Goa’s coastline is dotted with endless beaches that are a paradise for city-weary people. However, it would be grossly unfair to define Goa as just that. If you look beyond the obvious, Goa has a rich cultural side too. A great place to get a crash-course in Goa’s culture is by visiting its museums that hold fascinating stories of its history. If, like me, you enjoy visiting museums or looking to take a break from the beaches, here are the best museums in Goa to check out.
Goa State Museum
Established in 1997, the Goa State museum is located in Patto on the outskirts of Panjim. It houses a rich collection of over 8000 artifacts throw light on Goan culture, Geology, Christian art, Goa’s freedom struggle, Natural history and Religious expressions.
There’s an interesting section inside the museum dedicated to Goa’s printing press. It is noteworthy that the Portuguese brought the printing press to Goa in 1556 A.D. much before the rest of Asia. One can even see a copy of the 1st Gazette after Goa’s Liberation here. The Table of Goa-Inquisition is showcased in the Furniture gallery at the museum. The infamous Goa-Inquisition was established in 1561 to punish citizens who converted to Christianity for material gains but were secretly still practicing their original religion. Another interesting section is the Christian Art Gallery with wooden sculptures of Christian saints and devotional paintings. There are two giant antique lottery machines manufactured in Lisbon that make for an imposing picture within the Contemporary Art Gallery section.
EDC Complex, Patto, Panaji – Goa
Monday – Saturday: 9:30 am to 5:30 pm
Closed on Sundays and Public holidays
Naval Aviation Museum
The Naval Aviation Museum, established in 1998, stands right behind the Dabolim International Airport, hidden from the tourist’s eye. It’s the first of its kind aviation museum to be set up in Asia; and one of the only two military museums in India, built as a tribute to the Indian Navy, its workforce and the key operations undertaken for the nation.
The indoor exhibits are accessed through a ship’s hatch that recreates the interiors of INS Viraat. Another section houses a collection of arms like torpedoes and rockets. The Jet cockpit simulator programme allows visitors to experience being in the cockpit of a fighter jet. A photo gallery commemorates the major naval battles that have taken place since the inception of the Indian Navy. The freedom struggle of Goa, notably the ‘Operation Vijay’ is depicted by a stunning series of black and white photographs. The outdoor exhibits include 13 decommissioned aircrafts such as Sea Harrier, Hughes, Vampire and Sea Hawk. In true-blue style, they even name their cafeteria ‘Cockpit Café’. Right besides the cafeteria, there is an engine bay that displays aircraft engines and parts.
Ins Hansa, Bogmalo Road, Vasco Da Gama, Goa – 403802
Museum is open from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm on all days except Mondays.
Also read: My visit to the Naval Aviation Museum in Goa
Ancestral Goa Museum and Big Foot
The Ancestral Goa museum in Loutilim (South Goa) gives visitors an informative glimpse into the lives of everyday people. It is populated with statues that depict various traditional activities of Goan villagers such as their occupations, clothing, customs and traditions. The museum complex is also popular as Big Foot because of an age old mythological story about a man’s big footprint, which still exists there. There is an old saying that if you keep your right hand on the foot and make a wish, it will come true. One can also see a huge Mira Bai sculpture here which holds a Limca Book of Record for being India’s longest Mira Bai sculpture made from laterite.
Surrounded by spice and fruit plantations, Ancestral Goa Museum has a naturalistic appeal. Expect to see plantations like Carambolas, Berries, Cherries, Coconut, Rubber, Pineapple, Pomegranate and Aubergine. An Art gallery, Handicraft center and Emporium complete your museum experience. There’s a Sound and Light show at the museum too, for an additional cost.
Near Saviour of the World Church, Loutolim, Goa, Goa 403718
Museum is open on all days from 9am to 6pm
Also read: My visit to Big Foot in South Goa
Museum of Goa
The Museum of Goa is very popular with art aficionados. Established in 2015, it showcases Goa’s history and culture through contemporary arts. Some of the interesting sections are on Goa’s Hindu Catholics, spices that made their way into Goan cuisine, an ode to the two wheeler pilots of Goa, and much more. Among the outdoor exhibits are a Sculpture Garden and the Carpet of Joy. There is an auditorium inside the museum, where the founder, Subodh Kerkar’s pre-recorded video throws light on the journey of this museum and how it came into being. Interestingly, the Museum of Goa is also referred to as MOG, which means ‘love’ in Konkani. Quite rightly, the museum is a labour of love by Subodh Kerkar.
Post museum exploration, head to their onsite organic Mog cafe for a cup of coffee and a croissant. Or buy some lovely merchandise like postcards, badges and tshirts from their gift shop. Photography is allowed inside the museum.
79, Pilerne Industrial Estate, Pilerne, Bardez, Goa, 403511
Open between 10am and 6pm. Closed on Mondays.
Menezes Braganza House
Traditional Goan houses are an amalgamation of native construction with Portuguese style architecture that cannot be found elsewhere. The Menezes Braganza House in Chandor is one such hidden gem in South Goa. The 17th century Goan home is owned by Mrs. Braganza who still lives there. She has thrown open the house to visitors who would like to gain an insight into traditional Portuguese style homes. There are no tour guides here, instead Mrs. Braganza herself or a member of the family will take visitors on a guided tour.
Stepping inside the Menezes Braganza house is like stepping into a bygone era. The house is practically a living museum with some of the furniture and decor as old as 450 years ago. Expect to see Belgium chandeliers, paintings, Italian marble floors, porcelain, crystal and other antique treasures from Macao, Portugal, China and Europe during the English and Dutch East India Company rule. It is said that the Menezes Braganza house was built on a piece of land granted by the King of Portugal. He even gifted the house two chairs that are today prized possessions for the Menezes Braganza family.
There is no entry fee to take a tour of the house, but visitors are encouraged to donate any sum for the upkeep of the house, as they receive no official funding.
Menezes Braganza Pereira House
Culsabhatt, Chandor, Goa 403714
9am to 5pm on all days
A version of this story was first published in SpiceJet airlines in-flight magazine (December 2019 issue). Click here to read.
Find hotels in North Goa
Also read my posts on other museums in India
- A toilet museum in Delhi
- A wax museum in Lonavla
- A biographical museum in Pune
- A money museum in Mumbai
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