Called Panjim by the Portuguese, Panaji, which means "the land that does not flood" is the state capital of Goa. Unlike many capital cities, Panaji has a distinct unhurried character. It is situated on the southern banks of the Mandovi River, which makes this town all the more charming.
The European Ambience
Typical of a Goan town, Panaji is built around a church facing a prominent square. The town has some beautiful Portuguese Baroque style buildings and enchanting old villas. The riverside, speckled with brightly whitewashed houses with wrought iron balconies, offers a fine view.
There are some fine government buildings along the riverside boulevard, and the Passport Office is especially noteworthy. In the 16th century, the edifice was the palace of Adil Shah (the Sultan of Bijapur). The Portuguese took over the palace and constructed the Viceregal Lodge in 1615. In 1843, the structure became the Secretariat, and today it is the Passport Office.
Goan Dance, Panjim, Goa, Panajim, GoaTrudge around town in the cobbled alleys to see quaint old taverns and cafes with some atmosphere, and practically no tourists. They are a good place to meet the local people.
The Largo Da Igreja Church Square is a fine illustration of the awesome Portuguese Baroque style. The Church of the Immaculate Conception is easily one of the most elegant and picturesque monuments in Goa. Built in 1541 AD, atop a high, symmetrical, crisscrossing stairway, the church is a white edifice topped with a huge bell that stands in between two delicate Baroque style towers.
The Braganza Institute, houses the tiled frieze, which depicts the 'mythical' representation of the colonisation of Goa by the Portuguese. Fountainhas is a lovely old residential area amidst shady cobbled streets connecting red-tile-roofed houses with overhanging balconies, much like a country town in Spain or Portugal.
Miramar Beach Near Panjim, Panajim, GoaTake any mid sized Portuguese town add a sprinkling of banana trees and auto-rickshaws, drench annually with torrential tropical rain, and leave to simmer in fierce humid sunshine for at least one hundred and fifty years, and one'll end up with something like Panjim. The Goan capital has a completely different feel from any other Indian city.
For centuries, Panjim was little more than a minor landing stage and customs house, protected by a hilltop fort, and surrounded by stagnant swampland. It only became capital in 1843, after the port at Old Goa had silted up, and its rulers and impoverished inhabitants had fled the plague.
Although the last Portuguese Viceroy managed to drain many of the nearby marshes, and erect imposing public buildings on the new site, the town never emulated the grandeur of its predecessor upriver --a result, in part, of the Portuguese nobles' predilection for erecting their mansions in the countryside rather than the city.
Panjim expanded rapidly in the 1960s and 1970s, without reaching the unmanageable proportions of other Indian state capitals. After Mumbai or even Bangalore, its uncongested streets seem easygoing and pleasantly parochial. Sights are thin on the ground but the palm-linth squares and atmospheric Latin Quarter with its picturesque neoclassical houses and catholic churches make a pleasant backdrop for aimless wandering.
Worth A Visit
Although one can completely bypass the town when one arrives in Goa, either by jumping off the train or coach at Margao or Mapusa or by heading straight off on a local bus, it's definitely worth spending time here. If only a couple of hours en route to the ruined former capital at Old Goa.
The area around Panjim attracts far fewer visitors than the coastal resorts, yet its paddy fields and wooded valley harbour several attractions worth a day or two's break from the beach. Old Goa is just a bus ride away, as are the unique temples around Ponda, an hour or so southeast, to where Hindus smuggled their deities during the inquisition.
Prime Attractions of Panjim
At the place where two of Goa's famous rivers meet the Arabian Sea is the secluded bay of Dona Paula with a fine view of the Marmagao Harbour.
Ruins Of St. Augustine's Tower
Built in 1602, the only ruin of the Church of St. Augustine on the Holy Hill at Old Goa near the Nunnery, is a lofty 46-metre high tower defying the torrential rains.
The Chapel Of Our Lady Of The Mount
About 2-km on the main road towards Ponda, a Kuchcha road branches off to a place where a cross is fixed. The road leads to a hill on which, commanding a picturesque view, is the Chapel of Our Lady of the Mount
The Church And Convent Of St. Monica
In the Holy Hill, on the way to the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, is a huge three-storeyed building of laterite which was originally lime-plastered but is now plastered with cement
The Church Of Our Lady Of The Rosary
Not far to the west of the Basilica of the Bom Jesus is the Holy Hill at the extremity of which is the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary.
The Church Of St. Francis Of Assisi
To the west of the Se Cathedral is the former palace of the Archbishop that connects the Se Cathedral to the Convent and Church of St. Francis of Assisi.
The Church Of St. Francis Xavier
It is built of laterite plastered with lime mortar, with tiled roof supported by wooden rafters is a plain chapel with only one altar.
Aguada Fort, which crowns the rocky flattened top of the headland, is the best-preserved Portuguese bastion in Goa. Built in 1612 to protect the northern shores of the Mandovi estuary from Dutch and Maratha raiders
Archaeological Museum & Portrait Gallery
The museum has been functioning since 1964 in the abandoned convent of St. Francis of Assisi and is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The collection consists of Brahmanical sculptures hero-stones and sati stones of the early and late medieval periods, portraits, coins and currency, revenue and court fee stamps, wooden and bronze sculptures and armoury of the Portuguese period.
Archives Museum Goa
The Museum of Goa is housed at a new Building at the Patto Plaze near the Ourem creek, Panaji. The most noteworthy feature of Panjim's State Archeological Museum is its imposing size, which stands in glaringly inverse proportion to the scale of the collection inside.
Up in the lush foothills of the Western Ghats, Bondla is good place to see Sambhar and Wild Boar. It is smallest of the Goan Wildlife Sanctuaries. Its area is 8-sq-kms but easiest one to reach.
A mere 45 minute bus ride up the coast from the capital, Calangute is Goa's busiest and most commercialized resort
On the way to Dona Paula, 1-km ahead of the confluence of the Arabian Sea and Mandvi River, under the palm shade, is "Gasper Dias" or Miramar Beach and is just 3-km away from the capital city of Panjim.
The Portuguese Viceroy Redondo commissioned the Se, or St. Catherine's' Cathedral, southwest of St. Cajetan's, to be "a grandiose church worthy of the wealth, power and fame of the Portuguese who dominated the seas from the Atlantic to the Pacific".
Sri Devaki Krishna Temple
3-km away from Banastari Bridge on Panaji-Ponda Road is situated the noteworthy temple dedicated to Devaki Krishna at Marcel. The deity is said to have been brought from Chorao in Tiswadi to Mayem in Bicholim and then shifted to its present place during the days of religious persecution by the alien rulers.
Sri Mahadev Tambadi
Situated in West Goa, the Mahadeva Temple in Tambdi Surla is the state's only prominent reminder of the pre-Portuguese temple architecture. Maintained by the ASI (Archeological Survey of India), this 12th century temple boasts of some fine relief's on the 'Shikhara' (spire) depicting a plethora of Gods and Goddesses.
Sri Mahalakshmi Temple
The temple tour can be resumed by offering prostrations unto Goddess Mahalakshmi, the presiding deity of Panaji, the capital of Goa. The main temple has been reconstructed recently. The main festivals at this temple are Navaratri and Chaitra Purnima.
Sri Saptakoteshwara Temple
As one tries to return to Panaji from Harvalem, one can visit the famous temple of Sri Saptakoteshwar Naroa, Bicholim. Sri Saptakoteshwara was the patron deity of the Kadambas who had built a beautiful temple dedicated to this deity at the Diwar Island
Sri Vithal Temple
From Kansarpal one can proceed to Sanquelim, the hometown of the Ranes of Satari who played key role in Goa's freedom struggle. The ancestors of the present Rane family, who are believed to have migrated to Goa from Udaipur about 600 years ago, built the famous Sri Vithal temple situated on the bank of Valvanta River.
The Chapel Of St. Catherine
Further to the west of the Church of St. Francis of Assisi is the chapel of St. Catherine. Built of laterite blocks it has a tower on either side of the façade. The chapel in the interior, having only one altar is plain
The Church Of St. Cajetan
Opposite the Se Cathedral, beyond the road is the large and beautiful church of St. Cajetan built of laterite blocks, which were lime plastered.
The Church Of The Carmelites
Nothing remains of the Church of the Carmelites excepting the façade and a raised pavement, which served as an altar. Its location is to the southeast of the Church of St. Cajetan
The Convent And Church Of St John Of God
Situated to the east of the tower of St. Augustine it is a plain looking building constructed in the beginning of the 18th century. The convent was abandoned in 1835. The Society of the Misericordia occupied it for some time.
The Convent And The Church Of The Cross Of Miracles
On the southern outskirts of Old Goa is a hill on which stand this convent and church. more..
The Professed House & The Basilica Of Bom Jesus
Immediately to the south of the main road is the Professed House, a two-storeyed laterite building covered with lime plaster. Despite the opposition, which the Jesuits faced, the building was completed in 1585.
The Royal Chapel Of St. Anthony
To the west of the tower of St. Augustine is the Royal Chapel dedicated to St. Anthony, the national saint of Portugal and held in great veneration by the Portuguese. It was built in the beginning of the 17th century.
Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary
Along the north from Panaji on the road to Belgaum, is a sanctuary that covers 240-sq-kms. Thick forest clad the slopes of the Western Ghats that is rich in wildlife and a paradise for bird watchers. Police Outpost at the gateway of the sanctuary in calm and quiet surroundings is like a painting on a canvas in Malem.
The feast of Bonderam is celebrated on the fourth Saturday of August every year at Divar Island, 12-km from Panjim. On this day, the quiant land of Divar, away from the hustle and bustle of Panjim, is agog with excitement. Melodious music drift from the village to mainland Old Goa - once the hub of Portuguese Goa - even before the crack of dawn on the Saturday.
Built in 1540 AD opposite Fort Aguada on the south headland of the river Mandovi, the Cabo (the Portuguese word for cape) Palace fortress housed the Franciscan monastery.
Just east of Old Goa, the lily-covered Carambolin Lake has enormus bird population
Situated 22-km from Panaji on Verna plateau just off the Panaji-Margao highway, this spring emerges from hard compact rocks and has medicinal properties.
35-km from Panaji, this artificial lake surrounded amidst rolling green hills is an ideal picnic spot
The Gate of the College of St. Paul
The College of St. Paul, once the principal institution of Jesuits in India for imparting knowledge on Christianity, was built over the ruins of a mosque south of St. Cajetan's church at Old Goa in 1542.
The Gate of the Palace of Adil Shah
The Palace of Adil Shah at Old Goa was the most prominent building with magnificent lofty staircases. It was the residence of the Portuguese governors till 1695, and was afterwards used by them on festive occasions.
Where the Kuchcha road branches off from the road to Neura, leading to the Church and Convent of the Cross of Miracles, is a lone pillar on a raised platform, which once occupied the central place in the city square, and was used for punishing offenders of the law, who were tied to it and publicly whipped.
The Viceroy Arch
The main road in front of the Church of St. Cajetan leads to the river Mandovi through an archway known as the Viceroy's Arch. The arch is made of laterite except for the façade on the riverside, which is facetted with greenish granite.
Four or five years ago, Candolim, at the far southern end of Calangute beach, was a surprisingly sedate resort, appealing to an odd mixture of middle-class Bombayites, and Burgundy-clad Sannyasins taking a break from the Rajneesh Ashram at Pune.
The leafy rectangular park opposite the Indian Government Tourist Office, known as Church Square or the municipal garden, forms the heart of Panjim. Presiding over its east side is the town's most distinctive and photogenic landmark, the toothpaste white baroque façade of the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. Flanked by rows of slender palm trees, at the head of a criss-crossing laterite walkway, the church was built in 1541 for the benefit of sailors arriving here from Lisbon. The weary mariners would stagger up from the quay to give thanks for their safe passage before proceeding to the capital at Old Goa - the original home of the enormous bell that hangs from its central gable.
Panjim's oldest and most interesting district, Fontainhas, lies immediately west of Pato, overlooking the banks of the oily green Ourem Creek. From the footbridge between the bus stand and town centre, a dozen or so blocks of neoclassical houses rise in a tangle o terracotta rooftops up the sides of Altinho Hill. At siesta time, Vespas stand idle on deserted street corners, while women in western clothes exchange pleasantries with their neighbours from open windows and leafy verandahs. Many building have retained their traditional coat of ochre, pale, yellow, green or blue- a legacy of the Portuguese insistence that every Goan building should be colour washed after monsoons.
Sao tome ward is the other old quarter, lying north of Fontainhas on the far side of Emilio Gracia Road. This is the area to head for if one fancy a bar crawl: the narrow streets are dotted with dozens of hole-in-the -wall taverns, serving cheap, stiff measures of rocket fuel 'Feni' under strip lights and the watchful gaze of colourful Madonnas.
The Chapel Of St. Sebastian
At the southern end of the neighbourhood, the pristine whitewashed Chapel of St. Sebastian is one of many Goan churches to remain faithful to the old colonial decree. It stands at the end of a small square where Fontainhas' Portuguese speaking locals hold a lively annual street fiesta to celebrate their patron Saint's day in mid-November. The eerily lifelike crucifix inside the chapel, brought here in 1812, formerly hung in the palace of the inquisition in Old Goa. Unusually, Christ's eyes are open - allegedly to inspire fear in those being interrogated by the inquisitors.
The Secretariat: Panjim
The road that runs north from the church brings you out at the riverside near Panjim's oldest surviving building. With its sloping tiled roofs, carved stone coats of arms and wooden verandahs, the stalwart secretariat looks typically colonial. Yet it was originally The Summer Palace of Goa's 16th century Muslim ruler, the 'Adil Shah. Later, the Portuguese converted it into a temporary rest house for the territory's Governors and then a residence for the Viceroy. Today, it accommodates the Goan State Legislature. Hundred metres east from the building is situated a peculiar statue of a man holding his hands over the body of an entranced reclining woman shows Abbe Farin, a Goan priest who emigrated to France to become one of the world's first professional hypnotists.
The Town: Panjim
Until a decade ago, most visitors' first glimpse of Panjim was from the decks of the Old Bombay steamer as it chugged into dock at the now defunct ferry ramp. These days, however, despite the recent inauguration of the Konkan railway, and Damania's catamaran service from Mumbai, the town is most usually approached by road - from the north via the huge Ferro-concrete bridge that spans the Mandovi estuary, or from the south on the recently revamped NH-7, which links the capital with the airport and railhead at Vasco da Gama. Either way, one will have to pass through the suburb of Pato, home of the main Kadamba Bus Terminal, before crossing Ourem Creek to arrive in proper Panjim. West of Fontainhas, the picturesque Portuguese quarter, the commercial centre's grid of long straight streets fans out west from Panjim's principal landmark, Church Square. Further north, the main thoroughfare, Avenida Dom Joao Castro, sweeps past the Head Post Office and Secretariat Building, before bending west along the waterfront.
How To Get There - Panjim
The most convenient way of getting around Panjim is by auto rickshaw; flag one down at the roadside or head for one of the ranks around the city. The only city buses likely to be of use to visitors run to Dona Paula from the main bus stand via several stops along the esplanade, and Miramar beachfront. If you feel up to taking on Panjim's anarchic traffic, bicycles can be rented from a stall up the lane opposite the head post office.
European Charter planes and domestic flights from Mumbai, Bangalore, Kochi (Cochin), Delhi, Chennai and Thiruvananthapuram arrive at Goa's Dabolim airport, 29-km south of Panjim on the outskirts of Vasco Da Gama, Goa's second city. Pre-paid taxis into town booked at the counter in the forecourt, can be shared by up to four people.
Panjim is also connected by rail from Bombay, Bangalore, Hyderabad and New Delhi. The nearest railway station is Vasco-da-Gama, which is situated 30-km away from the capital city.
Long-distance and local buses pull into Panjim at the town's busy Kadamba Bus Terminal, 1-km east of the centre in the district of Pato.
Places To Stay - PanjimThe town centre has plenty of accommodation, and finding a place to stay is only a problem during Dussehra the festival of St. Francis in early December, and during peak season, when tariffs double. One can get a nice place to stay at off-season times, when hotels offer substantial discounts. The best inexpensive options are in Fountainhas, down by Ourem Creek, brings one to several budget hotels as well as in the back streets behind the walkway. Standards over here are generally good, and even the most inexpensive rooms should have a window a modern west end of town.