Goa attracts more tourists than any other place in India. Its pristine beaches and warm friendly people are not the only reasons why so many Europeans visit this country side, facing Arabian sea at the foot of the Western Ghats. Goans retain the legacy of the rich cultural heritage and many of the Portuguese colonial past is preserved in many parts of Goa.
A brief look at the history of Goa is in order before we begin our Goa Holiday.
History of Goa:
Portuguese ruled Goa longer than any European power including the English. They have ruled from 1510 AD to 1961 - about 451 years. They have left a rich legacy in this tiny state.
The architecture of the many churches and public buildings speak volumes about the glorious colonial past. What probably began as a corollary to the historical visit of the Portuguese adventurer - Vasco Da Gama in the year 1498, the Indian king Timoja invited the Portuguese to free his land from the clutches of the Moslem ruler of Bijapur - Sultan Adil Shah.
A swashbuckling soldier - Afonso de Albuquerque of the Portuguese defeated the Bijapur Sultan and laid the tentative step for the eventual rule of the Portuguese.
As soon as he became master of the place he built the first church - that of St. Catherine, who thus became the patron of the new city. This was the beginning of a vast series of churches, numbering over fifty, with convents, hospices and other institutions attached, which made Goa one of the most interesting ecclesiastical cities in the world.
Old Goa which has many of the monuments of the Portuguese was a bustling city at the end of the 15th century. It was a crucible of many civilizations and you will see the deep impression it has left behind to this day. Goa boasts of the first printing machine in this country and a first medical institution.
St.Francis Xavier is the patron saint of this little exquisite land. His body still looks normal even after so many centuries. His relic remains for exposition for many centuries - kept in a silver casket on a high pedestal in the Basilica of Bom Jesus in old Goa. It is due to his miraculous intervention that Sambhaji, the son of Shivaji had decided against attacking Goa.
Language of Goa:
Goans speak Konkani as their mother tongue. It is sometimes called as Gomantaki, derived from Goa's ancient name Gomantak. As is usual in this part, the language Konkani has no scripts. It is largely derived from Sanskrit, but is influenced in the northern region by Marathi and in the southern parts, it has influences of Kanarese.
Basilica of Bom Jesus:
The construction of the church of Bom Jesus - meaning Good or infant Jesus was started in 1584 and consecrated in 1605. As inscribed in a choir, the church cruciform has three storied facade having a main entrance flanked by 2 smaller entrances.
The entire facade has molded basalt casing and the remaining part is in laterite including the buttresses.As you enter the basilica, on your right is the altar of St.Anthony and on the left is a wooden statue of St.Francis Xavier.
In the middle of the nave on the northern wall is the cenotaph of Dom Jeronimo Mascaranhas - the benefactor of this church. The adjoining wall has a profusely carved wooden pulpit with a canopy. The main altar is flanked by the altars of our Lady of Hope and St.Michael. The richly gilded main altar has infant Jesus at the center.
Just above the intricately carved medallion, the Holy Trinity - the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are depicted. On the right side of the main altar, is the sacred relic of the body of St.Francis Xavier in a silver casket. You will get a glimpse of the saint from the glassed ports. Next exposition of the relic will be at the end of the year 2004.