Goa City Guide
The history of Goa dates back to the 3rd century when it was part of the Mauryan empire. Then it came under the rule of the Satavahanas of Kolhapur. It changed hands with the Chalukyas of Badami. Goa was also ruled by the Shilharas agoa-beachnd Kadambas. In 1312 Goa for the first time fell into the hands of the Muslim rulers when Harihara of the Vijayanagar Empire evacuated the coastal area. Goa for the Vijayanagar was an important port to carry out trade with the west via the Arabian Sea. In 1469 Bahami Sultans of Gulbarga captured Goa. Then came Adil Shahis’ of Bijapur from whom the Portuguese took over in 1510. Goa is blessed with natural harbor’s and ports which were ideal for the seafaring Portuguese. They needed this place to control the spice trade to Europe and the Middle East. Initially the occupation was limited to a small area around the present day Goa. But Slowly the Turks were driven out of the area and Portuguese captured a large area and hence gained a good hold over the spice trade from the East.
Goa become the Viceregal seat of administration for the Eastern colony of the Portuguese. The Marathas nearly occupied Goa from the Portuguese in the 18th century. During the Napoleonic wars Britishers had a brief occupation of Goa otherwise the Portuguese were masters of Goa till 1961 when they were finally driven out. Goa has Hindu population in majority but the life style and culture of the place has so developed that skirt dominates the saree. And who can forget Feni, the locally brewed liquor which is popular as much among the tourist as it is among the locals. In 1542 came St. Francis Xavier, a Jesuit Missionary. Once Christianity came to the place many churches were built and till date they are famous for their designs and architecture. But the main attraction of Goa is its soft golden beaches. These beaches still awash with budget travelers of all ages and degrees of affluence. Not only foreigners Goa is also attracting an ever increasing number of Indians from out side Goa.
Forts & Monuments Goa
A spring within the fort provided water supply to the ships that called there, giving it the name “Aguada” (meaning ‘water’ in Portuguese). On the northern side, it provides a harbour for local shipping. The fort, at present, houses the central jail. A 19th century built lighthouse is situated inside the fortress.
Immediately south of Candolim, a long peninsula extends into the sea, bringing the seven-kilometre white sandy beach to an abrupt end. Aguada Fort, which crowns the rocky flattened top of the headland, is the best-preserved Portuguese bastion in Goa. Built in 1612 to protect the northern shores of the Mandovi estuary from Dutch and Maratha raiders, it is home to several natural springs, the first source of drinking water available to ships arriving in Goa after the long sea.
With its fluorescent painted palm trees and infamous full moon parties, ANJUNA, 8-km west of Mapusa, is Goa at its most “alternative”. Designer leather and lycra may have superseded cotton Kaftans, but most people’s reasons for coming are the same as they were in the 1970s: dancing and lying on the beach slurping tropical fruit. While browsing in the area have a day trip to the famous flea market.dona-paula
The Beach, One of the main sources of Anjuna’s enduring popularity as a hippy hang out is its superb beach. Fringed by groves of swaying coconut palms, the curve of soft white sand conforms more closely to the archetypal vision of paradise than any other beach on the north coast. Bathing is generally safer than at most of the nearby resorts, too, especially at the more peaceful southern end, where a rocky headland keeps the sea calm and the undertow to a minimum.
North of the market ground, the beach broadens, running in an uninterrupted kilometre long stretch of steeply shelving sand to a low red cliff. The village bus park lies on top of this high ground, near a crop of small cafes, bars and Kashmiri handicraft stalls. Every lunch hour, tour parties from Panjim pull in here for a beer, before heading home again, leaving the ragged army of sun weary westerners to enjoy the sunset.
At the place where two of Goa’s famous rivers meet the Arabian Sea is the secluded bay of Dona Paula with a fine view of the Marmagao Harbour. 7-km from Panjim, nestled on the south side of the rocky, hammer-shaped headland that divides the Zuari and Mandovi estuaries, this former fishing village is nowadays a commercialized resort. This is an idyllic spot to relax and sunbathe. Water scootering facilities are also available over here.
The official residence of the Governor of Goa, Known as Cabo Raj Bhavan is situated on the westernmost tip of Dona Paula. Along the road leading to this place lies the ruins of the small military cemetery the British built at their brief occupation of the Cabo, to deter the French from invading Goa.
A Love Story, Named after Dona Paula de Menezes, this place is called the Lovers Paradise due to a myth that has been attached to this place. According one legend the Viceroy’s daughter after facing objections from her family about her love affair with a poor fisherman jumped of the cliff.
This highly visible landmark, a 46m-high tower served as a belfry and formed part of the facade of a magnificent Church. One of the most spectacular of all monuments in Goa, reproduced on innumerable travel brochures and advertisments is the St Augustine tower in Old Goa.
Out of the more than twenty fabulous churches which once existed in the old city of Velha Goa, only ten remain today. And of these four are actually chapels. The churches were located on and between seven hills around the Velha Goa region.
The Monte Santo (Holy Hill) at Velha Goa was the site for the the monastery of the Augustinian order, attached to which was the enormous church of Nossa Senhora da Graca (Our Lady of Grace). The Tower and Church were built in 1602 by the Augustinian friars who arrived in Goa in 1587.
The tower is one of the four towers of St. Augustine Church that once stood at the site. initially built
of laterite and colossal in size, almost forty-six metres high, it had four storeys. The Tower was meant to serve as a belfry and the Church had eight richly adorned chapels and four altars and a convent with numerous cells attached to it.
The construction of the building began more than 400 years ago and was finished between the years 1597 to 1602. The name of the designer of this magnificent piece of construction is not known, but he is thought to have been Italian.
Incidentally, the construction was begun in the same year as the arrival in Goa of Julio Simao (1565-1641) who was himself influenced by the great Spanish architect Juan de Herrera (1530-1597). Simao was the chief architect of the Indian colonies of Portugal having been appointed by Philip II, ruler of Spain and Portugal between 1580-1598.
When it was completed in the 16th century, the grand Nossa Senhora da Graca Church was recognised as one of the three great Augustinian churches in the Iberian world, the other two being the Basilica of the Escorial in Spain, St. Vincente de Fora in Lisbon.
On entering the church, the visitor would have a glimpse of the grand retable of the high altar, with its large gilt tabernacle sheltered within an arch, through a screen of arched piers. Vestiges of most of these piers were visible until recently; they supported a spacious choir which could have accommodated a large number of Augustinian monks.
The nave of the Church now lies open to the sky, under whose broken arches locals sometimes gather and talk. Covering the vast nave was a barrel vault, whose enormous weight unfortunately hastened its collapse.
The church was abandoned in 1835 due to the repressive policies of the Portuguese government, which resulted in the eviction of many religious orders from Goa.
The church fell into neglect and the vault collapsed in 1842. The church’s demise began with the collapse of this vault. The body of the church was soon destroyed, but the facade remained intact.
The tower’s huge bell was moved in 1871 to the Church of our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Panjim, where it remains and can be seen and heard today. in 1931, the facade and half the tower fell down, followed by more sections in 1938 leaving only half the tower that is seen and visited by thousands of tourists today.
This remnant, the renowned St. Augustine’s tower is all that remains of what was once one of the largest buildings in Goa — The Augustinian Monastery.
One of the most ancient and celebrated religious buildings of Goa, this magnificent 16th century monument to the Roman Catholic rule in Goa under the Portuguese is the largest church in Asia. The Cathedral is dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria on whose feast day in 1510 Alfonso Albuquerque defeated the Muslim army and took possession of the city of Goa. Hence it is also known as St. Catherine’s’ Cathedral.
The Cathedral was commissioned by the Portuguese Viceroy, Redondo to be “a grandiose church worthy of the wealth, power and fame of the Portuguese who dominated the seas from the Atlantic to the Pacific”. The final edifice is bigger than any of the churches in Portugal itself.
The construction of this imposing edifice began in 1562 during the reign of King Dom Sebastião (1557-78) and substantially completed by 1619. The main altars however were not finished until the year 1652. It was consecrated in 1640. The Cathedral was built for the Dominicans and paid for by the Royal Treasury out of the proceeds of the sale of the Crown’s property.
The Cathedral stands to the west of the great square called Terreiro de Sabaio and has its façade turned to the east. Its beautiful courtyard is approached by a flight of steps. The building is Portuguese-Gothic in style with a Tuscan exterior and Corinthian interior. The church is 250 ft in length and 181 ft in breath. The frontispiece stands 115 ft high.
There were originally two towers, one on either side of the façade, but the one on the southern side collapsed in 1776. The exterior of the cathedral is notable for its plainness of style built in the Tuscan tradition. The loss of one bell tower, which was never rebuilt, has given the building a unique look.