A Portuguese explorer, Afonso de Albuquerque sailed up the river Mandovi, defeated the Bijapuri army and rode into the capital triumphantly bearing a Portuguese Standard in one hand, and a Gold Crucifix in the other. A curious blending of cultures took place, affecting every sphere of Goa life, from religion to architecture, cuisine to art. The chapter of Goa's history ended 451 years later when Goa ceased to be a Portuguese colony, and became a part of the Indian Union. Parasailing,
yachting, windsurfing, and deep sea diving are some of the more popular water sports, facilities for which are available. 451 years of Portuguese rule has imbued Goa’s towns and villages with a unique culture. Whitewashed chapels and churches that dot the landscape are surrounded by sleepy villages and rice fields.
Panji -the capital of Goa feels like a sleepy Portuguese town. Set along the southern bank of Mandovi River, it provides linkage to Old Goa and the beaches. Every nook and corner of the city reflects to its Portuguese heritage with broad avenues spilling into cobbled squares, grand public buildings, and old houses with overhanging balconies and numerous bars and cafes. Margao, an important town, have private houses and government buildings that date back to Portuguese times.
Se Cathedral with its Iberian exterior, Bom Jesus that enshrines the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier and the starkly beautiful Convent of Saint Monica are some of the collection of Goa’s largest Churches. Mapusa, a market town, comes alive every Friday with a quaint pavement bazar.
From Mapusa: Beaches of Calangute- 8 kms, Baga-10 kms, Arambol/Harmal- 31 kms, Anjuna- 8 kms, Vagator- 9 kms & Mandrem- 30 kms, Temples of Shri Dutta & Shri Vithal at Sanguelim- 25 kms, Temple of Sapta Koteshwar at Narve- 24 kms and Temple of Kalikadevi at Kansarpal-14 kms, Church of Mae de deus at Saligao-10 kms, Church at Monte de Guiri- 2 kms, Mayem Lake- 21 kms, Arvalem Waterfalls- 29 kms, Terekhol Fort- 30 kms.
From Margao: Beaches of Colva- 6 kms, Benaulim- 8 kms, Majorda- 8 kms, Varca- 10 kms, Cavelossim-15 kms, Mobor-18 kms, Betul-16 kms, Agonda- 40 kms and Palolem-47 kms, Cabo de Rama- 21 kms, Ranchol Seminary- 8 kms, Shree Damodar Temple at Zambaulim- 22 kms and Shree Shantadurga Temple at Fatorda-18 kms, Cotigao Wild Life Sanctuary- 33 kms, Dudhsagar Waterfalls- 59 kms by train.
From Vasco: Margao Harbour-3 kms, Bogmalo Beach- 9 kms, St.Jacinto Island- 7 kms Velsao Beach- 10 km, Kesarval Springs- 15 km & Pilar Seminary- 19 km.
From Ponda: Bondla wildlife, Molem wildlife etc, Temple or Tambdi Surla- 70 kms dating back to the 12th century in Sanguem. Mayem Lake- 35 km from Panaji, the Molem Wildlife Sanctuary is en route to Belgaum.