Margao is the second largest city by population, and the commercial and cultural capital of the Indian state of Goa. It is the administrative headquarters of Salcete taluka and South Goa district. By road, Margao is located approximately 33 kilometres (21 mi) from the capital Panaji, and 27 kilometres (17 mi) from Vasco da Gama.
Margão is the Portuguese spelling with Modgão being used in Konkani. It is known as Madgaon in Marathi. It is derived from the Sanskrit Maṭhagrām which means a village with a matha.
In Ravanphond now a suburb of Margao there are shrines of Matsyendranath and Gorakhnath. The abode of Nath medicants was called a Matha(Monastery). Madagao was not called Mathagrama on account of Vaishnavite Math belonging to Dvaita sect which was founded in the latter 15th century and shifted to Partagali after the establishment of the Portuguese power.Mathagrama probably got its name on account of Nath math which were there before Vaishnavite monastery.
Margao features a tropical monsoon climate. The climate in Margao is hot in summer and equable in winter. During summers (from March to May) the temperature reaches up to 32 °C and in winters (from December to February) it is usually between 28 °C and 20 °C. The monsoon period is from June to September with heavy rainfall and gusty winds. The annual average rainfall is 2881 mm (113.5 inches).
Margao hosts many schools and colleges. Loyola High School (Goa) near the Old Bus Stand is a Jesuit-run school and is one of the oldest in Margao. The Bhatikar Model English High School, popularly known after its founder Late Pandurang Raya Bhatikar, was established in the year 1935 and is one of the leading educational institutions in the state of Goa. Mahila & Nutan High School, established as Samaj Seva Sangh’s Mahila Vidyalay for girls in 1933, is now a co-ed school since June 1972. Manovikas High School, now located in Sonsodo, is one of the premier ICSE schools in Goa. The other educational institutes in Margao include St. Joseph High School at Aquem, Holy Spirit Institute, Presentation Convent (for girls), Fatima Convent (for girls), and Perpetual Convent High School located in Navelim. Most schools function in accordance with the curriculum prescribed by the Directorate of Education, Goa, and the Goa Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education, Goa.
The nearest airport to Margao is Dabolim Airport which is 23 km away from it.
Madgaon railway station is Goa’s biggest and busiest as it is a railway junction positioned at the intersection of the Konkan Railway and the South Western Railway. All trains stop at Margao. Hence it is used more commonly as a transit stop rather than a tourist destination by many people who either head off down south to Palolem (38 km) or to Benaulim and Colva which are about six kilometers away and are popular tourist destinations.
Margao is connected by road to other cities like Mangalore, Udupi, Bhatkal, Kumta, Karwar, Ratnagiri, and Mumbai through the National Highway 17 (NH17). Also, there is road which connects Margao to Ponda and other towns of Goa state.
Konkani is the most widely spoken language in Margao. Portuguese is still spoken and understood by a small number of people. English and Hindi are also spoken and understood by the town’s population. The dialect of Konkani in South Goa is different from that spoken in North Goa.
The town 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 Municipal), 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 town suburbs include Pajifond, Aquem, Gogol, Borda, Malbhat, Kharebandh, Old Market, Navelim and Comba, the last two being the oldest parts of the town.