Mapusa (pronounced as Mapsa by the locals) is Goa's third largest town and the capital of the northern Bardez taluka. It is mainly a market town for the surrounding beach areas of Calangute, Candolim, Anjuna and Baga among others.
It is a fairly small town with most modern buildings spread around the slopes of a small hillock. It lies about 13 kms north of the capital city of Panaji. On most days, there is hardly anything to entice the casual visitor to its environs.
But come Friday morning, the whole town has a lively look when the famous weekly Friday Market begins. The market attracts people from all over Goa who come here to buy and sell their wares. Everything from fresh and dried fish, incense, spices, fruits and vegetables to souvenirs from other states of India is available here. Local Goan specialities such as spicy sausages (chouriços) and Goan spirits such as toddi and cashew feni are much in demand amongst locals and outsiders. Most of the items are sold after a few rounds of bargaining and the prices are usually much lower than anywhere else.
The Church of Our Lady of Miracles, located about 2 kms east of the market area, has a beautiful gabled facade but is more famous for its annual feast than for its architectural splendour. Since the Church is located on the original site of an ancient Hindu temple, the Hindu community also considers it a sacred area. Consequently, in a fine display of communal harmony that exists in Goa, the annual feast held on the 16th day after Easter is enthusiastically celebrated by Christians and Hindus alike. The church is also known as St Jerome's locally and dates back originally from the year 1594 when the first edifice was built. Since then it has been rebuilt several times, most recently in 1961.
The small but attractive Maruti (Lord Hanuman) temple, located just a few minutes from the main bus stand, was built in the 1840s at a site where the monkey god Hanuman was covertly worshipped.