The tiny city of Panaji is the capital city of the tiny state of Goa. It really is a truly charming city with a small river flowing around one side of the city. Of course being an Indian city it does have some aspects that come with all highly over populated centres in India including rubbish everywhere, massive amounts of beggars, festoons of seemingly wild cows and endless amounts of touts and scams.
Funnily enough Panaji roughly translates as, “Land that never floods”. With red-roofed houses built in Latin style, modern - 21st century houses and complexes, well laid and mainained gardens, statues and avenues lined with Gulmohar, Acassia and other trees all means that Panji is quite different to all the other cities in India. The church on the main square, the Baroque architecture, pretty villas, cobbled streets and interesting buildings give Panaji that ambient Portuguese atmosphere while maintaining it's position as capital of the countries wealthiest state.
Things to do
There are loads of things to do in this marvellous city and unfortunately due to the popularity of the Goan beaches not many people get to experience the delight of this wonderful place.
Things to see
The heart of the city is the Church Square or Municipal Garden with the Portuguese Baroque Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church, originally built in 1541. Other tourist attractions include the old and rebuilt Adilshahi Palace (or Idalcao palace), dating from the sixteenth century, the Menezes Braganza Institute and the Central Library, the Mahalaxmi Temple, the Jama Masjid mosque, the Chapel of St. Sebastian and the Fontainhas, area in general which is considered to be the Old Latin Quarter, as well as the nearby beach of Miramar. Hanuman Mandir at Mala on hill top (altinho) and its annual Jatra in February is a major attraction of the Panaji.
The Carnival celebrations in February include a colourful parade on the streets. This is followed by the Shigmo/ xigmo, or Holi. The Narkasur parade on previous night of Dipavali in the city is very colourful.
Well-known places in Panaji are the 18th June Road (a busy thoroughfare in the heart of town and a shopping area for tourists and locals), Mala area, Miramar beach and the Kala Academy cultural centre known for its structure built by architect Charles Correa. Kala Academy in Panaji is a place where Goa showcases its culture and art.
Where to Stay
I never actually stayed in the city so I can't help a great deal with regards to that but I have heard that these places are pretty sound places to stay for a couple of nights.
How to get there and away again
Train is the most popular method for getting in and out of the city with hundreds of trains arriving from all over India every Hour.
The city is well connected by roads and trains with the state of Karnataka to the South and Mumbai and the state of Maharashtra to the North.
A wide range of buses are available which travel all over India for limited cost.
The non air-conditioned state transport buses that are most recognisable by the comedy streaks of sick that line the outsides, are obviously cheap and definitely an interesting way to travel, if not a little bone rattling, overcrowded and slow.
Dozens of semi luxury and luxury buses (the term luxury is used very lightly here) also connect Panaji with Mumbai, Pune, Mangalore, Bangalore, and Hyderabad.
A relatively comfortable option is the Air conditioned Volvo coaches that operate overnight. This was alwyas my transport mode of choice. you get a bed or a serisuosly comfortable seat, you pop a valium, sleep for 15 hours, wake up and your there - Happy days.
The Climate and when to go
The weather is always warm and sunny in the city. Although temperatures never really exceed 35 degrees Celsius during the day.
Some winter nights can get a bit chilly (around 19 C minimum) from December to February.
Follow this link for more information.