Also known as Panjim, Panaji is the capital city of a famous beach destination in India, Goa. Offering an ethereal view of pristine Mandovi river and breathtaking Miramar beach, this place in Goa is perhaps a perfect blend of sun, sand, vast oceans and everything in between. A true personification of a gorgeous coastal village, Panaji has everything from ancient churches, Portuguese Baroque style villas, cobblestone streets, palm-fringed beaches, old world charm, boutique resorts and whatnot. Also famous for its grand carnivals and electrifying parties, this party place is one of the major highlights of Goa tourism. To sum it all, Panaji is one of the buzzing places that have all the potential to captivate and entertain the visitors with its undeniable charm and chilled out vibes.
Best Time to Visit Panaji
December to March is considered as the peak season here when a large number of tourists visit here from different parts of the world. During this time of the year, you can enjoy all water sports activities here. Also, festivals like Sunburn and Christmas carnivals are also hosted in Goa during this season which is marked by a huge footfall. You can also consider the winter months of October to February as the weather is extremely pleasant and comfortable for traveling and hanging out at beaches. Also, for people who love rain, visiting Panaji during monsoon season is totally recommended as the city looks spectacular during this time.
History of Panaji
The history of Panaji dates back to about 200 years ago when Kadamba King Shasta Deva first founded this place on the coastal belt and named it as Pahajani Khali. However, there is no prominent evidence to back this other than an inscription (dated February 7, 1107) by Kadamba King Vijayaditya 1. It is also said that Panjim was named as Pancha Yma Afsumgary in the 15th century which goes with the evidence of these five castles that were built here by Ismail Adil Shah for his wives.
In the 19th century when the entire Goa was impacted by a plague, Portuguese inhabitants started moving to this small village and named it Panjim. Later, development began in the town and these partly swampy stretches were covered by beautiful Portuguese establishments, mansions and villas that still grace the city with its charming beauty. After Liberation in 1961, Panjim was renamed as Panaji and later on 30th May1987, when Goa gained its statehood status, Panaji was declared as its proud capital which has retained its colonial charm in many attractions of the city.
Best Places to Visit in Panaji
Being a Portuguese colony for almost a century, there are many beautiful establishments like churches, villas and monuments in Panaji that are worth visiting. Check out!
1. Mandovi River
Located on the banks of river Mandovi, Panaji offers the most scenic view of this pristine river which sedates the senses. A perfect picnic spot, there are many interesting activities like boating, fishing etc. that you can do here to make your day fulfilling.
Also known as the Latin Quarters of Goa, Fontainhas is a picturesque place in Panjim where you can simply stroll around and grab the most eye-catching views of the architectural heritage of Goa. Small cafes, colonial buildings, cobblestone streets, Fontainhas definitely has retained its old world charm.
3. Church of Our Lady Immaculate Conception
It is the Baroque style ancient church that was built in 1541. Located on the hillside overlooking the entire city of Panjim, this Portuguese marvel is a top attraction for tourists. Apart from its strategic location which gives a panoramic view of the city, the church has an awe inspiring architecture and the second largest bell of the town.
4. Reis Magos Fort
Situated at a strategic location, this fort is a great option for tourists to explore. It was reconstructed by the Portuguese in order to protect their region against the invaders. Apart from learning about the intriguing history of the fort, you can also visit a church that is located inside the fort complex.
Known as the castle of Adil Shah who was the Sultan of Bijapur, Idalcao is a wonderful place to visit in Panjim. It is located on the banks of Mandovi River and houses a number of Government offices along with a stunning castle.
6. Miramar Beach
The original name of this beach is Porta de Gaspar Dias which was given by the Portuguese. Being one of the only two beaches of Panaji, it has become a famous tourist attraction of the city. There are also many eateries along the beach which serve to satiate your hunger pangs while you are hanging around the beach shore.
7. Mahalaxmi Temple
The temple is sited opposite Dada Vaidya road in Panjim and is considered as the most sacred Hindu shrine of the region. Dedicated to Mahalaxmi, the Goddess of Wealth, she is also viewed as one of the ruling deities of the Panjim city. Another amazing fact is that it was the first Hindu temple built in 1818 that was conceived with the consent of the Portuguese.
8. Basilica of Bom Jesus
Another amazing church to visit near Panjim is Basilica of Bom Jesus which is also known as the Basilica of Good Jesus. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and India’s first minor basilica that got its name after baby Jesus. Situated in Old Goa, the monument was built by extremist Portuguese rulers.
How To Reach Panaji
Panaji is perhaps one of the most incredible travel getaways in India which is easily accessible by roads, railway and airways. Here is how you can reach here by the following means of transportation.
Dabolim is the nearest airport to Goa. This airport is operated by the Airports Authority of India in a Military Airbase named INS Hansa. It connects several flights from many domestic cities in India. After getting off from the airport you will have to take a cab or some other means of transportation to reach your destination.
Distance from Dabolim Airport. 29km
Here is a list of Indian cities from where flights are available to Panaji
Panjim doesn't have its own railway station, however, Margao Railway Station serves as the nearest railway station to the city. Traveling via train from other Indian cities is not a problem owing to its fairly good connectivity. After you deboard at the station, you will need to cover the remaining distance by some means of public transportation like a cab.
Distance from Margao Railway Station. 39 km
Traveling to Goa by road is also an experience worth cherishing. Depending upon your location, you can choose to travel here using a cab, your own vehicle or you can even book a bus as it is connected to all major cities through well maintained highways.