Unlike most of the other state capitals abuzz with the din of vehicles and fast-paced lifestyles of their 21st-century residents, Panjim (Panaji) is a relatively laid back and relaxed one. Distinctively Portuguese in its culture and architecture, the city exudes an old world charm and yet has a contemporary element to it. Also known as ‘’the land of lost churches’’ due to the large number of churches situated in Panjim, the city offers an authentic Goan experience.
Panaji translates to ‘’The land that never floods” and the town stands proud next to the vast Mandovi River. Due to the immense Portuguese influence the city experienced, it looks quite similar to Lisbon in Portugal.
There are many places in the city worth visiting and here are the ones that top my list:
Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church
Initially, a chapel constructed in the 16th century, this church was rebuilt a century later, and today the white dove structure with its double flight of stairs is a prominent landmark of the city. The architecture of the church is a beautiful blend of the Portuguese and Goan styles. At night, it looks mesmerising as a multitude of lights shines upon it.
The church is not only a much-visited tourist destination but is also a famous spot shot in Bollywood movies as well. Ring any bells?
Basilica of Bom Jesus
Considered among the oldest churches in the country, Basilica of Bom Jesus is a highly revered place of worship for all Christians as it contains the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier in a glass-sided coffin. It has been declared as a world heritage by UNESCO.
A large number of devotees throng the church, especially in the month of December when the feast of St. Xavier is held. Devotees believe that the church has supernatural healing powers due to the presence of the sacred remains of St. Xavier.
Goa State Museum
The state of Goa has witnessed the entry and influence of various cultures and societies. The Goa State Museum, also known as the State Archaeology Museum gives an insight into the long and diverse history of Goa. There are almost 8000 artefacts on display and range from sculptures and carvings to paintings and print plates. Moving through the museum from one exhibit to another makes one experience a walk through the history of Goa.
Goa Science Centre and Planetarium
The Science Centre located at Miramar in Panjim is a very interactive and informative world of science and stars. Cyberlab shows, 3-D movies, science workshops and interactive exhibits offer a fun-filled way to explore the world of science. Taramandal, a mini planetarium, mimics the night sky and information on constellations and astronomy is imparted. The Science Centre never fails to amuse children and adults alike and is a must-visit place if you enjoy the wonders of science.
Dona Paula Beach
Beaches are the most popular tourist attractions in Goa and Dona Paula Beach on the suburbs of Panjim is among the favourites. Lined with palm trees, this beach is known as ‘’Lover’s Paradise” due to the myth that the spirit of Dona Paula, the daughter of a Viceroy, still haunts the place. It is believed that she committed suicide by jumping off a cliff when she was not allowed to marry a local fisherman. The beach has been featured in many Hindi movies because of its picturesque landscapes. Perched atop an elevated feature are two statues are known as ‘’Image of India’’, one facing the East and the other looking out towards the West with an Ashoka wheel in between.
The beach is also famous for a wide array of water sports activities like water-skiing, water-scooter, and motor boat ride, snorkelling, harpooning and kayaking.
Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
Named after the very famous ornithologist, Dr Salim Ali, this bird sanctuary is situated barely 6 kilometres from Panaji on the Chorao Island and is spread over 440 acres of land. The entire area is a mangrove forest land, and hundreds of species of birds can be found here. Egrets, herons, colourful kingfishers, mynahs, woodpeckers, sandpipers and eagles are the natural inhabitants. A bird watching tower in the heart of the sanctuary offers a much better view to the bird lovers. Even if you are not much of a bird watcher, it is a great place to take a leisurely stroll and reflect on life or hold the hand of someone special and just enjoy the environs. In fact, the bird sanctuary is one of the best places to visit in Goa, especially if you are travelling with a toddler to the state.
Casino Royale, Panjim
There are many casinos in Goa, and most of them are offshore aboard ships floating over the Mandovi River, and Casino Royale is one such casino vessel. Try your hand at the wide variety of games available or just enjoy the ambience and observe others play. Being inside a casino is a fascinating experience in itself. The casinos of Goa indeed give a feeling of being ‘’The Vegas of the East”. Good luck!
The list does not end here as there is a lot more to Panjim than this but if you are hard pressed for time, these are the ones you must squeeze in on your itinerary. So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and head to Goa! While you are here, plan your stay at our resort, Club Estadia, nestled in a quiet location in North Goa and let us pamper you with impeccable service. Book your holiday now!