Goa today, is synonymous to Panjim. It may not be the largest city, may not be the most populated, but it sure is the place around which all the action is centred.
Translated literally to “the land that never floods” Panjim features an average elevation of 7 metres and one will notice the relatively fast pace of the city, as compared to the rest of Goa, the moment you hit the city centre. Nevertheless, Panjim is slower than most other metropolitans and offers an amazing vacation experience to city dwellers. To add to that, the city is sparsely populated with a little over 150,000 dwellers. Panjim is a good place to base yourself during your Goa vacation, given the availability of ample 5-star and 4-star hotels, restaurants and shopping zones. Furthermore, the city is equally spaced from the party-hungry North Goa, to the heritage-rich South Goa and cities like Vasco Da Gama and Mormugao.
The Ancestral Museum of Goa at Panjim is worth a visit and the way it takes you through the various activities, trades and cultures that have made Goa what it is, is amazing! The museum displays everything from Goa’s rubber plantations to its salt pans and a very interesting display of the legend of the Big Foot! The Big Foot is now a huge stage meant to host events, balls and performances. If you’re close to the EDC complex in Panjim you can drop by Goa’s state museum and its 8000 displays which span clay and earthenware antiques, wooden antiques and artefacts, various Indian paintings all against the backdrop of Hindu and Jain scriptures. The Goa state museum attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year–students, art fanatics and curious travellers alike!
One can drive down to the Banstarim Bridge also known locally as the Meta Bridge to enjoy the amazing dawn or dusk view of the Mandovi river. Panjim Bridge can’t be missed. It’s also called the Mandovi Bridge. Apprehensions among locals from the bridge collapsing several times in the 80s have lead them to use the ferry service for the last 3 decades and some of them still continue to do so despite the bridge’s good track record in the recent past. The Panjim Bridge comprises of two parallel bridges and the dusk view is breathtaking with yachts and luxury cruisers docked on either side of the river.
Reis Magos, a village on the far bank of the river Mandovi from Panjim is famous for the Reis Magos Fort which is very accessible from Panjim. The Reis Magos Fort offers a breathtaking view of Panjim. It has undergone refurbishing recently. A visit to this fort is warranted because it was built almost 50 years before the famous Fort Aguada.
Panjim is also famous for its religious places like the Chapel of St. Catherine and the Panjim church. Hindus often visit the Mahalaxmi and Maruti temples.
An interesting thing about Panjim to note is that around the beginning of 2012, some locals began organising bull fights. They were quickly shut down by local authorities though. Panjim is very accessible from all other parts of Goa with all buses perpetually passing through it. One can hire a bike and ride down, ample direction boards lead you all the way. If you’re driving down from Mumbai or Pune, the first big city you hit in Goa is Panjim. Panjim is a 30 minute drive from the airport and prepaid cabs are available right at the arrival terminal.