Urmila Marak Aug 11 2014

Beyond the popular Old Goa churches

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Goa looks best during the monsoon. The changing skyscape is either the clear azure sky after a heavy downpour or the dark clouds looming large over the rough sea that stretches beyond the horizon. You can simply sit and enjoy the silhouetted landscape against the coconut groves before the rain without doing anything. Or better still get wet in the rain and explore the places. Fortunately, during my recent trip, the rain gods allowed us to just have fun sans the rain.

Having seen the popular Old Goa churches before, this time we wanted to explore some of the offbeat churches that are beautiful but does not attract too many tourists. With a little guidance from the hotel reception, we visited some of the most beautiful churches that took my breath away.

Mae De Deus Church

The ornate alter of the church

The ornate alter of the church

This 141-year-old church in Saligao is about 3 km from Calangute and 5 km from Candolim in North Goa. The façade of the Gothic architectural structure rises regally against a palm-fringed backdrop. A lush green paddy field on the other side of the road, right in front of the church, makes it a picture-perfect setting. The interiors have a detailed alter all painted in golden colour with the beautiful wooden statue of Mae De Deus. It has a huge lawn with benches to sit on. Mae De Deus Church is definitely a must-include list in your itinerary.

St Alex Church

This church sits immaculately pretty by a roadside in Calangute. One of the oldest churches of Goa, the present structure is about 273 years old. It was built by the villagers. The imposing structure looks best at night when it is illuminated. You can spend some peaceful time here if you are staying somewhere close to Calangute.

St Lawrence Church

View from the courtyard

View from the courtyard

On the way to Aguada Fort, you can stop by at this tiny yet beautiful St Lawrence Church that lies atop a hill. Built in 1643, it has a huge courtyard that overlooks the sea. The pillars of the church have inscriptions of the life and martyrdom of St Lawrence. Spend some time here and enjoy the tranquility.

St Hyacinthi Church

The promenade with the grotto overlooking the river

The promenade with the grotto overlooking the river

San Jacinto Island lies on the way to the Dabolim Airport. The first thing you will notice from afar is the façade of the St Hyacinthi Church. There is a beautiful bridge that connects you to the island. With a promenade in front of the church overlooking the river, where fishing boats are moored on the shore, you can take a stroll or just sit and enjoy the view as well as the serenity. It is said that the church has an underground passageway leading to Siridao, the other side of the river. I visited this place twice while I was there as I was completely in love with it. It is a must-visit church, especially on its feast day, which is celebrated on the last Sunday of September.

En route to Saligao, we lost our way but discovered this beautiful chapel by the lake. This chance discovery was the best of the lot for me. For nature aficionados and those interested in photography, I would definitely recommend this place, which lies somewhere on the Saligao-Bardez route.

Goa has many such places that are not filled with tourists. If you love exploring those not so crowded places, make sure to visit these offbeat churches. The landscapes, as well as the magnificent structures are definitely worth visiting. To book your tickets for Goa, log in to www.ticketgoose.com.

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