An Inside Look at Panaji

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Panaji is Goa’s capital and its largest city. However, most travellers don’t spend much – if any – time exploring here, as they tend to head straight for the nearest beach when they arrive. Although the allure of Goa’s coast is strong, it’s worth setting aside a day or two to discover what Panaji has to offer.

We’re going to take a look at what you can uncover here, as well as the best way to maximise your time. If you’re keen to find out more about the practical side of booking a holiday in Goa, head over to this website for a host of useful information.

Explore on foot

Although it is the largest city in Goa, Panaji is easy to discover on foot and, in fact, this is the best way to explore the capital. As a general rule, it’s best to stick to one of its two old quarters to see the most interesting and famous sights.

Fontainhas is known as the old latin quarter of the city and it’s a series of narrow, cobbled alleys lined by villas and houses with a distinctly Portuguese feel. Many of these are painted in bright colours, making this a vibrant area to wander around – and a great way to clearly see the European influence in the city, which stands in stark contrast to the rest of India.

The district takes its name from the Fountain of the Phoenix spring, which you’ll find near the Maruti Temple. Among the notable landmarks in this part of Panaji are the Chapel of St Sebastian and the office of Fundacao Oriente, which is housed in a beautiful heritage building.

Moving on to Sao Tome, which is smaller than Fontainhas, you’ll come to narrow streets lined with pastel-coloured homes. In among the houses you’ll find traditional Goan taverns, where you can sample some of the local tipples, including feni.

The main point of interest in Sao Tome is the post office building, which has had various uses over the years, including as a mint and a tobacco trading house. Opposite this landmark is the town pillory, which has a somewhat darker past, as this was where executions were carried out until 1843.

It’s also worth taking a stroll along the riverside boulevard, which will lead you past a number of government buildings, many of which are in a striking Baroque style and date from the period of Portuguese rule.

Top attractions in Panaji

There are some sites that you really shouldn’t miss when you visit Panaji, one of which is the Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church. This originally dates from the 16th century and is easy to spot thanks to its brilliantly white facade.

It’s one of the oldest Christian places of worship in the state and has been expanded and added to over the years. Its impressive staircase by the main entrance, for instance, was constructed in the 19th century.

Make sure you step inside, because while the exterior of the building is exclusively white, its interior is incredibly vibrant, with colourful murals and gold detailing making it a real wonder to behold. Take a look at the church bell that hangs in the belfry, as this was salvaged from the Augustinian monastery in Old Goa at the start of the 19th century.

The Kala Academy, meanwhile, is one of Panaji’s top cultural attractions, with this institution established to further the state’s cultural development and to provide somewhere for artists to express themselves in a variety of forms. Dance, music, art and literature are just some of the creative outlets that it supports.

It regularly hosts performances and exhibitions, as well as organising festivals throughout the year, so make sure you check what’s going on at the time of your holiday in Goa in case there’s something that catches your eye.

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