Beyond Goa’s sandy beaches, wild nightlife, the popular shacks culture, busy narrow lanes and bustling markets; there’s another Goa which has kind of got lost and hidden away. So here’s how you can explore Goa’s beautiful inland spots and communicate back to nature with majestic waterfalls, lovely countryside villages, wildlife, interesting Heritage walks and so many other secret places to visit.
Take Heritage Walks around the City
Goa has a rich culture and heritage that can be clearly seen in its many monuments, magnificent Churches, Heritage Homes and impressive buildings. Take a guided tour that lets you see, feel and celebrate the heritage monuments and lets you soak in a little bit of the Goa’s interesting history.
Church of St. Francis of Assisi: One of the most important churches of Old Goa, this church was 1661 by the Portuguese. The main altar of the church is heavily ornated in Baroque style with Corinthian features.Dedicated to St. Francis, the altar has a huge statue of St. Francis and an equally large statue of Jesus Christ on the cross. Do take a walk to the west of the Se Cathedral to see an old palace of the Archbishop, which connects the Se Cathedral to the Church and Convent of St. Francis of Assisi. Soak in the antique collectibles from the prehistoric era at the Archaeological Museum, Velha Goa that is located in the same vicinity of this convent.
Basilica of Bom Jesus: a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the imposing basilica holds the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier is located in Old Goa, the construction on the basilica began in 1594 and was completed in 1605 and the elaborate late-Renaissance structure is fronted by a facade combining elements of Doric, Ionic and Corinthian design.
It is India’s oldest Church (400 + years old and still open to public!) Inside, the basilica’s layout is simple but grand. This is the only church in Old Goa not plastered on the outside, the lime plaster having been stripped off by a zealous Portuguese conservationist in 1950.
Apparently his notion was that exposed to the elements, the laterite stone of which the basilica is built would become more durable and thus the building would be strengthened. Despite proof to the contrary, no one has got around to putting the plaster back yet; hence, some of the intricate carving is eroding with the dousing of each successive monsoon. (as mentioned in Lonely Planet).
Ruins of Tower Church of St. Augustine: is a 400 yead old spectacular monument which contains the ruins on once beautiful Church constructed in 1602 by Augustinian friars who had arrived in Old Goa in 1587 and was abandoned in 1835.
The place is neglected but offers an interesting visit to tourists for its interesting ruins. In 1931 the facade and half the tower fell down, followed by more sections in 1938.
The tower’s huge bell was moved in 1871 to the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Panaji, where it can be seen (and heard) today. Unfortunately, the name of the designer remains unknown although it is assumed that the brilliant architect was from Italy. It is located on the Monte Santo (Holy Hill) at Velha Goa.
Gate Ruins of the once beautiful Adil Shah’s Palace: It was essentially the summer palace, built by Adil Shah, a great Muslim Ruler who ruled over Bijapur Province in Karnataka during the 16th Century. Later the Portuguese converted the palace into a rest house and residence for the Viceroy of Goa before getting demolished in 1820.
It was once the most prominent buildings of Goa with magnificent staircases and intricate architecture. Now only the gate remains which is architecturally purely Brahminical in style. Six steps in front of the gate lead to the raised platform on which the gate stands. it is also Goa’s oldest standing structure and is made of basalt and consists of a horizontal lintel resting on pillars decorated with mouldings and having on the outer side fragmentary perforated screens.
The Royal Portuguese Hospital: (also once known as Santa Casa da Misericórdia or Holy House of Charity) is now converted into a Management School.
Located in Ribandar, on the Ourem Creek near Panjim, it is considered to be India’s and Asia’s First Hospital. Interestingly the heritage structure has been left unchanged to retain its old charm.
Do visit the Ancestral Goa, where you would get a glimpse into Goa of the past. Opened to public in the year 1995, this place is located on a 9 acre hillock at Loutulim INS South Goa (10 kms from Margao).
The Ancestral Goa project, the brainchild of Goan artist, Maendra J. Alvares who has used his family’s ancestral property to keep Goa’s culture alive and is a place worth visiting as any lay visitor can get a glimpse of Goa in its original grandeur and authentic form. It houses traditional artisan’s village life along with Goan Houses, rural trends to crafts & handicrafts , an art gallery to bamboo plantation and also has the famous Big Foot.
The place also hold’s a sculpture of Sant Mirabai, which is also India’s longest laterite sculpture. It measures 14 meters by 5 meters and was unbelievably chiseled in Greco – Roman style by Maendra Jocelino Araujo Alvares in just 30 days!
Shri Mahadeva Temple at Tambdi Surla: This is a beautiful 12th Century temple dedicated to Lord Shiva that is located at a place called Tambdi Surla (approx. 65 kms from Goa near Molem). Made of black basalt, the temple is situated in a remote location in the forested foot of Anmod Ghat of Western Ghats (these connect Goa to the state of Karnataka). It is considered to be the only specimen of Kadamba-Yadava architecture made in basalt stone and still preserved. It has indeed survived Muslim and Portuguese invasions and is the only surviving piece of architectural marvel of the Kadamba Yadava dynasty and the oldest temple in Goa.
Ancient Shiva Temple
The bas-relief figures of Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma, with their respective consorts’ appear on panels at the sides of the temple.
Intricate Carvings inside the Shiva Temple, Tambdi Surla
The four pillars, embellished with intricate carvings of elephants and chains support a stone ceiling decorated with finely carved Ashtoken lotus flowers. Surprisingly the mandap is covered with a roof of plain grey sloping slabs. There is a Linga (symbol of Lord Shiva) mounted on a pedestal inside the inner sanctum and locals have seen a huge King Cobra that resides in the dimly lit interior. There is a headless Nandi (bull, Shiva’s vehicle) in the centre of the mandap, surrounded by four matching columns. The symbol of the Kadamba kingdom, an elephant trampling a horse is carved on the base of one of the columns.
To reach the temple, you need to take a cobbled stone track that itself makes the place quite interesting and beautiful. It is an ideal day trip. The River Surla flows nearby and can be reached via a flight of stone steps.
While visiting the Thambdi Surla Mahadev Temple, one may also visit the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary that is spread across 85 sq. kms. It is located 45 kms from Margao and 78 Kms from Panaji, Goa and houses an amazing range of wildlife species & trees amidst the thick canopy of some rare plants. With various waterholes and lakes within its vicinity this sanctuary is a great place to spend some time in the wild.
Explore the Neighbourhoods of Fontainhan
Step back in time and get mesmerized in Fontainhas, the old Latin Quarters of Panaji in Goa.
Located at the foot of the hills, it is bounded on the west side by the Altinho hills with springs, after which it derived its name. The area is quite small and walkable and would take about an hour to explore. On the east side, it is bounded by an ancient creek known as the Ourem creek. This place still holds its Portuguese influence in its many architectural gems, narrow streets, old villas and other monumental buildings. with colorful colonial and Portuguese styled homes.
Some of these lovely colorful houses & old villas have intricate tile and inlay work and are sure to take you back to the Portuguese Era.
What to Do: Learn the untold history of ancient Goa, visit the Chapel of St Sebastian (built in 1880), capture some amazing colonial structures, walk around to view few desolate buildings and look out for few popular cafes & restaurants that offer authentic Goan food along with a warm Goan hospitality.
Interestingly, there’s an art festival held every year where the historic houses in Fontainhans get turned into art galleries. The residents display their work of art and showcase the unique architectural features of their balconies, and furnishings in their dining halls.
Eating Options at Fontainhas: Baba’s Wood Café serves authentic Italian meals (Wood Fired Pizza’s, Lemon Sorbet and finger licking pasta & salads). It also has a good collection of Italian wines! Confeitaria 31st Janeiro is located on 18th June Road and serves up traditional Goan sweets & savories and you must try the mushroom patties, fresh pao and Bebinca (popular Goan layered Cake). Another interesting place to go is Elite Flavours and the HotelVenite Restuarant (yummy chicken steak served with mushroom sauce).
Travel Through Time at Aldona
Located in North Goa, Aldona is unlike any village in this beautiful region makes you slowly slip away in nostalgia to the golden days of Portuguese life.
Aldona is quite a serene place and attracts tourists for its natural green surroundings. While here, visit the St. Thomas Church that was built in 1596 and is located right on along the Mapusa River. Wonder at the beautiful biblical murals and the grand statues inside and step in the band stand that is located in the premises.
Take a stroll around the property and visit the Cemetery of St. Thomas Church. The entrance gateway welcomes you with the following words inscribed on it – Aiz Maka Falea Tuka, that means ‘Today Me, Tomorrow You.’ It is indeed an architectural marvel and stands tall in its grandeur.
Aldona has few of the most amazing homestay options in Goa, Avanilya being the most popular one. It is a boutique resort that has lovely Indo-Portuguese styled villas and offers amazing views of the Mapusa river and the surroundings hills.
Cancio’s House is another place quite popular for those looking for quiet time. It is a 500-year-old Indo-Portuguese mansion that is now run by Roberto Amaral and his wife Raquel with extreme love and care. Tariffs: 2000-4000/- INR Aldona is the perfect place to take the backwater cruise or go Kayaking on the backwaters of Aldona and Roberto Amaral is the guy to connect for the same. One may also visit the ruins of the Corjuem Fort located nearby.
Visit the Romantic Sarzora Lake
Located approx. 8 kms from Margao and 2 kms from Chinchinim, South Goa, the Sarzora Lake is an ideal destination for peace lovers and nature enthusiasts. The vast lush green fields and the serene landscape make this an ideal peace lovers paradise. The spring ‘Makde-Aambo’ (means ‘ monkeys mango tree’) add to the beauty of the village.
Sarzora Lake, Image Courtesy @ Akshay Badkar
Sarzora also has numerous heritage and ancient monuments that are viewed with a lot of respect. Interestingly, no-one from Sarzora lives in a building or in a flat system, as everyone has a house, be it big or small and that is unbelievable and unique considering Goa’s rapid urbanization.
Go on a Casino Cruise
Goa offers you a chance to gamble away the night and enjoy a cruise adventure. Opt for a Casino Cruise and alternatively you can also choose to visit places like Deltin Casino Royale, Casino Carnival and Casino Caravela.
With tariffs at approx 700 INR per Person, spending an evening at a Casino is definitely a must do.
Attend India Bike Week held during the month of February
Goa is also the preferred location to host India Bike Week, held every year. It is one of the largest gathering for leisure bikers and motorists enthusiasts and offers a great vibe to all who visit.
Take a Spice Plantation Tour
Goa is a spice capital known for its spices exported globally. Spice up with a tour to any of these popular spice farms, that makes an ideal day trip:
Pascoal’s Spice Farm is situated opposite the Nestle factory along the NH4A leading towards Belgaum.
Sahakhari Spice Farm is located a little further up from Pascoal’s and is amidst the lush greens of Curti village at Ponda. The place offers you a chance to climb the tall beetle nut palms and elephant rides. Also get to indulge in a delicious spread at lunch made in earthen pots and served on banana leaves. Contact: 0832-2312394Another interesting place nearby is the Butterfly Conservatory at Rajnagar that houses hundreds of butterflies under roofs built of grass, bushes and trees.
You may also visit the Mangeshi Temple that is located nearby and is a perfect example of Goan Hindu Architecture. Click HERE for Temples of Goa
Ponda is also the birthplace of Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle – India’s renowned singers.
Savoi Plantations is owned and managed by Shetye family for over 200 years now and is the pioneer for organic plantation. Covering an area of 100 acres, the place makes an interesting tour along with offering a traditional Goan Saraswat cuisine in mud pots. The place has a number of seasonal fruit plantation too. Contact: 0832-2340272, 0832-2340243 & 09822133309
Tapanshikar Spice Garden is a working farm with a 220-year-old mud house. The place is located in South Goa at a place called Netravali also popular for Smriti Yoga place (35 kms from Palolem Beach and 50 kms from Madgaon city). It even offers an accommodation in an Ecological Rest House where you can spend a few days.
Bubbling Lake near Tapanshikar Spice Garden
During your stay at the Tapanshikar Spice Garden, you would be able to trek to a nearby waterfall and also visit a mysterious Bubbling Lake or Budbudyanchi or Budbudi Tali as it is known locally, situated amidst the thick jungles. Contact: 0832-2608358 & 09421184114
Please Note: Never ever bite on the raw Cashew fruit. It is highly acidic and can leave your lips swelled up badly for days…. my mom was a victim so I know 🙂
Live on a Houseboat
Why not add a trip on a Houseboat or spend a night to enjoy the Backwaters of Goa. There are day tours and night cruises to choose from. Houseboats on the Siolim & Chapora Rivers offers you a delightful experience in the Goan Backwaters. Enjoy the scenery around, capture some wildlife and simply relax, while the friendly staff makes mouthwatering dishes.
With spacious bedrooms & lovely open sit outs, these are beautifully handcrafted houseboats and have all the modern luxuries and amenities you may require.
Stay on a floating Tent
Yes, a floating tent that has a bedroom and overlooks the Mayem Lake near Bicholim. You will also spot some at Champions Yacht Club at GTDC Residency around in the same area. While here, do visit the Bhagwan Mahavir National Park and the interesting Lamgau Caves. (more details under the Caves Section)
Attend the Goa Festival During March
Another interesting attraction is the colorful and vibrant Goa Festival held every day during the first week of March. With limitless feasts, drinks and food all around, this is the time when Goa becomes a lively place. There are numerous floats, people in fantastic dresses, dance performances, stilt hikers, masked people prancing around and so much more. This 3-day event is a joyful time for Goans and the merry around with great fervor. For more details on festivals Visit Website
There are numerous floats, people in fantastic dresses, dance performances, stilt hikers, masked people prancing around and so much more. This 3-day event is a joyful time for Goans and they definitely merry around with great fervor.
Other Goa Festivals
Narkasur Parades: 30th October 2016
This festival parade has demon effigies (Narkasurs) that are later burned on the eve of Diwali. You can watch this spectacle at Panaji, Mapusa, Margao, Ponda and Vasco. Visit Website
Bird Festival: 11-13 Nov 2016
This is the inaugural Bird Festival which will have bird watching trails to bird sites around Goa and the festival will be hosted by the Bhagwan Mahaveer (Mahavir) Wildlife Sanctuary and Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary in Chorao. Visit Website for details.
Goa International Jazz Live Festival: 25-27 November 2016
It offers a range of performances by young virtuosos and established musicians from 10 countries. It is held at the Stone Water Eco Resort, in Vasco da Gama. Music lovers can see film screenings as well on the sidelines. (Daily passes from 1,200 and three- day passes from ₹3,000)
St Francis Xavier’s Feast: 3 December Every Year
This annual feast takes place in Old Goa at the Basilica of Bom Jesus on 3 December every year to commemorate Goa’s patron saint Francis Xavier whose mortal remains lie at the basilica. Earlier the remains were also carried but that has now been stopped. Now one can enjoy a grand fair on it grounds with colorful array of stalls and other festivities.
Visit the Old Forts of Goa
Cabo de Rama Fort: is a beautiful fort named after Lord Rama is located in the Canacona district of South Goa (25 kms south of Margao). Although it was a fortress much before the Portugues took over in 1763, the place is considered to be one of the resting places of Lord Ram who stayed here for a while during his 14 year exile.
The citadel is now in ruins along with a crumbling turret that still houses a couple of rusty old Portuguese cannons.Today, the only habitable building is a lonely government observation post occupied from time to time by a couple of young scientists from the National Institute of Oceanography.
The beach at Cabo De Rama has a pristine greenish blue water and most tourist visit this place for its stunning views and of course the isolation.
If you happen to be in Goa right during or after the monsoons, then visit the beautiful Bamanbudo Waterfalls located nearby. They are located 19kms from Char Raaste/Palolem beach Road and about 14 kms from the Main NH17 Road to Karwar. One needs to take the road to Gaondongrim – Neturlim till you reach a Forest Check Post Gate. Head straight for about 14 kms (do not turn right) until you find the waterfall on the road towards the left.
Reis Magos Fort: Built as a defense fortress in the late 15th Century under Adil Shah’s rule the fort has also been used as a jail and was later converted into a hospital before being abandoned in 1993 after it had started showing signs of neglect and deterioration.
The Reis Magos Fort, owned by the Goa government and listed under the Goa Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, is the oldest fort in Goa. It overlooks the Mandovi River and is quite scenic. The fort is also open for wedding venues and film shootings. Learn More HERE
Dramatically rising over the steep slope of the headland , the fort,built little above the old Outpost, had a defensive system capable of curbing the crossing of enemy ships through the Mandovi waters.
A walled corridor connected the main fortress with the river anchorage, while a passage connected the rooms which ran along the river. The high walls are topped at vantage points by cylindrical watch turrets, a distinctive feature of medieval fortifications. The fort had the advantage of a perennial source of water from the nearby spring.
Go Diving & Explore Ship-wrecks
Goa is a divers paradise and besides offering a beautiful array of marine life, the undersea is also home to many shipwrecks that are scattered around the Mormugao harbor, near Grande Island and Bat Island. The Arabian Sea underwater world near this Goa coastline conceals and hides lots of wrecked ships of different epochs, including ships of the Second World War period and some belonging to the ‘Portuguese rule’.
Bat Island is also known as Pequeno Island, this place is popular for snorkeling and underwater sea diving. Bat Island is located just a kilometer away from the Baina Beach of Vasco-da-Gama. The island has a nice rocky beach along with a small stretch of green. It is considered a perfect destination for the snorkelers and makes for an interesting day out as a little private beach time for you in case you feel the need. Just hire a boat for a day and you can be on your own.
Grand Island is located few kilometres west from Mormugao peninsula in South Goa and is a popular place for scuba diving. With visibility more than 5m, the divers get to admire beautiful corals and marine life. Soak in the pleasures of sun, beach and sand on the Monkey Beach and go Dolphin spotting. The depth of various dive sites in Goa ranges from 3 metres to 14 metres. Even though it isn’t one of the best dive sites, people throng to this place for an open-sea dive due to its accessibility.
Here are Suzy’s Wreck (4-15m), Davy Jones Lockers (15m), Sail Rock (20m), Turbo Tunnel (7m) which is very suitable for beginners, Surge City (9m), Uma Guma Reef (15m), Bounty Bay (9m) are some of the most popular places for divers.
You can reach Grand Island by all types of leased water transportation usage. For example, on a boat from Benaulim or Bogmalo resorts it will take about 20 minutes only to get to Grand Island, while from Don Paula city resort — 40 minutes. The initial price is 3000-5000 rupees, but bargaining is quite appropriate. It should be noted that the island is used as a base of India Navy and from time to time military training exercise are conducted.
Find the Blue Lagoon
It is not an easy place to find but worth travelling to; for a cliff-view point along with lapping sea waves and a heart-shaped lagoon.
It is located at Santrem and can be reached by taking the road towards Bogmalo and once you cross the Chicolna Bus Stand lookout for a road leading to Stone Water Resort. Now instead of going towards the resort to your left, keep going straight towards the Coast Guard Colony and take the unbuilt road that leads up to the Blue Lagoon. Trust me, the journey is worth it! Carry some beer and snacks en route and enjoy the spot.
Go River Kayaking at the Nerul Creek
Where: The tour starts at Amigos Restaurant located under the Nerul Bridge, Nerul near Candolim Bardez, Goa.
Kayaking at Nerul Bridge
What to expect: It is a 2 hour guided tour that briefs you on basic maneuvering skills and safety tips. It starts an hour before the High Tide and follows through to Saipem Village, known for its mangroves and beautiful bungalows & villas located along the river line. Then one come across the thick mangroves and a prawn hatchery before moving east to Nerul Village.
LPG Club as seen while Kayaking
The last leg takes you closer to LPK club where you get to view a large reclining statue of a lady made up of laterite stone and grass. LPK is one of the most popular and hyped club in North Goa. During the whole Kayak tour, you get a chance to view quaint little river hamlets, fishing communities, thick mangroves and a variety of birds & marine life, while you Kayak in the blue waters.
Cycling Tour Through Goan Countryside
Where: At Amigos Restaurant located under the Nerul Bridge, Nerul near Candolim Bardez, Goa.
Cycling beside the sea and Goan villages
What to Expect: This cycling tour is concluded twice daily at 4 pm and 6 pm and takes you along the lanes of Candolim, Sinquirim and then moves towards the cliffs offering you an amazing view of the Arabian Sea. Next you travel along Aquada Fort, helipads and St. Lawrence Church before taking the downhill path back towards the Sinquirim fishing villages and moving alongside the lower ramparts of the Aquada fort overlooking the vast stretch of beach belts belonging to Candolim, Calangute and Baga beach. You return back to Nerul Creek and end this thrilling tour with some light Goan Snacks offered at Amigos.
Contact: www.goanaturetrails.com Rajesh Khanna: +91-7030973005 or 919822101327
Email: email@example.com Rates: 1900 INR Per Person
Visit Olaulim, a Beautiful Goan Countryside
Olaulim is about 30 kms from Dabolim Airport and Thivim is the nearest Railway stop. It is a beautiful village along the countryside and is surrounded with rivers, creeks and streams like Zuari that flows from the western ghats onto the sea.
Stay Option at Olaulim:Olaulim Backyards: also known as Peirko & Savio Fernandez’s eco-retreat belongs to Peirko & Savio Fernandez, an extraordinary couple who shared the same dream of converting their 3-acre farm into a Boutique Eco-Resort so that like minded people could appreciate the finer things in life like they do.
Olaulim Backyards Outdoors
The accommodation offers 3 cottages located distinctly offering adequate privacy. While one cottage is on flat land, another is on an undulating slope while the third onesits high on a rocky outcrop. Contact: +91 9326017731 – Pirkko Fernandes +91 9823390233 – Savio Fernandes. Tariffs: Starts at 4000-7000 INR Read MORE on this Eco-Resort.
Quepem is one of the lesser known villages of Goa, but has interesting places apart from its beaches of Betul and Canaguinim. Quepem is an ideal getaway for an offbeat traveler and also offers the largest coastline stretch of India; also called ‘Trekker’s Dream’ and goes from Majorda to Betul.
Do visit the Palácio do Deão, a palatial house built in the year 1787 by the founder of Quepem town. This beautiful heritage house has been built using a mix of Hindu & Portuguese architecture and is situated on a hillock that over looks the serene Khusavati River.
The gardens, with features such as a pond, loggia, balustrades, vases, stone ornaments, and a belvedere tell us of a complex garden, unparallel in Goa. With its rich history, unique architecture, art and artifacts, it is a must visit and you can also enjoy Indo-Portuguese cuisine on the belvedere, overlooking the Kushavati River.
Quepem Dam, built over the Khusavati river basin is a lovely place for a picnic and you can also play in the water.
For the religious, there are a few temples at Quepem & nearby. Most popular being Shree Shantadurga Chamundeshwari Kudtari Mahamaya Temple, a 15th Century temple located in the Ghudo ward of village Avedem.
Shri Chandranath Temple is dedicated to Chandreshwar, who was the titular deity of the Bhoja kings who ruled South Goa till the middle of the 8th century. Located high up on a hill at Paroda Parvat, it commands a panoramic view & makes a good trekking trail. The temple is so designed that the Linga receives moonlight on every full moon night! There is Shri Damodar Temple at Zambaulim, situated right on the banks of Khusavati River.
Nature & Wildlife Spots in Goa
Crocodile Watching at Cumbharjua Canals: Take a boat from Cortalim Jetty to reach the Crocodile point located in Cumbharjua canals. These enormous Mugger Crocodiles call in their habitat and can be seen sunbathing most of the times and are a delight to watch.
Goa offers numerous places to explore nature at its best. Explore places like Chapora, Zuari, Mahadayi, Sal, Galgibag, Terekhol, Talpona and Saleri which are heaven for nature lovers.
1. Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary: is most visited for the Dudhsagar Falls; which with a height of 310 metres, is also India’s tallest waterfalls and offers a magnificent view during the monsoons.
The best way to see this exquisite waterfall is to take a train from Kulem and get off at the Dudhsagar station and walk about 1 km along the railway track to the falls. The sanctuary is also home to indigenous birds, panthers, civets, wild boar and even tigers. You can even book an elephant ride. A day trip would ideally take about 2-3 hours or you may opt to stay at the Shanti Nature Resort located inside the park. For details on Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary, Visit Website
2. Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary: is more like a zoo but quite well managed. There are a good number of animals, most of which were either captured from circus life or got retired from it! It’s ideal for a family day out (1-2 hours) and kids especially would love it. Visit Website
3. Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary: is located along the Mandovi and Mapusa River on Chorao island, Panaji opposite Ribandar. Spread over 440 acres of land the place has thick mangroves and is a bird-watchers paradise.
A ferry ride from Ribandar takes you to Chorao. Hire a guide to help you identify the migratory birds. You can also take a boat tour within the sanctuary or walk along the paved pathway and capture to your delight. For details Contact: 08322239141
4. Butterfly Conservatory at Rajnagar that houses hundreds of butterflies under roofs built of grass, bushes and trees. Recommended especially for kids & family (1 hour tour) but only visit on sunny days as that’s when you would see most butterflies, else these go hiding.
Contact: +91 832 2985174, Dr Jyoti : +91 9822895474 and Yashodan : +91 9822125474
Entry Fee: 100 INR Visit Website
Explore the Secret Caves of Goa
Goa has a good number of caves that are still not much part of the tourist zone. But for few of those who do venture a little off track, these caves offer them an interesting glimpse into the unknown.
1. Lamgau Caves: Located 35 kms from Panaji, the Lamgau Caves of Cotigao are close to Bicholim. One may also take a trek up from Lamgau village and reach the caves located along the hill base. Another way is to take the boat jetty from Pigao village (connect with Goa Tourism for details).
While researching on these caves, I came to know that most of the sites have the picture of Elephant Cave located in Bali that are also known as Goa Gajah. As pictured on the right these are not the true pictures of Lamgau Cacves in Goa.
The passage to the Lamgau Caves in Goa are quite complicated and needs to be traveled with care.
There are 2 caves inside, each created using decomposed Laterite, which is quite fragile. Interestingly, the caves were originally a Buddhist site and later converted into a Shiva temple with a sacred Linga and the Nandi Bull placed inside the larger cave.2. Caves of Chicalim have 3 underground chambers made with megalithic potsherds.
Inside Chambers of Chicalim Caves
3. Arvalem Caves are also known Buddhist Caves built around 6th Century ideally for the monks to seek sanctity from their austere lives and wander into the thick jungles.
Rock Cut Caves of Arvalem
It is also believed that Pandavs stay here for a while during their 14-year exile, hence also popular as Pandava Caves. These interesting man-made caves are located at Harvalem, in Sanquelim Village (Bicholim Taluka). To reach Arvalem Waterfalls you need to walk for about 30 minutes uphill. The waterfall offers a scenic view and is an ideal picnic spot for the locals. There’s also a Rudreshwar Temple in the vicinity.There are a number of buses that run from Mapusa and Panaji to Arvalem.
4. Verna Caves are probably the oldest caves in Goa and are located on the outskirts of the Verna Industrial Area on a plateau. Its behind Old Mardol next to a Mahalsa Temple dedicated to the Mohini Avatar of Lord Vishnu.
Interesting the ringer of the temple bell was taken off as there were lot of deaths in case someone lied in the temple premises while ringing the bell! The secret cave is right behind the temple and while the entrance is just 1 metre high, the inside of the cave can unbelievably accommodate 1200 people! It’s an unending cave with plenty of hollowed out chambers and crevices making it really interesting. Ages ago, this cave was often visited by people traveling from Ghataprabha and other areas of Karnataka who visited the ancient port (Gopkapattana) at Agacaim.Today the cave is home to bats, porcupines and snakes. The ASI Goa plans to preserve this natural wonder.
The village of Verna, incidentally, has many springs such as the Uddear, Sonalle and various others that are frequented by locals. Another popular one is the Salmona spring in Saligao.
5. Khandepar Caves is a prehistoric shrine that are free standing structural caves that date back to 10th-11th Century. These caves are located at Khandepar, in the northern part of Goa, and have been carved out of a hillock.
6. Cave at Kundaim are single cell mandmade caves with laterite pedestal cave without any deity. It is situated in village Cuncoliem, Mangueshi in Ponda taluka. It is just near the main national highway at Mangeshi-Kundaim-Cuncolim junction.
7. Sanguem Caves have architectural, archaeological and historic value and still offer shelter. These are located in Rivona, Quepem at around 5 kms northeast of Ponda. These ancient Buddhist caves are also known as Rivona Caves. There is an idol of Lord Hanuman belonging to the 16th Century that has an antique and aesthetic value.
Another interesting place to view nearby is the man-made water dam ‘The Selaulim Dam located just 5 kms from Sangeum city.
With the backdrop of the ghats, this dam offers stunning scenic views and makes fro a an ideal picnic place especially during monsoons.
8. Caves & Caverns at Issorcem, Hollant, Vasco are recent discoveries and are man made. Interestingly these caves are made by vertically digging into the ground and once the cave dwellers suspended themselves in at night, they covered the cave with vines and circular discs.
Take a trip to Goa Science Centre
With an objective to inculcate education along with entertainment, this unique facility is a great place to explore science through hands-on sci-fi exhibits and so much more. Spread across 4 acres, the place houses huge gardens with large exhibits and play things to keep the kids busy. The Prehistoric animal zone attracts kids to its life-sized models of Dinosaurs among other extinct gigantic animals.
There’s also a state of the art Planetarium that has a capacity for 53 people and presents educational and entertaining shows on celestial wonders, magic of night-sky and other phenomenal topics. It has the unique dome-like projection technology that creates an amazing complex motion of the stars, planets and so much more keeping the people enthralled.
The 140 seater auditorium is well-equipped with state of the art 3D screens with high definition sound and projection system, that holds 4 shows on ‘Dinosaurs: Giants of Patagonia’ everyday.