Panjim, the state capital of Goa. Panaji is one of India's smallest and pleasantest state capitals. It is located on the south bank of the wide Mandovi River. The town has preserved its Portuguese heritage remarkably well and parts of it still consist of narrow winding streets, old houses with over hanging balconies, red-tiled roofs and numerous small bars and cafe's. Many signs in Portuguese are still visible over shops, cafe's and administrative buildings. One of the most charming things about Panaji is a that it is very small city, and has little scope for growth as it is bordered by Altinho (a hillock), on one side,the Arabian sea on the other Mandovi River on the third side, and Ourem Creek on the fourth.
For centuries, Panjim was little more than a minor landing stage and customs house, became capital in 1843 after the port at Old Goa had silted up and its rulers had fled the plague. It expanded rapidly in the 1960's and 1970's.
Domestic flights from Mumbai, Bangalore, Cochin, Delhi, Chennai, and Thiruvanantpuram arrived at Goa's Dabolim airport 29km south of Panjim.
Long distance and local buses pull into Panjim at Kadamba Bus Terminal.
Cars : Cars with drivers are available for local sightseeing.
Auto-rickshaws : This is the most convenient way of getting around Panjim.
SIGHTSEEING IN GOA
Many years ago Panaji was a Portuguese colony. Back then Altinho, which is located atop the hillock of Panaji was regarded as an elite residential colony where the State's chief ministers resided and so did the Archbishop?s palace.
Altinho gets its quirky name from the Portuguese language, where it means 'high?'or 'tall' (as it is located atop a hillock). The hill is divided into two parts where the road which is moving up the hill on the right side of the church is called the Emidio Gracis Road. The other road which goes into the main town where on the top of the hill near the church is the 'Hill of the Pilots' since the first lighthouse was operated from here.
There are many old buildings, quarters for government servants and colleges here. The Patriarchal Palace which is the residence of the Archbishop of Goa is the main attraction here. The diocese of Goa was established here in the year 1533, and raised to an Archdiocese in 1557. Dom Caspar Leao Pereira sometime in the 1560's, the first Archbishop to step in India, took lot of trouble and hard work to build the first church here. The All India Radio station is also located over this area with red earth lines of pathways webbed in the green sprawl of the lush vegetation with the tall palm fronds brushing the azure sky. Attached to the radio station is the Television Relay Center dominating the skyline, and on the slopes of the hill is the bright and colourful Maruti Temple.
Church of St Anne at Talaulim
What is most remarkable at the Church if St Anne is that is follows the Indian style of architecture blended with European. In sync with the Indian style as in it is constructed in lines of a temple. The Church was re built by Mons Francisco do Rego. He generated funds from the locals and from his own pockets he constructed this structure. As he could not complete the construction; Fr Antonio Francisco da Cunha completed its construction in 1965. The main altar is consecrated to St Anne.
The fest of St Anne is celebrated throughout Goa. But it is celebrated with great gusto in the liitle hamlet of Talaulim (near Velha) where this fest is known as 'Touceachem Fest' which when translated means Cucumber Feast. The fest is celebrated on the 26th of July every year and is attended by people from all around Goa. They come in hoards with several offerings such that their wished would be granted. The most common wish being, bachelors pledging with a wooden spoon and appealing for a wife. Newlyweds come here and beseech as well. Nearly everyone believes that most wishes are granted. So if you?re a bachelor looking for a wife then this is the place to be and not in the matrimonial advertorials.
Church of St Sebastian
Located in the southern end of the city, the chapel of St. Sebastian is one of the many Goan churches which still remain exact to the old colonial decree. It stands at the end of a small square and the church came into existence in the year 1592 after missionaries converted it from a private Hindu temple. The temple which was called as "Pandavachem deul" belonged to Suntu Naique Sar Dessai, a decendant of the Pandavas. He converted to Christianity on the 29th of February 1560 along with a thousand other locals from Aquem and he changed his name to Sebastiao Coelho and hence the date of the feast of the Patron Saint was fixed on this day.
In the earlier days Goa was troubled with epidemics of pests and plagues which occurred quite frequently here, especially in the Salcette areas. When people were burdened by these diseases they turned to St. Sebastian who through his mediation and miraculous interventions eliminated the recurrence of these pests and plagues altogether. The Portuguese speaking locals hold a lively annual street fiesta to celebrate their patron Saint's day in mid-November. Something very interesting in this chapel and what you can look out for is the eerily lifelike crucifix inside the chapel brought here in 1812. It was previously hung in the palace of the inquisition in Old Goa. Unusually, Christ's eyes are open - allegedly to inspire fear in those being interrogated by the inquisitor
The Church Square which is also known as the Municipal Garden is a green rectangular park in the heart of Panjim. It is located opposite the Indian Government Tourist Office. To its east is 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 Square is an excellent example of the remarkable Portuguese Baroque style. It is a wonderful place to just sit down and relax and soak in the atmosphere.
On the extreme end of the Emilio Gracia Road lies the Sao Tome ward which is the other old quarter, lying north of Fontainhas. The narrow streets of Sao Tome are lined with several hole-in-the-wall taverns serving cheap Feni, which is a Goan delicacy. If you're looking for a good time then head to one of these many taverns dotted along the street.
Statue of Abbe Faria
Just beside the Secretariat in Panjim is the statue of Abbe Faria depicting a priest hypnotizing a woman. Abbe Jose Custodia Faria was born in 1756 in Candolim. He had quite an interesting childhood as both his parents separated. His father became a priest and his mother a nun. After his education in Rome he was bestowed priesthood. He tried to end the Portuguese and British regime in India. He also took part in the French Revolution. During this point of time in his life he became famous as the originator of hypnotism through suggestions. Based on this achievement is the bronze statue built in Panjim. Even after he died in Paris he still remained immortal as Alexander Dumas included him as a character in his celebrated novel 'The Count of Monte Cristo' where he was referred to as the Mad Monk. It was mostly based on the adventurous life led by Abbe Faria.
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.