Churches, Temples and Mosques
Se Cathedral at Old Goa – The largest church in Asia, the cathedral in Old Goa, is a mighty 16th century monument to the Roman Catholic rule of Goa under the Portuguese. It’s huge Golden Bell is the biggest in the world. The Church has 14 side chapels; the last chapel, in Mauresque style, preserves a cross upon which a vision of Christ is said to have appeared in 1919.
Church of St. Francis of Assisi at Old Goa – is adjacent to the Cathedral. Built in pure Manueline style, the interior is adorned with a profusion of carvings and exquisite paintings. The convent at the back of this church is now the Archaeological Museum. It houses many portraits of the Portuguese Viceroys and fragments of sculpture from Hindu temple sites in Goa.
Bom Jesus Basilica – Partially in ruins but awesome still, it is a fine example of Jesuit architecture. The church’s most precious relic is the embalmed body of St. Francis Xavier entombed in a marble mausoleum presented by the Duke of Tuscany, who received the Saint’s pillow in exchange. Once every 10 years, the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier are exposed for public veneration. It was last exposed in 1994.
St. Cajetan Church — is built on the lines of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Interesting to note are the interiors decorated in pure, unrestrained baroque, the intricately carved pulpit. Of interest is the covered well inside that indicates that the site was one perhaps a temple. Walk over to the side to see the doorway that once was the entrance to an Islamic palace belonging to Adil Shah, the ruler of Goa before the Portuguese disembarked.
Church of the Lady of the Mount – Located near Ponda, this was apparently the vantage point from where Adil Shah beat back the Portuguese only to meet his doom few months later. Ironically the view from this hill of the imposing and towering churches below, built by the Portuguese, who finally wrested Goa from the Muslims, is wonderful yet poignant. Interestingly mass is still held at this church on the 8th of every month.
St. Augustine Tower – was once the largest church in Goa. Bear with the weeds and rubble to visit the spot where the Augustinians lived when they first arrived in Goa in the 1500s.
Santa Monica cloister – Located on the Holy Hill, in Old Goa, a visit into this crumbling convent, that is still occupied by nuns and is one of the largest in Asia, transports one into another era.
Shri Mangueshi Temple – dedicated to Lord Shiva, is 22 km from Panaji at Priol-Ponda Taluka. Though small, it has an air of distinctive elegance. Its lofty white tower at the entrance is a landmark of the countryside.
Shri Mahalaxmi at Bandora – Situated in the village of Bandora, about 4 km from Ponda, it is considered the abode of the original Goddess of the Shakti cult. The Goddess Mahalakshmi was worshipped by the Shilahara rulers (750-1030 A.D.) and the early Kadamba Kings of Goa. There are also 18 wooden images of Vishnu here.
Shri Nagesh at Bandora – Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple is situated in Bandora village, about 4km to the east of Ponda. The temple has a gallery on both sides that contains exquisite specimens of intricate woodcarvings of the events of Ramayana on one side and wooden images of Astadikpal and Gandharva on the other.
Shri Bhagavati Temple — 26 km from the city, it is believed to be 500 years old. Two life-sized images of elephants carved from black stone guard its entrance. The statue of the Goddess Bhagavati Ashtabhuja is an imposing one.
Shri Shantadurga – Kavlem – Built at Kavlem, it is dedicated to Shantadurga. The temple has an impressive idol of Goddess Durga in a tranquil mood, flanked by Vishnu and Shiva. Agrashalas provide lodging facilities to the devotees.
Shri Mahalsa at Mardol – A km from Shri Manguesh Temple, this temple is popular with people of all faiths because the deity Gomantaka is beleived to fulfil the wishes of all her devotees.
Shri Chandranath at Quepem – Built on a 350m high hill, Chandranath Hill, the main attraction of this temple are the rock-carved Shivlings from which water oozes on a full moon day.
Others: Brahma Temple at Carambolim; Shri Damodar temple at Zambaulim (sacred to both Hindus and the Christians); Shri Datta Mandir in Bicholim; Shri Gopal Ganapati temple at Ponda; Shri Kalikadevi mandir in Bicholim (almost 800 years old); Shri Saptakoteswar mandir at Bicholim (renovated on orders of Shivaji); Shri Mallikarjuna, in Canacona (60 deities surrounding temple ) Shri Mahadeva temple in Sangeum.
Mosques Jama Masjid, Sanguem – An elegant mosque of harmonious proportions and simplicity.
Safa Masjid, Ponda – It was built in 1560 by Ibrahim Adilshah of Bijapur. The masonry tank nearby has beautiful ‘maharab’ designs.