When you are in Goa, don’t think that all it has to offer you are beaches and seafood. Goa is a historically important state which represents the amalgamation of cultures local and foreign, over the centuries.
Apart from the opportunity for eco-tourism in this biologically rich location offering a huge variety of flora and fauna, nature parks and waterfalls; prepare to seek out the beautiful architecture of historical monuments, cathedrals, churches and temples. Depending on your choice of beach, get to know what other attractions surround you, other than the beaches, so you can add them to your itinerary.
Places to See in North Goa Other Than Beaches
1. Fort Aguada
The Aguada Fort was built in 1612 to safeguard against Maratha and Dutch aggression. The fort is so huge that it envelops the entire peninsula at the tip of Bardez, and was a reference point for ships coming in from Europe at the time. A fresh water spring within the Fort supplied water to the ships that stopped by, earning it the name Aguada, meaning water.
2. Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
If you are an ornithologist or just someone who loves to watch and photograph birds, do visit the bird sanctuary named after India’s most illustrious ornithologist Dr. Salim Ali. Chorão or Choddan, one of the 17 islands off the coast of Goa, is also close by here and considered a haven for birdwatchers.
Other places worthy of a visit at this place, are the ornate brick and stone tower called Viceroy’s Tower dating back to the 16th century and the 46-metre-high tower of St. Augustine’s Church Complex, the rest of which has not stood the test of time.
3. Tambdi Surla Temple and Waterfalls
The Shiva temple at Tambdi Surla, inside the Bhagwan Mahavir National Park, was built in the 12th century, using Kadamba-Yadava architecture. The painstakingly carved stonework of the temple and the fascinating idols of Vishnu and Brahma stand testimony to the craftsmanship of the sculptors of the time.
The waterfalls add another attraction to this place and the pristine beauty of this place is to be seen to be believed. Most people go trekking around this place to enjoy it, in all its awesome glory.
4. Anjuna Flea Market
The flea market in Anjuna, open on Wednesdays, is a landmark place to shop in Goa when you don’t know what it is that you want to buy. The market is open on Wednesdays and you’ll find tourists from all across the globe looking for something interesting. Do bring along your haggling skills.
5. Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church
The cobblestoned streets of Panjim/Panaji connect many buildings from the colonial era, in close proximity to Velha Goa or Old Goa. If you are here for the palm-fringed Miramar Beach, don’t miss visiting the baroque architecture of the beautiful Church to Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, built in the year 1540.
6. Sri Mangueshi Temple
One of the largest and most frequently visited temples in Goa, this temple is 450 years old. The seven-storeyed lamp tower is a unique feature of this beautiful temple which is exquisitely elegant.
The temple imposes a dress code on visitors. Bhagavan Manguesh or Manguirish is none other than Lord Shiva who is worshipped here as Shiva Linga. Originally built in Marmugao, the temple was moved to Priol when the Portuguese invaded Goa.
7. Chapora Fort
Replete with history, the Chapora Fort speaks of the efforts of the various rulers to hold sway over the region, including Akbar who made it his base camp.
It is also one of the most beautiful places in Goa from where you have fantastic and panoramic views across the Chapora river to Pernem and over Vagator and far out on to the Arabian Sea, with a spectacular view of the sunset.
8. Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary, North Goa
Small, clean and well-appointed, this wildlife sanctuary is maintained well and offers the opportunity to see a variety of animals at close quarters. The lush green surroundings of the zoo offer an additional attraction to visitors, who find the whole experience highly refreshing.
9. Basilica of Bom Jesus, Old Goa, North Goa
Also known as Velha Goa, this was the capital of Portuguese India where you can see a lot of the monuments of that era. The UNESCO-listed Baroque-style church, Basilica of Bom Jesus is one of them.
Completed in 1605, this remarkably large church is a fine example of Jesuit architecture and one of the most revered churches in the world. The Church holds a well-carved wooden statue of St. Francis Xavier as well as his mortal remains. The Se Cathedral at Old Goa is also not to be missed, when you are there.
10. The Latin Quarters of Panjim
Want to know what Goa was like under Portuguese rule? Well, look no further than the areas of Fontainhas and Altinho. You could easily spend a whole day wandering about, admiring the architecture and the shaded streets. Once you’re done, do head to Panjim for a delicious Goan meal at Viva Panjim.
Places to Visit in South Goa Other Than Beaches
11. Shantadurga Temple, Ponda, South Goa
Ponda, also known as Antruz Mahal, is a fast growing city in Goa, with a lot of temples and monuments to attest to its cultural heritage. Visit the Shantadurga Temple dating back to 1730 at Ponda.
This is a rare temple to the avatar of Jagadamba as Shantadurga, who had mediated between Shiva and Vishnu to stop a fierce war being waged between them. Also, visit the Safa Shahouri Masjid at Ponda, to see the beauty of its Islamic architecture.
12. Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary
This wildlife sanctuary among dense forests was established in 1968 and is a great destination for animal lovers. Watch animals come to the watering hole from a 25-foot-tall watchtower at dawn or dusk. The nature interpretation centre here will provide a lot of information to the interested.
13. Kuske Waterfall
Tucked away within the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, you will find the beautiful Kuske Waterfalls, especially after the rains. A visit here would have you trekking through the forest to arrive at the falls, hidden amidst dense jungles and a diverse amount of flora and fauna which excite any nature lover.
14. Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary
Netravali is a tributary of the river Zuari, which originates in the middle of this sanctuary with dense vegetation consisting of evergreen and semi-evergreen trees.
Surrounded by other sanctuaries in Cotigao, Madei, Bhagwan Mahavir and Bhimgad, the pristine environment of this sanctuary is full of wildlife and plenty of perennial streams which provide sanctuary to many herbivores and the predators which depend on them. Butterflies abound here and birdwatching is another attraction here.
15. Dudhsagar Waterfalls, North Goa
Visit this five-step waterfall which is simply spectacular for the beauty of its location and the opportunity for trekking it offers, through pristine surroundings of natural beauty.
True to its name Dudhsagar or Ocean of Milk, the waterfalls appear to be foamy white and can be seen from 1 kilometre away as you trek towards them. The area is in the lap of nature with nothing to spoil its beauty. 65 kilometers to Panaji, this is located on the border of Goa and Karnataka.
These are just some of the beautiful places in Goa other than beaches. It comes as no surprise that most people who vacation at Goa return on a regular basis, testifying to its beauty and attractiveness. Do write and let us know of other attractions you may have stumbled upon, when in Goa.