Old Goa, Goa
Located in the Northern Goa district of Goa, Old Goa refers to the historic town that served as the seat of the Portuguese in India till the 18th century. The city is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its unique Baroque style architecture and various churches.
Old Goa was a thriving city even before the Portuguese arrived in 1510. It had been the capital of the Bahmani Sultan Adil Shah. The large palace of Adil Shah, surrounded by fort walls, towers and a moat was located here as well as many temples and mosques. Unfortunately none of these structures remain in existence today except for the ruins of the gateway to the palace.St. Cathedral
After the Portuguese conquest, Old Goa went on to become a bustling metro glittering with gold and glamour. As its reputation grew, the fabulous city attracted visitors from all over Europe.
Under the Portuguese the city grew rapidly in size and splendour, eventually coming to rival Lisbon itself. At the height of the Portuguese power, it was called the `Rome of the Orient’, its population surpassing that of even the European cities of London and Lisbon.
Afonso Albuquerque – the founder of Goa – built the first church here, that of Our Lady of the Rosary. He also built the Se Cathedral, the largest church in Asia, that took 80 years to completed. The construction of Churches continued at a fast pace and eventually there were some 12 huge and magnificent churches and monuments roughly in an area of one square kilometre in Old Goa.
The city had as many as seven markets where traders came from China, Arabia, Zanzibar and other Indian states to trade in silk, cotton, spices and perfumed oils, etc. There were markets for blacksmiths, goldsmiths, fish and meats, and one for diamonds.
Rua Direita (“the Right Path”) the main avenue which lead from the wharf, under the Viceroy’s Arch and passed through the centre of the city, was lined with shops and palatial villas of the rich. As many as two lakh people lived, partied and prayed across seven square kilometres.
The magnificent splendour of Old Goa was however quite short-lived. By the end of the 16th century the Portuguese maritime and colonial power waned. The fortunes of Old Goa began to dwindle too. The city’s decline was accelerated by the activities of the Inquisition.alt
Devastating epidemics struck the area wiping out almost half the population in 1543 and 1570, and another 25,000 died in the first thirty years of the 17th century.
Then the Mandovi river started to silt up, making it difficult for the ships to berth at the once-bustling port. Soon, in 1759, under the orders of the viceroy, Conde do Alvor, the city was shifted to Panaji. Most of the buildings except the churches, were pulled down and the rubble used to build the new capital.
Today, Old Goa is a World Heritage site. There is a small village around the huge churches and convents. Some of these are still in active use, and others have become museums maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India.
The city no longer bustles with crowds and trading people, but with a little imagination, you can picture the thriving city that used to be at the site. Early morning and late evening (till 5.30) are the best times to visit the site.
Located about 10 kms east of Panaji, the Old Goa beckons.
Goa’s former capital was one thickly populated place but because of the spread of some epidemics here in the seventeenth century, this place was virtually deserted leaving behind scores of cream and white painted churches and convents.
Old Goa has been given the World Heritage Status by UNESCO and is one of the main tourist attractions as it preserves the tomb of St Francis Xavier.
Some of the places of interest are Se Cathedral ( the largest of the churches in Goa), Convent and Church of St Francis of Assisi, Basilica of Bom Jesus, and Church of St Cajetan, Church of St Augustine ruins and Church and Convent of St Monica.
Ponda is a busy commercial centre with its main attraction being Safa Shahouri Mosque built by Ibrahim Adil Shah in 1560.
Taluka, a sub-district is known for numerous Hindu Temples. These temples unlike the rest in India are a unique blend of European Baroque, Muslim and Hindu architectural styles, which totally enthralls the observers. Shri Manguesh and Shri Mahalsa are situated between villages of Mardol and Priol. Another temple is the Shantadurga Temple. Shri Ramnath Temple is noted for the silver screen embossed with animal and floral motifs. Other interesting temples include Shri Nagueshi Temple and Shri Lakshmi Narasimha Temple.
Another feature which is worth a watch is the Hindu Rock Cut Caves which lie northeast of Ponda Town, near the village Khandepar.
These caves are from the 10th-13th century and have lotus carved decorations on its ceilings.
The famous Dudhsagar Waterfalls measure 600metres and lies in the Goa-Karnataka border. When the water levels are at their highest, froth like foam is created at the bottom which is why the Konkani name, Dudhsagar, meaning “sea of milk”. This place is accessible only through a jeep or by foot. The view is absolutely exotic and breathtaking.
The best time to visit is from October, immediately after the monsoons, to mid December.
The North of Goa has a continuous string of beaches. Development starts from the foot of Fort Aguada which was built in 1612 to protect the northern shores from the Dutch and Maratha riders. The ruins of the fort can be reached by road. The fort is worth a visit for an excellent view of the four storey Portuguese lighthouse built in 1864. .
The main market town of North Goa is Mapusa. Friday is one of the liveliest days here. This market is known for its authenticity and specializes in Goan sausages, green plantations from Moira and bottles of palm sap (toddy).
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