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
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.
Trudge 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.
PANJIM AND CENTRAL GOA
Take 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.
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
fašade 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