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Complete India Travel Guide

"Margao is Goa's second largest town and a bustling commercial centre which is surrounded by fertile farmland. The beautiful town of Margao was once a major religious centre, with dozens of wealthy temples and dharmshalas."
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Margao

Holy Spirit Church  Margao, Goa
Holy Spirit Church Margao- Goa

Located in the heart of the Salcett taluka in the southern part of Goa, Margao ranks second (in the state) as far as its area is concerned. The history of Margao states that the town held its own significance even before the arrival of the Portuguese. It was home to the mathas of the Vaishnava. The number of mathas grew gradually and gave the name of matha - gram to the place. With the passage of time, this name became Madgaon. It finally became Margao when the Portuguese arrived and started facing problems in pronouncing the name.

Apart from the mathas, trade was also an important reason why Margao was important in the pre Portuguese era. River Sal, which is now silted up, was once the hotspot of trade, with cargo boats from Arabia and Africa coming in quiet frequently. Infact, it is river Sal which lent its name to the Salcett taluka.

Toady, Margao is an important commercial centre, however, as far as attractions are concerned, choices are very limited.

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Town Square

This town square boasts of two gardens - Municipal Garden and the Aga Khan Market - which are a perfect place to enjoy peace and beauty. Moreover, there are other attractions in the square in the form of statue of Luis de Menezes Braganca and a Public library. The library is housed in the Municipal Building and has books in various languages - Hindi, Marathi, Konkani, English and Portuguese. You can just sit in and read a book of your choice with no one to disturb you. Though the library is open from 9 am to 1 pm and then from 3 to 6.30 pm, the reading hall itself is open from 8 am to 8 pm. If you just want to have a look at the books or refer them, you will not even need to pay up.

Church Square

This is another hotspot for visitors to Margao. Also known as the Largo da Igreja, the Church Square has the Church of Holy Spirit as its prime attraction. The church was initially constructed by the Jesuits in 1564, however very soon, the army of Adil Shah marched in and destroyed it. Repairs were carried out much later and took around 30 years to complete. Today, the church is considered one of the best example of the Indian Baroque. Both the interior and exterior of the church is worth seeing.

Another attraction of the Church Square is the Sat Burnzam Ghor or the House of the seven gables. This ancestral home of Eurico da Silva has drawn tourist for a long time now. However, do not look out for seven gables because there are only three remaining now. You can visit the house between 9 am to 12 in the noon and then from 4 to 7 pm.

Monte Hill

This is a good place from where you can have a good look at the Salcett taluka. There is a chapel, Monte Chapel from where you catch your glimpses of Salcett countryside. You can reach the chapel by a motorcycle taxi.

Few Other Churches and Temples

There are two churches and two temples which you can visit during your stay at Margao. The first of these is the Grace Church with a rare crucifix of the resurrected Christ. The image of Christ here is covered by a sheet, however, the crown of thorn is absent. The church is open from 7 to 10 in the morning and 4 to 7 in the evening. The second one, St Sebastian Chapel is known as the Pandava Chapel. The reason for this becomes quiet evident when you find a group of ancient caves situated right behind the chapel. The caves are under the care of ASI these days. The chapel has been recently elevated to the position of a church. The church is open from 9.30 in the morning to 1 in the afternoon and then again from 4.30 to 6 in the evening.

The two temples of Margao are not separate structures, rather they are a part of two individual houses. The first of these, the Damodar Temple is in the house of Naik Family and is famed as place where Swami Vivekanand stayed for a while before departing for Chicago to attend Parliament of Religion. The Hari Mandir is located at one portion of an office building.

Rachol Seminary

This Seminary can be visited if you are in a mood to travel a bit. This seminary is located at a distance of 8 km from the town itself and is perched at the top of a hillock. The history of church reveals a lot. Evidence suggest, that there was a Shaivite temple here initially. However, later on a Muslim fort was constructed on the same place. Still later, the fort fell into the hands of the Portuguese who built a church here in the year 1521. The remnants of the fort can be seen in the form of the moat and a gate. The Portuguese established a monastery here to train Goan Jesuit priest as to how they should spread Christianity.

Loutolim

This is situated at a distance of around 10 km from Margao and has the Mario Miranda house as its prime highlight. Loutolim was conceived as and represents the village life of Goa as it was in the bygone era. There are huge lifesize figures, stone sculpture and large foot print that serve as a dance floors. There is also a restaurant where you can get a taste of the exotic Goan cuisine.

Chandor

Chandor is a small village around 13 km from Margao. The highlight of this village is the Menezes Braganza house which is considered the grandest of all the colonial mansions of Goa. The mansion was constructed by the affluent Braganza family in the 16th century. It is a two storey structure with 28 windows seen from the entrance itself. Once inside the mansion, you will get to see a number of furnitures and Chinese porcelain. For those with a religious bent of mind, there is the diamond encrusted toe nail of St Francis Xavier.

Getting There

By Rail

The Margao is the most important railway station in the state of Goa. The Konkan trains, that connect Goa to Mumbai and Mangalore, halts at Pernim, Thivim, Karmali and Margao. Taxis are available outside the station.

By Road

Pre paid taxis are available from the Dabolim Airport that can bring you to Margao. From Panjim, which is 33 km away, taxis are available to. If you are driving yourself, take the NH - 17 which reaches Margao via Bambolim, Verna and Nuvem. KTC shuttle buses connect Margao with other destination in the state quiet well.

 


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