When people book a holiday out to Goa, they automatically are just thinking of sun, frolicking in the Arabian sea, poolside fun and fresh green coconuts. I mean that’s the idea I had after a crazy few weeks around India, I was in desperate need of some relaxation and recuperation. However, the inner adventurer in me can’t visit a place and not see of the local sights, even if they aren’t as well renowned as other countries monuments.
Goa is mainly a Christian and Catholic state that was once colonised by the Portuguese. Therefore, you will find some really interesting tiled and patterned buildings, like you would find in Lisbon mixed with an Indian intertwine. South Goa has some great golden sand beaches, but most of the famous ones like Baga and Calangute have been taken over by tourists over the years and aren’t as appealing now.
Goa is a very cultured destination, like a lot of other areas in India however it has it’s own touch with many temples, mosques, wildlife sanctuaries and spice farms that provide a welcome distraction from the beach scene. It’s enjoyable to veer off the beaten path now and again.
I’m sharing with you 6 unique and culture things to do whilst you’re visiting Goa for a beach break.
1. Basilica of Bom Jesus
This beautiful basilica is located in Old Goa and was built back in 1605. It’s a major landmark and holy place to the Goan’s because it holds the tomb of the Patron of Saints Goa, St. Francis Xavier. The miracle was that the Saint’s body never decomposed, even after 2 years. Therefore, it was known to be an absolute miracle and is now housed in a casket within the basilica. It is shown to the public once every ten years, where the last viewing was back in 2014. Therefore, you can expect the next viewing to be in 2024. The basilica itself has a gorgeous interor and attention to detail, which makes it another reason to visit.
2. Fort Aguada
Fort Aguada is one of the few standing Portuguese forts in India. The fort is built out of red stone that was durable enough to keep the military whilst the Portuguese fort against the Dutch and Maratha invaders. The name ‘Aguada’ comes from the fact that there was a fresh water spring that gave the fort a fresh supply of water and ‘Agua’ is the Portuguese word for water. Part of the fort now has been converted into one of Goa’s largest jails, which of course isn’t open to the public.
3. Church of Our Lady of the Mount
Church of Our Lady of the Mount is another of Goa’s best kept secrets. Not many people know about the beautiful church that resides on the hill. We are were the only people there when we went to visit, but the Lady of the Mount is a catholic church that only opens on Christmas day every year, otherwise is closed for everyone the other 364 days of the year. Not only is the church special, but the views from the ground offer perfect serenity and peace for some mindfulness.
4. Sahakari Spice Farm
Visiting the Sahakari spice farm in Curti, Goa was one of my favourite experiences. We got a full tour of the spice farm, where we got to see how a variety of spices and fruits such as lemongrass, Arabica coffee, turmeric, nutmeg, peppercorns, cinnamon, bananas and lots more. We were educated on the health benefits of each of the spices & fruits and how we could incorporate them into natural remedies for illnesses.
The most surprising thing was when I was capturing photos, I was interrupted by a passing of a 40 year old elephant that was only a meter away from me. She was the resident elephant on the farm that offers a water bath to guests visiting the water farm. She throws you up on her back, fills her trunk with water from the river and completely soaks you through!
After a tour of the spice farm, you are served up an authentic lunch that is made with spices from the farm. It’s the perfect way to spend an afternoon.
5. Saturday Night Market, Anjuna, Goa
The Saturday night market is something you should all experience when visiting Goa. It starts at 6pm and is open until the early hours of the morning. There are plenty of authentic Goan food stalls and different cuisines across the globe, Indian stalls selling clothing, tea, Kashmiri carpets and jewellery. The centre stage has a great selection of entertainment with live classic Indian music. It makes for the perfect evening escape.
6. Mangeshi & Shanta Durga Temple
The Mangeshi temple is one of the most visited temples in Goa by the locals and tourists. It offers a unique experience as to how the Hindu’s pray and pay their respects to Bhagavan Manguesh which is a reincarnation of the principal deities of Hinduism, Shiva. The Shanta Durga temple is dedicated to one of the most popular forms of the goddess Durga. She is a Brahminical (a hindu varna/cast) form of the ancient mother goddess known as Santeri and is worshipped in almost all villages of Goa.
Have you ever been to Goa?
Until next time…
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