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Vasco

The industrial town of Vasco da Gama, named after the Portuguese voyager, is around 30 kms away from the capital city of Panaji and is spread around the base of the peninsula which leads to the Mormugao harbour.

The area came under Portuguese rule around 1543, and within a few years, it was transformed into one of western India's busiest ports.

The Portuguese built a fort at Sada, near the tip of the land jutting into the Arabian Sea. This allowed them to effectively control the movement of ships into the Zuari river. The Sada fort had its most glorious moment in 1685, when Old Goa came under attack from King Sambhaji of the Marathas. The Portuguese moved women, children and other non-combatants here for safe keeping. The fort was abandoned soon after despite plans to make Mormugao the capital of the Portuguese colony of Goa. Today, only some remnants of the ramparts can be seen.

At the base of the ruins of Sada fort, there is a small but beautiful beach which can be reached via steps leading down the steep cliffside. The beach remains pretty isolated for most of the day except for a few locals who venture down for a dip in the sea. There is also a fresh-water spring in the hillside which has a constant flow of water round the year.

The main town of Vasco is laid out pretty much in a straight line along parallel roads interlinked by small bylanes. There is hardly any landmark worth making a visit to Vasco, except for the 400-year old St Andrews Church which lies at the entrance to the city.

The port of Mormugao, one of India's few natural harbours, is 4 kms from the city centre and the only airport in the state, the Goa Airport at Dabolim, is also about 4 kms from the city. Vasco also has a railway terminus for passenger trains to nearby areas outside Goa and more importantly a daily service which takes tourists to the magnificent Dudhsagar waterfalls near the state border.

The Mormugao port handles heavy traffic of container vessels and iron ore barges carrying ores and minerals to countries such as Japan and Korea.

There are two beaches near the city. The bigger and more famous one is the Bogmalo beach which is about 8 kms south-east of the town and the smaller one named Hollant lies just about halfway along the same road.

Along the road to the Bogmalo beach is located the Naval Air Museum. It has on display some of the fighter aircraft which have done duty for India in its conflicts.

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