Goa is all about beaches, but there is much more to Goa than what meets the eye. Every Year, thousands and thousands of tourists visit Goa to escape daily chaos, and Goa serves them with the utmost prettiness. Besides, a part of Goa offers them delectable cultural monuments and churches symbolizing its rich heritage and nature’s essence. This authentic Goa is known as Panaji.
Panaji – The Authentic Goa
Panaji is Goa’s capital and is enriched with wealthy sceneries, serene beaches, and sacred churches. It is also widely called Panjim and has a fascinating history of 178 years as Goa’s capital. It has bountiful historic places, buildings, and affluent culture to serve enthusiast visitors a perfect feast of beauty, religion, and nature.
Panaji serves as the North Goa district headquarters. It was initially a tiny community under Portuguese administration until 1961. In 1843, the Portuguese changed the name of their capital from old Goa to Panaji, which became known as Nova Goa (Nova means new). The Portuguese then substantially improved the village’s infrastructure and gave it a fresh appearance.
In 1961, the Indian Army assaulted Goa, including this city, and ultimately overthrew Portuguese sovereignty. Following that, Goa became a Union Territory of India. It was declared as an Indian state in 1987, along with Panaji, Goa’s capital. After Vasco Da Gama and Margao, Panaji is the state’s third-largest city, with a 36-square-kilometer area.
Panaji means ‘land that has never been flooded’ and is gradually surfacing as one of the attractive cities, with several historic landmarks, diverse architectural styles, and cultural mix.
Panaji as a Capital
The Panaji metropolis has a population of around 114,405 people. While a major population makes a livelihood as fishermen, the tourism industry also supports Goa’s backbone.
The majority of Panaji residents speak Konkani as their first language. However, a minor percentage of the population speaks Urdu, Marathi, Kannada, Hindi, and English.
Panaji’s residents are predominantly Hindus and Christians. Other religions, such as Muslim, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh, and others, face marginalization. Throughout the year, Goans in Panaji enjoy a variety of fairs and festivals. The first day of the New Year, also known as Fontainhas, is Panaji’s most popular festivity. As a lifestyle, Panaji follows a laid-back and relaxed lifestyle.
Climatic Conditions in Panaji
Panaji’s climate is hot and humid year-round, except in the winter when it receives considerable rain owing to its proximity to the Arabian Sea. Winter is the best season with mild and pleasant temperatures to enjoy.
1. Summer in Panaji
Summers last for a long time in Panaji (from March to early July). In May, temperatures reach around 35°C with significant humidity. This season’s average temperature is around 31°C.
2. Monsoon in Panaji
Monsoon in Panaji usually lasts from late June to September. The city experiences considerable rains and some thunderstorms. Panaji gets about 295 cm of rain on an annual basis.
3. Winter in Panaji
The winter season in Panaji usually lasts only a few months (December to February) and is mild. During this season, the average temperature experienced is from 18°C to 28°C.
How to Reach Panaji?
1. By Air
Goa has an airport located in Dabolim, about 31 kilometers from Panaji. Regular flights connect this airport to all of India’s major cities. For international travelers, flights to and from Qatar, Dubai, Sharjah, Kuwait, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, and other countries have a good frequency.
Getting to Panaji from the airport is a small journey of about 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the location of your stay. There are plenty of taxi services that can be pre-booked or hired directly at the exit points of the airport. All in all, reaching Panaji by air is not a hassle.
2. By Road
Goa’s roadway network is well-connected, with two national highways, NH-17 (NH-17A, NH-17B) and NH-4A, and several state highways (about 231 km long). With NH-17, the state is immediately connected to Mumbai and Mangalore. The Goa Government owns the Kadamba Transport Corporation (KTC). Taxi and private transport services are also available.
National Highway No. 17 runs through Panaji, connecting to the Mumbai Pune Expressway in Kolhapur. You can travel along this road to get from Mumbai to Panaji. This journey takes approximately 11 hours to reach here. On your trip to this route, you may pass through Lonavala, Khandala, or Pune. The NH-4A, on the other hand, connects Panaji with Karnataka.
3. By Train
Railway travel is available in Goa via two routes: the South Western Railway and the Konkan Railway. The state’s two major railway stations are Vasco Da Gama and Margao. Panaji’s nearest railway station, Karmali, is around 11 kilometers from the city center.
4. By Sea
After arriving at the harbor, you can take a bus or a private taxi to Panaji. You can also take a ship from Mumbai’s seaport to get here. However, this service is not offered regularly, and it is only available during the winter trip season.
A staycation at Panaji is worth considering. With several decent and serene places to experience Goa, the city has a list of tourist attractions:
1. Dona Paula Beach
Dona Paula is a gorgeous and tranquil beach where Mandovi and Zuari meet the Arabian Sea. It’s roughly 7 kilometers from Panaji’s city center.
One can get a good sunbath, buy trinkets at one of the shacks, get high on water sports, or watch the sunset while sipping feni; Goa’s famed spirit produced from cashews or toddy palm.
2. Basilica of Bom Jesus
The Basilica of Bom Jesus is a massive architecture that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is more than 400 years old. The relics of St. Francis Xavier are kept in this Roman Catholic church, which is surrounded by landscaped gardens. The saint is said to have miraculous curing abilities, and his relics are exhibited to the public every ten years.
3. Fort Aguada
Fort Aguada, which is on the south-western tip of Bardez and overlooks the beautiful Sinquerim Beach, has a mesmerizing view and is one of the best sites to visit in Panaji. The Portuguese built this massive 17th-century marvel as a defense against the Marathas and the Dutch, and it even boasts a high lighthouse.
4. Se Cathedral
Se Cathedral, with its stunning mix of Portuguese and Gothic architectural elements, was built to commemorate the Portuguese triumph over a Muslim force in the conquest of Goa.
This church, over 250 feet long and 181 feet wide, is nestled amidst verdant stretches and makes for beautiful images when the sky is blue. Its tower houses a gigantic golden bell rumored to be Goa’s largest.
5. Reis Magos Fort
Going to Goa’s oldest fort is like diving into a sea of culture, history, and tradition and Reis Magos Fort is one of the oldest in Goa. The enormous fort rises over the Mandovi River and offers magnificent views of Panaji, built in phases from 1550.
The fort’s architecture, a mash-up of Portuguese and Hindu designs, makes for some striking photography sites. The lush foliage that surrounds the area adds to the appeal.
6. Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church
The hilltop setting and Portuguese baroque architecture make Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church a popular tourist destination. It houses a magnificent historic bell that is awe-inspiring and was acquired from the Augustinian Monastery when it was destroyed.
With a gleaming white paint, the church has a large belfry and two towers. The main altar honors Mother Mary and is flanked by gold-plated altars honoring Our Lady of the Rosary and Jesus’ crucifixion. One can enjoy gorgeous photographic sites and magnificent panoramic views of Panaji from here.
7. Corjuem Fort
Corjuem Fort, a military fortification that recalls Portuguese dominance in Goa, is one of the top Panaji tourist sites. It is composed of pitted laterite and is located on a river island in Bardez.
The river Mapusa separates the fort from Aldona town and provides a beautiful backdrop. The historical fort, constructed in 1705, now houses a shrine to St. Anthony, owned and managed by the Parish of Aldona.
Goa’s Archaeological Museum, Panaji
If you are looking to learn everything and anything about Goa’s Portuguese past, then a visit to the Archaeological Museum should be on your itinerary.
The museum’s main attractions are ivory sculptures depicting Jesus’ crucifixion, a wooden sculpture of John the Baptist, and a picture of Vasco da Gama, the famed explorer. The museum also exhibits significant stamp collections, religious treasures, Luis Vaz de Cames’ bronze statue, ten incarnations of Vishnu carved in basalt rock, and a 12th-century Surya statue, in addition to lifelike paintings of prior governors and rulers.
Witness the Beauty of Panaji
Being in Panaji is like traveling back in time as you live through the history itself. The murals on the buildings are a reminder of the time that has gone by. The city offers some never-experienced moments and gives travel fanatics a good treat.
The beaches, churches, breathtaking views, and forts to dive deep in history makes Panjim a powerhouse destination for partying, relaxing, and having a good time.
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