In Panjim the river meets the ocean; like the old and the new. The river Mandovi flows past Panjim of Ribandar and the Ponte de Linhares, before emptying into the blue waters of the Arabian Sea at Campal. Then the ocean takes over the curling around the coasts of Panjim, all the way from Campal to Dona Paula and the Taleigao Plateau, with beautiful little coves and beaches at Miramar, Caranzalem, the Dona Paula Cove, Hawaii Beach and Orchel.
When Old Goa became unsanitary with disease and death in the 18th century, the Portuguese decided to move the capital to Panjim, ‘The land that is never flooded’. They tore down the beautiful buildings of old Goa, built in the great days of Portugal, and carried the stones to Panjim, where they erected less impressive structures. Panjim was given the status of a ‘city’ on March 22, 1843 and was renamed ‘Nova Goa’ or New Goa. Today’s Panjim struggles to reconcile the modern; reluctant to let go of the past with heritage areas such as Fontainhas and Campal contrasting with areas such as MG Road and Patto Plaza.
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Take a different approach
There are many entry points to this capital of Goa. One entrance is from Old Goa and Ribander along the 3.2 km long Ponte de Linhares Causeway. Salt pans and mangroves rise to the left and the gently flowing Mandovi is on the right, with a few barges steaming importantly into the river to load iron ore, some yachts and a group of blue fishing vessels.
From the west, via the entrance to the Taleigao Plateau, you can cruise along the Caranzalem-Miramar coast, through the heritage area of Campal and beautiful tree-lined avenues, past Kala Academy, the cultural center of Panjim, past Children’s Park and the market area in of the city.
A third entry, from the south, is via Four Pillars via Santa Cruz, along the long Vasantrao Dempo Road that winds its way through fields and Khazans, to Fontainhas, the Latin Quarter of Panjim, to the left of Ourem Creek, with the modern business sector Patto Plaza, on the right bank.
But by far the most spectacular approach to Panjim is zooming up NH17, from Mapusa and Mumbai. The road rises slightly at Alto de Porvorim and then flows down as if in a hurry to show you a gem of rare beauty – the view of Goa’s capital rising above the southern bank of the Mandovi River. Twin bridges carry you across the silver river and you swear you feel a physical embrace as you enter this city, which, as the late urban planner David Menezes once wistfully noted, is “a gift from God.” This is Panjim. Or Panaji, as it was called in the post-liberation era. Also known as ‘the princess of the Mandovi’ and simply called ‘Ponjje’ by Goans.
The things to see and do
Any resident will tell you that Panjim is a hiker’s paradise. There are tree-lined roads, jetties and promenades and the best possible walking areas are the quiet winding alleys on Altinho.
In Panjim, all roads lead to the church square, dominated by the towering Church of the Immaculate Conception in the heart of Panjim, so this is a good place to start. Return to the church and look out over the city garden. Emidio Garcia Road turns immediately left behind the church and leads directly into the Fontainhas Heritage District and continues to Ourem Creek, where it meets Rua de Ourem, which descends to the Patto Bridge. The next road to the left of the church is Boca de Vaca Road, which leads to the Mahalaxmi Temple, the Boca de Vaca Spring and further up into Altinho.
The road straight ahead is 18th June Road, one of Panjim’s busiest. It goes almost all the way to Campal at Miramar Beach in south-west Panjim, where it meets MG Road. Jose Falcao Road is on your right and leads directly to the Mhamai Kamat House and Abbe Faria Statue, on the eastern side of MG Road. MG Road starts at the entrance to Panjim from Ribandar and stretches Panjim all the way to Campal. Reflecting the curve and length of MG Road is the waterfront Dayanand Bandodkar Marg, which begins at the end of Ribandar as Avenida Dom Joao Castro.
The beaches of Miramar and Dona Paula
What Chowpatty is to Mumbai and Marina to Chennai, Miramar is to Panjim. Goans descend on the beach every evening, especially if it’s a Sunday and the sand turns into the city’s unofficial recreational area. In high season, the beach offers beautiful views of the illuminated Raj Bhavan, which is a good reason to stop by. More remarkably, love and legend flow seamlessly along the length of this beach, even more so on the small hilly island south of Miramar known as Dona Paula.
Dona Paula consists of three beaches. Hawaii is just 200m across from the jetty and most of Goa’s sailing activities take place here. Vainguinim beach is longer and is completely enclosed by the 5-star Cidade de Goa resort, but there are two public accesses to the beach, from either side.
The islet-hill is landscaped and topped by a traditional Portuguese pergola, which offers stunning views of Mormugao Harbor and the Arabian Sea to the south and west, and to the Zuari Bridge to the east. At the base is a sculpture by Baroness Yrsa von Leistner, with a man facing west (representing the past) and a woman facing east (representing the future). This is often confused with something to do with the Dona Paula legend.
Place The capital of Goa is located on the southern bank of the Mandovi River in Tiswadi Taluka in Central Goa
Distance 595 km S of Mumbai TRAVEL TIME By train 101/2 hours + 20 minutes by road By air 1 hour + 45 minutes by road By road 12 hours
Route State Road to Kalamboli; NH4 to Panvel; NH17 to Panjim via Mahad, Chiplun, Sawantwadi and Mapusa
When to go Any time of year but November to February is best
Goa Tourism Development Corp Ltd (GTDCL)
Central reservation office
Dr Alvares Costa Road
Tel: 0832-2436666, 2424001-03
STD code 0832