Goa, the smallest state in the Republic of India, is well-known around the world for its stunning beaches and laid-back bars, and nightlife scenes—and rightly so! However, if you wish to extend your vacation to this tropical beauty and learn more about the local culture and customs, there are many intriguing sites to explore aside from conventional tourist destinations. Here are 15 cultural activities in Goa that aren't only about beaches and bars!
Most visitors to Goa come for the beaches and clubs, but they miss out on the state's fascinating cultural heritage. Goa was a Portuguese territory for over 450 years until the Indian government launched a military assault to recover it in 1961. This long period of Portuguese occupation left an indelible mark on everything from architecture to gastronomy. These Goa activities emphasize experiencing it and more.
Many people think of Goa as primarily a party destination. That is one of the most prevalent assignments that Goa has received throughout the years as a result of its rave parties, cruise parties, and casinos. On the contrary, Goa is one of the best places to go adventuring beyond the beaches, as it offers a variety of adventure experiences.
Goa is famed for its plentiful wildlife, and numerous wildlife sanctuaries would give you the creeps. So, the next time you plan a budgeted vacation in Goa, make sure you explore these enormous wildlife preserves.
If you're interested in learning about Goa's legendary past, Old Goa is a fantastic place to visit. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has some of the most remarkable churches, including the Basilica of Bom Jesus, the Church of St Francis of Assisi, and the Chapel of Our Lady of the Mount. There is numerous heritage walking excursions in Old Goa that you can participate in. On these tours, you can visit the famed Aguada Fort, Chapora Fort, and other cultural places. Famous Goa walking excursions take place in Old Goa. In addition, an English-speaking guide will help you grasp the underlying history of Old Goa.
Because it is one of Goa's top tourist destinations, Double Dutch is an excellent location for photography. The restaurant lies in Anjuna, a coastal town famous for its nightlife. Double Dutch offers a lovely garden with palm trees and an outdoor seating area with views of the Arabian Sea. The cuisine is also great, featuring both Indian and Western options on the menu. If you're searching for a decent area to shoot photos and eat, Double Dutch is a must-visit.
A 240-square-kilometers sanctuary lies north of Panaji on the way to Belgaum. The Western Ghats' thick wilderness hillsides are rich in biodiversity and a birdwatcher's dream. The Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary is located near Mollem, Goa. This is Goa's biggest land wildlife reserve, comprising 240 square kilometers and home to the Molem National Park. The sanctuary lies 53 kilometers from Panaji and 54 kilometers from Margao, near Goa's eastern border with Karnataka, and is easily accessible by vehicle and train. Several of the sanctuary's creatures, including Pythons, Spotted Deer, Gaur, Sambar, Malayan Giant Squirrels, Leopards, Jungle Cats, Slender Tories, and Cobras, are unlikely to be seen unless you remain for a few days.
A few kilometers into the park also exists an observation platform, and the best times to watch wildlife are early morning or late evening. Tourists can stay in pleasant cottages and dorms built by the Tourism Department.
Jazz, in particular, is an integral part of Goan culture. Many Goan musicians learned western music while under Portuguese rule, headed dance bands in the 1930s and 1940s, and incorporated jazz and move into Bollywood music. Goa's Home of Jazz is the magnificent century-old Gonsalves Mansion in green Campal, near Panjim. Many excellent jazz performers launched the jazz resurgence by performing on its doorstep. Live jazz performances are also hosted by Jazz Goa, a collection of Goan jazz artists. Many additional locations in Goa now feature live jazz. Cantare in Saligao village hosts famed Monday Jazz Nights. On Friday nights, you may also enjoy live jazz jamming sessions. Aside from the restaurants and inns, annually April 30th marks the annual International Jazz Day.
In the late 18th century, a series of illnesses, including the plague, forced the Portuguese to abandon Old Goa and relocate to Panjim. The Fontainhas neighborhood was created into a wealthy residential area for monarchs and bureaucrats. It is currently famous for its colorful ancient Portuguese mansions, which belong to Goa's last remaining Portuguese families. Fontainhas was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, and it's a beautiful place to visit. You can stay in a couple of the homes that have been turned into charming hotels and guesthouses. Other attractions include boutiques, art galleries, and eateries. Make it happen leads to a suggested immersive Fontainhas Heritage Walk.
Goa has several forts, but Reis Magos Fort is the oldest. Yusuf Adil Shah, the Sultan of Bijapur, established a military station there in 1493. Despite its strategic location on the Mandovi River, it could not prevent the Portuguese invasion. The Portuguese built the fort in 1551 to protect their capital, Old Goa. It was expanded several times before being rebuilt in 1707. The fort, however, was no longer needed for protection after the Portuguese relocated to Panjim. It was transformed into a prison in the early 1900s and served as one for more than 100 freedom warriors before being destroyed in 1993. A working organic farm has been set up next to it so that visitors can see how some of the artifacts were used. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with tours departing every hour. Tickets are 300 rupees each. Students and groups are eligible for discounts.
When you think of Goan food, you generally think of the omnipresent fish curry and rice. This is without a doubt a standard. But Goan food offers so much more! It is distinctively diversified and non-vegetarian, owing to its Hindu heritage, Muslim governance, and Portuguese colonization. Common foods include xacutti (coconut-based curry), cafreal (marinated and fried/grilled), sorpotel (stew), recheado (stuffed), and ambot tik (sour and spicy). Not to mention the Goan chorizo (sausages) and Goan pao (bread). Unfortunately, traditional Goan cuisine is vanishing, but if you go away from the beaches, you'll find some real places where you may learn about Goan cuisine.
The ancient Hindu temple in the state is thought to be tucked away in the jungle in Tambdi Surla, near Mollem National Park. Tambdi Surla Mahadev Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, was established in the 13th century. Its distant inland location on the slopes of the Western Ghat mountains helped it resist both Muslim and Portuguese invasions. The temple is well-kept and open to the public. Nature enthusiasts could also climb up to the lesser-known Tambdi Surla waterfall in the nearby Bhagwan Mahavir National Park.
In a tranquil ashram in Goa, practice yoga and reiki healing to deepen your spiritual connection. To study yoga, foreign visitors come to this seaside town's ashrams. So, while taking in the sounds of the ocean's pouring waves, you can enjoy traditional living in nature. Yoga, meditation, and Reiki healing classes are available for both students and teachers at Sarvaguna Yoga at Agonda Beach. Sign up for these programs, live in their camp, and experience Goa like never before. They are held between November and March.
Spice plantations, one of the most unusual sites to visit in Goa, are ideal for nature lovers who want to walk through fragrance plantations and learn about different spices. Savoi Plantations and Sahakar Spices Farm are two of the most popular spice plantations to visit. The tropical spice plantation trip promises to calm both your mind and body. Observe spices such as cardamom, black pepper, vanilla, and nutmeg blooming in the wild. Discover their medical properties. Here, you can see gorgeous elephants and chirping birds. Finally, finish your trip with a great meal at the plantation's open-air café.
For those who are artistically inclined, Goa has some fantastic art and cultural locations. Sunaparanta Goa Centre for the Arts is set in Panjim's beautiful Altinho hills and features a library, a large multi-functional room for workshops and lectures, an open-air amphitheater, and a courtyard with a sidewalk cafe. Sunaparanta also hosts events such as book releases, seminars, musical performances, and theatre plays in addition to exhibitions. Check out their events calendar. Alternatively, visit Sadhana Dell' Arte in Merces, another rebuilt century-old Indo-Portuguese palace. It has a residence program for artists, an art gallery, a co-working space, and a cafe. One of the objectives is to increase public knowledge of local artists and culture.
Have you previously taken a hot-air balloon ride? Or do you wish to relive your experiences of hot air balloon rides? You can certainly do this in Goa. Hot air ballooning is without a doubt one of the most exciting alternative activities in the beach region. Head to Chandor in South Goa, board a hot air balloon with your loved ones, and float over the rushing sea below. Propose to your loved one, socialize, or simply take in the splendor of Goa from 900 feet above. Hot air ballooning allows you to see a more relaxed and restorative side of Goa.
Goa's economy has always been built on agriculture rather than tourism. To illustrate and preserve this way of life, artist and restorer Victor Hugo Gomes established the Goa Chitra Museum, which has over 4,000 objects. Many are antique farm tools and equipment, as well as other things such as culinary utensils. Each is accompanied by useful information on its application. There is also a Goa Chakra segment with roughly 70 vintage carriages. The museum was established on a neglected plot of land in Benaulim in south Goa using materials rescued from 300-year-old Goan homes. A working organic farm has been built up next to it so that visitors may see how some of the items were utilized.
The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with hourly tours departing. Tickets are 300 rupees each. Students and organizations are eligible for discounts.
The interactive Museum of Goa, founded and curated by artist Subodh Kerkar, debuted in 2015 in the harsh environment of north Goa's Pilerne Industrial Zone. This one-of-a-kind museum aspires to bring the history of the state to life via a permanent display of modern art. It also features a cafe, a sculpture park, and an artists' studio, as well as occasional art galleries, an amphitheater, an art and design store, and an auditorium. Attend one of the various seminars, talks, or concerts conducted there. Also, if you're looking to buy art, do not even overlook the yearly Budget-friendly Art Festival. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Indians pay 100 rupees for tickets, whereas foreigners pay 300 rupees. Students can get discounts.
Make a list of the unusual activities you can do in Goa now that we've educated you on them. After all, beach hopping, partying, and drinking are very Goan. On India's most popular vacation, enrich your mind, relax, and immerse into a whole new world of nature, rejuvenation, and education.