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Things to Do in Goa

In Goa, a western state on the coast of India, endless stretches of white sand melt into the Arabian Sea. It holds multi-faceted appeal that attracts everyone from escapists and pilgrims to thrill seekers and history buffs, so it comes as no surprise that the region is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. Portuguese colonial architecture provides unique sightseeing opportunities, while the state’s spiritual reputation is easy to see, with its abundant yogis and shamans. There are tours specializing in pretty much every flavor of adventure: In Old Goa (Ela), formerly known as the "Rome of the East," World Heritage Sites such as the Basilica of Bom Jesus and Se Cathedral remind visitors of Portugal’s colonial rule. Panaji (Panjim), the capital of Goa, offers easy access to fragrant spice plantations and Dudhsagar Falls; while from Candolim in North Goa, visitors can cycle to the mysterious Fort Aguada and its lighthouse, or go kayaking on the Nerul River—if you can bear to drag yourself away from its golden-sand beaches. Other day-trip destinations popular with travelers include Palolem Beach—locally known as Monkey Island—for snorkeling and scuba diving; and Reis Magos, a village home to a 16th-century church and fort. Plus, revellers shouldn’t be deceived by Goa’s antique charm—areas surrounding Calangute Beach and Anjuna Beach attract ravers from around the world with legendary beach parties.
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Ancestral Goa
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The Ancestral Goa Center, known by locals as the Big Foot Museum for its large foot-shaped dance floor, is one of the main attractions in the Goan village of Loutolim. Local artist Maendra Jocelino Araujo Alvares, the man behind the museum, created the mini nineteenth century Goan village to help preserve the culture and traditions of the region for generations to come.

For visitors unfamiliar with Goan culture, a visit to the Ancestral Goa Center offers a window into some of the area’s unique past times like brewing feni, a local spirit made from coconut or cashew fruit. The museum is also known for housing a giant sculpture of Sant Mirabai, the longest laterite sculpture in India.

If you’re in the area of the Ancestral Goa Center, be sure to pay a visit to the Miranda House, one of Goa’s oldest country homes, and stop in for a Portuguese-Goan lunch at Fernando’s Nostalgia, considered one of the best restaurants anywhere in the state.

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Basilica of Bom Jesus (Borea Jezuchi Bajilika)
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The Basilica of Bom Jesus, a church dedicated to the worship of baby Jesus, is also home to the remains of Francis Xavier, Goa’s patron saint and one of the original seven founders of the Jesuit order. The church was erected in Old Goa, the former Portuguese colonial capital, between 1594 and 1605 by Florentine sculptor Giovanni Batista Foggini out of red stone sourced from the area.

The withered remains of the saint, known throughout the Catholic world, are kept in a silver casket housed within an ornate three-tiered marble tomb to the right of the altar. Once every ten years, the church hosts an exhibition of the remains of the body - save for one arm on display in Rome – and they are made visible to the public.

This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the oldest and most ornate churches in all of India, complete with gold gilded altars and white marble floors inlaid with precious stones.

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More Things to Do in Goa

Shri Shantadurga Temple

Shri Shantadurga Temple

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13 Tours and Activities
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Dudhsagar Falls

Dudhsagar Falls

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The 1,017 foot (310 meter) tall Dudhsagar Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls in India, and making the trek to the falls is a great way to get away from the beaches for the day and experience a wilder side of Goa. Bring along snacks and a beach towel and make a day of it.

According to legend, Dudhsagar, meaning “Sea of Milk,” was created when a princess bathing beneath the falls poured a jug of sweet milk in front of her body to hide her nakedness from the eyes of a prince hiding in the trees. Today, the rushing waters of the fall appear milky white as they cascade down the four tiered cliffs into a pool below.

Those who weather the bumpy jeep ride and somewhat strenuous trek to the falls will be rewarded with a refreshing swim and some spectacular views. The best time to visit is between October and March when roads are less likely to be washed out from monsoon rains, and the falls are at their most impressive just after a late monsoon season rain.

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Sahakari Spice Farm

Sahakari Spice Farm

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Indian food is known the world over for its distinctive and rich spice profile, and taking a tour of the Sahakari Spice Farm gives visitors a comprehensive understanding of the importance and impact of these spices in India. Get a crash course in the history, medicinal and culinary uses of a wide range of spices, nutmeg, curry leaves, turmeric and cardamom to name a few. Unless you plan to travel to Kerala, where spice farms abound, a stop at the Sahakari Spice Farm is a must for food loving travelers.

Upon entering the farm, you’re greeted with a flower garland and a cup of spiced tea. The knowledgeable guides are thorough with their explanations, so you’ll be able to brew up your own cup upon returning home. During a walking tour of the farm, you’ll see where the spices are grown and hear about the growing process and how they’re used.

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Reis Magos Fort

Reis Magos Fort

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Palolem Beach

Palolem Beach

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Panaji (Panjim)

Panaji (Panjim)

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São Tomé

São Tomé

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