Panaji can steal your heart in just one afternoon roaming around, as it mixes Baroque Portuguese buildings and monuments originating from its 450 years of European domination with the fuss of elaborated urban areas crowded with museums, bohemian cafes and artsy boutiques. Panaji is the place where exotism and cultural diversity blend to create an unhurried, but a vibrant city and here you should find accommodation if you want to enjoy Goa, a state situated along the coastal region of Western India.
Source: Flickr, Author: Koshy Koshy
All tourists coming to Panaji will get to visit Asian temples, European Churches, Indian Palaces, museums and parks and among the well-known landmarks are the Church Square, the Municipal Garden, Goa State Museum, Adil Shah Palace and Mahalaxmi Temple. However, there are other less known opportunities for the curious tourist to explore.
Inside the city, you can roam on the tangled narrow streets of the Portuguese quarter of Panaji, called Fontainhas to admire colonial-era buildings, colourful villas with iron balconies and shell-shaped windows. Here you follow the journey of a cat on the red tiled roofs and watch men gather at evening in taverns, while young women in flowery dresses come out for a chat and a coffee. The music of violinists that casually play at windows blends with the thrills of birds displayed in balcony-hanged cages. Backstreet bars and cutting-edge art galleries can be found along the way and many souvenir shops hide all kind of antiquities. The aromas of both Asian and European dishes will make any tourist frequently stop for a snack.
There is a wide range of available beaches all around the state of Goa, but Anjuna and Arambol preserve the hippie atmosphere of the 60's. Here you can sip a sugarcane juice from a coconut at a cheerful beach bar while watching an amazing sunset and listening to folk music played by some long-time traveller who owns a guitar. Nightlife is exciting with a wide range of parties available and you might find interesting people from all around the world to share stories. Locals are helpful and friendly, so do not hesitate to ask for help if you want to stay overnight or rent a scooter, the most popular tourist vehicle all around Goa. Moreover, close to the city of Panaji you can find a hidden gem – a serene unspoilt beach with clear water and white sand, where nudists gather since the 1960's, called Ashwem. An elegant and quiet beach is Morjim, where you can rent a cosy cottage, try kitesurfing and join an amazing party every night.
For the globetrotters that enjoy collecting exclusive clothes and objects, Panaji and the surrounding areas host the traditional bazaars. Except for restaurants and supermarkets, all prices are negotiable in India and the main entertainment at the markets is the negotiation. If you wish to shop until you drop, try Saturday Night Market at Arpora and Wednesday flea market at Anjuna or Singh's Bombay Bazar. What is more, locals can indicate other smaller fairs and markets.
For a replenishing day in the heart of the nature head to Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, on the Chorao Island in the Mandovi River. Here local boatmen gather tourists in their canoes to take them along the canals of the mangrove marshes. A wide range of birds can be closely observed from the canoes, while reptiles, crustaceans, and small animals made the abundant vegetation of the mangroves their home. A watchtower is available for the keen birdwatchers, nonetheless, the approach given by the canoe excursions is more satisfying.
Back to the heart of the city, Panaji offers everything from hectic nightclubs and spacious city gardens to leafy boulevards, cobbled streets and state-of-the-art restaurants.The picturesque river bank where cruise ships and floating casinos rest on the broad Mandovi River is the best spot to walk along in your last days of vacation, contemplating on all the beauty and charm of this urban Indian gem.