Goa usually evokes images of sandy beaches and a dynamic night-life. However, there is more to this beautiful state on the west coast of India than what meets the eye.
About 10 kilometers away from Panjim, the state capital of Goa, Old Goa is a derelict, historical town that is famous among tourists for the Basilica of Bom Jesus. ‘Bom Jesus’ literally means ‘good Jesus’ and is a name that is given to Christ in his infant form.
Built in the late 16th and early 17th century, the church is more than 400 years old. The architectural style of the church is close to the baroque style of architecture that flourished in Europe during that period. While the exterior of the church is intricately carved in a manner typical of the baroque, the interior is largely simple, with marble flooring and an inlay of precious stones. The altars made of gold along with the pictures of scenes from the life of St. Francis Xavier inside the church are a visual treat.
The Basilica of Bom Jesus is not only one of the oldest and most important churches in India, but is also a major landmark in the history of Christianity. The church contains the body of St. Francis Xavier who, along with Ignatius Loyola, had founded the Society of Jesus.
The body of the saint is kept in a silver casket is kept on top of a tomb that was gifted to the church by Cosimo III de Medici. The casket is opened once every ten years to put the remains inside it on public display which attracts pilgrims from around the globe.
The basilica also has an art gallery beside it that displays paintings of Italian art. There’s a small souvenir shop on the premises that sells memorabilia to the large number of tourists that visits the church every day.
As the rains usually hinder tourist activities in the state of during the monsoon months that last from May to September, Goa gets very busy during the rest of the year.
If you are visiting Goa, a visit to the basilica will be recommended to you by everyone you meet. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Basilica of Bom Jesus is not only an important tourist destination in Goa, but is also central to India’s Incredible India tourism campaign.