If there is one word that can describe Goa, then that would be ‘pristine’. Beyond its beaches, churches and the pulsating night life, it is the Portugese influence that it exerts is something that I found very enticing about this place. Panjim (also Panaji), its capital takes this Portugese touch a notch higher through its architecturally rich landscape. During my Goa trip, I had kept an entire day planned to explore in and around of Panjim. And believe me, the experience was exhilarating!
So according to me here are the 7 things you can plan out to explore Panjim in its totality –
A visit to the Church of the Immaculate Conception of Virgin Mary
A vacation to Goa would not be complete if you do not visit this important landmark in the heart of Panjim city. It is a beautiful, old Portugese-styled church building that stands tall on a mount and there would be very few who would not marvel at its exquisite architecture. A flight of stairs lead to the church building and from top you can have a majestic view of the Panjim city below.
Pay a visit to Fontainhas (the old Latin Quarters)
Take the road adjacent to the church building and walking about 2 -3 kms would take you to a small intersection, from where you take the right and then you are at Fontainhas. The area is dotted with old heritage Portugese buildings that is a reminiscence of the Portugese era.
In the middle of Fontainhas lies the beautiful, white-washed Chapel of St. Sebastian. You can walk around the narrow winding lanes, enjoying the picturesque sight of the old Latin quarters.
Go for shopping to 18th June Road
Shopping can always be thrilling, whether you are in your own or in any other city. So while in Panjim, you can go to 18th June Road and this 2 kms long stretch will provide you with a number of opportunities to shop for your favourite stuff. Goan cashew nuts are really famous and so do not forget to grab a kilo or two of it, as also the Goan feni if you happen to be a liquor lover.
Shopping for hours will definitely make you hungry and to satisfy your hunger pangs, drop in at Ritz Classic for enjoying a sumptuous meal. It is a famous family restaurant in the main market area that serves the best veg dishes and sea food in Panjim.
You however have the opportunity for visiting the flea (night) markets, worth mentioning are the Anjuna and Baga markets.
Cruising the Mandovi river
If you want to enjoy the sunset at Mandovi river and enjoy the panoramic night-time view of the Panjim city, you can take the 1 hour cruise that sets sail from Santa Monica jetty.
Local troupes present live cultural performances on the cruise which are joined in by the guests. As these cruises are arranged by GTDC (Goa Tourism Development Corporation), you can pre-book an evening cruise at Hotel Panaji Regency or any of the GTDC hotels.
Enjoy the sunset at Dona Paula
If not on a cruise, you can also go up to Dona Paula jetty for a beautiful sunset view.
Situated at a distance of 5 kms from Panjim, the Dona Paula viewpoint is the place where rivers Mandovi and Zuari meet. Because visitors in large numbers frequent this place for its ease of accessibility, this otherwise quiet and calm place becomes a crowded stretch during the peak season.
Take a stroll on the Miramar or Vanguinim Beach (Dona Paula)
Situated at a distance of 5 – 6 kms from Panjim, both these beaches are less crowded and comparatively much cleaner than most of the Goan beaches.
Vanguinim happens to be a private beach property but outsiders are allowed permission.
You can opt for a quiet evening taking a walk on these beaches and spending romantic time with your dear one. You can either take an auto or the local bus from Panjim to go to these places.
Visit a Casino for a game of gambling
Besides its beaches, Goa is also well known for its vibrant nightlife and floating casinos. Goa happens to be the only state in India that allows legal casino gambling. You will find many casinos on the Mandovi river and can try visiting any of those. There are also a few on land. However there are a few guidelines that you need to abide by before trying your luck in Goa’s gambling world.
How to Reach?
Goa is well connected to the rest of India. The state’s airport is at Dabolim and is situated at a distance of 26 kms from Panjim. The nearest train station is at Margao, which is approximately 39 kilometers away. You can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach Panjim.
Where to stay?
Besides the GTDC run hotels – Panaji Residency and Miramar Residency, Panjim houses many hotels and inns, thus giving a wider choice to tourists to choose from. However during the peak/holiday season it is advisable to book a room a month prior.
– Samrita Baruah