Goa is known for its balmy shores sandwiched by the Arabian Sea on one side and swaying coconut palms on the other. But, there’s a rich, cultural heritage to explore too. The Portuguese were lured to this coastal trade outpost by the promise of money to be made from trading spices like pepper, cloves and cardamom. Four hundred and fifty years later, they’ve left an indelible mark on the cultural soul of Goa influencing its food, architecture, music and art. Here are some Skyscanner ideas to bring out the culture vulture in you!
1. Explore Goa’s rich history at a museum
The biggest attractions at the Goa State Museum, near the Panjim bus stand, are the two antique lottery machines and the examples of antique Portuguese furniture including a table used by the infamous Inquisition that landed on Goan shores. If you’re more interested in the anthropology of Goa and in what Goan village life looked like, visit the Ancestral Goa (also known as Big Foot) museum in Loutoulim where you can explore how Goan villagers worked, lived and prayed over the years. The Goa Chitra Museum in Benaulim presents the ethnography of Goa through the display of various tools, implements, modes of transport and various other artifacts that showcase Goan life across the ages.
_Photo credit: www.bigfootgoa.com_
2. Get artsy at a gallery
The Sunaparanta Goa Centre for the Arts in Altinho, Panjim, is a non-profit initiative that promotes learning and enjoyment of the visual arts in Goa. There is an engaging art gallery and the centre runs workshops and many interesting talks and events throughout the year. Check out its cosy, relaxing courtyard café. Gitanjali Art Gallery, in Fontainhas, Panjim, showcases the visual talents of world famous photographers like Raghu Rai and various contemporary artists. Fundacao Oriente, a short walk down from Gitanjali Art Gallery, carries out cultural and artistic activities linked to Goa’s Portuguese past and runs various exhibitions in its gallery space. Visit the collection of paintings by Goan artist Antonio Xavier Trinidade (1870 – 1935) on permanent display.
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Photo credit: www.sgcfa.org
3. Visit a Portuguese-Goan house
The Braganza-Menezes house in Chandor is a private home that showcases the colonial splendour of 18th century Goa. The original art, antiques, curios and furniture from colonial times on exhibition include three-century old Ming vases, Portuguese palanquins and porcelain from Victorian England and Macau. There’s a spacious ballroom with Belgian crystal chandeliers and a baroque family chapel with a diamond encrusted relic from St. Francis Xavier ensconced in the altar.
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Photo credit: [www.ingoa.in](http://www.ingoa.info/wsd/pics/salcete/11–Menezes%20Braganza%20House,%20Chandor%20south%20goa.jpg)
4. Discover Goa’s spicy past
Learn why colonial traders flocked to Goa centuries ago for its spice trade. Nestled among lush, green plantations in Curti, Ponda is Sahakari Spice farm. A visit includes a 45-minute tour of the spice plantations where you’ll see cardamom, cinnamon, vanilla, pepper and cloves among other spices growing, and you can enjoy a banana leaf buffet lunch after the tour. The Tropical Spice plantation tour at Keri, Ponda includes tropical fruit trees like jackfruit, custard apple, starfruit, areca nut and even has a few coffee plants as well as spices. Bird-watchers will enjoy spotting lots of local species including the famous topaz-hued kingfisher.
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Photo credit: Nagarjun Kandukuru
5. Learn about Goa’s Portuguese heritage
Your cultural tour will be incomplete without a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage listed church and cathedral complex in Old Goa with Se Cathedral, Bom Basilica de Jesu and the Church of St. Cajetan being the main structures of significance. The Viceroy’s Arch facing the river’s edge is built where Albuquerque first set foot on land in Goa and St. Catherine’s church, a small building, was where the first sailors worshipped. Saligao church, a short drive away, is known for its unusual gothic architectural style. But for a true taste of Portuguese-living, wander around Fontainhas in Panjim where the colourful houses with their wide balconies and shuttered windows make for lovely pictures reminiscent of yesteryear Goa. If you have the time, visit Fort Aguada on Sinquerim beach, Tiracol Fort at the mouth of Tiracol river and Cabo da Rama in Canacona.
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6. Experience the beauty of the local temples
The four-hundred-year-oldShri Mangueshi temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is located in Ponda. The simple yet elegant structure has a beautiful seven-story lamp tower or Deepastambha standing within the complex. Also in Ponda is the stone pillared Shanta Durga temple which was built in the 18th century. It is considered a rare fusion of styles forming Indo-Portuguese architecture with its pyramid-shaped ‘shikaras’ and roman-arched windows. It combines European, Muslim and Hindu styles. Also, check out the golden palanquin which is used to carry the deity during festivals.
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7. Go bookstore hopping
Broadway bookstore in Panaji and Literati Goa bookstore in Calangute are two character-filled, independent stores for book lovers of every age. Literati bookstore, in particular, has a cafe and both have a lovely collection of local authors from Goa as well as paperbacks by renowned international authors. They also have amazing coffee-table books that make lovely gifts and souvenirs of your Goa trip.
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Photo credit: www.thealternative.in
8. Check out live-music restaurants in Goa
To Goa, music and song is like breathing. There are plenty of restaurants where you can get music groups or one-man music bands playing instruments and singing live. Raj Pentagon in Majorda, Nostalgia in Raia and Peppers in Margao are just three restaurants which have live Goan and Western favourites playing in the background while you enjoy the best of Goan food in a lively atmosphere.
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Photo credit: www.outlookindia.com
9. Seek out these intriguing cultural venues
Situated in Campal, Panjim, Kala Academy is Goa’s state-run cultural centre. It often runs events, some of which are free, including plays, artist exhibitions, dance and music festivals, concerts, workshops, seminars and other events that relate to the cultural arts. For a real taste of Goa attend a local Tiatr which is a Goan play in the local language of Konkani that covers popular themes integrating humour and music. Goa’s Central Library, a new development, also features author events and interesting seminars and talks.
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Photo credit: www.kalaacademy.org