Goa can be topographically divided in mainly two part and North Goa is one them. The stretch from headland of Fort Aguada just outside Panaji city to further north near the border of Maharashtra encompasses North Goa. Dotted with pristine palm fringed beaches, exotic wildlife parks and buzzing cities, the North Goa tours is a popular holiday destination among adventurers and pilgrim seekers alike. North Goa Cities
Panjim or Panaji
The capital city of Goa, Panaji is scenically located on the banks of Mandovi river flowing in North Goa. This is the most developed city in Goa and is known for its Miramar and Dona Paula beaches and monuments like Bishops Palace at Altinho, Maruti Temple, Mahalaxmi Temple, Customs Museum, Santa Monica Jetty Boat Rides, Old GMC Complex and Salida Del Sol (one-of-a-kind of hotel in the country). Panaji is also famed for its casinos especially the Casino Caravela (casino on a ferry). Other attractions here include Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Goa State Museum (open on Mon-Fri from 9am-5:30pm, entry free), Secretariat Building(colonial monumental heritage), Public Observatory and Institute Menezes Braganza (famous for blue-white glazed ceramic tile composition).An interesting activity to be a part of is the 1 hour long cruise on Mandovi river, which has live bands performing for the guests. Tickets costing Rs 150 can be taken from near the Mandovi bridge. On full moon nights two hours cruise can also be enjoyed. During the months from Mid October to the end of April, open sea ‘dolphin cruises’ are also conducted. During this time the rates are increased to Rs 300 per head. Some of the places to enjoy lip smacking food in Panaji are Spicy Bella Pizza for great Italian food, A Ferradura serving authentic Portuguese cuisine and Ruchira a multi cuisine restaurant with a well stocked bar and Rajshahi restaurant serving Punjabi and Mughlai dishes. Panaji also offers great shopping options one can indulge during their honeymoon tours in Goa. Tourists are advised to shop for authentic Goan handicrafts from Aparant, the handicraft store. Another famous marketplace is Panjim market, where fresh sea food can be bought. Velha Goa Galeria and De Goa Ceramics are the best place to buy local hand-painted ceramics. Mapusa
Located at a distance of 13 kms from Panaji, Mapusa is an important city in North Goa famous for being the market town connecting beaches like Baga, Calangute, Anjuna and Candolim.
The main attraction in Mapusa is the Friday market (8am till 6:30pm), where tourists can enjoy a true slice of the local Goan culture. Vendors and hawkers selling inexpensive clothes, souvenirs and textiles can be bought from this market. Besides the regular stuff saplings, junk jewelley and the local wine can also be bought from here.
Besides, shopping can also be done from the Sawant Chapple Shop, behind the Laxmi Narayan temple, that offers handmade leather slippers at an economical rate. Goa is an extremely popular place to holiday in India and numerous Goa packages from Bangalore are available. The town also houses some colonial building and churches, however, none of them are very famous. The temples that tourists can visit here are the Bogdeshwar temple and Hanuman temple. The annual fest held on the 16th day after Easter at The Church of Our Lady of Miracles is also an wonderful event to be a part of as it enjoys participation of people from all faiths. Mapusa is a small town that does not have great accommodation. Booking oneself at the hotels and resorts at Anjuna, Vagator and Calangute is a much better option. An economical place to eat in Mapusa is Bertsy Bar and restaurant for non vegetarians and Vrundavan for vegetarians. Old Goa
Claiming to be the most charming city in North Goa, the main attraction of Old Goa are the ancient churches and imposing cathedrals. Tourists are advised to visit the Se Cathedral boasting of a unique blend of Portuguese and Gothic architecture. A part of Convent and Church of St Francis of Assisi has been converted into an archaeological museum housing sculptures and stone Vetal images. The Basilica of Bom Jesus is another popular place to visit in Old Goa and it has various attractions in its interior.
Some other popular attractions in an around Old Goa is that of Viceroy’s arch, Adil Shah’s Palace gateway and Church of Our Lady of Rosary. A panoramic bird eye view of the city can be enjoyed from the hill top located near the Church of Our Lady of the Mount.
Other important cities in North Goa are Ponda, known for its temple attractions. The famous temples to visit here are Kamakshi temple, Sri Devaki Krishna temple and Shanthadurga temple. For the Muslims, Safa Shahouri Masjid is the main draw, while Buddhist pilgrim will be inclined towards Rivona cave.
Bicholim is the beautiful hamlet in Goa blessed with various lakes and hills. The Arvalem caves and Aravalem waterfalls are the supreme attractions here. Goa is well connected with the major cities in India and numerous packages from Mumbai to Goa can also be booked. Beaches in North Goa
Anjuna Beach - Anjuna beach is eloquent with palm fringes, beautiful shacks, excellent restaurants and pubs and a large crowd of tourists. This the most popular beach in Goa where tourists can relax, unwind and enjoy a fun filled holiday. Besides the party places, another attraction that draws tourists to this beach is the flea market held every Wednesday. Shore Bar and German Bakery are great options for eating while for partying Paradiso and Curlys are the best places to go.
Baga Beach - A very crowded beach, Baga is known to be a family beach and is famous for the host of adventure sports that tourists can enjoy here. Tito’s, La Restaurant, Cavala Sea side Resort and Cafe Mambo are some of the places to party and enjoy lip smacking food and drinks. Adventures like wind surfing and jet skiing should not be missed. The Ingo’s night market and the Saturday flea market is the ultimate place to shop for unique Goan handicrafts and souvenirs.
Calangute Beach - Among the long sweep of crowded beaches, Calangute enjoys the most celebrated name. Wonderful shacks, concrete-block hotels and small shops selling varieties of products encompass this beach which is ideal for underwater diving and aquatic attractions. This is a huge beach and tourists can hire bikes at a mere Rs 300 for going around the beach.
Candolim Beach - This beach is ideal for taking sun bath and while on the beach, one can shop for cheap items from the local vendors and visit the Rust store for chocolates, potteries and furniture. A mix of upmarket resorts, beach shacks and great restaurants are some of the popular attractions that lure the tourists to this beach.
Besides the above highlighted beaches, North Goa is embellished with many other beach stretches. Dona Paula beach is a very exotic stretch and is ideal for adventure sports. Vagator is a beautiful beach and is perfect stopover for those seeking some solitude bliss and sighting some monumental attractions. Majorim and Sinquerim beach are famous for their fort attractions. The Majorim beach is a protected hub Olive Ridley turtles while Sinquerim beach is popular among those who enjoy long walks.
Wildlife Attractions in North Goa
The area encompassing North Goa has many wildlife resorts that tourists should not miss visiting.
Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary - This is one of the most visited wildlife park is Goa, known for housing varied species of black-faced langur, jackal, wild boar and sambhar. Spreading on an area of 80 sq km, Bondla Wildlife sanctuary is idyllically located at a distance of 52 kms from Panaji and is easily accessible. The main attractions here includes a rose garden, a botanical garden, a zoo and a small deer park.
Elephant safari is an added attractions. Cottages are also available and provide good accommodation. The park is open on all days except Thursday and timings are from 9 am till 5 pm. The entrance fee is Rs 5 for adults and Rs 2 for children, excluding the camera charges.
Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary - Named after the famous ornithologist Dr. Salim Ali, this is one amongst the most popular bird sanctuaries in India. Located close to the Mandovi river, the park serves as a home to not only local birds but a varieties of migratory birds as well. Apart from a rich variety of coastal birds, one may spot flying foxes, jackals and crocodiles. This park remains open from 6 am till 6 pm and charge Rs 10 per head as entrance fee. Please note that prior permission is required from Chief Wild Life Warden, Forest Department of Panaji to visit this park.
Mollem National Park (Entrance fee - Rs 20 for adult and Rs 5 for children) and Madei Wildlife Sanctuary are two lesser known national parks in North Goa. Both these wildlife parks are popular for housing some of the rare species of flora and fauna. The Devil's Canyon and the Dudhsagar Waterfalls are great tourist places inside the Mollem National Park .
Pilgrimage in North Goa
North Goa is a perfect place for the pilgrim inclined tourists as well. Antidiluvian churches and holy temples also dot the various parts of North Goa.
Temples in North Goa
Shantadurga Temple & Sri Ramnath Temple are located in vicinity. The former was built by Shivaji’s grandson, Shahuji, and is known for its unique style of architecture. The Sri Ramnath temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and houses the ancient Shiva Linga and a gorgeous silver screen with carvings of animals, plants and flowers. These temples are located in the beautiful hamlet of Ponda. Other famous temple structure in Ponda are Sri Laxmi Narsimha and Shri Mahalsa temple.
Shri Mangesh Temple is the most famous temple in Goa and is in Mangesh village, known to have been the birthplace of the legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar, close to Panaji. This is the richest temple of Goa and is known for its Jatra festival of dance and drama held during the months of April and May.
The rock-cut temple of Tambdi Surla, is also a popular spot among devotees. Dating back to the 12th century, the temple is made of black stone slabs without the use of any concrete or mortar. The temple is 45 kms from Panaji and has the idols of Lord Vishnu and Parvati.
Churches and Cathedrals in North Goa
North Goa is a very popular tourist destination dotted with various ancient and colonial churches that attracts various tourists.
Old Goa is the most visited destination having beautiful churches. The most important is the Basilica de Bom Jesu, which houses the mortal remains of Saint Francis Xavier. Boasting of a great architectural mix of Baroque, Corinthian and Ionic styles, pilgrims from all over the world come here to pay their homage.
Another famous church in Old Goa is Se Cathedral known for the 15 altars that depict the scened from the life of Saint Catherine.
The Church of Our Lady of Rosary and Church of Saint Francis Assasi are also located in Old Goa and are known for their architectural splendors and historical association.
North Goa is a popular tourist destination offering host of beaches, temples, churches and shopping options. Tourists are advised to plan an exclusive holiday trip to North Goa and be a part of all the good things that this part of Goa offers!