The smart smallest state by population and the smallest state in India by area, Goa is a hub for tourists not just within India, but from all over the world. It is a state with enormous history, a cultural hub for art, a youngsters getaway place for the holidays, and a religious destination with numerous churches and ancient, holy temples. Yes, Goa has it all wrapped into one.
Historically, the earliest traces of human life in India were found 20,000-30,000 years ago. Goa was once a part of the Maurya Empire, ruled by the Buddhist emperor Ashoka and then in 1312, came under the governance of the Delhi sultanate.
The Portuguese then settled in what today is known as Old Goa and then moved the capital to the modern day Panjim or “Panaji”.
A lot of the ancient artefacts, architecture and monuments have been preserved in Goa for it to become a wonderful tourist destination. A melting pot state with an amalgamation of different cuisines, art forms, religions and cultures, there are certain locations in Goa you would regret not visiting.
The Top 10 most popular places in Goa tourists visit are:
#10: Casino Royale
Started in 2005, Casino Royale is a casino themed ship anchored on river Mandovi, which runs along Panaji. It is a gaming destination that offers classic casino games such as American Roulette, Black Jack, Baccarat, Poker, Money Wheel and slot machines with a VVIP gaming room.
The World Gaming Festival in 2011 conducted games such as Texas Hold Em’ Poker, Black Jack, Roulette and Indian Flush in the form of individual tournaments in which the best players battled it out to win a whooping cash prize of 5 crores.
#9: Chapora Beach
What’s sightseeing around Goa if you don’t hit one of its scenic beaches and soak in the sun?! It is an estuary that stretches along North Goa, around 10 km long.
It is also close to one of Goa’s oldest forts, Chapora Fort and a trawler-fishing jetty. Something not to miss is the conveniently situated Ganesh Fruit Center selling organic, refreshing fruit juices that always attracts a crowd. Rejuvenate yourself. Sip fruit juice and fall asleep at the beach; the perfect holiday.
#8: Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
Situated on the Western tip of Chorao Island, the sanctuary is named after the renowned Indian ornithologist, Salim Ali.
Nature lovers, botanists and bird watchers, this is your paradise. The entry ticket costs a meagre 50 rupees and there are boat rentals available at your disposal. Geographically, this scenic area is covered by a thick layer of mangrove forest cover.
The mudskipper and black drongo are regular sightings in this region.
#7: Se Cathedral
The Se Catedral de Santa Catarina is known as “Se Cathedral”, the largest church by area located in Old Goa and one of the largest churches in Asia.
The architecture is regal and a combination of Portuguese-Manueline with a Tuscan exterior and Corinthian interiors. The Se Cathedral’s tower houses a large bell known as the “Golden Bell” on account of its rich tone.
There is also a Chapel of the Cross of Miracles, where a vision of Jesus Christ himself was said to have appeared in 1919. Saint Francis Xavier, the patron saint of Goa baptized several Goan converts.
#6: Shanta Durga Temple
The temple is dedicated to the idol of Shantadurga, a mediate between Vishnu and Shiva. It is a fusion of Indo-Portuguese architecture.
The temple complex is on the slope of the foothills of a mountain chain, surrounded by lush vegetation. There is a main temple and three smaller temples of other deities which have been built on three sides of the temple.
A small laterite mud shrine was converted into an official deity with the foundation stone laid in 1730 and completed in 1738.
#5: Anjuna Flea Market
The market sees local and expat vendors selling everything from jewelry, clothing, souvenirs to ornaments, sarees and ceiling hangings.
Although this market is temporarily closed in the monsoon season due to torrential rain, when it is open, it is buzzing and full of life with consumers looking for a reasonable bargain.
#4: Goa State Museum
The new museum complex is located in the EDC complex in Patto, inaugurated by the Indian President at the time in 1996.
Artifacts were set up in the Department of Archives by the Archeology and Museum Unit. The museum currently has around 8,000 artifacts on display, which include stone sculptures, wooden objects, carvings, bronzes, paintings, manuscripts, rare coins, numismatic collection, and anthropological objects.
It has a collection of famous Hindu and Jain artifacts as well.
#3: Fatorda Stadium
Officially known as the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, it is located in Margao in Goa. With a capacity of seating 22,000, it opened in 1989.
It is the main I-League Football Stadium in Goa, used by Dempo SC, Salgaokar F.C. and Sporting Clube de Goa. It was redeveloped to include cricket players as well.
The Lusfonia Games in 2014 were conducted here.
#2: Naval Aviation Museum
6km away from Vasco Da Gama, this museum contains exhibits that showcase the evolution of the Indian Air Arm over the decades.
Admission to the Naval Aviation Museum costs 20 rupees for adults only. It is one of the Two Military Aviation Museums in India.
#1: Palolem Beach
Situated in South Goa, it is unspoiled and inhabited by local fishermen and foreign tourists who live along the coastline. It is one mile long and crescent shaped with the depth of the sea increasing gradually.
The nearest airport is Dabolim Airport and it is one of the most beautiful beaches, becoming increasingly crowded during holiday season.
There are two close adjoining beaches and the accommodations and costs of staying nearby are very cheap.