Margao Exploring: A Cultural Hub and Educational Center

Margao Exploring: A Cultural Hub and Educational Center


Margao, situated on the banks of the Sal River, serves as the commercial capital of Goa, an Indian state. It holds the administrative headquarters of the Salcete sub-district and South Goa district, making it an important hub. In terms of population, Margao ranks as the second largest city in Goa, following Vasco.


Margao – Gandhi Market




The name of the city has variations in spelling, such as Margão in Portuguese and ?????? (Madgaon) in Konkani. The etymology of the name has been a topic of debate, with different theories proposed.

One theory suggests that it evolved from the pre-colonial term Mahargao, which referred to a village inhabited by the Mahars, a prominent community of weavers.

Another theory suggests that it may have originated from the Sanskrit term ??????? (Ma?hagrama), meaning “a village of monasteries,” possibly due to the presence of shrines dedicated to Matsyendranath and Gorakhnath in the suburb of Ravanphond, which is now part of Margao.

Alternatively, Margão could have derived from Mharuganv, which translates to “village of demons,” or from the Portuguese term Maravile, meaning “marvellous village.”

These varying explanations contribute to the multiple interpretations surrounding the etymology of Margao’s name.


Margao – City


Historical Background


During the pre-Portuguese era, Margao held significant importance as a settlement within Salcete. It was recognized as Matha Grama, a village primarily known for its temple schools and the presence of nine Mathas (monastic establishments). However, in 1579, the village was ravaged and destroyed by raiders, leading to its subsequent replacement.

In the aftermath of these events, the construction of the present-day Holy Spirit Church commenced in 1675, marking a new phase in Margao’s history.

While the western side of the church developed into a bustling market area, the settlement itself expanded on the eastern side, specifically in the Borda region.

This geographical division played a role in shaping the growth and development of Margao as a town.


margao Portuguese House
Margao – Portuguese House




In Margao, Konkani takes the lead as the most commonly spoken language, closely followed by English. While Portuguese continues to be spoken and understood by a small portion of the population, Hindi is widely used as a means of communication with individuals who do not speak Konkani or English.

It is worth noting that the Konkani dialect spoken in South Goa exhibits notable differences from the variant spoken in North Goa.

Furthermore, a considerable number of residents have a good understanding of Marathi. Additionally, within the city, a significant proportion of flower and vegetable merchants engage in conversations using Kannada.


Governance and Political Landscape


Margao falls within the electoral boundaries of Margao (Goa Assembly constituency) and South Goa (Lok Sabha constituency), playing a crucial role in the political representation and decision-making processes at both the state and national levels.


Culture and Urban Environment


Margao is widely recognized as the cultural capital of Goa, boasting a vibrant cultural scene and urban environment. In July 2008, the city witnessed the inauguration of ‘Ravindra Bhavan,’ a prominent cultural centre, by the then Chief Minister of Goa, Digambar Kamat.

This venue holds significant importance and serves as an official venue for the International Film Festival of India. Additionally, Margao is home to the Nehru Stadium at Fatorda, the largest sports stadium in Goa.

The city hosts various theatres, including Gomant Vidya Niketan, OSIA Multiplex, Vishant, Lata, and the renowned Metropole, which is the biggest theatre in Goa.

In recent times, Inox has also introduced a multiplex with a seating capacity of 904. Gomant Vidya Niketan holds a distinguished status as a premier arts centre in Margao.

A notable attraction in Margao is the special market, where people from all across Goa gather to purchase spices and dried fish for the upcoming rainy season.

The cuisine of Margao features the customary specialities found in Goan cuisine, with its curry being particularly renowned and appreciated locally.

Interestingly, cans of Margao curry are exported to Portugal and other destinations, while the name “Margao” is also associated with a brand of spices sold in Portugal.


Margao Nehru Stadium Fatorda
Margao – Nehru Stadium Fatorda


Travel and Tourist Attractions


Margao offers a plethora of captivating sights and destinations for travellers to explore. Among these, the Mercado de Afonso de Albuquerque, popularly known as “Pimplapedd” or “Pimpalakatta,” stands as a notable closed market.

The town is adorned with landmarks like the municipal building (Câmara Municipal), the scenic municipal garden named after the generous benefactor Prince Aga Khan, and the enchanting Anna Fonte natural springs.

Other attractions include the Old Market or Mercado Velho, the majestic Holy Spirit Church, magnificent colonial mansions like the Seven Gables House, and the charming chapel at Monte Hill.

The town encompasses several vibrant suburbs, including Pajifond, Aquem, Gogol, Borda, Malbhat, Madel, Kharebandh, Old Market, Navelim, and Comba, with the last two being the oldest parts of Margao.

For those seeking historical and cultural experiences, the Pandava Caves, located behind St. Sebastian Church in Aquem, offer an intriguing visit.


Margao boasts a diverse religious landscape, with numerous temples and churches. The notable churches in the city include the Holy Spirit Church, the Grace Church, and the St. Sebastian Church in Aquem (with the old St. Sebastian Chapel, known as the Pandava Copel, standing beside the modern church).

The famous temples in Margao include the Damodar Temple (Saal), Hari Mandir, Maruti Mandir in Davorlim, Saibaba Temple in Davorlim, and the Shiv Temple (Ling) near Nehru Stadium in Fatorda (originally the Temple of Damodara).

The town is also home to two mosques, one in the Malbhat area and another on Monte Hill. Additionally, there is a Jain temple and a Jama’at Khana for the Khoja faith in Pajifond. Margao is also home to a community of Nizaris, following the Muslim faith.

These diverse religious sites contribute to the cultural and spiritual fabric of Margao, providing visitors with a rich tapestry of heritage and faith to explore.


Discovering Margao: Must-Visit Destinations


Embark on a captivating journey through Margao, where you can explore the vibrant South side of Goa and immerse yourself in its rich cultural heritage. Here are top-rated places that you shouldn’t miss:

Sri Damodar Temple – Uncover the Spiritual Charm

Majorda Beach – Surrender to the Serenity of White Sands

Our Lady Of Grace Church – Witness Divine Grace

Holy Spirit Church – One of the oldest churches

Monte Hill – Discover the Beauty from Above

Loutolim – Marvel at Architectural Masterpieces

Margao Market – Indulge in a Shopping Extravaganza

Shri Chandranath Temple – Step into Ancient Religious Traditions

Town Square – Take a Stroll through the Heart of Margao

Jorge Barreto Park – Haven for Book Enthusiasts

Zalor Beach – Immerse in Pristine Coastal Views

Colva Beach – Capture Magical Sunsets

Goa Chitra – Dive into the World of Artefacts

Our Lady Of Mercus Church – Unveil Historical Significance

Utorda Beach – Embrace the Beauty of Nature

Betalbatim Beach – Experience Crystal Clear Waters

San Thome Museum – Journey into the Past

St. John The Baptist Church – Attend a Soulful Mass

Fernandes House – Step into History’s Embrace

Braganza House – Delve into Intriguing Historical Narratives

Church Of The Holy Spirit – Admire Architectural Splendor

Prepare yourself for an unforgettable exploration of Margao’s finest attractions, each offering a unique and memorable experience.


margao - holy spirit church
Margao – Holy Spirit Church




Beach Bliss and Culinary Delights: Exploring Margao’s Vibrant Scene

Embrace the sun-soaked coastline just a short distance from Margao, around 6km away, and discover the stunning Colva Beach.

Renowned for its pristine white sands fringed by swaying coconut palms, this beach is a haven for water sports enthusiasts and draws tourists from far and wide.


Indulge in a Gastronomic Adventure


Satisfy your taste buds at the renowned Longuinhos, known for its delectable chorizo (Goan sausage). For vegetarian delights, head to Kamats on Miguel Loyola Furtado Road.

To experience authentic Goan cuisine, reserve a table at Nostalgia at Uzro in Raia, where you can savour their signature tart Goan prawn curry-rice and scrumptious sorpotel, perfectly complemented by toddy-leavened sannas.

For a taste of nostalgia and old-style coffee, Café Tato in the Apna Bazaar Complex on Varde Valaulikar Road is a must-visit. Alcove’s Restaurant near Cine Vishant is known for its mouthwatering butter chicken, pork vindaloo, and sorpotel.


Retail Therapy


Explore the vibrant Mercado de Afonso de Albuquerque indoor market, the Mercado Velho market, and the bustling Town Square, where you can find an array of souvenirs to bring back home as cherished mementoes.


Immerse Yourself in Architectural Splendor at Church Square


For many the Church Square or Largo de Igreja stands as the most captivating part of Margao, serving as one of its central hubs.

This Latin Quarter boasts elegant Colonial mansions that exude timeless charm. Situated on one side of the square is the Church of the Holy Spirit, originally built by the Jesuits in 1564 on the site of a temple and monastery. Unfortunately, the church was destroyed by Adil Shah’s army in 1571.

It underwent makeshift repairs and was officially named the Church of the Holy Spirit in 1645. The church’s construction was finally completed in 1675.

Inside, the meticulously crafted altars command attention, and the exterior is equally breathtaking, situated in a vast rectangular square lined with mango trees and surrounded by historic Colonial homes.

One of these notable homes is the renowned ancestral residence of Eurico da Silva, formerly known as Sat Burnzam Ghor (House of Seven Gables), which now stands with three gables remaining.


Discover Goan Heritage at Goa Chitra


At Goa Chitra, a privately owned ethnographic museum, delve into the ancient history and rich culture of Goa. The museum showcases traditional farming implements, ancient tools of various trades, and an intriguing collection of materials sourced from over 300 demolished traditional houses, including woodwork, doors, windows, pillars, and railings.

The backdrop of a traditional organic farm adds to the immersive experience. Located in Mondo-Waddo, Benaulim, Salcete, Goa Chitra offers a captivating glimpse into the region’s heritage.



Margao Goa Chitra Museum
Margao – Goa Chitra Museum


Experience the Charm of Loutolim


Nestled amidst lush paddy fields, Loutolim is hailed as one of the most picturesque villages in Goa. It boasts stunning Portuguese-era mansions, including the former residence of the renowned cartoonist Mario Miranda.

Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the Casa Araujo Alvares mansion, which is over 250 years old (located opposite Ancestral Goa). The mansion offers guided tours featuring an automated “sound-and-light show” that takes visitors through its rooms.

Keep an eye out for the angled holes in an upstairs wall, once used for strategically placing rifle barrels to defend against invaders.


Margao - Casa Araujo Alvares House
Margao – Casa Araujo Alvares House


Discover Mock Villages at Ancestral Goa


Ancestral Goa, also known as the Big Foot Museum, in Loutolim is a popular destination for its recreated village setting, offering insights into the history and culture of ancient Goa. This open-air museum vividly depicts rural life in Goa centuries ago.

Additionally, there are fascinating exhibits such as the Museum of Crosses, the Rosary Bead Museum, and the Tiatr Hall of Fame, dedicated to the actors of Konkani theatre. Ancestral Goa remains open year-round from 9 am to 6 pm and also features a restaurant serving authentic Goan cuisine in a traditional Goan home.


Unwind at the Menezes-Braganza House


Make a stop in Chandor village to admire the magnificent Menezes-Braganza House, a 450-year-old mansion that showcases beautiful antique furniture, exquisite tapestries, grand ballrooms, banquet halls, and intricately designed floors.

The Braganza Pereira family’s chapel, over 300 years old, is a true work of art with its intricate carvings. Notably, the most revered object inside the chapel is a toenail of St. Francis Xavier, a significant relic in Goan Catholic history.


Margao Braganza House
Margao Braganza House


Essential Information

Margao, Goa’s second-largest city, is situated in the heart of Salcete taluka in southern Goa, approximately 33km from Panjim.

Nearest airport: Dabolim. Nearest railway station: Madgaon.

Best Time to Visit: The weather is most pleasant from late October to the end of February, offering an ideal time to explore and enjoy the city’s offerings.


Transportation and Connectivity

Air Travel

Margao benefits from convenient access to the nearest airport, Dabolim Airport, which is Goa’s international airport, located approximately 23 km away from the city.

Railway Connectivity

Margao is served by the prominent Madgaon railway station, which functions as a vital railway junction. Positioned at the intersection of the Konkan Railway and the South Western Railway (Guntakal–Vasco da Gama section), it is recognized as Goa’s busiest railway station. The station’s strategic location and comprehensive connectivity make it a popular transit stop for travellers heading towards popular tourist destinations such as Palolem (38 km), Benaulim, and Colva.

Notably, Margao played a significant role in the development of the Skybus Metro project. The city hosted the test track for this innovative elevated rail system, which was patented by the Konkan Railway Corporation.

However, the project was reportedly discontinued following an unfortunate accident during a test drive, resulting in the loss of one engineer’s life and severe injuries to three crew members. B Rajaram, the inventor of the rail system, has expressed his belief that the accident could have been avoided.


Margao Railway Station


Road Connectivity


Margao enjoys well-established road connectivity with various cities and towns. It is seamlessly connected to cities like Mangalore, Udupi, Bhatkal, Kumta, Karwar, Ratnagiri, and Mumbai through the National Highway 66 (NH66), facilitating convenient travel and transportation between these destinations.

Additionally, Margao is linked by a road network that connects it to nearby towns within Goa, including Ponda, São José de Areal, Sanvordem, Chandor, and other locations within the state.

This extensive road infrastructure enhances accessibility and facilitates smooth travel for both residents and visitors.


Academic Institutions and Learning


Educational Institutions

Margao is renowned for its diverse range of schools and colleges, whose alumni have made significant contributions to Goa’s cultural and scientific spheres.

The majority of schools in Margao follow the curriculum prescribed by the Directorate of Education and the Goa Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education.

Among the notable schools is Loyola High School (Goa), located near the Old Bus Stand, which is a Jesuit-run institution and holds the distinction of being the oldest school in the area.

Other esteemed schools include Bhatikar Model English High School, established in 1935 and named after its founder, Late Pandurang Raya Bhatikar, as well as Mahila & Nutan High School, which began as Samaj Seva Sangh’s Mahila Vidyalay for girls in 1933 and transitioned to co-educational intake in 1972.


Leading Schools and Colleges Around Margao


Manovikas English Medium School and Vidya Vikas Academy, affiliated with the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations and Central Board of Secondary Education, are highly sought-after institutions.

Margao is also home to several other educational institutes such as St. Joseph High School in Aquem, Govt. High School Vidyanagar, Holy Spirit Institute, Presentation Convent High School, Fatima Convent High School, Perpetual Convent High School in Navelim, and Popular High School in Comba near the police station.

In terms of higher education, Margao houses prominent colleges such as Parvatibai Chowgule College, which was initially located in the Portuguese Military Barracks opposite Multipurpose High School in Vidyanagar before relocating to its present site in 1972.

Shree Damodar College of Commerce and Economics and Govind Ramnath Kare College of Law offer post-secondary education in commerce and law, respectively. Institutions like Shree Damodar Higher Secondary School Of Science and R.M.S Higher Secondary School focus exclusively on higher secondary education.

The town also features Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) that provide technical education, and Don Bosco College of Engineering, located in Fatorda, serves as the sole technical degree-granting institute in Margao.


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