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Panaji in Goa

Called Panjim by the Portuguese, Panaji, which means "the land that does not flood" is the state capital of Goa. Unlike many capital cities, Panaji has a distinct unhurried character. It is situated on the southern banks of the Mandovi River, which makes this town all the more charming.
 


The European Ambience

Typical of a Goan town, Panaji is built around a church facing a prominent square. The town has some beautiful Portuguese Baroque style buildings and enchanting old villas. The riverside, speckled with brightly whitewashed houses with wrought iron balconies, offers a fine view.

There are some fine government buildings along the riverside boulevard, and the Passport Office is especially noteworthy. In the 16th century, the edifice was the palace of Adil Shah (the Sultan of Bijapur). The Portuguese took over the palace and constructed the Viceregal Lodge in 1615. In 1843, the structure became the Secretariat, and today it is the Passport Office.

Trudge around town in the cobbled alleys to see quaint old taverns and cafes with some atmosphere, and practically no tourists. They are a good place to meet the local people.

The Largo Da Igreja Church Square is a fine illustration of the awesome Portuguese Baroque style. The Church of the Immaculate Conception is easily one of the most elegant and picturesque monuments in Goa. Built in 1541 AD, atop a high, symmetrical, crisscrossing stairway, the church is a white edifice topped with a huge bell that stands in between two delicate Baroque style towers.


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.

PANJIM AND CENTRAL GOA
Take any mid sized Portuguese town add a sprinkling of banana trees and auto-rickshaws, drench annually with torrential tropical rain, and leave to simmer in fierce humid sunshine for at least one hundred and fifty years, and one'll end up with something like Panjim. The Goan capital has a completely different feel from any other Indian city.



Church Square

The leafy rectangular park opposite the Indian Government Tourist Office, known as Church Square or the municipal garden, forms the heart of Panjim. Presiding over its east side is the town's most distinctive and photogenic landmark, the toothpaste white baroque fašade of 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 was built in 1541 for the benefit of sailors arriving here from Lisbon. The weary mariners would stagger up from the quay to give thanks for their safe passage before proceeding to the capital at Old Goa - the original home of the enormous bell that hangs from its central gable


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