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Goa - Goa has a rich history, which is both intriguing and appalling to historians and the common man. Goa was plundered by a number of rulers and lastly by the Portuguese from whom Goa sought independence in 1961. Given below is a brief insight into the history of Goa, its discovery, plundering, different rulers and the smooth transition to the present. The original name of Goa was actually Konkan and the people were known as Konkani and so was the language.
One of the earliest information about the rulers of Goa dates back to as early as 1000A.D. Goa was an important seaport where all trade dealings relating to export and import took place. The Shilaharas were the rulers then. Their power started to diminish as the Arab merchants were now beginning to have control over international trade. The Kadamba rulers also eyed Goa and by the end of the 11th century they had firmly established their rule over Goa. An important landmark during the Kadamba rule was the establishment of their capital city of Goapuri. This became the core of all trade activities and remained that way for a long time. Goapuri became a famous and well-known destination despite all political instabilities.

Main Cities / Towns

 

Panji , the capital city of Goa

 Panaji is the capital of Goa, the smallest of all the capitals in India. The old quarters of Panaji are perfect for a leisurely stroll through the winding narrow streets. Painted buildings, shuttered windows and overhanging balconies are a pleasant sight. Modern houses, gardens, statues and avenues lined with a variety of trees are also part of Panaji's scenery.

 

Tourist attraction of  NORTH GOA

 Panaji - is the capital of Goa. Literally, the word Panaji means 'the land that does not flood'. The main attraction in Panaji is the carnival held here every Sabada Gordo (Fat Saturday). The carnival is basically all about forgetting one's worries and having a fun time. There's a lot of singing and dancing, as well as a procession of heavily decorated floats
Church of the Lady of Immaculate Conception - The main place of worship in town, this church holds Mass every morning in three different languages - English, Konkani and Portuguese.
Chapel of St Sebastian - Built in the 1880s, the Church of St Sebastian is known for its crucifix of Christ, which shows Christ with his eyes open.
The Secretariat - This was the summer palace of the Muslim ruler of Goa, Adil Shah. It is also the oldest building in this part of Goa. The Portuguese rebuilt it in 1615 and used it as the residence of the Viceroy.
Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary - Located near Panaji, on the western tip of the island of Chorao along Mandovi River, this sanctuary is spread over 2 sq km. Local and migratory birds can be seen here in abundance.

Around in Panji
Old Goa (Velha Goa)
- Old Goa, the second capital of the Adil Shahi dynasty, could rival Lisbon with its magnificance in olden days. At that time, it was a fortress surrounded by a moat and had temples, mosques and a large palace for Adil Shah. Wracked by epidemics of cholera and malaria and the Inquisition, Old Goa has deteriorated from a vibrant city to a dying one with a handful of architectural relics.
Basilica of Bom Jesus - This contains the tomb and mortal remains of St Francis Xavier who was given the task of spreading Christianity by the Portuguese in the east in 1541. The remains of the body are housed in a silver casket, which at one time was covered with jewels. On the walls surrounding the casket are murals depicting the saint's journey. There is an art gallery next to the Basilica.
Convent & Church of St Francis of Assisi - Contains gilded and carved woodwork and murals depicting scenes from the saint's life along with a floor partly made of carved gravestones. The original building was built in 1517, and the new structure dates back to 1661. A convent behind this church is now an archaeological museum. Open Saturday to Thursday from 10 am to 5 pm, the entry is free.
Se Cathedral - The largest church in Goa, its construction started in 1562 during the reign of King Dom Sebastiao (1557-1558). The style of the building is Portuguese-Gothic with a Tuscan exterior and Corinthian interior. The tower houses the 'Golden Bell', the resonant rings of which can be heard thrice daily

Church of St Cajetan  - Built in 1655, this church has been modelled on St Peter's Church in Rome. It was built by Italian friars of the order of Theatine, sent by Pope Urban III to preach Christianity in the Kingdom of Golconda.

 Mapusa - Just 13 km north of Panjim is the small town of Mapusa (pronounced Mapsa). It is a collection of modern buildings and has little to offer other than its marketplace, where one find strings of spicy Goan sausages (chorizo), toddy (fermented palm sap), spices and exotic fruits. Friday is the best time to see the local market in all its glory.
Calangute & Baga - Calangute is a 45-minute bus ride from Panaji and was once famous for its hippies and cheap accommodation. The road between the town and the beach is lined with stalls selling Kashmiri handicrafts, Tibetan textiles and jewellery. The Kerkar Art Gallery  at Gaura Vaddo in the south end of the town has shows of classical music and dance on Tuesday and Saturday from 6.30 pm to 8 pm. Baga is a small village 10 km west of Mapusa. The beach here is better than that at Calangute.
Anjuna - Anjuna is famous for its Wednesday flea market. The coconut palm-strewn beach is quite clean, making it one of the few good beaches in Goa.
Chapora & Vagator - Coconut groves cover most of this rocky hill that holds the ruins of a Portuguese fort. The other major landmark is the estuary of the Chapora River. The Big Vagator Beach is also here. The Orzan Vagator Beach further down south is somewhat isolated from the area. There are lots of secluded beaches, sandy coves and rocky cliffs to explore and enjoy.
Arambol - Located 32 km from Mapusa, the village of Arambol is a tranquil and friendly place with just a few hundred locals, mostly fishing folk. Only the very basic amenities are available here but the two beaches here offer a quiet and calm atmosphere — very different from most other Goan beaches.
Bondala Wildlife Sanctuary - This small wildlife sanctuary, located 50 km south-east of Panaji in the foothills of the Western Ghats, is a good place to escape to from the beaches of coastal Goa. A botanical garden, a fenced Deer Park and a zoo are things one can check out here. The sanctuary has accommodation in chalets and dorms.
Terekhol Fort - An interesting small fort on the banks of the river Terekhol built by the Portuguese. It has now been converted into a heritage hotel. The Querim beach is close to the fort.

 

Tourist attraction in SOUTH GOA

 Vasco Da Gama - Vasco, as it is called, is 29 km by road from Panjim and just 3 km from the airport at Dabolim. It is one of the key shipping ports in the west coast, with container vessels and iron ore barges in traffic. The town does not offer much of tourist interest.

Bogmalo - Bogmalo is a small fishing village, 8 km southwest of Vasco Da Gama, with a small sandy beach that is relatively clean and comparatively uninhabited. The waters here are safe for swimming. This is one of the places in India where one can do a PADI-approved Open Water Diving Course. Other water sport facilities are also available at the beach.

Margao - Margao (also called Madgaon) is the capital of Salcete province and is the main town in South Goa. It is 30 km from Vasco and one of the few places where one can see the remains of Portuguese rule. The Church of the Holy Spirit, built in 1675 by the Portuguese, next to Largo de Igreja Square, is a fine example of Baroque architecture. Monte Hill offers a good view of the area. The De Silva House and the De Joao Figueiredo House are other interesting places to visit in Margoa.

Chandor -  is an interesting village 20 km east of Margoa. The Menezes Braganza House here is owned by a family which has been living here since the 17th century. The antiques, chandeliers and stained glass windows seen here make the 20 km ride from Margoa worth your while. At the Candreswar Temple in Quepem, 15 km from Margao, it is believed that water oozes from the Shivalinga when the moonbeams fall on it on a full moon night (the temple has been designed to ensure that this happens).

Colva & Benaulim - The Beach Bonanza is held here on successive Sundays with live music, dancing and entertainment. Colva Beach is one of the more popular beaches in south Goa. Benaulim derives its name from the Sanskrit word 'Banali' - 'the place where the arrow landed'. Legend has it that Goa was created when Parasuram, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, fired an arrow into the sea and ordered the sea to recede from where the arrow landed. Benaulim is 2 km south of Colva and 10 km west of Margoa. The beach here is tranquil and the sea is safe for swimming.

Varka & Cavelossim - Varka is 5 km south of Benaulim and Cavelossim is a further 7 km. The beach resorts here are a little upmarket and secluded. Further south of Colva (35 km) is an old fort at Cabo De Rama. It is believed that Lord Rama and his wife Sita had spent some time here during their exile, hence the name.

Goa - Fairs & Festivals

January/February (Magh) Mahashivratri
A celebration honour of Lord Shiva held at all the principal Shiva temple, such as the Rudershwar, Mangueshi, Nagueshi, Sri Madadev - Bhumika and other temples. Rantha Saptami festival takes place in February at the Mallikarujuna Temple. Maruti-Zatra at Shri Mahalakshmi Temple is presiding deity of Panaji, Goa's capital city. Mahalasa Jatra or Vijayarathotsav (Chariot Festival) is celebrated at Mahalasa Temple of Mohini in Ponda.

February/March (Phalgun) -
Shigmotsavor or Shigmo: All over Goa, Special celebrations at Panaji, Mapusa, Vasco Da Gama and Margoa. A Spring festival celebrated on the full moon day of the month of Phalgun in March.It is a grand five day festival of colour, celebrated distinctively in the villages, corresponding with Holi or Spring Festivals. Shigmo is universally celebrated in Goa, but specially in Panaji, Mapusa, Vasco Da Gama and Margoa.
Ghodemodni or Parade of the horse riders, is part of Shigmo and is found in Fatorpa and Bicholim. Hypnotic and rhythmic music of drums and Whistles accompany the martial dance, which Parades down the main street, imitating horses and their riders.

February / March (Phalgun) - The three day festival of Gade at Mahadev Bhumika Temple attracts huge crowds.
Kalas Utsav is celebrated on a major scale every alternate year at Sri Morjaee Temple in Pernem. Visitors from Maharashtra and Karnataka attend the seven day festivities which are socio religious occasions.
 March-Apirl (Chaitra) - Ram Navami or the birthday of Lord Rama is celebrated at Ramnath temple. Chaitra Purnima is celebrated at Sri Mahalakshhmi Temple at Panaji, and during the nine days preceding the full moon , at Sri Vithal Temple in Sanquelim. It is also Nagueshi, Chandranath, Cudnem and Mashem in Canacona.
Apirl-May (Baisakh) - This is home coming season for many Goan settled away from Goa. It is also the fruit season and Feni making season. A distinctive Goan aperitif, Feni comes from cashew apples. In addition it is toddy- tapping season..
According to Hindu
May-June (Jaith)  - Mirg is on 6th June. It is the start of the Monsoon season. The Christian Mirg is one day earlier. If the rains fail, prayers are offered to the Catholic saints born this month-- St. Anthony, St. John the Baptist and St. Peter and St. Paul. In Goa there is happy mingling of festivals and feast days for the common good of all.
June-July (Asadh) - Rainy season with no major festival.
July- August (Shravana) - Gokul Ashtami or Janamashtami is the Birthday of Lord Krishna. This marks the beginning of Goa's harvest festival. At Narve village in Bicholim, people gather for pilgrimage from far and wide.
August- September (Bhadra-Pada) - Ganesh Chaturthi birthday of Lord Ganesh, the most important deity in the Konkan, and is celebrated all over Goa. Thousand return to Goa for this festival, which is associated with good Harvest.
Novidade In each village, the first offering is is made to the church and the paddy specially blessed. No farmer, will harvest his rice crop before it is offered in a ceremony called 'Novidade' in which the parish priest himself harvests sheaf of rice and returns with it to the Church, Local people accompany him with music, fire works and Jubilation . It is a true feast day for all. Women folk of Goa's earliest tribal settlers perform a dance called Bhandup in half second half of the month..

September - October (Ashwin) - Navarati or the nine nights festivals associated with Lord Rama's Defeat of Ravana, demon King of Lanka culminates in the grand festival of Dusshera. Dusshera is celebrated by devotees of the Mother Goddess as her festival. The Sri Bhagavati Temple is Pernem has a fortnight's festivities on the occasion. Special celebrations for Navaratar Utsav are held at Shantadurga, Nagueshi, Mahalakshmi and Ramnath Temples at Ponda and at Kalika Devi Temples in Kasarpal. The Dhangar Dance is dance of worship performed during this festival. The Kiran Mahotsasv or religious music festival takes place at Quepem in September and is an all night celebration.

October- November (Kartika) - Deepawali is the great festivals of lights . It is universally celebrated in Goa, in homes, on the streets, in shops and of course, in religious places.

November- December (Aghrana) - Kejagiri Purnima could fall early in lights. It is the full moon following Dusshera and at Mardol in Ponda there are special celebrations to mark this auspicious day.

November- December (Paush) - Malni Purnima is the festivals at Sri Devaki Krishna Temple at Marcel. The Zatra of Shri Shantadugra is held at Dhargal in Pernem. The deity is taken out of the temple in a colourful procession for the day. The annual Zatra of Shri Shantadurga at Kunkoliemkarin at Fatorpa in Quepem also falls in this month. Thousands flock to attend the festival from afar. Zatra in all Temples, of special importance being at Mangueshi, Nagueshi, Ramnathi, Kavlem, Madki, Kundai, Shiroda, Khandepar, Borim, Kapileshwari, Mulgaon, Fatorpa, Amona, Mashel, Mala-Panaji, Mapusam, Velinga, Karmali, and Calangute.


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