I didn’t have any particular plans to visit Margao when getting ready for my Goa trip. The idea was to go straight to Old Goa so as to indulge in the architectural delights of old colonial buildings. But when I saw the artwork at Madgaon railway station it was apparent that a city with such self-irony and light-hearted attitude deserved a closer look. Of course, I didn’t have a cultural background to recognize the artist behind these illustrations, but later I learned that it was Mario Miranda, a famous Indian painter and cartoonist with a very distinctive style. I could see it was distinctive indeed! 🙂
Margao turned out to be a cosy, pleasant and extremely photogenic place – perfect to explore on foot. The more I walked along its charming streets with bright, cheerful colors and lots of eye-catchy details, the more inviting it felt. I was a bit concerned about my travel companions for whom a long walking tour was a bit of a challenge. (I traveled with my mom and mom-in-law, by the way 🙂 ) However, their wanderlust was not to be underestimated, and they kept it up perfectly well. Also, they made sure to take a rest whenever it was possible while I was exploring on my own. Thanks a lot for your patience, moms! 🙂
Table of Contents
Best things to see in Margao
Old Portuguese villas and newer houses built in the colonial style
Covered porches, verandas, ornamental columns, grand staircases, large decorative windows, ornate pilasters, red tiled roofs – all these can be found in abundance in Margao. The effect is enhanced by striking, dramatic colors. As for me, these quaint houses are by far the best things to see in Margao.
Unfortunately, not all the houses are well maintained and quite a few of them are almost in ruins. It always makes me sad to see a neglected heritage building, just like this one in Mumbai.
Margao City Hall and Municipal Garden
Right in the heart of the city there is a prominent colonial structure that serves as the city hall, or municipal council office. Dignified, monumental effect is attained through the countless arches and neat geometric designs. Built in 1905, the Margao City Hall is a subtle bland of Neo-Roman, modernistic and Art Deco architectural styles.
Across the road there is the Margao Municipal Garden. Though I’m still in favor of big forest like parks, over the years in India I’ve come to love these small and cosy islands of greenery in the middle of busy districts. The Margao Municipal Garden had lots of beautiful flowers and cute little corners to hide with a book.
Additional bonus – there were roses!
Our Lady of Grace Church and Holy Spirit Church
These two churches are completely different from each other, but both are worth visiting. Our Lady of Grace church is located right in the heart of the city, and I could hear the distant sounds of the service when walking along the lanes of the garden. The church used to serve as a military chapel and has a very simple design.
The Holy spirit church was built in the 16th century, and it has everything a non-religious person with appreciation for art and history would visit it for.
The Old Market
If you’re interested in buying cashew nuts, spices, Goan delicacies, jewellery and what not, that’s the place. I was rather strapped for time, so the only thing I bought in Goa was a box of bebinca (traditional Goan sweets) at the railway station. Ah, and a cowboy hat for Adriana – she’s been asking for a long time!
Ana Fonte Garden
Apparently Margao is referred sometimes as the city of fountains, and I’ve seen quite a few of them indeed when strolling around the streets. Ana Fonte Garden is known for its musical dancing fountains one can enjoy every evening. We came upon this small quaint garden when coming back from the Holy Spirit Church, and I imagine it would be pleasant to walk around or to visit with kids. The garden is open only from 5 to 9 pm, so I couldn’t go down, but looking from the outside gives an idea of the place.
I’m yet to discover the beach scene of Goa. Am I the only person who made a trip to Ga and never set a foot on the beach? 🙂 Anyway, Colva beach is only 8 km away from Margao, and I’m sure it would be great to relax after the long sightseeing tour and feel the softness of the sand while resting my eyes on the ocean.
So, that was my unexpected and unplanned acquaintance with Margao!
Some miscellaneous observations
~ Lots of senior ladies in Margao wore knee length satin dresses with floral designs.
~ The public transport is represented by old shabby buses with flowers and Christian symbols all around them. Along with the colonial buildings it was giving a bit of a Cuban vibe.
~ I’m not sure I’ve seen any traffic lights in Margao. But there were policemen (and policewomen) regulating the traffic. They were really helpful and stopped vehicles a few times letting us cross the road.
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