“As I opened the door
And stepped inside the divine floor
A gentle zephyr bore upon my core
The tranquil ambience aroused me wishes galore
And I felt I’ve completed my journey to God’s manor.”
Goa often revered as ‘the Rome of the East’, is dotted with a number of magnificent churches though history avows the communal harmony as the essence of Goans. Christianity was imposed upon Goans by the Portuguese which continued until 1812 and within that period many Hindu temples were demolished and Churches, which are now of social importance, were built reflecting European architectural style.
[Image 1: Se Cathedral Church – Photo Courtesy @ Devyani Chakravarty]
- Basilica of BomJesus, Old Goa – It is one of the oldest, most revered and renowned churches in Old Goa having the cadaver of St. Francis Xavier, the Patron Saint of Goa, resting in peace inside an adorned silver casket. Apart from the elaborate gilded altars the church also holds diorama representing the life of St. Francis Xavier.
- The Church of St. Francis of Assisi, Old Goa – During the Portuguese Viceroyalty in India, 1661, The Church of St. Francis of Assisi was built which is a spellbound religious art. Above the tabernacle on the main altar is a large statue of St. Francis of Assisi and Jesus on the cross. Just below the statues are the dioramas depicting the life of St. Francis of Assisi.
- Se Cathedral, Old Goa – This church is dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria and it was the first church built by the Portuguese and stands as a living monument of the conquest of Goa by Alburquerque. The ‘Golden Bell’ on the tower is said to be the largest in Goa and one of the best in the world.
- St. Cajetan Church, Old Goa – Close to the ruins of Viceregal Palace, half a km from Se Cathedral, St. Cajetan Church is of eminent importance for the vault on which are inscribed the words of Christ, ‘My House is the House of the Words of Christ’.
- Reis Magos Church – Dedicated to three wise men or the Three Magi Kings – Gasper, Baltazar and Melchoir, Rei Magos Church, located on the bank of Mandovi River. ‘Reis Magos’ directly translates as ‘Magi King’.
Church of Mary Immaculate Conception, Panjim – “There is the aureole addressing the path, the path to the house of worship, even in the dark it is a sign of luminescence”. This is the church you must visit at night. Complete with tiny electric bulbs, the entire church is lit up in the dark flaring a beautiful Kaleidoscope of white, yellow and orange.
St. Michael’s Church, Anjuna – “God made heaven and earth and all the angels and all the extra important angels, called Archangels. The Archangels were God’s very special friends and were shinning and strong and powerful”, Michael is one of the Archangels. As the Portuguese spread their wings, their spiritual domain reached the villages of Northern part of Goa, in 1603, when this majestic church of St. Michael was erected.
“From the essence of humanity
I feel mankind is comprehensive
They are gifted with a communal harmony
And from the essence of spiritual luminance
Divinity is never classified
And the idol we worship is in the core of mankind.”
You will be bit surprise to know that Goan Hindus, their religious rites, practices, rituals and festivals are relatively greater purity and unique than Hindus elsewhere. In fact majority of the Goan Hindu population still follows Puranic (old) pantheon based on the broad philosophy of Vedanta. Thus it is rightly quoted by Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, ‘It takes centuries of life to make a little history and it takes centuries of history to make a little tradition.’ The Goan Hindu traditional architectures, even after the Portuguese destroyed many of their temples, played an important role to build their image as more conservative and more etymon to traditions. The architecture of the temples in Goa is little different mostly because of diachronic reasons.
[Image 2: Shanta Durga Temple – Photo Courtesy @ Devyani Chakravarty]
- Maruti Temple – Perched on a hill overlooking Panaji, Maruti temple is dedicated to Lord Hanuman. A short climb takes you to a beautifully sculpted temple which is in 2 stages. You can see the idol of Maruti from a lower level and to get a proper glance you need to climb another level.
- Devaki Krishna Temple, Marcel – You must have heard about Radha-Krishna Temple if you have travelled across India or from someone else who visited India but this, Devaki Krishna Temple, is a unique one where Lord Krishna is worshiped alongside Mother Devaki as Devaki Krishna. Malni Purnima is the most important festival of the temple celebrated with great pomp and fervor during January-February.
- Mahalaxmi Temple, Bandivade – This temple holds a significant part among the Goan Hindus as, Mahalaxmi Temple was the first Hindu Temple to be built in Goa after the Portuguese invasion by Albuquerque. This temple is dedicated to Goddess Mahalaxmi, the Goddess of wealth.
- Mahalsa-Narayani Temple, Mudgeri – Dedicated to Shri Mahalasa Devi, Mahalasa Narayani Temple is yet another eminent temple for the devotees of Mudgeri. Along with other Goan temples, this temple was also destroyed by the Portuguese around 1543. However, before the actual demolition could take place the idol of Shri Mahalasa Devi, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, was smuggled away by faithful devotees to Mardol, where it is located today.
- Anant Temple, Ponda Taluka – This is one of the most eminent pilgrimage centers for Hindus and is dedicated to Lord Anant Sheshashavi, the serpent on which Lord Vishnu rests. The temple is nestled in between a calm ambience, 45 Kms away from the city. The interior design is a huge contrast to that of the exterior. From outside it looks like a lazy work but when you are inside you will be surprised to see the splendid work of different colors and wood.
- Mangueshi Temple, Ponda Taluka – This temple is more than 400 years old. Mangueshi Temple, dedicated to lord Shiva, legend goes back to the history where an original temple of Lord Shiva had to be shifted to this place due to Portuguese onslaught. This temple was built, survived and developed in different stages, in centuries.
- Ramnath Temple, Bandivade – Before the Portuguese onslaught, Ramnathi Temple was originally located in Loutolim. The idol of Shri Ramnathi had to be shifted to its present site in the 16th century to prevent its destruction. The temple also holds the idols of Goddess Shantadurga, Goddess Kamakshi, Shree Laxmi Narayan, Shree Ganesh, Shree Betal and Shree Kalbhairav.
- Tambdi Surla Temple – This is the most ancient in the whole of Goa, a small, beautifully carved and perfectly proportioned black basalt temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple has survived from Muslim and Portuguese invasion due to its remote location, 65 Kms away from Panaji, in the forest at the foot of the Western Ghats.
“Today when I see the unity within
I feel to be a part of them
They don’t have any caste as such
Neither have they belonged to any religions
Christians, Hindus and Muslims
Together they are Goans.”
Safa Masjid – The mosque presents an elegant spectacle and is a prominent Islamic shrine in Ponda. It was built by Ibrahim Adil, the Sultan of Bijapur, in 1560 and lies in ruins today.
“Thence I hold my breath
Along the serene western sky
To the sandy coastal line
There to blend with the ocean rage
And legless gamy sight”
Today, this is what Goa all about Fun, Fashion and Fervor. All lies within your heart and when you step in the sandy beaches.
[Image 3: Goa beach – Photo Courtesy @ Devyani Chakravarty]
- Colva Beach – “Live shells, fresh air and sunrise on the horizon, a lazy day and a walk remember. I gave up everything just to feel am the only admirer.” Colva Beach is an ideal beach where you can soothe your heart and mind and savor the Goan cuisine in the nearby food stalls. This beach is the longest beach in Goa and if you are among the speed crazy people you can try out jet skiing rides and other water sports.
- Morjim Beach – “Along the coast I rove alone, and I see am being followed, but not by humans but by the species I never acquainted before.” Morjim Beach is known for its tranquil ambience and the nest of Olive Ridley sea turtle and avifauna. This beach is also known as ‘Little Russia’ as number of Russia expats live in this area.
- Baga Beach – “Seeking for your morning lust, I call upon a peaceful realm, I decided to hold your hand, and thence I committed to feel the warmth.” If you are questing for a private affair with your partner then Baga Beach, known for its peaceful surroundings, is an ultimate destination for you. Just hold her hand firmly and enjoy the raging waves splashing the rocks, since you will feel how your affair acquaints with the nature.
- Arambol Beach – This beach is gaining its popularity because of the various therapies such as yoga, reiki, meditation and chi. It is one of the freshest and unexploited beach in Goa and a paradise for hippies.
- Calungate Beach – Lie beneath the swinging palm trees with a chilled beer in one hand and a dish of fried prawns on the other and enjoy the serene view of the Arabian Sea.
- Anjuna Beach – “Before I leave, let us rock on the sandy beach, let us blend with the folk culture and together we will grab the trance music and dance, the moments we will collect may bring us back to here.” Anjuna Beach is the most popular among the younger generation and is full of life. Here you can blend with the local lifestyle.
[Image 4: Candolim Beach – Photo Courtesy @ Devyani Chakravarty]