Christianity is the second most important religion in Goa accounting for almost 26% of the population. They are mostly Roman Catholics. The priests who arrived here with the Portuguese traders helped in the spread of this religion and large numbers of people were converted in the 16thcentury. Today, there are a number of important churches in Goa. They play animportant role both in the religious and in the social life of the state.

 Destination Type

The churches of Goa are a type of religious destination. They play an important role in the religious life of the Christians in the state. However, these churches are an important part of the history and culture of Goa. Tourists from all over the country as well as the world visit these churches to get a glimpse of the unique Goan culture as well as enjoy the architectural beauty of these buildings.

 Category

The churches of Goa are visited by Christian families. However, lovers of art and architecture and those interested in history and culture are also attracted to the churches of Goa.

 Weather Information

Goa enjoys a humid tropical type of climate. However, since it is located on the coast of the Arabian Sea, the cool breeze from the sea exercises a moderating influence. Hence the weather remains pleasant throughout the year. It is sunny and there is very little distinction between the seasons. Summer lasts from March to June while winter extends from end November till February. The monsoon season however is distinctly different. Because of its location on the Konkan coast at the foot of the western ghats, Goa experiences heavy monsoon rainfall. This season is also rather humid. The most popular time to visit Goa is from November to March when the weather is cool and calm and the humidity is comparatively less.

 Travelling Requirements

Indians do not require any special documents to travel to Goa. Foreign nationals must carry valid passports with Indian visa.

 Places to Visit

The churches of Goa are the greatest legacy of the 450 years of Portuguese rule over this area. They are architecturally beautiful and also exercise considerable influence on the local culture and society. Some of these Churches are so beautiful that they attract tourists from all over the country and abroad.

The Se cathedral is one of the major churches in Goa. It is dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria and is one of the largest churches in Asia. It is located about 9 kms from the capital Panaji. This church was built in the 16th century to commemorate the victory of the Portuguese over the local Muslim rulers. It is a magnificent edifice with a huge bell tower. There are 14 intricately carved altars inside this cathedral.

The Bom Jesus Basilica is located in old Goa and is one of the most revered churches in Goa. It is best known for preserving the remains of St. Francis Xavier. The saint died on a ship and his body was taken to Malacca. Later it was decided that he should be buried in Goa and the body was brought here. Even two years after his death, it was seen that the body had not decomposed. This was regarded as a miracle. The body was put in a silver casket designed in the 17th century and it is brought out on display every ten years.

The church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is the oldest church in Goa and is more than 450 years old. It is located in the heart of the capital city where the statue of Mother Mary casts a watchful eye on the inhabitants. It was originally built to welcome sailors home. it is still used frequently and has been preserved beautifully.

The church of St. Francis of Assisi is located in the same complex as the Se Cathedral. It is a charming building with intricately painted panels that depict the life of the St. Francis of Assisi. A beautiful and serene art museum has been established in the seminary adjoining this church.

The St. Catejan church is constructed in the lines of the basilica of St. Peter in Rome. It is a vast structure which was build under the supervision of some Greek and Italian priests. The impressive architecture attracts tourists from all over the world.

Though the church of St. Augustine is mostly a ruin, they are another important tourist attraction in Goa. Apart from these, there are several other important churches in Goa. Some examples include Reis Magos church, St. Paul Church, St. Anne church, Lady Rosary church etc.

 Activities

Goa offers a variety of interesting activities to the tourists. Whether you visit the churches from religious or cultural reasons, you can try out some of the numerous activities in Goa. One of the most popular activities in the state is river cruise. Cruises are operated on the River Mandovi of various durations and you can enjoy the beauty of the city from the water. You can even hire your own boat and try out boating in the sea. This is done in south Goa and if you are lucky, you may catch sight of dolphins.

Goa offers one of the largest opportunities to try out various water sports. The beaches like Calangute, Baga, Colva etc are known for the exquisite beauty of the silver sand and calm sea with the palm trees in the background. In this setting, a number of water sports like parasailing, water skiing, jet boarding etc are carried out. For those who are more adventurous, there is the option of snorkeling and scuba diving. This activity is offered at the Grande Island located about 45 kms from the Calangute beach.

You can also opt for yoga or massages in Goa. There are a number of places that offer opportunities for these activities in Goa.

 Nearby Destinations

There are several important things to see in Goa beside the churches. When you visit the notable churches in Panaji, you should also visit the imposing Aguada Fort. This was built by the Portuguese as their local stronghold. The view from the top of the fort is truly breathtaking, especially during sunset.

The Dudhsagar falls is another interesting place to visit in Goa. It is the second largest waterfall in India and is located a little distance into the interior. This waterfall is at its best during the monsoon season.

The spice plantations are an important place to visit in Goa. You can visit the Savoy, Sahakari or the Abyss spice farms and see how betel nut, cardamom, vanilla and nutmeg are grown.

The surrounding states of Maharashtra and Karnataka offer a number of interesting places to visit near Goa. The Gokarna beach is located about 132 kms from Goa and is hugely popular with honeymooners. The rivers Gangavali and Aghanashini meet here creating a wonderful vista.

The natural resort at Sawantwadi takes you into the lap of nature. You can enjoy the lush green surroundings which are also rich in many herbs. It is also possible to get a glimpse of wild animals like boars, elephants, leopards etc.

Kanwar, located on the border with Karnataka offers not only beautiful scenery but historical interest as well. It was an important trading outpost of the Portuguese.

 Food and Accommodation

Goan cuisine is unique in India with a tasteful mixture of Portuguese and south Indian coking tradition. Rice, coconut, chillies, vinegar and seafood are presented in the original fusion style. Non vegetarian foods predominate in Goa. Some of the top restaurants are Ritz Classic, Spice, Pan Asian bowl, St. Anthony’s shack, Brittos etc.

A variety of accommodations are available ranging from the five star hotels like Fidalgo, Crown, Siolim etc. Moderate budget hotels include Prainha, Vasco Residency, Hawaii comforts etc. A number of budget hotels and hostels are also available.

 Safety and Security

The rate of crimes has been increasing in Goa. It is recommended that tourists exercise caution, especially when interacting with the locals.