PANAJI LAIDBACK CHARM OF GOA, INDIA
The monsoon is receding and the ‘season’ that means the arrival of planeloads of tourists, is yet to kick off. So, this is a good time to take a short break in Goa and explore Panaji, in particular. For a state capital, the city has a remarkably laidback and relaxed feel about it. Its location helps to occupy as it does the peninsula that overlooks the Mandovi river which flows in a broad sweep here. There’s the busy centre of town with its gracious church. Panaji is also about tree-lined streets and heritage buildings that connect to its Portuguese-ruled past. You’ll also find swank malls, trendy stores and restaurants besides, of course, some really cool bars.
One of the best ways to spend time in Panaji is to stroll through the streets of the old Latin Quarter, where time seems to have stopped still and you can imagine life in the city during the colonial era. The yellow-painted houses here with their brightly coloured doors and vintage balconies make a pretty sight. Some of Goa’s loveliest churches are in this part of the state. The Basilica of Bom Jesus, with its captivating Baroque architecture, is a must-see for all. Say a prayer also at the Church of St Francis of Assisi.
The Mandovi river adds to Panaji’s attractions. Besides walking on the leafy paths on its banks, you can also take a cruise on the river. At night, floating casinos add their neon glow and glitz to the landscape. Dona Paula Jetty is another top attraction in Panaji. A gorgeous bay and high cliffs provide a panoramic view of Mormugao Harbour and the Arabian Sea. There’s also a little market on the waterway, worth stopping at. If you can’t imagine a Goa break without some beach time, there’s Miramar beach which sits at the confluence of the river and the Arabian Sea. Ashwem beach is also good for sunsets, wading in the surf and simply unwinding.
Reach Panaji is well connected by air with most cities. From Mumbai, it’s also a scenic drive if you have the luxury of time.
Stay There’s no dearth of accommodation for all budgets in this tourist-friendly town. For a super luxury stay, check in to the Goa Marriott Resort & Spa which has a super location.
Tip Remember that churches are places of worship, even if you are on a sightseeing trip. Dress and conduct yourself accordingly.
- Do the heritage walk Step back in time and wander through Panaji’s Latin Quarter, known as Fontainhas. Here, you’ll get to soak in the distinct Portuguese colonial air of the place in the architecture, the curve of the streets and the little details everywhere. Stop at St Sebastian Chapel which houses some remarkable sculptures. You can either walk the Latin Quarter on your own or sign up for a heritage walk.
- Take a river cruise Touristy as it is, taking a cruise on one of the boats that ply the Mandovi river is a lot of fun. It offers a different and attractive view of the city and the hotels strung along the edge of the river. And this being Goa, there are drinks and music on board as well.
- Try your luck Its off-shore casinos are a big draw in Panaji. Even if you aren’t a serious gambler, check out the casinos such as Deltin Royale, floating on the Mandovi river. Who knows, you might just hit a jackpot.
- Eat out If you are a food lover, you’re in the right place. Try out the local specialities at Café Bhonsle. Great ingredients, modern cooking techniques and a happy vibe are what you’ll find at Black Sheep Bistro, one of Panaji’s most loved restaurants. Fisherman’s Wharf is an established eatery, known for its huge array of fresh seafood. Desbue and Mum’s Kitchen are other places to try, especially if you are in the mood to splurge.
- Go shopping Panaji has a whole lot of cool boutiques and stores selling quirky products and gifts. Check out stores such as Paperwork and Velha Goa Galeria. Don’t miss visiting the Mario Miranda Gallery which also sells prints of Goa’s best-known cartoonist. You can buy tiles and mugs with his amusing drawings as well.
Let’s wrap up PANAJI LAIDBACK CHARM OF GOA, INDIA article. Read also Top 10 Cleanest Destinations Of India
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— Sunil Nain