Basilica of Bom Jesus, Goa, India.
Church of St. Francis of Assisi.
Colonialism is a huge part of Indian history and culture, but Goa’s particular flavor is more Portuguese and Catholic than it is British and Protestant. Old Goa was the center of it all hundreds of years ago, a town that used to boast a huge population. However, due to malaria and cholera epidemics it was abandoned in the 17th century. It’s most famous for being the final resting place of St. Francis Xavier, and every year they bring out his corpse for what must be a pretty grisly spectacle.
For a malaria-ravaged ghost town, Old Goa is actually a bit more lively than you might expect. The Basilica of Bom Jesus is still an active church, and if you visit on a Sunday you can even catch a mass.
An old fort outside of Old Goa.
Fort Aguada (literally “water,” because the area had fresh water) and it’s lighthouse, a bit removed from Old Goa but part of the Portuguese effort to colonize the area.
Courtyard of the Basilica.
Above and below, interior of the Church of St. Francis of Assisi which is open to the public but no longer is use.
Geographically speaking, Goa is on the southwest coast of India. Culturally though, if you refer to “southern India” you’re probably speaking about Tamil Nadu or Kerala which are considered “real India” (I know, I know, that’s a contentious thing in and of itself). Visiting Old Goa however you can really see why the area has a distinct culture and history of its own. Even today it’s a bit of a chore to get here if you don’t fly, but it’s worth the effort. And an afternoon in Old Goa among the ruins was a nice counterpoint to relaxing on the beach as well.