The Capital of Goa lies on the banks of the Mandovi estuary, in the district of North Goa. Panaji means ‘the land that does not flood’. Panaji, the capital of Goa, is built around a church facing a prominent square.
Panaji has some beautiful Portuguese Baroque style buildings. The riverside too offers a fine view. Panaji has a population of around 65,000. Panaji is Goa’s third largest city after Vasco and Madgaon.
The capital of Goa, Panaji, was earlier a small village on the riverfront. In 1843 the city was renamed Nova Goa (Portuguese for ‘New Goa’) when it officially replaced the city of Goa – which is now Old Goa – as the administrative seat of Portuguese India. The viceroy, though, had already moved to Panaji in 1759. Panaji became a state capital on Goa’s elevation to statehood in May 1987.
The capital of Goa was once little more than a minor landing stage and customs house – protected by a hilltop fort, and surrounded by stagnant swampland. In 1843 it became the capital after the port at Old Goa had silted up, and its rulers and impoverished inhabitants had fled the plague.
The word Panaji is derived from the words panjani and khali, which mean a boat and a small creek respectively, in Sanskrit. Thus the modern word Panaji is a corrupt form of the old word Panjakhali as inscribed on the copperplates found, belonging to the rule of Kadamba king Tribhuvanamalla.
The heart of the city is the Praça da Igreja or Municipal Garden with the Portuguese Baroque Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church, originally built in 1541. Other tourist attractions include the old and rebuilt Adilshahi Palace, dating from the sixteenth century, the Institute Menezes Braganza, the Mahalaxmi Temple, the Jama Masjid Mosque, the Chapel of St. Sebastian and the Fontainhas area—which is considered to be the old Latin Quarter—as well as the nearby beach of Miramar. Hanuman Mandir at Malā on the hill top (Altinho) and its annual zatrā in February are a major attraction of Panaji. Panaji hosted the relics of Saint John Bosco (also known as Don Bosco) till 21 August 2011 at the Don Bosco Oratory.
Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is a bird sanctuary named after the ornithologist Dr Salim Ali. The sanctuary, located in the village of Chorão, near Panaji, plays host to rare and endangered bird species—both migratory and resident.
Goa is famous for its beaches, and Miramar, Bambolim, and Dona Paula are three popular beaches located near Panaji.
Dona Paula is the meeting point for two of Goa’s famous rivers, Zuari and Mandovi. These two rivers meet at the Arabian Sea. The official residence of the Governor of Goa, known as Cabo Raj Bhavan, is situated on the westernmost tip of Dona Paula.
Miramar Beach is one of the more crowded beaches in Goa, which remains full with local and international tourists throughout the year. Also located near Panaji, is the Goa Science Centre which was opened to the public in December 2001.
Casino Caravela, Renaissance Goa Resort, Varca Village, Salcette. India’s only legal casino (on board a yacht!) offers a combination of sightseeing and gaming – American Roulette, Black Jack, Rummy, Stud Poker, Baccarat, Pontoon and Flash. Rs. 2000 (For entry and buffet. Includes Rs. 1000 casino chips that cannot be cashed in. Other packages that do are available. )