Old Goa – Away from Rave Parties and Beaches

Old Goa – Away from Rave Parties and Beaches

People from all over the world visit Goa year-round. Most of them visit Goa for the rave parties, beaches and cheap booze the place has to offer. Not that these things are unattractive (cheap booze…yay) but Goa is not all about partying. There is much more to the place and you will only realize that if you take the path less traveled. Old Goa also known as Velha Goa, is a place away from the party zone, tucked away inland beside the Mandovi River.

This place grew and thrived during the Portuguese Conquest in India back in the 16th century which gave it the name as ‘The Rome of the Orient’. When the Portuguese left India, the place lost its grandeur and now what remains is a dozen magnificent churches surrounded by swathes of green. The churches are considered as some of the largest ones in India and this place has been declared as a UNESCO world heritage site.

Ever since then Old Goa has been gaining popularity and is losing the quaint and untouched feel it had earlier. Well the authorities are doing a good job preserving the churches and its surroundings. Reaching Old Goa is very easy as there are many buses you can get from Panjim or you can also rent a bike. The place will only take one day off your itinerary. Even though I did not visit all the places here, thanks to the rains, I will be listing out all the places you need to visit if you get here. This post is more like a reminder for me which says “Hey mate, we are not done with this place yet”. I will strike all these places off my list on my next visit.

Viceroy’s Arch

I took a ferry across the Mandovi River from Divar island. This the gateway through which I entered Old Goa after getting off the ferry at the pier. This is probably the best way to enter the historic place just like they used to do back then in the 16th century, A Gateway for a reason. This was built by Fransesco De Gama, Vasco De Gama’s son. The Statue that you see on the top is that of Vasco De Gama. There is a statue of St. Catherine on the other side. Welcome to Old Goa !!

Convent of St. Catejan

As you pass through the Arch, the first building you see on your left is the Convent of St. Catejan. This the place where I took shelter from the heavy rain. Still managed to click a few pics in the rain. It was built by the Italian friars of the Order of Theatines. While the altar is dedicated to Our Lady of Divine Providence, the church is named after the founder of the Theatine order, St. Cajetan, a contemporary of St Francis Xavier. You can anyway find all this info engraved on Marble stones all around the place. This place is really massive. It was too dark inside so could not get many pics but the ambiance was great inside with the hallway lined with colored glass windows.

Basilica of Bom Jesus and Professed House of the Jesuits

This is one massive church and the most popular one of the lot. It is partially in ruins but it still stands tall and is great example of the Jesuit architecture. You will find a warning sign in every church in Old Goa that will say that you can take pics of the artifacts inside the church but not with people posing with them. That actually makes a lot of sense. Posing with the artifacts makes it lose its significance with all those goofy faces around it.

Se Cathedral

This is the biggest church not only in Old Goa but in the whole of Asia. This was my last stop in Old Goa before the Rain Gods cut short my exploration. This is one massive church in sheer size and also in the area it covers. It has lush green gardens around it which added to the beauty. 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. So that is were I get off. The rest of the places in the list are the ones I have yet to visit.
The Convent and Church of St. Francis of Assisi

This one lies to the west of Se Cathedral. It was built by eight Portuguese Franscians Friars along with a convent. The convent which forms the annexure to the church now houses a museum that was set up by the Archaeological Survey of India in 1964.

Chapel of St. Catherine

This chapel stands in the same Grounds as Se Cathedral and Church of St. Francis of Assisi. This chapel marked the rise of Catholicism not only in Goa but also in many countries across East Asia. This Chapel was earlier constructed by Afonso de Albuquerque, a Portuguese Conqueror to mark his entry into the city, It was later rebuilt when it was given the Cathedral status.

Museum of Christian Art

The Museum of Christian Art, tucked away from the chaos at the Church of Bom Jesus in Old Goa, is a beautiful, compact well-curated space. The objects are well displayed within the heritage structure and reflect the story of indigenisation of Christianity, particularly in visual characteristics. This church holds a fascinating collection of Indo-Portuguese items.

Church of the Cross of Miracles

This church is situated on the southern outskirts of Old Goa on top of a hill which gives a good view of the city. Church of Cross of Miracles is one of the holy shrines nestled in Goa. The church is known for its architecture, even though it is now completely in ruins. Historians and travelers from varied distant places visit this church to learn about its architecture.

Chapel of Our Lady of the Mount

This church is isolated from the rest of the churches in Old Goa. It attracts comparatively less crowd and boasts of a great scenic view. Covered with greenery it’s one of the oldest churches in old Goa with a beautiful architecture. It is best known for its location atop a hill which is one of the best spots to catch a beautiful sunset.

Now having collected info for this list, I realize that I am only half done with Old Goa. So will be covering these places on my next visit. If anyone knows any more places that can be added to the list, let me know in the comment section.

93 thoughts on “Old Goa – Away from Rave Parties and Beaches

  1. A different perspective of Goa far removed from the beach parties and the razzmatazz usually associated with Goa. We were there in summer and spent some quiet moments in a secluded beach of South Goa.

  2. Old Goa is a home of big and beautiful churches. I’m happy that Goa maintained their historical structure very well.

    You will surely forget for a second that you are in India as Old Goa takes you back to Portuguese influences in South Asia.

    The merging of these 2 cultures and influence of colonial traditions is evident in this part of the India

    Old Goa is a perfect treat for those interested in Indian colonial history.

  3. I didn’t realize Goa had so many other places to see besides the beach. I love old churches and could spend hours touring each and every one. I can see why you want to make a return trip!

  4. I’m so glad for this post, because it shows the depth that Goa can offer. I have been to a couple of these churches, but did not know of the others. Great post, thanks for sharing these lovely pictures.

  5. Great to see a get away from the most crowded places. The Cathedral looks like a place I’d definitely visit. Although I’m not very religious I love to visit churches and temples on my travels to escape the hustle & bustle and contemplate a little, I really appreciate that.

  6. Goa sounds fascinating. It’s interesting that as soon as you mention Portuguese influence I could totally see in some of the cathedrals as they remind me of Lisbon. The Chapel of Our Lady of the Mount looks so picturesque with the grass covered stairs.

  7. So nice to see this side of Goa on your blog. These churches and cathedrals are quite impressive and the architecture is beautiful. The view from the Church of the Cross of Miracles would be most impressive in that setting of the ruins. Great post.

  8. Its only recently I have started to hear so much about Goa, so I was keen to read your post. The history is very interesting. I am a fan of architecture which made me fascinated with your photos and I didn’t realise there is Portugese influcence. After reading your post I have added Goa to my bucket list. Thank you for opening my eyes to such an interesting place 😉

  9. I had no idea that the biggest church in all of Asia was located in Goa! I feel like it would be such a waste to visit Goa and ONLY party…with all that old Goa has to offer, as you’ve shown, you can easily see so much more.

  10. I’ve read a few things about Old Goa, but usually it’s been about the architecture and colors of the residential areas. I love seeing the contrast of the Portuguese influence due to colonization as it really makes the area stand out beyond its beaches.

  11. I have never been there but many people that share with me some travel adventures told me about Goa, but the RAVE GOA and that’s why people is a flock of sheep! It’s great reading something REAL and INTERESTING about this place!! thanks for sharing

  12. I always wondered about Goa, truth be told when you watch US TV you get this image of an old hippy hangout town with a vegetarian vibe so to speak. From your photos and post I get way more out of that than I have ever seen before.

  13. I never heard of Goa until I started blogging. Keep in mind, I’ve never been to India either. It seems to have a “party town” reputation, but it’s great how you highlighted other things to see there. I compare the reputation to Amsterdam. It has so much to offer, but people just go there to get high and engage in other activities that would be illegal in almost every other country.

  14. I never heard of Goa until I started blogging. It has a reputation as a party city, just like Amsterdam. Both places have a lot to offer if you are not looking for the night life.

  15. Hi Gokul,
    The post is very helpful to see a side of Goa that most people will not get to see because of Super happy to see this slice of history and am looking forward to explore. Keep posting good stuff! Cheers A

  16. I never knew that Goa had so many beautiful and impressive churches and that is was surrounded by so much green. I have only visited the North of India and I don’t recognize any of the architecture seen there in your photos. I didn’t know either that Goa was a rave and beach parties place. 🙂

  17. Thanks for the share. A pleasant change,to read and know more about Goa than the same old beach posts. With so much history it beholds, its always a pleasure going back to this state.

  18. I have yet to go to Goa. Glad to hear there are other sites to visit besides indulging in the party scene. So many churches! Good to here there are efforts to preserve these buildings.

  19. Wonderful. There is so much more to Goa than just beaches, sand and sun. I explored a completely new side of Goa last November. I went for a boat competition in rural Goa. In fact, I finished writing a blog about it just yesterday. I loved your pictures. I have been to Goa 9 times but I have never visited Goa in monsoon. That’s my target for 2017.

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