Panaji or Panjim (which was earlier called Pangim by the Portuguese and is known as Ponnje in Konkani), the state capital is one of Goa's most interesting towns. Located in the Tiswadi taluka of central Goa and situated on the left bank of Mandovi, Panaji is not a place to merely laze around. You will find historical monuments all around it. Old Goa is recognized as an international heritage site.
Panaji has a mix of red-roofed houses built in Latin style as well as modern houses. With its well-laid out gardens, statues and avenues lined with Gulmohar and giant rain-trees, it is enchanting. It also boasts of a cultural centre - the Kala Academy - and a number of other theatre complexes.
Panaji came into lime-light when Yusuf Adil Khan built a fort here in 1500. It soon fell into the hands of the Portuguese and Afonso de Alubuquerque rebuilt the fort and a small church here. After large-scale land reclamations in the early 17th century and small scale reclamations in the late 17th century, Panaji became a viable alternative to Old Goa (the then capital).
After the Portuguese Viceroy shifted base to modern-day Panaji in 1759, it became apparent that it would eventually become Goa's capital. In 1834, Panaji became Nova Goa and in 1843, it was officially acknowledged as Goa's capital.
Today, Panaji is also the commercial and cultural hub of this small state.
How to Reach :
Panaji is well connected by air and road. To reach Panaji, you can take a taxi from Dabolim Airport (32km), Karmali Station (12km) or Margao (33km). If coming by train, the nearest station (on the Konkan railway route) is Karmali. Thivim and Margao are some distance further, as is Vasco da Gama on the route from Karnataka. From within Goa, ferries ply between Panaji and Betim, Ribander, and Chorao Island.
WHERE TO EAT
Panaji has many eating joints. Every kind of cuisine, Indian as well as International, is available to suit even the most demanding of gourmets.
Enthusiasm and excitement reach a crescendo during major festivals in Panaji. Carnival, Shigmo, Ganesh Chaturthi and Christmas are celebrated traditionally, with great zest and fanfare.
Tourist Places in Panaji
A visit to Panaji is an enriching experience. From beach to religious places, beatific environs to busy marketplaces, Panaji has a lot to offer. So make a beeline for Panaji and explore its rich cultural heritage.
Three kilometers away from Panaji, the Miramar Beach spreads beyond a small forest of casuarinas. It is popular with joggers, strollers, children and adults and is the main recreational area of Panaji. However, at one level, caution is the byword. An estuarine beach where Mandovi joints the sea, strong currents at the river's mouth creates rip currents that make swimming a strict no-no.
This hill is located at the centre of Panaji. Formerly a long ridge, Altinho was famous as Oiteiro de Conceicao or Hill of Conception. At the start of the hill is the Maruti Temple, dedicated to God Hanuman.
Built in 1894, this impressive structure is worth visiting in Altinho. If you are in Goa during Christmas, attend the Mass conducted here under the star-studded sky that makes it very special and memorable.
From Jogger's Park, atop Altinho hill, the view of the city is breathtakingly beautiful.
Located on DB Bandodkar Road, next to the children's park in Campal, the Kala Academy has an auditorium named after Dinanath Mangeshkar, a renowned musician and father of Lata Mangeshkar. It has open air theatre, mini-theatres, a recording studio, and a music library. Recently, it has become popular as the venue of the International Film Festival of India. If you happen to be in Panaji in February, do not miss out on the Pop, Beat and Jazz Music Festival held here.
Off Dr. Dada Vaidya Road, this temple was built in 1818 and is dedicated to Goddes Mahalaxmi. The deity's image was brought to Goa a few centuries ago by the Brahmins and was carried to numerous places within Goa to elude the Portuguese. Later, it was taken by Raghavendra Mhamai Kamat, reportedly from a stable in Taleigao, to his house, the Mhamai Kamat House. It was then shifted to Mayem in Bicholim taluka where the deity was kept till 1817. Finally, the image was brought to Panaji.
7Abbe Faria Statue
A statue of Abbe Fari, who is believed to have been involved in the Pinto Revolt of 1787, is located outside the Idalco Palace. It shows Abbe Faria hypnotizing a woman. He is better known for his global role in understanding hypnotism.
8Adil Shah's Palace
Built by the Sultan of Bijapur, Adil Shah's Palace, a prominent historical landmark is next to Abbe Faria's statue. The palace was remodeled in 1759 to be used by the Viceroy, the Count of Ega. Till recently, this building served as the Secretariat and Legislative Assembly of the Goa government, on the banks of the Mandovi.
9The Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception
This parish church, built in 1619, has a majestic flight of stairs in Gothic style, added in 1871. During Christmas and the Feast of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, which falls on December 8, the church is beautifully lit up.
Campal is located on the way down to Miramar from Panaji, just before the Kala Academy. The cluttered but colourful Panaji Corporation Market and an enormous cannon (made in an armoury in Old Goa) are major draws for visitors. You can also choose from a wide array of products in the market, ranging from local products to exotic food and vegetables. While here, you can also treat yourself to exquisite Goan seafood that includes fat tiger prawns, mackerel, kingfish, squid, crabs, pomfret, mussels and oysters.
If you love to do things in style, you can opt for MG Road where there are lots of designer garments shops to choose from. Say branded products, and it's all here. One would also find quite a few liquor and wine shops. The range of products available here is amazingly vast: from golden palm jaggery to bottles of homemade vinegar to coconut feni to petals of dried kokum, a herbal product used widely along the western coast and whose medicinal properties (anti-cholesterol) are gaining growing attention worldwide.
An old district of Panaji, Fontainhas derives its name from the natural springs on the hillside. It lies between the hillside of Altinho and the Ourem Creek. Originally, the area was accessible only from the northern side and got connected with the rest of Panaji only after Emidio Gracia Road was constructed, cutting through the hillside from the town centre. The construction of Ourem Road also helped to make the area more accessible.
The main tourist attraction in Fontainhas is the Chapel of St. Sebastian. A small, whitewashed church, it dates back to 1880. The crucifix, one of the church's striking features, was initially placed in the Palace of the Inquisition in Old Goa. The Inquisition in Goa was very harsh, and tales of torture still do the rounds. Unlike the conventional crucifix, it shows Christ with his head erect and eyes wide open.
12Goa State Museum
The spacious museum, located near the Kadamba Inter State Bus Terminal, has many galleries exhibiting Christian art, miniatures, sculptures and paintings. A visit here would give an insight into Goa's history and its religious diversity.
1Alto de Porvorim
To reach Porvorim, one has to drive across the Mandovi Bridge. Porvorim has many eating joints where you can savour typical Goan fare. For history buffs, there is the Xavier Institute of Research, with a collection of 26,000 books. It also has an art gallery of rare paintings that date back to the 17th century. The library is open six days a week and closed on Sundays. You can visit this institute from 9.30 am - 1pm and 2pm - 5pm during weekdays, and till 1pm on Saturdays. Nearby is the Thomas Stevens Konkai Kendra, with interesting collections on the Komkani language, and also an amazing garden showing the diversity of Goa's plant life, all neatly labelled.
2Salvador do Mundo
Driving down from the Xavier Institute of Research, you have to take a left turn from where the road forks till you reach the Bardez village of Salvador do Mundo. This place is famous for the boat-shaped three-storeyed Houses of Goa Museum that the villagers refer to as "the Titanic". The museum, built by architect Gerard de Cunho, contains ancient household artifacts and models and panels of old Goan houses. If the unique structure of Goan houses fascinates you, you can attend the lecture given by the curator in the evening.
While here, you can relax and enjoy nature. You have a wealth of choices; you can go for a long walk and soak in the atmosphere; fish or go for a boat ride to the Chapora Island or visit the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary.
More great destinations can be found in the Explore India page.
Leave your comment