The awesome splendour of Goa's ancient heritage, the overwhelming beauty of its coastline, the quiet charm of its countryside and the fascinating feel of its culture will amaze, astound, and delight you. Indeed the many must-see focal points listed here will sure be a feast to your eyes. Have an utterly rewarding experience that will pull you back to the shores of Goa year after year and be convinced that it is indeed the pearl of the east and the darling of the west.

Flea market - Anjuna

The famous Anjuna flea market is held on every Wednesday in a grove of coconut palms at Anjuna. The concept of flea market was started by the hippies in early 80s, when they used to gather at Anjuna to sell their electronic or any other items to the locals. Fabrics, ornamental crafts, spices, Kahmiri and Tibetan handicrafts and what have you.

Spice Plantations

Pascoal Farm Pascoal Spice Farm at Khandepar covers 20 hectares supporting the three major cash crops coconut, cashew and areca, along with pineapples, mango, papaya and jackfruit and spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper, cloves and cardamom. It opened to the public a few years ago, supplying visitors with delicious curry lunches on banana leaf platters and selling its organically grown spices.
No pesticides are used and compost materials include sugarcane waste, cow dung, poultry and fish manure. The owner, Milagres Fernandes, was recently rewarded with second prize in the prestigious 'Best Farmer of The Year Award' presented by an American company. The farm also has excellent Boating facility.

Tambdi Surla

The Tambdi Surla temple situated at Tambdi village is historically important as the same has been built by the Kadamba kings during the 13th Century. The temple is made out of black granite stone which has been dedicated to Lord Shiva and is well connected by road. The distance from Mollem to this temple is around 13 km.

Bird Watching

The Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is located on the Chorao Islands and covers an area of approximately 1.8 sq. km. Home to many species of birds, for example parrots, cormorants, egrets, kingfishers and eagles. Curtorim Lakes, Curtorim village, located at a distance of only 7 kms away from Margao city, is blessed with 5 lakes and abundant bird life. In Curtorim Lake, total birds counted were 15,500 during December 2002, and 14,800 during January 2003. The number of species recorded was 120. Most abundant species was the Garganey, followed by Lesser Whistling Teal, Pintail and White-eyed Pochard.

Watch Tower Above Curtorim Hill.

Carambolim Lake is a favourite birding site spot among the tourists. It is home for various species of foreign, migratory birds over the years. Located a few kms away from Old Goa, it is within walking distance from the Karmali Railway Station and one can view a lot of species of migratory birds.

Water Sports

Goa is famous and well known for Boat Cruises. A boat cruise on River Mandovi is a delightful excursion experience you should never miss during your visit to Goa. Goa offers both river cruises as well as sea cruises. River cruises commence from Panjim jetty located below the Mandovi bridge.

The cruises provide visitors with live music, DJ's & performing artist and traditional folk dances. Food and beverages is also served on board depending on the package you choose. The boat cruises are offered onboard a number of vessels. Goa Tourism Development Corporation GTDC offers various boat cruises on river Mandovi.

River Cruises: Goa is famous and well known for Boat Cruises. A boat cruise on River Mandovi is a delightful excursion experience you should never miss during your visit to Goa. Goa offers both river cruises as well as sea cruises. River cruises commence from Panjim jetty located below the Mandovi Bridge.

The cruises provide visitors with live music, DJ's & performing artist and traditional folk dances. Food and beverages is also served on board depending on the package you choose. The boat cruises are offered onboard a number of vessels. Goa Tourism Development Corporation GTDC offers various boat cruises on river Mandovi.

River Cruises, although there are a number of private operators running river cruises, the best way to enjoy the beauty of river Mandovi is to undertake a cruise conducted by the GTDC (Goa Tourism Development Corporation). There are variety of cruises for you to choose from - daytime, sunset and moonlight.

Day cruises itself can be categorised into two types - the first one is down the Mandovi river into the Zuari bay while the second one is up the Mandovi to Aldona and a mineral water spring.
Cruise options available for you include Sun Set Cruise - A one hour trip that costs Rs 100 per person. Cultural entertainment programme include troupes performing the Dekni Temple Dance, the Fugdi Dance and the Corredinho (Portuguese peasant dance). The cruise departs everyday at 6 p.m.

Sun Down Cruise: This one starts off at 7:15 in the evening and is also an hour's trip. Cultural entertainment programmes are the same as in the Sun Set Cruise.

Full Moon Cruise/Special Cruise This one gives you an opportunity to enjoy the excitement of cruise trip for a bit longer period. The trip carries on for a period of two hours. The cruise begins by 5.30 in the evening and continues upto 10.30 in the night. Per person charges are 150.

Star Cruises The Super Star Libra that operates in India (and also in the other parts of the continent of Asia) is more of a luxury resort, complete with restaurant & bars as well as sports and fitness centre. Moreover, you also have an opportunity to stay in luxury rooms - Executive Suites, Junior Suites and Ocean view Statesroom Suite. On board entertainment options include an open-style karaoke lounge, a discotheque, showlounge, cocktails and pre-dinner lounge with live entertainment.

Kadmat Island - Goa Cruise This cruise begins from Mumbai in the evening and spends two full nights and a day before it reaches Kadmat island. After spending one full day at the Kadmat island, the cruise proceeds towards Goa. The next day is reserved for touring Goa. After a round in Goa, the cruise returns to Mumbai.

Kochi Goa Special Cruise This one is also quiet similar to the previous cruise, with the only exception that the cruise tours Kochi instead of Kadmat island before reaching Goa.

Kayaking: A kayak is a boat where the paddler faces forward, legs in front, using a double bladed paddle. Almost all kayaks have closed decks, although there are many sit-on-top kayaks. Kayaking is a water sport that has seen a lot of interest in Goa along with other water sports adventure activities like Canoeing, Kayaking, Rafting, Tubing and Wind-gliding.

Dolphin and Crocodile Watching

Dolphin and crocodile spotting trips are very famous in Goa. From October to May, dolphin-spotting trips are conducted off Goa's beaches and crocodile-spotting trips in the backwaters. The thrill of watching dolphins frolic in their natural surroundings, cavorting in graceful curves above the sea is exquisite. Dolphin watching trips are on offer from many local boat owners on many stretches of Goa's beaches. Some of the prominent beaches which have operators providing dolphin watching trips are Candolim Beach, Calangute Beach and Palolem Beach.

Sea Safari's: Dolphin Cruise leaves from Dona Paula, cruises into the Arabian Sea up to Grande Island. activities involve dolphin-spotting, snorkelling and barbecue on the island. Departure 9 a.m. and duration about 7 hours. There are many operators providing a rare sight of crocodiles sunning themselves on the muddy banks of the Cumbarjua Canal before slithering back into the water.

From St Estevam, Tiswadi. Jake-the-Snake Crocodile Dundee has a crocodile-spotting trip that leaves from St. Estevam and travels up the Cumbarjua Canal to Kundaim. Departure at 10 a.m. and 3 to 4 hours duration. From Cortalim/Banastarim. Crocodile Station does a Cumbarjua croc-spotting cruise. Departure depends on the tides 2 hours duration.

From Old Goa Crosscraft has a croc-spotting trip that departs from St Catherine's Jetty at Old Goa, up to Banastarim and back. Departure depends on the tides 2 hours duration. From Panjim/ Dona Paula. Crosscraft's Dolphin Cruise leaves from Panjim Jetty, cruises along Reis Magos Fort, Miramar Beach to the Aguada Bay and back. Departure 9 a.m. and 2 hours duration.

The legendary Goan night life

The legendary Goan night life is a heady cocktail of fun and frolic in tune with the dynamic culture of partying in Goa with loads of excitement including dance, dine and drink. The ambience is simply great - relaxing and fun way to enjoy with family and friends. Most of the places serve exquisite seafood and other Goan delicacies with a wide range of drinks.

Some of the eminent discotheques in Goa are as follows: - Bamboo Forest Disco, Paradiso Disco, Club Cabana Disco, Club Antoos Disco, Anjuna Beach Discos, Hill Top Disco, Club Tito's Disco, Club Extreme Disco

Wildlife sanchuries/ national parks

Goa has a few wildlife sanctuaries for those who would like to go against the conventional and discover something new and learn more about the flora and fauna of Goa. If one is lucky there's more than just butterflies, birds and jungle insects to spot. It would definitely be worth going on a jungle safari, you may just get lucky and spot deer or bison or wild boar or monkeys.

MOLLEM NATIONAL PARK/BHAGWAN MAHAVIR WILDLIFE SANCTUARY, Home to a rich and rarefied wildlife, Mollem Nation Park is situated in the heart of Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary. This sanctuary which was earlier known as Mollem Game Sanctuary was subsequently renamed asBhagwan Mahavir Sanctuary and lies on the eastern border of Goa, along the Western Ghats. The National Highway 4A divides it into two parts and also the Mormugao - Londa railway line which passes through this area.

The park is spread in an area of 107 sq km abundant with dense forests. Mollem National Park was notified as a National Park since 1978. It covers the core zone of Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary. Located 65 km away from Panaji, Mollem Nation Park is named after the village Mollem in Sanguem Taluka where it is located. Placed on the slopes of Western Ghat ranges, it is very near eastern Goa-Karnataka border. This national park is sheltering a number of animals, birds and plants which are otherwise on the verge of extinct.

You can drive in or just walk along the mud trails. When you trek through the dense forest, you will find herds of bison besides other animals. Observe each and every moment of wildlife. Don't walk through the large webs which may be spun amidst tree branches. Have a close us at the huge spiders and colourful butterflies including Chocolate Pansy, Crimson Rose and Blue Mormon.

Mollem National Park The core zone of Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary comprising an area of 107 sq. km. has been notified as a National Park during 1978. The flora and fauna of this Park is similar to that found within the sanctuary since this is a core zone.

Eco-tourism Wing In the Nature Interpretation Centre at Mollem, there is an informative collection of forest products . It orients the visitor to the forest biota in general and the vegetation in this Sanctuary, in particular. Valuable information can be acquired here about what to expect at that particular time of the year. For going to the Dudhsagar Falls, taxies can be hired from Mollem and Collem. For accommodation, the Tourism Deptt. of Goa has several rooms and dormitories in the vicinity. One two-bedded suite is also available in the Forest Rest House at Mollem.

Cotigao Wild Life Sanctuary Cotigao, Goa's fourth and the second largest wild-life sanctuary initially admeasuring 105 sq kms, was established in 1968 to protect a remote and vulnerable deciduous forest on the Goa-Karnataka border. However later the area was re-notified in 1993 and limited to 86 sq kms. It lies about 10-km southeast of Chaudi and about 76 kms. from Panaji. Its terrain is fairly plain, with hills in the south and east.
There is a watch-tower called the tree-top overlooking a waterhole that attracts a handful of animals around dawn and dusk. Bisons, Sambars, Cheetals, Porcupines, Wild-Boars and Bonnet Monkeys could be seen from the tree-top if you are lucky. The wardens at the reserve's small Interpretative Centre at Hattipal will show one how to get to a 25 metre-high treetop watchtower.
Any of the buses running south on NH-17 to Karwar via Chaudi will drop one within 1-km of the gates. However, to explore the inner reaches of the sanctuary, one really needs one's own transport.
Written permission must be obtained from the Deputy Conservator of Forests, 3rd Floor, Junta House, Panaji or Dy Conservator, Margao for an overnight stay, either in the watchtower or the forest department's small rest house. The wardens also arrange a tent, blankets and basic food if necessary.
Hattipal, Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary Tel: 2735361 (for booking) Tented (hut-type) Rs 150, mini-cottage (Rs 200), cottage (Rs 400), tent Rs 150. Extra person Rs 25 per day. Tented accomodation not available during monsoons. Food prepared on advance notice. Green, pollution-free environment.

BONDLA WILDLIFE SANCTUARY Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Northeastern Goa, India. The total area of this park land is 8 square km. It is a popular destination for both tourists and school children. Known for the place to go and encounter a wide variety of animal life including: sambar deer, Indian bison, peacocks and many species of snake. There are also Giant Malayam Squirrels.

Bondla provides sanctuary to leopards who have been injured when they ventured too close to human habitation, dancing bears and Cobras who along with their trainers need a new life as the age old tradition of dancing bears and snake charming is now illegal. The elephants and their handlers are more fortunate. The two at Bondla take turns to give visitors a ride. On their off day, they are bathed and laze around, producing Elephant Cakes. Another surprise at Bondla, are the Hindu carvings. These were discovered when the sanctuary gardens were being constructed.

SALIM ALI BIRD SANCTUARY The Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is named after Dr. Salim Ali, (an Indian ornithologist) is a bird sanctuary located on western tip of the Island of Chorao along the river Mandovi. The size of the sanctuary is 1.78 kms. The area is covered with a thick layer of mangrove forests where one can find many different kinds of birds and animals, including species such as the mudskipper and the black drongo.

MHADEI & NETRAVALI WILDLIFE SANCTUARY Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Sattari takula in Goa, in India. The size of this area is about 208 kms. This sanctuary covers much of the north-eastern portions of Goa and is connected to the Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary. Together the two wildlife areas have a total area of 420 kms. It is also known to be a bird watcher's paradise where one can see a lot of species of birds. The Mhadei wildlife sanctuary is also famous for its semi green and evergreen forests.

Sun, Sand, Surf and the Sea

105 kms of Konkan coast stretches across the state of Goa providing a wide range of choice in beaches to suit everybody's needs. There are unspoilt pristine streches of sand for the solitude seeker and there are those ones jammed with people in every square feet of sand.

There are beaches far from human habitation with very basic or sometimes no facility for accommodation. Then there are some with ultra modern comforts like internet cafes, massage centers, gyms, swimming pools, night clubs, etc. With such an enormous choice, one might feel confused about which one to take.

But on the contrary, it's quite easy to plan an itinerary for getting suntan allover the body. Taking the capital Panaji and the next major city Margao as base points, all the beaches can be visited in a stretch. North from Panaji lies the most famous beach of Calangute.

From here onwards to the northern tip of the state, swaying palms and shimmering sands stretch giving an enchanting sight. The further north, the emptier the beaches become. The same can be said about the silvery sands, which stretch down southwards from Margao. Right from Colva, the famous silvery white sand beach, there is an uninterrupted continuity in beaches. The more you move south the lonelier the beaches are.

North Goa Circuit: This stretch begins from the headland of Fort Aguada just outside Panaji city and moves up north towards the border to Maharashtra. Right from the Fort Aguada Beach Resort, an interrupted stretch of sand lies awaiting tourists, sunbathers and party animals.

Sinquerim, Candolim, Calangute, Baga, Anjuna, Vagator, Morjim and Arambol are the beaches that can be covered in the North Goa Circuit.

South Goa Circuit: Another major base to begin the beach conquest is from Margao, the second most important city in Goa. This railway junction connects Goa to all major cities in the coastline like Mumbai, Mangalore and Kochi.

Beginning from Majorda beach, a 20 kms long silvery white sand stretches across till the headland of Cabo de Rama.

Velsao, Majorda, Betalbatim, Colva, Benaulim, Varca, Cavelossim, Mobor and Betul beaches are all interconnected.

Cities of Goa

PANJIM Panjim lies on the banks of the River Mandovi, in the district of North Goa. It is Goa's third largest city after Vasco da Gama and Margao.

The official name is Panaji. The Portuguese name was Pangim. The city is called Panjim in English. The city is called Ponnji in Konkani. Panaji became a state-capital on Goa's elevation to statehood in 1987. Between 1961 and 1987, it was the capital of the Union Territory of Goa, Daman and Diu. Panaji is also the administrative headquarters of North Goa district.

Among the landmarks, in the heat of the city is the Church Square or Municipal Garden with the Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church originally built in 1541. Other tourist attractions include the Adilshahi Palace dating from the sixteenth century, the Menezes Braganza Institute and the Central Library, the Mahalaxmi Temple, the Jama Masjid mosque, the Chapel of St. Sebastian as well as the nearby beach of Miramar. Hanuman Mandir at Mala and its annual Jatra in February is a major attraction among tourists.

The Kala Academy and the INOX theatre add to the glamour of the city. The Carnival celebrations in February include a colourful parade on the streets. This is followed by the Shigmo/ xigmo, or Holi. The Narkasur parade on previous night of Dipavali in the city is very colourful.

MAPUSA Mapusa or Mhapxem in Konkani also spelt as Mapuca, Mhapsa or Mapsa is a town in North Goa, India. It is situated 13 km north of the capital Panaji. The town on the main highway NH-17 is the headquarters of Bardez taluka.

Mapusa comes alive on Friday, the traditional market day also known as Mapusa Friday Market. People from surrounding villages and towns come to Mapusa to sell their wares. This fair has a lot of local flavour and specializes in agricultural produce, vegetables, locally-grown fruit, spices, clothes and even plants.

MARGAO The Dindi festival at the Vithal Rakhumai temple in the Comba ward occurs on the 2nd day after Diwali. A procession of the deity takes place at night through the city. The feast of the Holy Spirit Church, locally known as Purumetache fest occurs just before the Monsoon sets in. People from all over Goa congregate at the special market to buy spices and dried fish to be used during the rainy season.

The Margao Railway station is Goa's biggest. It is a railway junction positioned at the intersection of the Konkan Railway and the South Central Railway. Almost all trains passing through Goa stop here and it is the gateway to south Goa."

Margao or Madgaon or Moddganv in Konkani is Goa's second largest but busiest town, the commercial capital of the state, and the administrative headquarters of South Goa District and of the Salcete taluka.

Among the landmarks in the city include the 'Closed' Market called in Konkani as "Pimplapedd" or "Pimpalakatta," the municipal building (Camara), the municipal garden, Anna Fonte (natural springs), Old Market or Mercado Velho, Holy Spirit Church, grand colonial mansions (especially the Seven Gables House near the church) and the OSIA Multiplex.

The Dindi festival at the Vithal Rakhumai temple in the Comba ward occurs on the 2nd day after Diwali. A procession of the deity takes place at night through the city. The feast of the Holy Spirit Church, locally known as purumetache fest occurs just before the Monsoon sets in. People from all over Goa congregate at the special market to buy spices and dried fish to be used during the rainy season.

The Margao Railway station is Goa's biggest. It is a railway junction positioned at the intersection of the Konkan Railway and the South Central Railway. Almost all trains passing through Goa stop here, and it is the gateway to south Goa.

VASCO Vasco da Gama (often shortened to Vasco) Vasko in Konkani is a small city in the state of Goa on the west coast of India. It is named after the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama. The town also houses the Dabolim Airport (GOI) about 5 kms.

Vasco city is well connected by road, rail, sea and air. NH 17A (National Highway) by road, by rail by the South Western Railway, by the sea through the Mormugao Harbour and by air through Dabolim Airport, thus serving as the main hub for most tourists visiting the state of Goa.

The Mormugao Port Trust which operates the port is the largest employer in the Vasco region and has a complete mini-township in Headland Sada.

Bogmalo Beach is 9 kilometers (5.6 mi) from Vasco. This beach is quite risky as it has underwater currents and is therefore usually monitored by lifeguards. Khollant (Issorcim) and Baina are two smaller beaches around Vasco.

The Naval Aviation Museum is a popular tourist spot and is the only such museum in India. It profiles aircraft exhibits and rare photographs.

Vasco is also famous for the annual Shri Damodar Bhajani Saptah fair held in Shravan month of Hindu lunar calendar preceding the festival of Raksha Bandhan. Like all towns and cities in Goa, Vasco also celebrates the Shigmo and Carnival annually with a street parade where floats from all over Goa participate.

PONDA Ponda or Fonddem in Konkani is a city in North Goa district in the Indian state of Goa. Ponda lies strategically along the NH-4A highway connecting Panaji to Belgaum in the neighboring state of Karnataka. One of the main tourist attractions is the Safa Masjid, a sixteen-century Muslim monument. There are regular bus services from Panaji and Margao There are also inter-state buses regularly between Hubli and Belgaum run by KSRTC.

Ponda is also the gateway to the Bondla and the Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and also the Dudhsagar Waterfalls. The Butterfly conservatory is an interesting place for nature enthusiasts. There are some interesting spice farms around Ponda.

FORTS OF GOA

Goa;s forts have their own history and myths with a blend of history that is a concoction of different cultures including the Portuguese, the Muslim rulers and the Hindu.

Fort Aguada Fort of Aguada is situated in the north of Goa, 18 km from Panaji. The Fort of Aguada was built by the Portuguese to prevent the entry of the enemy into River Mandovi and to protect old Goa from attacks. The fortification skirts the seashore. From the ramparts of Fort Aguada, you can get a fantastic view of the golden beaches running right up to the borders of the Indian state of Maharashtra.
At the center of the fort is a circular lighthouse tower which was built in 1864. If you can manage to reach the top of the lighthouse, then you can catch some excellent view of the Cabo Raj Niwas. The Fort presently houses the central jail.

Goa Cabo Raj Niwas Cabo Raj Niwas, built in 1540 AD, is situated just opposite to Fort Aguada. This fortress housed the Franciscan monastery during the 16th century. Cabo Raj Niwas is now the official residence of the governor of Goa.

Cabo de Rama Not far from Agonda beach is Cabo de Rama, untouched by most of the visitors in this region. The atmosphere of the fort creates a sense of history and drama that very few would fail to appreciate. The fort is named after Rama, hero of the Hindu epic Ramayana. According to the local legends, Rama stayed here with his wife Sita during the period of his 13-year exile.

Chapora Fort Goa Chapora Fort is situated near the Anjuna beach in Goa. The Chapora Fort gives a splendid view of the Anjuna and Vagator beaches. The fort has been well preserved except for a few interesting ruins. Once, it was a domain of the Muslim rulers before the Portuguese wrested it.

Tiracol Fort The Tiracol Fort in Goa looks as if it has come out alive from a fairy tale. Now this fort has been converted into a hotel. A beautiful little Goan church dominates the central court around which the fort of Tiracol rises: a living church full of light and quiet elegance. Cross the court and walk up the narrow stone stairs through short passages into split level rooms which follow the contours of the headland: old furniture, superb views over the river Tiracol and the beaches and out to the blue horizon of the sea. The Portuguese had sailed in from there, established themselves in the old conquests like this one, taken over an existing outpost, converted it to a fort to repulse the latest technique of attack.

Heritage houses: Legacy of another era

The enduring legacy of the Portuguese colonization which is still quite in evidence and in everyday use is the magnificent architecture of the traditional mansions in Goa. The Portuguese in Goa, built residential houses reflecting a style which is hardly found elsewhere on the Indian subcontinent. These magnificent palatial houses inspired by European architectural style are still found in Goa today. Most of these houses are accessible only on special request or appointment either directly from the owner or through the nearest Tourist Office. Some of the more famous of the Portuguese style mansions which can be visited today are listed here.

Salvador Costa Mansion The Costa Mansion in Loutolim was built in the 19th century by two wealthy siblings and priests, Padre Pedrinho and Padre Laurence. Built in the Indian style (low pitched tiled roof, wide verandas) with European accouterments (Gothic- style windows, cluster columns), its architecture straddles both worlds just as Goa still does.

Solar dos Colacos Mansion Built in baroque style with an imposing facade with a spectacular view of islands and the historical churches of Old Goa. This mansion at Ribandar on the left bank of the River Mandovi is typical of the ambivalence of the times. Nazario Colaco II carved a sideboard of his dining room with scenes from the Ramayana. But this is counterbalanced by the strident Catholicism of the family's private chapel.

Pinto de Rosario Mansion The Pinto do Rosario Mansion in Porvorim reflects more the joy of possession than reverence for style. Piled up in side-boards and cup- boards are rare pieces of cut-glass, silver, blue china, ivory. The objets d'art are yet to be categorised and dated. But the sheer quantity and doubtless quality of most of the items are quite simply astounding. The Italian floor tiling is the highlight of the parlour. Above the exquisitely carved sofa is a Dutch tapestry, a replica of Rembrandt's Night Watch. The love- chair is said to be 200 years old.

Mascarenhas Mansion The characteristic 'balcaos' (balconies) sets the Mascarenhas Mansion in Anjuna, north Goa, apart. It is monumental. The riches overpower you. The seat along the length of the porch are L-shaped, of expensive wood, the glare is cut off with a mixture of brightly coloured stained glass and, as if to contrast it, light tinted flint glass "such as which is no longer made" with fine floral etchings.

Menezes Braganza Pereira House The Menezes Braganza Pereira house is located at the Chandor village in Goa. It is known to be more than 350 years old and is situated near the church square in Chandor. This mansion is the most exquisite heritage house in the countryside, the biggest in Goa and also has a Portuguese style facade. It is a museum of chandeliers, painting, porcelain, crystal, period furniture and other antique items. The Portuguese style outer facade with 24 windows is the longest in Goa. There is no entry fee and tourists can visit the house any day between 9 am to 5 pm. For the maintenance of this palatial heritage mansion, there is a small box where you can leave some money at your discretion.

Vivian Coutinho Mansion With an interesting facade, the Coutinhos Mansion had a well kept garden with the green pleasantly contrasting the red of the masonry seats. They broke the monotony of the red wash and the outer wall, interspersing decorative tiles.

Colaco Mansion The only heritage mansion facing the waterfront, the corridor runs along the front facade and faces the Mandovi River. The walls are washed in ox-blood colour, one of the three traditional colours of Goan exteriors, the other being white (very Portuguese) and indigo (very Indian).

Palacio do Deao Set amidst what is regarded as the most beautiful pleasure gardens in Goa, the 213 years old mansion was built by a Portuguese noble man and founder of Quepem town. The house faces the Church he built and is on the banks of the beautiful Kushavati River. It is built in an unusual style blending elements of Hindu and Portuguese architecture

MUSEUMS IN GOA

The museums of Goa embody an effort to preserve the unique culture and heritage of the state. The chequered history of the state marked by invasions and occupations finds an expression through the artifacts preserved in the Goa museums. Besides a plethora of archeological relics, the museums in Goa also house exquisite art and crafts and both traditional and modern paintings. Given below are some famous museums in Goa.

Archaeological Museum The Archaeological Museum of Goa was set up in 1964 under the auspices of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The Convent of St. Francis of Assisi, which was lying in a state of dereliction since it was closed by the Portuguese government in 1835, was chosen as the museum venue. The museum underwent an extensive renovation regime in 1981-82.

Goa State Museum Housing a splendid collection of ancient artifacts and sculptures, the Goa State Museum has done much to preserve the heritage of the state. The humble origins of the museum can be traced to 1973 when the Archeology and Museum unit was set up in the Department of Archives in Goa.

Museum of Christian Art The Museum of Christian art is a unique repository of the exquisite church art that blossomed during the Portuguese era. The only one of its kind in Asia, the Christian Art Museum was set up in 1994 in a joint collaboration between Calouste Gulbentian foundation of Portugal and the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), New Delhi.

Naval Aviation Museum The Naval Aviation Museum is a glorious tribute to the origin and evolution of the Indian Naval Wing. Showcasing a multitude of warbirds that served the duty of the land, the Naval Aviation Museum is the only one of its kind in the whole of Asia. Inaugurated on October 12, 1998, the Naval Aviation Museum is divided into two sections, an out-door exhibit and a number of indoor galleries.

Goa Chitra The ultimate museum of Goan ethnography. It is an unique collection and display of traditional farming implements and other ancient tools of trade set up against the backdrop of a traditional organic farm. Beginning with the original 200 privately collected items, the collections have now grown to more than 4000 objects on display. The museum nevertheless preserves its universality in its collections of artifacts in representing the culture of ancient Goa. Goa Chitra believes in reviving age old traditions through the museum display and outreach programs thus allowing the younger generation to share the wisdom of the past which would otherwise be irretrievably lost.

Institute Menezes Braganza On view at the institute Menezes Braganza are stone sculpture, bronzes and terracotta artefacts. There are coins, stamps and paintings which include drawings and etchings.

Big Foot Art Gallery The museum has many sections with the reception and Parashuram, The Legendary Lord who is the avtar of Lord Vishnu is believed to have created the land of Goa by shooting an arrow from the Sahyadri mountains into the Arabian Sea. The museum also has fisherman-Victorin, cowsged and Haystack. Then come the Bhatti-Jaki's distillery where Goa's famous "Feni" and "Urak" is distilled.

Ancestral Goa is situated in Loutolim which is 20minutes drive from Margao and is also called "BIG FOOT". This is first of its kind in India, an Open air Museum-cum-parkland spread over 9 acres depicting the culture and tradition of rural Goa around 200 years ago, in the form of life size statues and Structures.

The museum has many sections with the reception and Parashuram, The Legendary Lord who is the avtar of Lord Vishnu is believed to have created the land of Goa by shooting an arrow from the Sahyadri mountains into the Arabian Sea. The museum also has fisherman-Victorin, cowsged and Haystack. Then come the Bhatti- Jaki's distillery where Goa's famous "Feni" and "Urak" is distilled.

Churches of Goa

Reis Magos Church This church is located inside the fort. It was first built in 1555 and was run by the Franciscans and was dedicated to St. Jerome. It soon became a center of learning for priests and was also a stopover for many of the early viceroys. There is evidence that this church like many others was built at the site of a Hindu temple by the Portuguese. The outside facade carries the royal Portuguese coat of arms. The small shrine near the foot of the stairs is dedicated to Our Lady of Hope. It is said to be the site of Alfonso de Albuquerque's landing in 1510. The inside of the church was renovated in 1771 and the towers were added in 1764.Inside the church to the right of the altar is the grave of Viceroy Dom Luis da Almeida. The main festival celebration here is the Feast of Reis Magos or the Feast of the three Kings held on January 6th annually.

Saligao Seminary This is an active seminary situated at Saligao. Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, Moira This church is located in the center of the village of Moira, near Mapusa in Bardez taluka. It was originally built in 1636 with many subsequent renovations. It has a facade with a central false dome. The bell of the church originally came from the seminary church of the Jesuit College of St Solhe at Monte Santo in Old Goa. It has a beautiful interior and this church is built in the Rococo period and style.

Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception This was reportedly one of the first Churches to be built in Goa, estimated around 1540's. It was built there because of the high ground it stood on. It was rebuilt in 1619. After Panjim became the capital city, the great bell of the Church of Our Lady of Grace in Old Goa or the "Bell of the Inquisition" was moved to this church from Aguada in 1841. At the same time, the renovation created the four tiered steps leading to the church.

Goan Culture

An Exotic Mix of Cultural Influences Goa's cultural traditions literally stretch back to the dawn of civilization. Despite successive onslaughts and the ravages of alien occupation, Goa's cultural traditions have displayed amazing resilience with stimulation by every fresh challenge.

To a large extent, Goa's cultural heritage was enriched by a slow but unremitting process of absorption and assimilation of the more congenial features of alien culture. The focal point being the symbiosis of Latin and local cultural strains.

A Goan is said to be born with music in his blood and music literally accompanies him from the cradle to the grave. Musical traditions run in whole generations.

Music itself runs the entire gamut of sonic versatility; from the rustic Dhangar (Shepherd) playing and flutes to sophisticated tabla and sitar or violin and piano soloist thrilling large audiences in concert halls. Music is the time seller at all major social events-feasts, festivals, "zatras", and marriages.

Goan folk music has a lively rhythm and the folk-dances a rugged vitality. The musical accompaniment for both folk songs and the folk dances is provided by a diversity of musical instruments - Ghumats, Dhols, Cymbals (Drums), Flutes, Harmonium, Violins and Guitars. The favorite, however, seems to be the Ghumat.

No description in writing can ever do full justice to these dynamic folk art forms. Watching a live performance can elicit to a certain degree its emotional content, rhythmic charm, the colorful variety and vitality.

Freedom brought about a cultural renaissance in Goa along with providing a fresh impetus to the classic literature and fine arts and a revival of the folk arts.

Once again the almost forgotten folk dances Dhalo, Fugdi, Corridinho, Mando and performing folk arts (like Khell-Tiatro), Jagar-perani and many others have come out into their own. Indeed the folk music and folk dances have crossed the borders of the state and become popular in the rest of the country during the past 25 years.