Goa offers much more than just beachside resorts, so if you’re looking for a destination where you can discover some culture and history, as well as stretch out on golden sands, this is the place for you!
There are lots of attractions to visit in north Goa in particular, as the state’s capital Panaji is situated here. In addition to interesting historical sites, there are a few museums worth having a look around. Here are a few places I think you should stop off at.
Goa State Museum
For a great introduction to the eclectic mix of cultures you’ll experience while visiting the region, head to the Goa State Museum – you’ll find it in the EDC Complex in the Patto area of Panaji. Wandering around its 12 galleries is an excellent way to learn more about the various religious groups that have influenced this corner of southern India, in addition to viewing some slightly more bizarre exhibits from the region’s past.
There are several Hindu and Jain statues on display, as well as relics from the period of Portuguese occupation. Intricately carved items of furniture, old coins and even antique lottery machines are among the things you can see. I think one of the nice things about exploring this museum is that you’re never quite sure what you’ll find around the next corner!
Around 9 km to the east of Panaji is Old Goa, the former state capital that is now part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is littered with buildings constructed by the Portuguese settlers and is home to some astounding churches. The Se Cathedral is probably the most impressive of these, as it is the largest Christian place of worship in Goa and houses the Golden Bell.
The Archaeological Museum can also be found in the city, with its exhibitions on show in the convent of the church of St Francis of Assisi. Items dating back as far as the prehistoric era are among those you can view, as well as paintings, coins, sculptures, stamps and other objects from more recent years.
“Goa Shree Bhagavati”
Religion is a big part of India’s society, so it’d be a shame to leave Goa without visiting at least one of its Hindu temples. Around 28 km from Panaji is Shree Bhagavati, a colourful example of this type of place of worship. Its doors are flanked by two large sculptures of elephants and the temple itself is thought to be more than 500 years old. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting when one of the many festivals is on, you’ll be in for a treat as thousands of revellers gather at the temples – the atmosphere is amazing and it’s a wonderful experience.
“Savoi Spice Plantation”
Savoi Spice Plantation
If you can take an excursion from your north Goa hotel to the Savoi Spice Plantation, I’d strongly recommend it. This is one of the state’s oldest tropical plantations and a visit here will allow you to delve into Goa’s agricultural heritage. Situated around 25 km from Panaji, it was established by the Shetye family 200 years ago and is still going strong today. They grow a range of fruits and spices, including pineapples, jackfruits, cloves and nutmeg, with tourists given guided walking tours among the various plants. You’ll also be treated to traditional snacks and drinks, so this trip is an excellent way to sample some of Goa’s famous cuisine!