Located alongside the lush terraced hillside right on the peninsula overlooking the vast Mandovi River is the capital of Goa, Panjim also known by its Marathi Name, Panaji “The Land that Never Flood”. Best time to visit Panjim is from October to February. Here there are over 100 tourist spots to explore, so you need at least 2-3 days. You can easily reach Panjim by air, train or bus. From Goa airport, Panjim is 28 km i.e. about 45 minutes by road.
Unlike other state capitals of India, Panaji is the first easygoing capital city that is peaceful and visited by vacationers round the year, especially those who wish to relax and rejuvenate in a serene setting. Besides the city has ancient Portuguese structures and red tiled roofs. You can also enjoy at the bars and cafes here along with sightseeing. Here are some places to explore in Panaji.
Being the oldest church in India, the Basilica of Bom Jesus is the must-see destination when you are in Panaji. Built in the last decade of 16th century, it was finally sanctified in 1605. This church has garnered the title of a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and remains the top examples of baroque architecture in India. The church houses the chassis of St. Francis Xavier, which is adorned and kept in a casket, and the remains are revered for their healing powers. For all Christian devotees, it is an important holy place.
Nestled beautifully on top of a hillock and resembling a grand white wedding cake is the church called Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. This is the church that started as a little chapel and was built in the year 1541, which was again reconstructed in middle of 17th century but the basic foundations remained the same. A key highlight of this church is that it has the second largest bell in Goa that weighs around 2250 kg and originally belongs to the Augustinian Monastery. Although the ambiance and interior of the church is simple, it is indeed impressive, and its symmetric staircases designed in 19th century give it a look of a castle. Its prime altar is mainly dedicated to Mary, while the other two altars are dedicated to Our Lady of Rosary and Jesus’ Crucifixion respectively.
Se Cathedral needs no introduction as it is the largest church in the entire Asia till date and is dedicated to Catherine of Alexandria. The church houses the façade that is around 35m high, and it also features traditional Tuscan exterior. Moreover, the ambiance is beautifully adorned with Corinthian style, and the cathedral is the fine example of Portuguese Gothic style architecture. Although the cathedral was first built in 1619 AD, but was later fascinated in 1940 AD. It also houses the largest bell in Goa, which is considered as Golden Bell by the locales.
Image Source: en.wikipedia.org
If you want to experience the culture and history of Goa closely, then do include the Goa State Museum into your must-visit list. This is the destination, which will provide you an insight of the evolution of the culture and history of Goa. Housing a variety of artifacts, which date back to different eras and decades of history of Goa, this museum will truly give you the real essence of Goan culture and evolving history of the State. Established in 1977 AD with 14 themed galleries, the State Museum is the window that will connect you to the past and history of the state in a well-organised way.
For all bird watchers Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary in Panaji is the must-visit destination. Your visit to Panaji won’t be complete without exploring this beautiful bird sanctuary. Ingrained in the midst of green mangrove forest right on the western edges of Chorao Island, the Bird sprawls in the area of around 440 acres and owing to its wonderful geographical location on the river banks of Mandovi River, it remains the abode for all migratory and local birds. This bird sanctuary can only be accessed with ferry ride. The sanctuary is well-maintained and has pathways bordered by the mangrove swamp forest, which provides you the optimal strolling area to watch the migratory avifauna. It also has a watchtower allowing one to have a closer look at the different species of birds in the sanctuary. Mudskippers, fiddler crabs, little bittern, pintails can be spotted here.
So why are you waiting for pack your bags, book hotels in Panaji and explore this amazing destination.