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Goa is a small and the wealthiest state on the west coast of India. Blessed by nature with turquoise blue water, white sandy beaches and emerald green scenery, Goa is one of the most favoured tourist destinations. The state is culturally rich with intrinsically carved temples, magnificent churches, and the long-standing history of the Indo-Portuguese blend. Here are some top attractions in Goa where you enjoy a fulfilling day with your family or friends.

Beaches

Goa's 100km coastline is dotted with more than 35 beaches. Beaches are the main attractions of Goa. Some of the beaches are quiet, beautiful while some are crowded and lively. But they are great for a relaxing holiday, water sport activities and night parties.
Beaches in North Goa are: Arambol, Mandrem, Morjim, Vagator, Anjuna, Baga, Calangute, Candolim, Sinquerim, Miramar, Dauna Paula, Vainguinim, Siridao beach
Beaches in South Goa are: Bogmalo, Velsao, Majorda, Betalbatim, Colva, Benaulim, Varca, Cavelossim, Mabor, Betul, Canaguinim, Agonda, Palolem, Talpona
Churches

Churches

Se Cathedral Church

Se Cathedral Church (Se Cathedral of Santa Catarina), dedicated to Catherine of Alexandria, is one of the largest churches in Asia and has been declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. One of the oldest buildings in Goa depicting true Portuguese royalty in its architecture.

Location: 10km away from Panaji, Old Goa, India.

Photo Credit: Danny Burke / CC BY-SA 2.5

Basilica of Bom Jesus

The Basilica of Bom Jesus could be termed as the biggest attraction of Goa, with the mortal remains of St Francis Xavier enshrined here. Tagged by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, the church is located in Old Goa. The church holds a sacred value as it is the first church in India to be assigned the status of Minor Basilica and preserves the remains of Goa's patron saint St Francis Xavier.

Location: 9km away from Panaji, Old Goa, India.

Patriarchal Seminary of Rachol

The Patriarchal Seminary of Rachol has a great religious significance, as it one of the pillar stones behind promoting Christianity in Goa. Founded in 1560 from the remains of a Muslim fort, a church dedicated to Saint Ignatius Loyola was later built by the Portuguese in 1576. Remains of St. Constantine brought in 1782 are said to be enshrined here.

Location: 12km away from Margao, Salcete, Goa, India.

Church of Our Lady of the Rosary

The Church of Our Lady of the Rosary is one of the oldest surviving churches in Goa, standing testimony to early Portuguese conquests. Located right opposite The Basilica Of Bom Jesus Church, St Francis Xavier used to preach catechism here. The church was the idea of Alfonso de Albuquerque, who wanted to construct a religious structure right on the spot where he had defeated Sultan of Bijapur, Adil Shah, in 1510.

Location: Holy Hill, Old Goa, Panjim, Goa, India.

Church & Convent of St Francis of Assisi

A unique masterpiece could be viewed at the Church & Convent of St Francis of Assisi, a church attached to Se Cathedral founded by Franciscan friars in 1517. The Se Cathedral and this church are connected by the Archiepiscopal Palace, a residential place of the Archbishops, until 1695 when they moved to Panjim.

Location: 10km away from Panaji, Old Goa, India.

Other Churches in Goa

The Church of St. Cajetan, OId Goa
The Lady of The Mount Church, Old Goa
St. John of God, Old Goa
The Royal Chapel Of St. Anthony, Old Goa
The Church Of St. Augustine, Old Goa
Church & Convent of St. Monica, Old Goa
St. Jerome Church, Mapusa
Reis Magos Church, Bardez

Temples

Temples

Shri Shantadurga Temple, Kavlem

The Shantadurga temple dedicated to Goddess Durga is located at the foothills of Kavalem village in Goa. Said to act as a mediator between Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu's fierce war, she was named Shanta (meaning "peace") Durga for the same reason. The temple was initially situated at Keloshi but was relocated during Portuguese rule. The present temple structure was built 1713 – 1738 during the reign of Shahu Maharaj.

Address: 33km from Panjim, Kavalem Village, Goa, India.

Photo Credit: Nkodikal / CC BY 3.0

Shree Mangesh Temple, Priol

One of the most famous temples in Goa, the Shri Mangueshi temple, is dedicated to Shri Mangesh, Lord Shiva's avatar. The temple was initially situated at the Kushasthali site but was relocated during the Portuguese era. An interesting legend behind the incarnation of Shiva is when he tried to scare Parvati by donning the role of a tiger. Parvati got paranoid and went in search of Shiva, chanting "Trahimangeesh".

Address: Mangueshim, Pirol, Ponda Taluka, Goa, India.

Shree Nagesh Maharudra Mandir

The Shree Nagesh Maharudra Mandir dedicated to Lord Shiva is one of the few temples in Goa that have withstood Portuguese conquests. Built in 1413 AD during the rule of the Vijaynagar empire, this temple is of great archaeological importance. Major renovation work was carried out during the rule of Shahu Maharaj. The main attractions at this temple are the Deepsthamb and the Kunda, in which you see the reflection of the Nagesh idol.

Address: Pharmagudi-Kavalem-Ponda road, 26km away from Panaji, Panajim-Belgaum Road, Goa, India.

Shri Damodar Temple, Zambaulim

Shri Damodar Temple is situated on the banks of the Kushawati river in Zambaulim, about 22km from Margao. Its present location was decided when the Portuguese destroyed the original site to build the Church of the Holy Spirit. The temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is worshipped by both Hindus and Christians.

Address: 22km from Margao, Zambaulim, Goa, India.

Shri Mahalasa Narayani Mandir, Mardol

Shri Mahalasa Narayani Mandir in Mardol is dedicated to Mhalsa Devi, fondly known as Mhalsa Narayani, Mohini avatar of Lord Vishnu. Worshipped by many Brahmins, the temple is said to have originated in Nepal during the initial stage of Kaliyug. Consequently, during Muslim and Portuguese conquests, the temple was shifted from Aurangabad to Mardol to save it from destruction. The temple is famous for its huge brass bell and Palkhi festival.

Address: Mardol, Ponda Taluka, Goa, India.

Photo Credit: Kaveri / CC BY-SA 3.0

Shri Mahalaxmi Temple, Bandode

Shri Mahalaxmi Temple at Bandode is dedicated to Goddess Laxmi, wife of Lord Vishnu, located about 4km east of Ponda and 22km from Panaji. The deity is represented as the AdiShakti and worshipped by Saraswats, who belong to the Shakti cult. The main features of this temple are the 18 rare wooden images of Lord Vishnu and the lingam on the deity's forehead (similar to that of Lord Shiva).

Address: Bandode, Ponda Taluka, Goa, India.

Shri Mahadeva Temple, Tambdi Surla

The Shri Mahadev Temple at Tambdu Surla is the oldest temple in Goa established by the Kadamba Yadava dynasty. Constructed in the 12th century as a dedication to Lord Shiva, the temple with its intricate relief carvings on stone occupies a prominent archaeological position in Indian history. Managed by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI), the deity is so placed that the first rays of the rising sun fall on the idol. The temple is a must-watch if you have a cultural bend towards ancient heritage.

Address: 65km from Panaji, 12km from Molem, Goa, India.

Forts

Forts

Fort Aguada

The Portuguese constructed Fort Aguada in 1612 to ward off attacks by the Dutch and Marathas and as a checkpoint for ships arriving from Europe. Comparatively smaller than other forts in India, the fort area consists of a lighthouse and the Fort Aguada Beach Resort. The fort got its name Aguada (meaning water) due to the freshwater springs that satiated the thirst of the passing by ships. The present-day Fort Aguada houses the Central Jail.

Address: Fort Aguada Rd, Aguada Fort Area, Candolim, Goa 403515.

Photo Credit: Nanasur / CC BY-SA 3.0

Fort Cabo da Rama

Fort Cabo da Rama derives its name from Lord Rama from the epic Ramayana. Legends say that he and his wife, Sita took refuge at this fort when they were exiled for 14 years. Now in ruins and not reminding anything similar to its name, this ancient bastion has switched hands several times. Facing many gruesome battles between the Portuguese, Marathas, the Muslim invaders, and Hindu kings towards the independence of India, the fort was used as a prison by the British. There is a church inside the fort that is still in good condition.

Address: Taluka Cabo da Rama, Canacona, Goa 403702.

Fort Chapora

Built on an earlier structure constructed by Adil Shah, Fort Chapora was rebuilt by the Portuguese in 1617. The Fort located near Anjuna beach offers an excellent view of the Vagator beach. The main intention behind its construction was to keep away the Hindu rulers that were eyeing this prime location.

Address: Chapora Fort Trail, Vagator, Goa 403509.

Fort Tiracol

Standing tall along the River Tiracol, the fort was constructed by the King of Sawanwadi. Later on, it was acquired by the Portuguese in 1746 under the reign of Viceroy Dom Pedro De Almeida. The fort stands testimony to the revolt between Almeida and the Portuguese forces. The scenic view of the River Tiracol has made it one of the major tourist attractions.

Address: Querim, 42km from Panjim, Goa, India.

Cabo Palace (Cabo Raj Niwas)

Cabo Fort, also known as Cabo Palace, Cabo Raj Niwas or Cab Raj Bhawan, is situated opposite Fort Aguada on the River Mandovi and currently houses the Governor of Goa. Formerly the home to a Franciscan monastery and the Viceroy during the Portuguese rule, it was built on 30th June 1541 to guard the Mandovi and Zuari rivers.

Lakes and Waterfalls

Dona Paula

Dona Paula, is one of the famous tourist destinations of Goa. The place is named after Dona Paula de Menezes, daughter of the former Viceroy of Goa, who plunged into the beach when she was refused permission to marry her lover - a local fisherman. Even today, Dona Paula beach is referred to as Lovers Paradise. The nearby attractions are Vasco da Gama bay, the "Image of India" statue, Cabo Raj Niwas, National Institute of Oceanography.

Address: 7 kilometres from Panjim, Goa, India.

Dudhsagar Falls

Dudh Sagar Falls are the 5th tallest waterfalls in India, with plummeting height of 1017 feet and a width of 100 feet. After the monsoon, the waterfalls look stunning. Situated along the Goa-Karnataka border, high up on the Mandovi River's watershed, this waterfall is important for Goa's ecosystem with the mystifying Mollem National Park surrounding it.

Address: Sonaulim, Goa 403410.

Mayem Lake

Located in the Bicholim district of Goa, Mayem Lake is famous as a relaxing location surrounded by a picturesque forest, lush landscapes and sparkling waters. One of the popular tourist destinations in Goa, Mayem Lake offers boating facilities for tourists other than picnic spots.

Address: Bicholim Taluka, North Goa, India.