Goa is a popular haunt for tourists for its cruises and vibrant nightlife. It is bounded by the foothills of the Sahyadri Range on one side and the Arabian Sea on the other. In every corner of this tropical paradise, you will find a blend of traditional and modern aspects of life. On one nook, you will find alluring natural charms and on the other, you will find architectural masterpieces. This place is also blessed with an exotic biodiversity. From sanctuaries to temples to heritage sites, you will find everything here. Goa is also renowned for its mouth watering Konkani and Goan cuisine. To make your choice easier, here are top ten places to visit in Goa in no particular order.
1. Arvalam Waterfalls:
Arvalam Waterfalls, also known as Harvalem Waterfalls, is one of the most popular tourist spots in Goa. This waterfall lies 2 kilometers from a tiny settlement of Sanquelim. The water gushes down from a mountain, forming a pool where the swimmers can enjoy a swim. The salubrious setting of this place makes it a great jaunt for nature lovers. There is also Rudreshwar Temple close by the waterfall, a sacred place for people who believe in the releasing of the soul on the 12th day after the death. The best time to visit this waterfall is after the end of the rainbow season, when the whole landscape is colored in green. There is also a park from where you can view the waterfall. You can take a bus or a taxi from Mapusa and Panaji to reach the Arvalam waterfalls.
2. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary:
Another serene tourist spot in Goa is the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary. It is located at a distance of 29 kilometers from Panaji. This place is a haven for bird lovers. The name of the sanctuary is coined after the illustrious ornithologist Salim Ali. You can spot birds like western reef heron, little bitter, red knot, jacksnipe and striated heron in this sanctuary. During the winters, migratory birds arrive at this reserve in large numbers. A watchtower inside the sanctuary will give you a panoramic view of the surroundings. Besides birds, you will also find crocodiles, flying foxes and jackals in this sanctuary. This mangrove habitat is located between the Island of Chorao and the Mandovi River. You can reach this place by taking the ferries from Chorao and Ribandar.
3. Cabo de Rama Fort:
The Cabo de Rama Fort is the oldest fort in Goa. The fort was formed before the arrival of the British. It has a chapel, military barracks, quarters and 21 guns for its defense. Cabo de Rama Fort was the place where Lord Rama sought refuge at the time of his exile along with Sita. Most of the fort is in ruins now, except the church of Santo Antonio, where the people still come to worship. This place has also witnessed some of the great battles between Portugal, Hindu and Muslim rulers for gaining control over it. Most of the tourists come here to the get a stunning view of the sea from the fort. It is an excellent place if you are looking for peace and privacy.
4. Goa State Museum:
The Goa State Museum is located in Panjim, one of the most popular cities of this state. It is the best way to ride back into the ancient times of Goa. This museum is preserved in the most efficacious manner by the Goa Government. The museum contains artifacts pertaining to its bygone history. The 14 galleries in this museum contain around 8000 artifacts, from anthropological artifacts, to coins to sculptures to numismatic collections. The Furniture Galley has ancient furniture; the Religious Expression Gallery features manuscripts, paintings, and religious fabrics of Goa and Sculpture Gallery houses sculptures.
5. Bom Jesus Basilica:
Bom Jesus Basilica is one of the oldest churches in the country and one of the top places to see in Goa. It is an important pilgrimage for the Christians. It is located 9 kilometers from Panaji. The church will stun you with its glories and beautiful paintings. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was consecrated in 1605 in the finest Baroque architecture. It is here where the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier are kept. The surprising fact is that his remains are still fresh as it was on the day of his burial. The Everyday Mass is held from 7 am to 8 am and the Sunday Mass is held from 8 am to 9:15 pm. The church also organizes sound and light shows based on the life of Jesus every year on 3rd December.
6. Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary:
When in Goa, do not forget to visit the Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary for a rendezvous with your favorite animals. The place is embedded with great natural treasures. This popular sanctuary is located in Ponda Taluka in the northwestern part of the city. The sanctuary provides habitat for a wide variety of animal, snakes, crocodiles, wild cats and deer. The sanctuary also houses a Mini Zoo, Deer Safari Park, Rose Garden and Nature Education Center within its premises. The Nature Education Care will provide you with useful knowledge about the wildlife. There is also an impressive collection of plants. A visit to this sanctuary will provide an exquisite experience to its visitors.
7. Baga Beach:
Goa is a placed renowned for its mesmerizing beaches. One of the most popular and happening beaches of Goa is the Baga beach. This beach is known for its pleasant ambiance, villages and scenic views of the shoreline. Unlike most of the beaches of Goa, Baba is secluded from the outside world, which adds to its overall charm. There are plenty of water activities to entice its visitors from time to time like dolphin spotting, banana boat ride, parasailing and sun basking. You can visit this sandy place at any point of the year. The sunrise and sunset on the Baga Beach will truly mesmerize you. The Baga Beach is also popular for its rejuvenating nightlife.
8. Tropical Spice Plantation:
Away from the pollution of the city, a visit to the Tropical Spice Plantations will make a memorable experience. The plantation is a tract of green, undulating nature, which makes it an ideal place to grow spices. It is blessed with all the elements- wind, water, earth and even fire in the form of the fiery Feni in Goa. Many packages will help you explore the surroundings of this place. You will also get an insight on what goes behind the making of Indian foods. A ride on an elephant back will be a good idea in this plantation.
9. Shri Mangueshi Temple:
Shri Mangueshi Temple is one of the most popular religious places in Goa. It attracts thousands of visitors every day. It is located around 23 kilometers from Panaji. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple has an elegant and simple structure. The prime beauty of the Shri Mangueshi Temple is the spacious courtyards and grand towers. At the entrance stands the Deepa Stambha, the tallest and most imposing column in Goa. The temple also hosts annual festivals that you can attend like the Akshaya Tritiya, Anant Vritotsava, Mahashivratri, Dussera, Diwali, and Navratri.
10. Arvalem Caves:
Goa is one of the most sought after destination for heritage architectures. One of the most outstanding historical monuments of this ancient state is the Arvalam Caves. The caves have been attracting tourists over long years. Arvalam Caves date back to the 6th century. Legends say that the Pandavas sought refuge in these caves during their exile. Arvalam caves are a true example of the rock cut historic architecture. It is simple, yet appealing. The walls are plain and have no paintings on them. The rock structure is cut into laterite stone. There is also a huge Buddha statue near this place.
The moderate climate of this state adds to its popularity. You will see an influx of foreign visitors in winter while in summer and soon, you will find a large number of Indian tourists. So plan your trip accordingly.