The smallest state in India has been Portuguese longer than India, which is evident. Visiting the place gives an experience never felt before. The atmosphere is like that of a new world, somewhere between Asians and Europeans, somewhere from nowhere. Making it exciting to discover the roots and branches of Goa.
There are countless examples of Indian and Portuguese architecture in Goa. Along with a number of protected religious churches and other global sites.
A lighthouse at the hilltop near River Mandovi, visible at night from places far, stands in vigilance at the historic Aguada Fort. 18 kilometres from Panaji, the fort was built to control any threat through the river it is situated in.
The name comes from the Lusophonic word agua, which means water. The availability of freshwater from the fort is because of the multiple springs constructed inside.
The fort is constructed of laterite stone, abundant in the region. The architecture shows impressive military planning with its sections and chambers. Among the most enormous fort in Goa, it has a splendid view of the ocean.
Basilica of Bom Jesus
A World Heritage Monument declared by UNESCO, this cathedral is highly prominent in Asia. Located approximately 10 kilometers from Panaji, the Basilica of Bom Jesus contains the mortal remains of its patron saint, St Francis Xavier.
The legend goes that his body was fresh even after death. Thus every year, his body was brought up for visitors worldwide to pray at his feet. This tradition stopped after his body decomposed beyond presentable condition.
Made of black granite, the baroque-style architecture of the cathedral brings an aura of ancient magnificence, standing tall with a height of 183 feet.
Make time to visit the place during its festive time and discover a positive aspect of culture. A festival and its ways of celebration can tell you a lot about the region, clothing and food, music etc.
Brimming with zeal and zest, the people of Goa celebrate their Festival of Colour and Spring in splendour. The festival is for a fortnight in the month of Falgun, according to the Hindu Lunar Calendar.
Fusion of carnivals and traditional rituals, the celebration of Shigmo is brought onto the roads by people who dress as mythological creatures in colorful attires. The festival is famous to be the joy of the homecoming of the warriors who left during Dussehra.
Floats depicting mythological stories, traditional songs and film dances fill the streets and roads as if like a parade.
Significant as the biggest festival for the Goans, Chavath or Chovoth is a celebration of the Hindu deity Ganesha who looks over auspicious beginnings and destroys evils and obstacles.
People worship idols of God in households with absolute sincerity. Young children bustle around collecting leaves to offer the parents of the worshipped deity. Every family celebrates with new dresses and beautiful dishes.
People go out in the evenings to visit the idols at other houses and areas. Fairs are organized where local singing and dancing can be enjoyed apart from stalls and rides.
The indigenous spices of India and the introduced crops from Portugal blended together to form some of the most exquisite delicacies one can ever taste.
Although commonly misinterpreted by most Hindi-speaking Indians because of the aloo pronunciation in the new name, they think the potato is the dish’s star. But instead, it is the pork. The original name actually means ‘meat marinated in wine and vinegar’.
This dish is famous for being fiery hot, and spicy and is popular in its version across the globe.
Delve into the complexities of Indian curry brought by its spectrum of spices. Originating in Arambol of Goa as Shagoti, this delicacy is brought back home by the Portuguese as Chacuti.
The gravy is of grated coconut and white poppy seeds, black pepper, chilli, clove, cinnamon etc. It is prepared with fresh chicken or fish. The Portuguese variations include lamb, beef and pork as well.
Visit some restaurants and cafes to taste these cuisines to satisfy your appetite on the journey. Cafe Sussegado at Calangute, Mum’s Kitchen at Panaji, and Martin’s Corner at Betalbim are popular tourist choices.
Folk Music and Dance
Learning about culture and history can be complete only by mixing with natives. And what else can be a better way to bond if not by indulging yourself in their music and dancing along!
Coming with the Portuguese, Mando is the musical and poetic expression of the elites. The composition of both musical and lyrical elements induces loving and nostalgic feelings in the listeners. These songs express the singer’s heart mesmerisingly in slow verses. This art form is definitely an intangible heritage for the folks of Goa.
If Mando expressed the heart’s longings and spread melancholy, moving towards Dulpod, discover the rhythmic song and dance representing the joy of day-to-day life. The fast beat and rapidly moving melody immortalise the themes and aspects of regular life.
The songs have no definite composer or writer and are improvised with time and situation. These dance and music forms are there during any festival and program, so visit during festive holidays.
Handicrafts and Souvenirs
Immersion in culture is complete with enjoying some handicrafts of the locals. Bringing some back with you as a souvenir will remain a memoir of the trip forever.
Bring home some down-to-earth looking and beautiful show pieces, which you can use for house activities. Bowls, flower pots, tea sets, pen holders, and ashtrays of varying designs and structures you can purchase in the shops.
Masks, wind chimes, lamp shades, mirror or photo frames, chandeliers etc., of coconut and sea shells, are some must-buy from a coastal region. Take care of them on the way back home, as they are fragile.
Bamboo is a part of culture naturally because of its utility. Still, the beautiful things the hands of the natives can make out of these make them an industry leaders. Remember to get some flower or fruit baskets, mats, handheld fans etc., for yourself or as a gift.
Heritage and cultural excursions are attractive because of the new things we learn. And to enjoy the thrill, in-depth immersion is necessary. Thousands of places await your visit for you to discover, so remember to go with an extended vacation in mind.
Keep the natural environment fresh and healthy by renting bikes to explore the nooks of the towns and villages and experience freedom, which the big rides from buses or taxis can not.