Margao, often called the commercial capital of Goa, is the capital of the southern taluka of Salcette and also of the South Goa district. Because of its location, it serves as a service and transport hub to the areas of south Goa. It is a typically crowded Goan town, with chaotic, noisy traffic and quite a few architectural reminders of its Portuguese past. Margao is Goa's second largest town and a bustling commercial centre.
Surrounded by fertile farmland, the town of Margao was once a major religious centre, with dozens of wealthy temples and dharmshalas (dormitories). Margao has an old-worldly charm about it because of its Portuguese churches, and some magnificent specimens of old Portuguese houses complete with shady balcaos (porches) and oyster-shell windows in its Borda area.
The Largo de Igreja, or the Church of the Holy Spirit as it is also known, dominates the entrance to the city, just north of the Municipal Garden square. Just within walking distance of the Church, is the famous "House of Seven Gables" or "Sat Burzam Ghor". The famous Colva Beach is just 6 kms away from Margao. About 3 Kms from the small village of Raia, which is on the road from Margao to the Borim bridge, is the Rachol Seminary and Church.
The city has many sights and destinations. These include the 'Closed' Market called, in the Portuguese language, Mercado de Afonso de Albuquerque or in Konkani as "Pimplapedd" or "Pimpalakatta," the municipal building (Câmara), the municipal garden, Anna Fonte (natural springs), Old Market or Mercado Velho, Holy Spirit Church, grand colonial mansions (especially the Seven Gables House near the church), the chapel at Monte Hill, the Hindu crematorium or 'Smashan' and the Muslim burial ground or 'Kabrasthan' both situated on Pajifond's Rua das Saudades. Some of the city suburbs include Pajifond, Aquem
, Gogol, Borda, Malbhat, Kharebandh, Old Market, Navelim
, the last two being the oldest parts of the city.
There are a number of churches and temples in Margao, since the population is predominantly Roman Catholic with a significant Hindu and a very small Muslim minority. The famous churches in Margao are the Holy Spirit Church, the Grace Church, The St Sebastian Church in Aquem (The Old St. Sebastian Chapel, popularly known as the Pandava Copel still stands next to the modern St. Sebastian Church) and the Monte Hill Chapel, the famous temples are the 'Damodar Temple' (Saal), the 'Hari Mandir', the 'Maruti Mandir' at Davorlim
the 'Saibaba Temple' at Davorlim, the 'Shiv Temple' (Ling) at Fatorda
near Nehru Stadium (which is the original Temple of Damudora). There are 2 mosques in Margao, One in the Malbhat area and one on the Monte hill. Presently, since 2004, there are twenty-four new mosques in Margao. There is also a Jain temple at Pajifond.