Goa See And Do
Famous throughout Goa for its Wednesday flea market, Anjuna, together with nearby Vagator and Chapora, is now the hub of Goa's party scene. The flea market is a great blend of Tibetan and Kashmiri traders, colorful Gujarati tribal women, Western tourists, and 21st-century hippies. It's the best place to shop for souvenirs, trinkets, shawls, and jewelry, and even if you're not after anything specific, it's a wonderful place to browse. Take great care of your possessions, as theft is a big problem.
A few miles east of Margao lies the small, sleepy village of Chandor, once the site of Chandrapur (capital of the ancient state of Govarashtra), the most spectacular city on the Konkani coast. Today, Chandor is worth a visit to see the Braganza House, probably the grandest colonial mansion in Goa. Dominating the dusty village square, the structure, built in the 16th century by the wealthy Braganza family for their two sons, has a huge two-story facade, with 28 windows flanking its entrance.
Hard to believe that only about 25 years ago, little existed of what visitors today know as Colva, the main package-holiday resort of south Goa. Benaulim Beach, less than two miles south, is tranquil, but Palolem is probably Goa's most beautiful and idyllic stretch. The sweeping crescent of white sand is fringed by a shady rim of coconut palms, and the whole shore is hemmed in by rocky crags at either end. The development is low-key and mostly consists of simple rickety beach huts and guesthouses.
Old Goa, former capital of this Portuguese colony, was once so grand that it rivaled Lisbon in magnificence. Known formerly as Rome of the East, the town still bristles with 16th-century churches, convents, and cathedrals. Housed in an Italianate chapel, the Professed House, is the coffin of St. Francis Xavier, an important pilgrimage site for Catholics. The Jesuit priest died on 1552 but his flesh did not decomposeyou can see his body through the small windows along his embossed silver coffin.
The Portuguese moved the capital from Old Goa to Panaji in 1843. But it's hard to believe that sleepy Panaji, sitting on the southern bank of the Mandovi River, is a state capital. Most people pass through on their way to the beaches or to historically rich Old Goa, a few miles east of the capital. However, Panaji's old quarters, Fontainhas and Sao Tome, are well worth exploring and still bear a distinctive Portuguese influence, with red-tiled roofs, wrought-iron balconies, and winding streets.