Margao, also called Margaon or Madgaon is a city in South Goa. It is the second largest city in Goa by population after Vasco da Gama. Margao is also the commercial, cultural and religious capital of Goa. The Salcete sub-district’s administrative headquarters is located here. Spread over 15.1 square kilometers, the city has a population of 87,650 according to the 2011 census. 106,484 residents live in the greater Margao metropolitan area. Margao is also one of the two major rail heads in Goa, Vasco da Gama being the other.
It is often a crowded market-place because of the many shops and supermarkets here. The city is also a major transport hub. Many tourists arrive at the rail station or the Kadamba bus stand. It is a gateway to several fantastic beaches in South Goa – Cavelossim, Mobor, Colva, Benaulim, Agonda, and Palolem. Panaji or Vasco da Gama would be too far away from these beaches. The Goa international airport at Dabolim is 25.6 kilometers away by the NH 66 and NH566.
Margao has many attractions worth visiting – churches, parks, colonial mansions, interesting mansions and Portuguese heritage!
The city has a long history. During Portuguese times, Margao was an important settlement in Salcete. It was called ‘Matha Grama’, which means ‘village of the Mathas’ or heads after the many temple schools here. Raiders caused a lot of damage in 1579.
Located on the Sal River, Margao is considered to be the oldest city in Goa according to ancient written evidence. The oldest state university and library were both here, but they were destroyed during the Portuguese invasion. Now, it is one of the fastest growing and rapidly developing cities in India. There are many prestigious schools and colleges, shopping and business centers.
Margao and Madgaon are the same. Margao is the Portuguese name, while the Marathi name is Madgaon. In Konkani the city is called Madugão.
Quick Facts About Margao
Margao is the second biggest city in Goa by population after Vasco da Gama.
It is the capital of south Goa, and the commercial, cultural and religious capital of the state.
Town area – 15.10 square kilometers, Metropolitan area – 22.1 square kms
Population – 87,650 (census 2011)
Closest airport – Dabolim – 25.6 kms.
Panaji — 35 kms.
The Margao railway station (MAO) is the terminus of Konkan Railways. It is one of the two busiest rail heads in Goa.
Margao is close to major south Goa beaches – Colva, Benaulim, Varca, Betalbatim, Majorda, Cavelossim, Mobor. The Sal River passes through the east.
City with old-world charm. There are many beautiful Portuguese churches, parks, mansions and old Portuguese houses with porches and oyster-shell windows.
Famous landmarks – Church of the Holy Spirit, Our Lady of Grace Church, Sri Damodar Temple, The Seven Gables House, Anna Fonte Natural Source, Maruti Mandir, Ravindra Bhavan, Goa Chitra Museum.
Margao is one of the best places in Goa for shopping. Visit the Mercado de Afonso de Albuquerque indoor market, Mercado Velho market and the Town Square. Many shops, street vendors, restaurants and ATMs.
The city has a long history. There used to be a University here with a library even before the Portuguese arrived in Goa. The library had an impressive collection of 10,000 books, which was rare in those days. It was an important settlement called ‘Matha Grama’, meaning ‘village of the Mathas’ or heads after the 9 mathas in temple schools. There were many religious centers, dharmashalas and wealthy temples.
However, almost all of them were destroyed once the Portuguese arrived during the 17th century and absorbed the area into the Novas Conquistas.
The Portuguese Jesuits decided to establish their college in Margao. The first church came up in 1565 at the site of a Hindu temple. Dom Caspar Leao Pereira, the first Goan archbishop personally chose the site. Captain of Rachol Diogo Rodrigues was appointed for its construction. However, Muslim raiders soon destroyed the church. It was rebuilt on the same site, but burned down again in 1579.
By 1881, the town was beginning to emerge as a commercial center. Steps were also taken that very year to establish the first rail connection. A single-line track was set up connecting the growing town to the east and harbor area.
Portuguese colonizers influenced the local culture and lifestyle greatly. But the influence of Margao too can be seen in Portugal, even today. The Margão brand of aromatic herbs and spices are sold online and in many shops in Portugal.
Best Time To Visit
People visit Margao throughout the year as it is a big city with many shops and offices. The summer is hot and humid, more so because of so many vehicles, people and commercial activity. There is heavy rain during the monsoon months with chance of some water logging.
November to February is the best time to visit Margao. The weather will be cool and very pleasant. There is very little rain. Temperature will range between 33°C and 35°C. The city is a transport hub for visiting many beaches, which have good tourist infrastructure this time – beach shacks, restaurants, pubs and cafes will all be open. There will be water sports too. There is very little here during the summer and monsoon months. You can easily reach these beaches from Margao as they are close. The transportation system and road network is also good.
Top 8 Places To Visit In Margao
- Our Lady Of Grace Church – A military church in modern building at the heart of Margao. What makes this church unique is its uncommon ‘crucifix’ of the resurrected Jesus. Christ does not have a thorny crown. He is draped in a veil while his hands are wide and open towards the church.
- Damodar Temple – A sacred place for Hindus dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is believed that the first settlements in Margao were located around this temple. But the architecture of the temple is modern. The deity, however, is very old. Both Hindus and Christians visit this temple.
- Maruti Mandir – Dedicated to Lord Hanuman or Maruti from the epic Ramayana. Lord Hanuman is the symbol of energy and strength. This temple is close to the Market bus terminus. Pillars and arches of the temple are painted in Goan style. The pillars, ceiling and wooden doors are decorated artistically. Tuesday and Saturday are important days here.
- Gomant Vidya Niketan – Margao residents established this after Portugal became a republic, which ended religious discrimination of the locals. There was only a library initially, which is still there. There are a lot of cultural activities here, including classical music concerts, exhibitions and talks.
- Ravindra Bhavan – Opened in 2008, this swanky campus is the center of cultural activities in south Goa. International, national and local events are held in Konkani, Hindi, Marathi and English. There are music festivals, magic shows and animation, theater, and modeling workshops.
- Ana Fonte Garden – Margao is often called the ‘city of fountains’. The Municipal Gardens has the lotus fountain, there is one at Ravindra Bhavan, and a few colorful ones at the Aga Khan Children's Park. The Ana Fonte Garden has a natural spring, which opened in 2005. There is a beautiful musical fountain that is open daily between 5 PM and 9 PM.
- House of Seven Gables – Also called the ‘Sat Burzam Ghor’, this building was constructed by the private secretary and emissary of the Viceroy of Portugal. There is a chapel inside where for the first time a Goan family was allowed to perform a mass. You have to seek permission to enter the property. It has seven tiled roofs, and thus the name. The entire area has a Portuguese-era look with many large mansions.
- Clergy Home – Located at Miranda Road, close to the district hospital, this was founded by Rev. Antonio Joao de Miranda. This used to be one of the first shelters of retiring priests. It has unique edifice.
The Holy Spirit Church
Holy Spirit Church or the Espirito Santo Igreja em Margao in Portuguese is the biggest church in Margao. Popularly referred to as ‘The Margao Church’, it is in the center of the city in the court district. The Old Margao Market or the MMC Market, Margao Market, and the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium are close.
The church is an impressive and towering white-washed structure with baroque architecture. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, its ornamental screen rises from the ground level to reach the high ceiling. The church has a carved and gilded archway, standing in front of it. There are arches in the window too, shaped like sea shells. In the north aisle, you will see statues of the Blessed Joseph Vaz and St. Anthony, which are kept in glass cabinets.
In the main square, there is a monumental cross, the parochial house, palatial mansions of affluent elite Catholics, in a row. The church stands on the other side. There is also a school that the church operates and its playground. Just opposite to the church is a small park. 2900 catholic families are hosted by the church.
- The present day church stands at the site of an old Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Damodar. The first church was established by the Jesuits in 1564. The Hindu deity was moved to Zambaulim, 22 kilometers from Margao.
- It was destroyed in a fire in 1571, and rebuilt the same year.
- The Muslims however destroyed this church in 1579.
- The church was reconstructed in 1595 and enlarged in 1604.
- The Holy Spirit Church you see now was constructed in 1675.
The Holy Spirit Church is a working place of worship.
Mass timings –
6.30 AM, 7.15 AM, 8.00 AM, 5.30 PM (On Wednesdays), 5.45 PM (First Friday)
6.30 AM, 7.15 AM, 8.00 AM, 6.00 PM (Sunday Liturgy)
6.00 AM, 7.00 AM, 8.00 AM, 9.15 AM, 10.30 AM
Madgaon Railway Station
Madgaon Railway Station (station code – MAO) is the biggest rail head in Goa. Most tourists with accommodation in South Goa get down here. The station is the gateway to many south Goa beaches like Colva, Benaulim, Betalbatim, Majorda, Varca, Cavelossim, Mobor, and Palolem. Colva is the closest beach from Madgaon. It is just 5.8 kilometers from the station.
On the south-western line, the station is operated by Konkan Railways, which links Mumbai and the south Indian city of Mangalore. There are 8 lines passing through the station, catered by 4 platforms.
Madgaon Railway Station is at the crossing of the Konkan and the South Western Railway lines. Almost all important trains visiting several big Indian cities like Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Mangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Kochi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Coimbatore, Visakhapatnam, Patna, Agra, and several other cities stop here. While coming to Goa from the east, you will see the Dudhsagar Waterfalls on this line.
There are bike and car rentals outside the station. There is a pre-paid government controlled taxi booth, so you can be sure that you won’t be overcharged. The cars can take you to a villa or hotel anywhere in Goa. Inside the station and around it, you will find restaurants, coffee shops, and even a Domino's Pizza shop. There is free Wi-Fi in the station.
Mathany Saldanha Administrative Complex Margao
This is the office of District Collector of South Goa, an important administrative headquarter. The 4 storied building in central Margao is huge and looks very impressive. Government policies are executed from here. Officers of the state also meet the locals to listen to their problems, and report the issues to the state government. Important documents are also issued from the collectorate office.
Modern day Margao is a thriving city, full of festivals, film shows, theater, music, sports and food, which is why it is called ‘the cultural capital of Goa’. FC Goa, a football club that plays in the Indian Super League, is based out of the city. Zico, the famous Brazilian player, coached the club for 3 years in the league.
Top Markets To Visit In Margao
The city is a shopper’s delight, one of the best places in Goa for shopping. You will find everything here – swanky malls, traditional bazaars, and street side vendors.
- Margao Market – Also called the ‘New Market’, it is located near Osia Building in central Margao. It is between the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and Inox cinema. It is divided nicely into a beef market, chicken market, fish market, and even a section for dry fish. You will also find many vendors selling vegetables. There is a Domino’s Pizza shop in front, and a Pizza Hut outlet in the Inox theater complex.
- Old Margao Market – Popularly referred to as the ‘MMC Market’, it is located in the old city center. The old station road is just beside this. Here, you won’t find as many stalls and vendors selling fish, meat, and vegetables. Instead, you will find sweets, bakeries, florists, tea stalls, drug stores, boutiques, mobile, and footwear shops. It is popular with the locals. Most stores offer their products at cheap prices. There is no parking facility here.
- The Pimplapedd Market – Also called Pimpalakatta, this is an indoor market. There are no counters here, which make it special. Trading is on special counters that form entire blocks. There are narrow lanes between the sections.
- The Old Railway Station – There is a good market close to the old railway station where you will find many souvenir shops. This is the place for bargain hunting if you don’t want to spend more at the touristy places.
- Fish Market – See fishermen from all over south Goa bringing in their fresh catch. You will find many prized possessions. It is a sight to see.
Villas near Margao
There are many luxury villas to choose from here. You can choose from Villa Lyon Age, Villa Orchard Garden, Pool view apartment, Villa Fasenda de Forte, and Villa Kamila, and others. You can rent for the short-term or long-term. Many of the hotels, resorts, villas and apartments are close to the sea. Many properties, shops, restaurants, and cafes are concentrated around Margao.
Properties with sea views cost more. The cost also depends on the amenities, season, and the duration of your stay.
There are many other amazing villas and apartments on rent near Margao. They offer many modern amenities. You can check our other villas here.
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