Heritage in Goa

When you think of Goa, what comes to your mind - beaches? booze? Yeah, its the Las Vegas of India. What happens in Goa, stays in Goa. But then did you know Goa has a UNESCO World Heritage Site too? Yes, Goa also has a lot to offer a heritage enthusiast as well!
Pic Courtesy: Jupitus Smart via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

1. Churches and Convents of Old Goa: Well, India was majorly a colony of British. but there were some sockets of India which were under French, Danish, Dutch and Portuguese. Infact, colonization in India began with Portuguese when Vasco Da Gama reached Kerala and got mesmerized by pepper and wanted to take it all with him without paying customs duty! Well, as colonization began, Goa was the capital of Portugal India and Old Goa stands till date as a reminiscent of the Portugal India! 
They built several churches and convents here. This site being a standing symbol of an important phase of history, is today, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The most important of all the Chuches & Convents is ofcourse the Bom Jesus Basilica which has the remains of St.Francis Xavier. 
Pic Courtesy: Aruna Radhakrishnan from Irinjalakuda, India via Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0

While this is the most important, the oldest Portuguese Church that still stands here is Church of our lady of Rosary built in 1543 (this is not the oldest church in India though. Christianity flourished in India much before colonization!).  
Another important church is the Church of St.Francis of Assisi. The current structure was built in 1661 and the altarpiece is a masterpiece of 1670. The entire interiors is filled with several frescoes painted around the same time. While all these churches are still in function, there are some which have lost the race too! The ruins of St.Augustine's church also makes into this list. This convent & church was built in 1597 and by 1946, the entire church including the facade crumbled down. However its tower still stands majestic
Pic Courtesy: Kavya Rastogi via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

2. Caves of Goa: Buddhism flourished in this region majorly under Emperor Ashoka and the fabulous caves of Ajanta and Ellora were excavated and painted. Goa too has quite a few smaller caves too some Buddhist & some Hindu. One of it is Arvalem Caves. Its believed that the Pandavas during their exile, stayed here. This is a simple, 5 celled cave and has a Siva Lingam inside.
Rivona Cave, built in 6th C CE is a Buddist cave and is filled with several frescoes. Unlike any other cave, this is made of laterite stone. Khandepar caves built later in 10th C CE and are also Buddhist caves made of laterite. This is a 3 celled, 2 tiered structure. All these sites are protected by ASI (Archaeological Survey of India).

To Stay:
While there are tons of beachside shacks to luxury hotels in Goa to stay at all price points.

To Get There:
Goa has a international airport and Panaji has a railway station that connects to all major cities of the country.
Mumbai is the nearest cosmopolitan city.
From Mumbai: 500km


An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 85 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of June 2022. I've been listed among the Top 7 Women Travel Bloggers of India, Top 50 in UK. I have been interviewed in a couple of TV Shows, Radio Channels and Events as well. Read more about me and read the testimonials of different brands


  1. I'm a diorama builder and that photo of the ruined tower just gave me an idea for my latest diorama. :) Anyway, you're right. Visiting a place should not just be about entertainment and parties. Most of the "enjoyment" and fulfillment is about learning and immersing in the culture and heritage of the place.

  2. I am always fascinated by the rich heritage of Goa, even though Goa is more famous for its booze and beaches. If we can look past the materialist veil, we can sure appreciate Goa's rich culture and heritage.

  3. Well, I did not know that. I guess my first impression about Goa is all wrong.
    Anyway, I would love to visit as many UN heritage sites as I could. :)

    1. Thank you for sharing too about the hotel options and price points. Looks like we can afford this trip. :)

  4. Never been to Goa but hoepfully one day soon! It is also good to know there is so much heritage sites to see.

  5. Amazing Article, Shared Hosting is good for beginners like me. I want to start a new blog on Travelling, Is siteground good for the travel blog?

  6. Actually, I never heard about Goa as Las Vegas of India. The name always brought me back to World History lesson when it colonized by the Portuguese. But somehow I forgot about the pepper. The one stuck was the Catholic religion they brought along.

  7. You are absolutely correct that when we hear of Goa, it absolutely comes with party on beaches and boozes but it has some different side also. I have seen some pretty old churches in Goa but do not remember properly that those and the ones you have mentioned are same ones. I was not knowing about Buddhist caves in Goa and would try to explore during my next visit to Goa.

  8. I didn’t realize Goa had such a history. The UNESCO site designation have protected a unique part of history here. Christian missionaries really pushed exploration. I’m so glad to hear that the frescoes from the 1600s have survived.

  9. I agree with you that Goa is much more than just beaches and nightlife. From the awe inspiring architectural churches to historical forts to bird sanctuaries, dams and waterfalls - Goa has got everything. Your post has has brought back my memories of the Goa trip. I'm yet to explore the caves though. This calls for a next visit.

  10. Wonderful article, I din't realize the heritage of Goa until I read your post.It's really good that they have protected some interesting part of History there. I guess now i know what to do when I visit Goa except for beaches. Thanks for Inspiring

  11. I actually didn't know anything about Goa prior to reading this post! This is being added to my list of places to visit. What an amazing place to have both Vegas party feel combined with a rich history and heritage.

  12. W what? Historical sites? I am from Russia, and Russians see Goa purely as beaches and music. No one told me that there are heritage sites.

  13. Another insightful post, Bhushavali! Congrats on being among the Bonusapp's "Top 10 Indian Travel Bloggers-2018".

    Although I was very familiar with "Hippies Goa" (circa 1960s) and the infamous trance party scene, your comment about Goa being the Las Vegas of India lead me on a Google chase and to my surprise, Goa is also a gambler's paradise and is one of the few states in India where gambling is legal.

    Honestly, I was so blissed out after completing a 3 week yoga pilrimage through the province of Chennai, by the time I arrived in Goa I really wasn't interested in the nightlife, although I did make it a point to attend one all-night beach rave party. ;-) I visited some of the typical tourist attractions including Old Goa, Tito's Street, Bom Jesus Basilica, the Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, the Saturday Night Market, Anjuna Flea Market, etc. I also couldn't as up the opportunity to scuba dive in Goa's stretch of the Arabian Sea! I regret I didn't visit the caves; definitely next time.

    Goa offers the best of sun, sand, surf, seafood, gambling and… shopping! From the street markets in Baga to the night market of Arpora, and from the bustling MMC market to high end stores, Goa has it all! During my shopping spree, I was delightfully surprised to discover that there is a fairly large community of exiled Tibetans in Goa – for over 30 years now. There are three Tibetan markets in north Goa’s tourism belt of Calangute-Anjuna where you can buy prayer flags, and all kinds of silver amulets, rings, earrings and pendants with the Buddhist mantra ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ inscribed. Exquisite turquoise, coral and other semi-precious stones are traditionally used in Tibetan jewellery. Other items have carvings of the Buddha, the Wheel of Life, dragons, etc. Most of the items are from Tibet and Nepal.

    Goa is a popular port of call on several cruise line's itinerary, but the ship is only in port for the day. Speaking from firsthand experience, Goa truly warrants more time than that to fully appreciate its unique fusion of Portuguese and Indian culture and beauty. Mumbai is the nearest port of departure where you can begin and/or end a cruisetour vacation. There are several very affordable daily nonstop flights from between Mumbai and Goa that take only 70-90 minutes.

    I'll share your post with cruise clients who are interested in itineraries that include ports of call in India. Best wishes and continued blogging success!

  14. OMG those remains and its gorgeous! Hope it is still safe from earthquakes.

  15. I am always fascinated by the rich heritage of Goa, even though it's a fact that it's not what it used to be. I visited most of these sites but still it was a lovely read. Thank you for sharing

  16. I have been to Goa many times and I always love visiting these places, especially because of the architecture. Goa has some really old buildings that are interesting to see.

  17. I've heard about Goa being the Las Vegas of India, but didn't know there were such beautiful and historic sights there too! Thanks for the mini background behind them too. I always find it so much easier to appreciate a place once you know their story! Hope to visit soon!

  18. I've planned to visit India but didn'tmake it. Now I have one more place on the list for the next time traveling :)


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