After a night of heavy rainfall, we were worried we would have to cancel our plans to tour South Goa the next morning. Fortunately, the clouds cleared up and the sun shown brightly through the clouds. Our first stop: Old Goa. Old Goa is a place within the state with huge Portuguese influence due to the European architecture that still stands strongly today. We first went to the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, a large white edifice surrounded by a mini outdoor museum that showcases material used for the construction of such buildings and others back in the day. The inside of the church reminded me much of the churches and basilicas I have seen in Spain! Entering the church feels as if you have transported yourself to Portugal. The beautiful detail and the gorgeous gold of the interiors left my mouth open in awe and my pictures are evidence of that. Next to the church, there was an archaeological museum that portrayed Portuguese and Indian history and was a very educational and interesting experience! Unfortunately, the museum didn’t allow photography either, but it not only showcased artifacts and paintings from Portuguese rule (such as governor generals, coins, etc.), but also had artifacts from ancient India such as parts of old Hindu temples that were equally interesting to observe.
A few hundred feet from the church of St. Francis stood the Basilica of Bom Jesus. The interior of the Basilica was similar to the church of St. Francis, but an interesting fact about the religious dwelling of worship was that there was it houses the mummy of St. Francis Xavier. St. Francis was a Roman Catholic missionary who preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of Asia and founded the Society of Jesus. The body of St. Francis Xavier defies the laws of turning to dust still lies in its casket today (Courtesy of BomJesus.org). It is re-opened every 12 years for the general public to see.
After touring the churches, it was time to shed light on our own religion and venture through some famous Hindu temples. The Mahalaxmi temple in South Goa is one such spot. The place was peaceful surrounded by lots of water and greenery. The temple has been in existence since 1413!
One of our last stops for the day was Dona Paula point. This place is a scenic view point that overlooks the Arabian sea. The point has statues constructed for a certain Dona Paula. There have been many legends told on her story. One of them was that Dona Paula was the daughter of Portuguese viceroy and came from an affluent family. She was in love with a poor fishermen, married him, and one day he disappeared at sea. In her grief, Dona Paula sacrificed her life and two stone statues were magically erected to commemorate her true love for her lost husband. The myths are entertaining, if not interesting and tells huge tales of how prominent the Portuguese influence on Goa was back then.
Exhausted from an entire day of exploration, we all trudged back to the guest house and rested up, returning to end the day at Candolim beach (a five minute walk from the house.) Candolim beach, as told by the host of the house, is a place that usually attracts foreign tourists. In fact, domestic tourists are not allowed there during busy months because it is reserved and catered toward foreign tourists. We were lucky enough to come during off-season. The beach was the best one I had seen thus far (and I had seen around 5-6) in two days. The moon beautifully lit the ocean’s surface and we walked through the water, enjoying the tranquil atmosphere. We were sure to wake up early the next day and return to the same beach before we would depart from Goa, admiring how amazing the beach was both during the day and at night.