Margao Travel Guide
Places to visit
places to visit
The city has many sights and destinations. These include the 'Closed' Market called, in the Portuguese language, Mercado de Afonso de Albuquerque or in Konkani as "Pimplapedd" or "Pimpalakatta," the municipal building (Câmara), the municipal garden, Anna Fonte (natural springs), Old Market or Mercado Velho, Holy Spirit Church, grand colonial mansions (especially the Seven Gables House near the church), the chapel at Monte Hill, the Hindu crematorium or 'Smashan' and the Muslim burial ground or 'Kabrasthan' both situated on Pajifond's Rua das Saudades.
Some of the city suburbs include Pajifond, Aquem, Gogol, Borda, Malbhat, Kharebandh, Old Market, Navelim and Comba, the last two being the oldest parts of the city.
There are a number of churches and temples in Margao, since the population is predominantly Roman Catholic or Hindu with a Muslim minority. The famous churches in Margao are the Holy Spirit Church, the Grace Church, The St Sebastian chapel in Aquem and the Monte Hill Chapel, the famous temples are the 'Damodar Temple' (Saal), the 'Hari Mandir', the 'Maruti Mandir' at Davorlim the 'Saibaba Temple' at Davorlim, the 'Shiv Temple' (Ling) at Fatorda near Nehru Stadium. There are 2 mosques in Margao, One in the Malbhat area and one on the Monte hill catering to the Muslim population in these areas. There is also a Jain temple at Pajifond.
Get there and Around
get there and around
The Margao Railway station is Goa's biggest and most important as it is a railway junction positioned at the intersection of the Konkan Railway and the South Central Railway. All trains passing through Goa stop here, and it is the gateway to south Goa. Hence Margao is used more commonly as a transit stop rather than as a tourist destination, by many people who either head off down south to Palolem (38 km) or to Benaulim and Colva which are about six kilometers away.
The city hosts the test track for Skybus Metro, an elevated rail system which is patented by the Konkan Railway Corporation. The Skybus Metro project was later scrapped due to an accident which occurred during the test drive killing one engineer and a seriously injuring a crew of three.
Margao is Goa's second largest but busiest town, the commercial capital of the state, and the administrative headquarters of South Goa District and of the Salcette taluka.
Margao in pre-Portuguese times was one of the important settlements in Salcete and known as Matha Grama (the village of Mathas) as it was a temple town with nine Mathas in temple schools. Most of the inhabitants were Brahmins (GSB and Daivajnas). It was then famous for its many beautifully built temples. Long before the Portuguese came here, it had a university with a library. During the Portuguese conquest in 1543, Hindu temples were demolished and Catholic churches were built in their place. Almost all traces of Hindu settlements were wiped out. The first church to be built in Margão, and its replacement in 1579, were destroyed by raiders along with the seminary that had been built alongside.
The initial settlement of Margao grew from the site of the ancient Damodar Temple. The original temple was demolished and the temple tank was filled up to be replaced by the Holy Spirit church and church grounds. The Hindus carried their deity Damodar (a form of Lord Shiva) across the Zuari Agranashini river to the Hindu territories held by the Sonde rulers. While the western side of the Church developed as a market place, the settlement grew on the eastern side, that is, the Borda region, with the church at its core and extended outwards.
The Holy Spirit main square is defined on one side by the church with its baroque architecture and the parochial house, and on the other side by the palatial mansions of affluent elite Catholics, positioned in a row. The Associação das Communidades building and the school being the odd exceptions. They add to its character and sense of scale. They have a maximum height of two stories, and balcões and varandas facing the square. Parallel to the church square is the commercial street (old market). There is also a landscaped area next to the church called Praça da Alegria (joy square).
Margao's importance as an administrative and commercial area grew with the increasing dependence of the surrounding towns and villages; leading to the administrative centre with the town hall at its centre being built in the south. The commercial market became attached to it and was hence called maud-gao or the market town of Goa, and since then the city has grown towards the east.
In 1961, Goa was incorporated into the Indian Union, and Margao was declared as the administrative centre of the district of South Goa.