Vasco da Gama, 29-km by road southwest of
Panjim, sits on the narrow western tip of the
Marmagoa (also known as Mormugao) peninsula,
overlooking the mouth of the Zuari River. Acquired by the Portuguese in
1543, this strategically important site was formerly among the busiest
ports on India's west coast.
It remains a key shipping centre, with container vessels and iron ore barges clogging the choppy river mouth, but holds nothing of interest for visitors, particularly since the completion of the Konkan Railway, when Goa's main railhead shifted from here to Margao. The only conceivable reason one might want to come to Vasco is to catch a bus to Dabolim airport, of Bogmalo beach, 8-km southeast.
Air: Dabolim, Goa's airport, lies on top of a rocky
plateau, 4-km southeast of Vasco da Gama. A large new civilian terminal
was recently constructed at this naval aerodrome to accommodate Goa's
rapidly increasing air traffic, but to avoid delays aim to check in well
Facilities in the terminal buildings include State Bank Of India Foreign Exchange Desks, Post Office Counters, and counters for domestic airlines. There's also a handy Pre-Paid Taxi Counter outside the main exit.
Kadamba buses for Panjim are supposed to meet domestic airlines flights, or one can catch a regular bus from the intersection immediately outside the airport to Vasco, from where there are services to Margao and Panjim, Goa's principal transport hubs.
Rail: Vasco is laid out in a grid, bordered by Marmagao bay to the north, and by the railway line on its southern side. Apart from the cluster of oil storage tanks, the town's most prominent landmark is the railway station at the south end of the main Dr. Rajendra Prasad Avenue.
Road: Arriving by bus from Panjim or Margao, you'll be dropped off at the Interstate Kadamba Terminus, 3-km east of the town centre. Local minibuses ferry passengers from here to the more central market bus stand.
At local minibuses ferry passengers from here to the more central market bus stand, at the top of the square, where buses from Dabolim airport also pull in. Auto-rickshaws, and Ambassador and motorcycle taxis, hang around on the corner of Swatantra Path and Dr. Rajendra Prasad Avenue, near the station and the small cycle rental stall.
Thanks to its business city status, Vasco boasts a better
than average batch of hotels. Most are plush mid-range places, although
there are several no-frills lodges near the railway station. Best of the
budget bunch is available on the Dattatreya Deshpande Road. One can also
try the GTDC Tourist Hostel, off Swatantra Path near the station, or the
hotels situated east of the main square on FL Gomes Road.
Moving upscale hotels situated at Pe Jose Vaz Road, currently offers the best value for money among Vasco's many modern mid-range places. Finally, for fully air-conditioned comfort, complete with plush bars, restaurants and a gym, check in to the hotels on Swatantra Path.
Exchange Money: If one needs to change money, head for The State Bank Of India at the north end of F L Gomes Road. GTDC's Tourist Information Counter is in the lobby of their tourist hostel.