Even though holidays in Goa might include a lot of relaxing on the incredible white sandy beaches, discovering some of the architectural temples and religious sites to be found there is an incredible way to spend a few afternoons of exploration. Here are seven of the most popular to visit during package holidays to Goa.
Basilica of Bom Jesus
The Basilica of Bom Jesus is probably one of the better known religious locations in Goa.
Home to the St Francis Xavier’s tomb and mortal remains, the Basilica is renowned within the Roman Catholic world and the 400-year-old building is truly stunning. The Feast of St Francis Xavier can be an amazing experience and takes place every year on December 3rd.
This is one of the busiest times of the year in Goa and every ten years an exposition is held with St Xavier’s remains walked through the Old Goa.
Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception
The Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is another of Goa’s world-famous religious sites, located in Panaji. Beautifully lit up at night, the church is said to be the spiritual heart of Panaji, once a tiny fishing village and now the headquarters of North Goa district.
The Church is interesting to visit most times of the year, but particularly when the Feast of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is held on December 8th most years.
Anant Narsinha Temple
The Temple is the only religious site in Goa that is dedicated to Lord Anant. Located some 45 km away from Panaji, the temple is the centre of the Shibikotsav Religious Festival; the complex homes temples for deities such as Narayan, Shantadurga, Grampurush and Kamini.
The Ananta temple at Veling is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and at the site he appears as Ananta, his serpent form. It is the only place in Goa where you can see Vishnu in his Anantashayya, a sleeping position. He rests on Seshnaga, the multi-headed snake king. A particularly colourful temple decorated with all seven colours of the rainbow.
Church & Convent of St Cajetan
The Church & Convent is located in the Old Goa and modelled on the original St Peter’s design in Rome and the only remaining domed church to be found in Goa.
Nowadays the Convent of St Cajetan is used as a college for recently ordained priests and homes the only remains of ruler Adil Shah from the grand palace of the 16th-century Goan Muslim.
Shri Manguesh Temple
The Shri Manguesh Temple is perhaps the most popular Hindu temple in Goa, located just a few kilometres north of Ponda. Dedicated solely to the local god Manguesh, it demonstrates a range of architectural styles and has now expanded to include a range of administrative offices and accommodation for pilgrims.
The temple’s festival is perhaps a most interesting time to visit; and normally takes place during the last week of January or at the start of February.
Asia’s largest church, Sé Cathedral is one of the must-see cathedral’s to visit in Goa. The church is more than 76m long, 55m wide and almost 400 years old which is demonstrated in its slightly lop-sided look due to the loss of a bell tower in 1776 that was struck by lightning and collapsed.
The Cathedral is dedicated to the life of St Catherine and while the interior is not as ornate as some other renowned churches, it does host a stunning huge gilded reredos featuring scenes from St Catherine’s life.
Church of St Francis of Assisi
The church is known for its maritime themes, while both the ceiling and the walls of the building are heavily gilded. Its history dates back almost 500 years and the site was originally built as a small chapel by a group of Franciscan friars when they arrived in Goa in 1517. Unfortunately the church is no longer in use but can be visited.