Madgaon or Margao, as it commonly known is the cultural hub and the commercial capital of Goa. The city quietly rests at the banks of River Sal and is known to be one of the oldest settlements in Goa. Before the invasion of the Portuguese Margao was a Matha gram, a land with nine monastic endowments of the Hindus. The first site of colonization in Margao was around the ancient temple of Shiva in the form of Lord Damodar. The temple was then demolished and now a church stands on the very site of the temple. The urbanization of the city took place because of the dependence of the nearby villages and towns and hence the current market came into existence. The town hence derives its name by the locals calling it Maud-gao or the market city of Goa. The top five places to visit in Margao are as follows.
1. Church Of Holy Spirit
The largest church of Margao, The Church of Holy Spirit has been constructed on the grounds of a Hindu Temple. Before the demolition of the temple, the Hindus transported the idol secretly to a different place. The church was first built in 1564AD and then was a prey to fire that left the church shattered. The present church was built in 1589AD and was sanctified in 1595AD. The church is a whitewashed edifice and has survived through a callous history. The plain looking church from outside has beautiful interiors. The main altar is dedicated to Virgin Mary. The entire edifice is a work of art. Though it is a plain looking building it still has a charisma to mesmerize anyone.
2. Colva Beach
The stretch of 2.4 km overlooking the Arabian Sea makes the Colva Beach. Its white powdery sand makes it famous amongst the tourists. The entire shoreline is lined up with coconut tress swaying rhythmically with the winds. Colva Beach is fully commercialized beach with sea shacks, restaurants, bars and pubs. The accommodation is also easily available in the close vicinity of the beach. The beach is famous for its sunsets, the unending Arabian Sea meeting the distant horizon and reflecting the shades of the sky, like the sky and water have merged together. The beach is a famous tourist attraction of South Goa.
3. Sri Damodar Temple
Sri Damodar Temple is one of the sacred places for Hindus residing in Goa. The idol of the temple originally had its home in an ancient temple at the site where now the Church Of Holy Spirit Stands. Lying on the banks of River Khushawati, the temple is an important religious site. River Khushwati is believed to have miraculous healing powers. The presiding deity, Lord Damodar is said to be one of the forms of Lord Shiva. The temple architecture is surprisingly modern but the deity is the same old idol of Lord Damodar. The temple is visited by both communities, Hindus and Christians.
4. Our Lady Of Grace Church
Our Lady of Grace Church is a military church with a strikingly modern building. It is situated in the heart of Margao and has spacious premises. The uniqueness of church is in its uncommon ‘crucifix’ of the resurrected Jesus Christ. The sculpture of Christ is draped in a veil lacking the thorny crown and his arms are open wide towards the church. Though the church is not as huge as the other churches in Goa but it is undoubtedly a beautiful edifice.
At a distance of about 2 km from the Colva Beach lays this serene gift of nature. Benaulim Beach is one of the most tranquil beaches of Goa that is still not completely commercialized. Famous for its fishing activities the beach can be enjoyed with minimum people strolling around during the day time. Though it gets a bit crowded on the evenings and on weekends yet it is unexplored as compared to other Goan Beaches. This beach is known for its glistening silvery sands that contrast well with the aqua and emerald shades of the Arabian Sea.
Margao is one of the most important destinations of Goa and has a rich cultural history. Dominated equally by the people of both religions, Hinduism and Christianity the place has a splendid aura.