candolim.

Anjuna is hugely popular as a 'hippie' hang out (said to be one of the first hippy haunts of Goa) due to its fantastic beach. Surrounded by groves of coconut palms, it can easily be one of the best beaches on the north coast. Visitors generally frequent this beach for a leisurely swim, soak in the sun or simply have a good time in quaint shacks dotting the beach. It is a mere 20 minutes away from Candolim.

This is one of the oldest and one the most significant churches in India. Construction work on the church began in 1594 and the church was solemnized in May 1605 by the archbishop, Dom Fr. Aleixo de Menezes. The floor is of marble inlaid with precious stones. Apart from the elaborate altars and the marbled floor inlaid with precious stones, the interior of the church is relatively simple. In the mausoleum within the church, holds the silver casket with the body of St. Francis Xavier. The body of St. Francis Xavier was first taken to Portuguese Malacca and two years later in 1696, was shipped back to Goa. The saint's body is claimed to be as fresh as the day it was buried. The saint is said to have miraculous powers of healing. The remains of the saint along with the murals adorning the church attract a large number of devotees every day.

Bhagwan Mahavir Wild Life Sanctuary is around 68 kms from Candolim. Initially called the Mollem Game Sanctuary, it was declared a wild life sanctuary and renamed in 1969. This sanctuary lies north of Panjim and covers 240 sq. kms. Rich with flora and fauna, its star attractions are Leopards, Elephants, Deers and the ever popular Gaur (Indian Bison). Bhagwan Mahavir Sanctuary is also home to the nomadic Buffalo herders known as 'Dhangars'.

Around 40 kms from Candolim, the beach of Bogmalo is a popular picnic spot. The beach is clean and the water is reasonably safe for swimming. There are plenty of places to eat, drink and shop.

This 8 km Sanctuary is abundant with Sambhar and the Wild Boar and you are likely to sight quite a few of them within its confines. It is also home to the Giant flying squirrel and many species of reptiles too. 56 kms from Candolim, Bondla gives shelter to injured leopards and dancing bears, elephants and their handlers. Visitors are treated to shows by these handlers. An elephant ride through the sanctuary is a nice way to experience the sanctuary.

This 2.5 km stretch of the finest silver white powdered sand is perhaps the finest of all beaches in Goa. No wonder then, that the beach is full of tourists both local and foreign who come here to enjoy the sun, sand and the sea along with various other activities on offer here. It is also the fishing village of Goa and one gets to feast on fabulous sea food here. It is an hours drive from Candolim.

The forest at Cotigao Sanctuary consists mostly of dense tall trees (some almost 30 meters in height). So much so that it hardly allows light to trickle down to the floor. The 86 sq. km sanctuary, located in Canacona Taluka , is meant to protect a remote area of forest at the Goa-Karnataka border.Â
The lush greenery and streams have made Cotigao a perennial haven for wildlife. Sighting wildlife is difficult here due to its density, but wildlife lovers clamour to get on the 25 m high treetop watchtower overlooking a waterhole that attracts the likes of Gazelle, chital, pangolin, sloth bear, porcupine, panther, hyena, monkey, wild boar and bison around dawn and dusk. It takes around 2 hours 15 minutes to drive down there.

The idyllic rocky tourist destination Dona Paula, lies where the Mandovi meets the Zuari river and confluences with the Arabian Sea. During season time, Dona Paula transforms into a crowded stretch - otherwise a calm and beautiful place during monsoons. The place is named after Paula Amaral Antonio de Souto Maior, a historical figure in Portuguese India and a great woman of charity, who died on December 16, 1682. According to a local myth, Dona is seen emerging from her tomb in the moonlit waves wearing only a pearl necklace. Tourists and locals alike visit the beach for a glimpse of Dona Paula. Dona Paula has now become a sought-after residential address.

The plumetting milky (Dudh is the Hindi word for milk) white water, cascading from a 1000 metres above is a spectacular sight to behold. Surrounded by deciduous forest and a pond at its feet, Dudh-sagar is a must visit if you are in Goa. 81 kms from Candolim…

67 kms from Candolim, Jama Masjid was built in the last century and renovated in 1959. Its superior architecture is evident even to the uninitiated. Elegant and simple, this structure consisting of two elegant turrets is embellished with four minarets and a dome shaped kiosk in the center. It is a prominent landmark exemplifying the peaceful coexistence and religious tolerance of the people of Goa.

A short 10 kms from Candolim and 13 kms from Panji, Mapusa is an important commercial town. The place comes alive for the Friday market where locals and people from neighbouring villages come to sell their wares. A nice place to soak in and experience the local flavor.

One of the oldest settlements in Goa, Margao, or Madgao as it is known colloquially, is the fastest growing city in Goa. Visitors can see influences of the Portuguese architecture throughout the city. Other places of interest include the 'Closed Market' or Pimpalakatta as it is generally known, the natural springs (Anna Fonte), the Holy Spirit Church, the grand mansions etc. Margao is upwards of an hours’ drive from Candolim.

Marmugao has perhaps one of the best natural harbours in India. The Portuguese fortified this port to thwart threats to their maritime supremacy. Today Marmugao contributes greatly to the Indian economy and is a leading port for export of iron ores. Though clouded by time, you can still see glimpses of the colours of the bygone years and why the Potuguese and the British top officials preferred this place. 36 kms from Candolim, Marmugao is worth the trip.

Quaint houses to sprawling villas, the picturesque village Mayem, where time seems to have halted at the best moment possible. Mayem Lake is idyllically placed amidst lush green hills, which naturally attracts quite a few tourists. It is 32 kms from Candolim.

If you fancy a clean and non commercial beach, head to Miramar (16 kms from Candolim). A small 2 km long beach located at the confluence of River Mandovi and the Arabian Sea is blessed with beautiful white silver sand surrounded by graciously swaying palm trees.

Built with massive walls and buttresses, this is the only nunnery in Goa. A section of the nunnery exhibits Christian Art which consists of contribution from the Hindus to the Christians from the 16th to the 19th century. Next to the nunnery is the Church dedicated to St. Monica which has the famous ‘Weeping Cross’. It is said that in 1636 the idol of Christ opened its eyes and had blood oozing out from the crown of thorns. Distance from Candolim- 68 kms.

21 kms away from Candolim, Old Goa was constructed by the Bijapur Sultanate in the 15th century. It was their capital till the 18th century when they abandoned it due to plague. The remains of the city are UNESCO World Heritage site. There are a number of churches here, the most notable being the Bascilica of Bom Jesus which holds the relics of the honoured St. Francis.

Just West of Chandi (About 37kms. from Margao) is one of the most enchanting beaches in Goa and relatively deserted with the backdrop of Western ghats situated in Southern most taluka of Canacona. Its crescent shaped bay lined with a swaying curtain of coconut palms, is inadvertently photogenic. Hemmed in by a pair of wooded headlands, a perfect curve of white sand arcs north from a pile of huge boulders to the spur of Sahyadri Ghat, which tapers into the sea from here.

The state capital located on the banks of river Manovi, is 14 kms from Candolim. It stands proud, dotted with panoramic gardens and magnificent statutes. The cobbled streets lined with acacia trees and interesting bungalows and mansions give it a very Portuguese feel. Panjim is also house to dignitaries and celebrities and is considered to be an upscale residential area. The favoured area is the riverside promenade which the youngsters frequent regularly. Panjim has a lot more to offer its visitors like the bird sanctuary, the vibrant art and culture scene, the religious temples, churches and mosques etc.

The Pilar monastery is in Old Goathe capital of the famous erstwhile Kadamba dynasty known as Gopakapattam. The monastery was built around about 1613 A.D. It commands magnificent panoramic view of the countryside as well as Mormugao harbour and the Zuari river. The walls of the monastery are adorned with artistic frescoes depicting religious episodes and other religions interest. An hour and a half drive from Candolim

The Safa Shahouri Masjid was built by Ibrahim Adilshah of Bijapur in 1560. It is the one of the two shrines in Goa that was not destroyed by the Portuguese. Safa Masjid is the largest and the most famous of the 27 mosques in Ponda. It is 38 kms from Candolim and a mere 3 kms from Panjim.

This equisite sanctuary named after Dr. Salim Ali, the famous Indian ornithologist. A virtual440 acre paradise for bird-watching aficionado’s, it is situated on the western tip of Chorao along River Mandovi. In the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary one can see a wide variety of plants and birds both local as well as migratory. The much sought-after are the Mudskipperand the Black Drongo. You can also go around the sanctuary in a ferry. 10 kms from Candolim – it is worth a trip.

Shree Chandranath temple is located atop a 350 metres high hill at Paroda, Quepem. A rock Shivling is the main attraction which exudes artistic splendour and is said to ooze water whenever moon rays fall on it. The temple is cleverly designed so that the Linga receives moonlight on every full moon. The temple enjoys a panoramic view and also its surroundings are very charming. The temple`s ancient chariot is famous for exquisite woodcarvings and attracts quite a few visitors. Candolim to Shree Chandranath – 56 kms.

63 kms from Candolim, Shree Damodar is a must visit for the religiously inclined, both Hindus and Christians. The temple is located on the banks of the river Kushavati which is considered holy and said to have magical medicinal properties.

This temple at Dattawadi, Sanquelim sees visitors from far and wide as the deity here is believed to have cured many people, especially those with unsound mind. Even if you are not religiously inclined, the temple itself is beautiful with an enchanting backdrop of lush green groves of Areca palms.

Located in Bandora, this temple is considered the abode of the Goddess of the Shakti cult. The temple auditorium has a gallery of 18 images out of the 24 emanatory aspects of Bhagvata sect. This temple is all the more special thanks to its rare collection of wooden images of Vishnu. The doors are intricately carved and are a sight to behold. It is 42 kms from Candolim

Short of a 2 hour drive from Candolim, this temple attracts the purists and the artistically inclined other than the believers who throng here in hordes. The massive wooden pillars and intricate carvings are typical of the 16th century temple art forms with about 60 deities adorning the entablature. Said to have been built by the Kshatriyas, the temple was renovated in 1778 AD.

Manguesh Temple in Ponda is a quaint Shiv temple, very popular amongst local and Shiv devotees. Placed in an idyllic setting in Mardol, 32 kms from Candolim, amidst acres of serene green hills, a lofty white tower at the entrance is its most prominent feature.

This temple is one of the six most important sites for Shiva temples. It also has a great history behind it dating back to the 1352 when it was destroyed by the Mughal emperor and restored in 1367 when it was restored then destroyed by the Portuguese and restored by Chatrapati Shivaji in 1668. The architecture is a mix of Mughal, European and Indian influences. The temple is 55 kms from Candolim.

The tower and Church were built in 1602 by the Augustine order. St. Augustine Tower is a colossal 46 meter high, four storied arched belfry tower built of laterite formed part of the facade of the Church of . The bell was initially taken to Fort Aguada and later shifted to the Immaculate Conception Church in Panjim in 1835. It has always been a favourite place for the visitors. Post rains the flaming red bricks on lush green promenade looks particularly beautiful. The Church in earlier days would have been perhaps one of the biggest in Goa. The distance from Candolim is around 68 kms.

Built in 1597, the Church of St Alex is one of the oldest churches in Goa. It was set on a scenic backdrop of the lake Angoddi Tollem on the site of an ancient Ravalnath temple (a form of Lord Shiva). The remains of the ancient temple of Ravalnath are still visible today. It was a chapel earlier which was converted to a church in 1808. This church once housed the Kudtari/Kundodari Mahamaya temple deities, now currently located Ghudo Avadem. It is a mere 2 kms from Candolim. A walk or a stroll to the church is invigorating.

15 kms from Candolim is the earliest church to in Goa. Built around 1540, it was rebuilt ground up in 1619. Thoughthe interior of the church is relatively simple by the standards of the time, the backdrop to the altar, dedicated to Mary Immaculate, is impressive. However, the two flanking altars, ,one dedicated to Jesus Crucified and to the right is Our Lady of the Rosary. Both are heavily gilded, deeply carved and ornamental, yet compact and controlled, true to the craft of the period. Beside each is a marble statue, of St Peter and of St Paul. The gigantic bell at the top of the church weighs about 2,250 kgs and is the second largest in Goa.

This church built in 1873, is the finest examples of Gothic architecture. It is situated amidst picturesque surroundings. The statue of Mae de Deus (Mother of God) was brought here from the ruins of the convent of Mae de Deus at Old Goa. One cannot escape the serenity and the aura that surrounds the shrine. The artistically designed altar is a thing of beauty. It is 5 kms from Candolim.

A brisk walk from Marquis (4 kms away) gets you to The Church of Reis Mogos. Bang on the banks of river Mandovi, the church, dedicated to three Kings was built in the year 1555. This was once the residence of viceroys and other dignitaries and was also a mission of the Franciscan order. It is well preserved and has a scenic view of the surrounding areas with a stream right next to it. There are other places of interest in the vicinity.

The church dedicated to St. Ana, the grandmother of Jesus Christ is a remarkable piece of ancient Baroque architecture in the country. However due to neglect the imposing edifice is in ruins with only glimpses of the olden day glory visible. It was built in 1695in a picturesque surrounding. A prominent feature was its hollow walls through which people would walk in secrecy for the purpose of confession. Legends of miracles are abundant. 41 kms from Candolim.

Ranked #5 on the Lonely Planets ‘things to see’ in Goa, It is one of the most interesting buildings in Goa. Built by eight Franciscan friars in 1517, they constructed a small chapel, which was later pulled down and the present building was constructed on the same spot in 1661. It is a 3-tier facade with octagonal towers on each side. The niche in the center has a beautiful statue of St. Michael. The interiors contain glittery and carved woodwork, a fabulous reredos, a floor made of carved gravestones dating back to the early 16th century and old murals depicting scenes from the life of St. Francis. It is a 20 km drive from Candolim.

Extremely popular with Western back-packers, Vagator is distinguished by the flaming red backdrop of cliffs and is split into two beaches, the North Vagator and the Ozran beach. A little distance away are a number of places playing trance and psychedelic music which have quite a following. 11 kms from Candolim.

36 kms from Candolim is the port city, Vasco (as is popularly called)across the river ZuariFounded in 1543, it remained in the control of the Portuguese till 1961. There are a number of interesting things to see and do in and around here including the Bogmalo beach.

A picturesque road leading from the St. Cajetan Church right into the River Mandovi passing through an archway known as the Viceroy’s Arch. It was once the main road to enter Goa. First erected in 1599, it was later reconstructed in 1954 with Vasco da Gama's statue on one side and St. Catherine on the other. The Portuguese constructed the arch, which is made up of laterite and green granite immediately after gaining a foothold in Goa.