Panaji, also known in English as Panjim, is the capital city of the tiny state of Goa in India. It has its own charm, a river flowing along one side of the city, some areas which are low-rise and red-roofed, and even a Latin Quarter at the eastern end of town. Increasingly, it is shaping itself as a centre where cultures (many from across the globe, and from diverse areas of India too) meet and creativity flourishes.
The nearest airport is at Dabolim, 35 km away.
The nearest railway station is Karmali (IR station code : KRMI), about 10 km to the east, but many express trains do not halt there. A more important railhead is Madgaon Junction, 45 km to the south, being the main junction on the Konkan Railway all trains stop here.
From the railway station, taxis, rickshaws and buses go to Panaji, but if you are carrying only a backpack, motorcycle taxis are a bargain, plus you get to ride on the pillion seat! Be sure to fix fares before the ride.
If you are on a tight budget, and carrying little baggage, you could take the local bus. To get to the bus stop, get out of the Karmali station, a short climb and across the road is the bus stop. Wait across the road for busses going towards Panaji. There is no sign board marking the Bus stop.
On the first floor of the KTC Bus stand at Panaji is the Konkan Railway ticketing office, you can make or cancel all Indian Railway tickets here. A Rs. 10 service fee is levied on each transaction, which is well worth it, as it saves you making a trip to Karmali, Thivim or Madgaon station to do ticketing work. The ticketing office is air conditioned, has seats, and issues tokens, so you don't have to stand in a queue awaiting your turn. The counter is open from 8AM to 6PM on weekdays.
A wide range of busses are available. The non air-conditioned, state transport bus, that though cheap is an interesting way to travel, if you don't mind the discomfort of a rattling bus body, ridgid seats, over crowding and stopping at umpteen villages and bus depots along the route. You could also take a reserved ticket, which assures you of a seat, though is no protection against over crowding. Locals usually share seats. The state transport corporations, also have semi luxury and luxury busses. Luxury meaning the seats are padded and recline.
The major state transport corporations operating in Goa are the Kadamba Transport Corporation (KTC), from Goa, Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC), from Maharashtra, and the Karnataka State Road Transport from Karnataka. All the state transport busses, usually begin and terminate at the Kadamba bus stand at Panaji. Bookings, time tables etc. can be had here.
Dozens of semi luxury and luxury busses also connect Panaji with Mumbai, Pune, Mangalore, Bangalore, and Hyderabad. A relatively comfortable option is the Air conditioned Volvo coaches that operate towards the later hours. Find out prices before you purchase a ticket, as it is not uncommon to find that your neighbour on the bus has paid a much higher or lower price for the ticket. Many travel agents have their offices in the building adjacent to the Kadamba bus stand.
A famous romantic Bollywood film "Bombay to Goa" starring the Indian super star Amitabh Bachchan, was based on this bus journey.
All private busses leave from the bus stand at the beginning of the Mandovi bridge. Bus departures start daily from 4PM and go on till almost 10PM when the last Volvo coaches leave.
- NH-17 (National Highway-17) passes through Panaji. (This is the route buses will take while coming down from Bombay). The route is scenic, and roads in good condition compared with other routes, but narrow and risky along part of the journey, so driving down is not recommended unless you are used to Indian roads. A detour from NH-17 towards Kolhapur joins you to the Expressway and further on to the Mumbai Pune Expressway. Take this route if you intend including Lonavala, Khandala or Pune on your itinerary. The expressway is also faster and safer, though the additional distance will not save you much time.
- NH-4A connects to the NH-17 from Panaji. This is the main highway connecting Goa with the state of Karnataka. Be prepared for a rattling travel, as the road condition has deteriorated beyond repair on a 20 km stretch near Anmod, as soon as you enter Karnataka. The Government of Karnataka should be condemned in strongest words for neglecting this important tourist link, which connects Goa with world heritage sites at Badami, Pattadkal and Hampi. This road is one of the reasons why Karnataka lost the Tata Nano project to Gujarat, as its bad condition almost deprived Dharwad of the nearest port facility.
- From Mumbai - Take NH4 or the new Expressway towards Pune, Kolhapur. After Kolhapur, continue on Nh4 for 25 km, then pass the town of Nipani, then climb up a hill, and the take right towards Ajra, Sawantwadi via Amboli ghat. This will take you through Uttur, Ajra, Amboli, & finally Sawantwadi - in about 3-4 hours. After reaching Sawantwadi continue south on NH17 towards Panaji. Sawantwadi to Panaji is about 60 km; you will pass through Mapusa and you could take a detour to Calangute, Baga, Vagator. The time from Mumbai to Pune is approximately 3-4 hours. Pune - Kolhapur is approximately 3-4 hours and Kolhapur to Panaji via Sawantwadi is 4 hours.
- From Mumbai - Take the Pune Expressway, exit at Panvel. Take NH-17 South and continue for 600 km down south to Panaji. You will pass through Mahad, Khed, Chiplun, Vengurla, Sawantwadi and finally into Panaji. NH-17 is a narrow, winding road and expect to travel at an average of 50 km/hour.
Panjim Church; Heritage houses along the altinho slope, Bishops Palace at Altinho, High COurt Complex & Lawyers Building at Altinho, Maruti Temple, Mahalaxmi Temple, Customs Muesuem, Santa Monica Jetty Boat Rides, Old GMC Complex, INOX theatre, Salida Del Sol (one of its kind Hotel in India) on Bernard Gues Road, Kala Academy at Campal
- Don't miss out on the old city.
- See the islands that are just across the river. It only takes a couple of minutes to cross on the car ferry, and on the other side there are unpopulated fields of high marsh grass, sweeping views and utter peacefulness.
To access the islands go to Ribandar, on the road to Old Goa, and take the ferry at Ribandar going to Chorao. Or go further down, just past the Goa Institute of Management and take the other Ferry. The ferry service is free to passengers, though cars, motorcycles and other vehicles pay a small fee. The Islands can also be accessed from the Ferry crossing at Old Goa, behind the Church Complex, also a calm spot for a bit of fishing.
- Miramar Beach - A lovely golden beach of soft sand girdled with palm trees. The main beach outside of state-capital Panaji. The usual hangout for urbanites from Panaji and around, and also for 'desi' (domestic, Indian) tourists visiting the region. Try the fast-food of both Goan origin.
D'Silva's, serves delicious authentic Goan snacks. Located opposite the children's park, just past the roundabout. The place is obscure and easy to miss out. For other Indian snacks, Chaat (Bhel Puri) and Mid-East shwarma-based food go a little ahead on the beachside stalls. Cafe Coffee Day is a hip hang out for the younger set. Nice playground for kids, including a giant fish made of cement.
- Dona Paula A beach outside Panaji and beyond Miramar. This is where so many Bollywood (Hindi) films have been shot. No wonder it is hyped up among Hindi film audiences. Scenic. In fair weather, a boat service connects this point with Vasco da Gama.
- Goa State Museum.
- Kala Academy, Campal, ☎ . ,
- Fundação Oriente, Filipe Neri Road, 175 Panjim - Goa 403001, ☎ .
- Goa Science Centre and Planetarium, ☎ . Situated at a scenic location along Miramar Beach, this is a great place for kids. There's also a movie theatre showing 3D science-related films. ₹10 (less for students).
- Gallery Gitanjali, E-212, 31st January Road, Fontainhas. run by Ajit Sukhija in a building that once was the People's High School at Panjim's Latin quarter of Fontainhas
- Gallery Boa Arte (opposite the Municipal Garden).
- Picturesque (opposite the Goa Urban Cooperative Bank).
- Casino Caravela, Renaissance Goa Resort, Varca Village, Salcette, Goa 403721 (this is the starting point for the cruise), +91 832 745-200 (FAX - +91 832 745-225). 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. )
- Dive Goa
- Barracuda Diving
- Walk around the alleys of Panaji soaking in the beautiful Portuguese architecture.
- Bird Watching , The Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is located on the island of Chorao and can be easily accessed from Panaji. Take a bus, or drive down the causeway along the river Mandovi towards Old Goa. A little after the turn at Ribandar, take a ferry across the river to reach the Bird Sanctuary. The best time to spot birds is between October and March, when many species of migratory birds visit the sanctuary from as far as Siberia. Don't forget to bring along some mosquito repellent, as the marshy land and mangrove forests have a lot of mosquitoes.
- Watch the latest Bollywood flicks at the INOX theatre at Panaji.
- Go for a short boat ride on one of the many "Cruise" boats, that sail up and down the river, with loud music, and frantically dancing revellers. Located beside the Captain of Ports jetty on the Mandovi river at Panaji. The Santa Monica is the oldest and best known of the lot, though the others are as good. Cruises start from around Sunset. There is also a floating restaurant, on the same pier.
- Catch up with plays, dramas and Musicals at the open air theatre at the Kala Academy in Campal.
- Visit the Central Library, the oldest public library in India, founded in 1832, and housing a vast collection of books, some printed almost half a century ago.
- Relax under a palm tree on Miramar beach, feel the sea breeze in your hair and watch the surf on the waves. Watch the many iron ore barges cruise lazily down the river towards the Arabian sea, in a typical "Socegad" Goan manner.
- Cashew Nuts of various varieties, spiced, roasted and in a host of different flavours.
- The famed Goan Cashew Liquor, and port wines.
- Spicy Goa Sausages "Choricao", made of pickled dried Pork.
- Goan Handicrafts shell and terracotta ware.
- Hotel Mandovi packs in a surprising amount of interesting reading material, specially books related to Goa, in its limited space.
- Broadway Book Centre boasts of the "largest bookshop in Goa" (approx 5000 square feet) and also some good prices.
- Singbal Bookstall, tel. 2425747. Near the Panjim Church
- Book World, tel. 2421857.
- Jeevit Bookshop, tel. 2438638. Religious books.
- Velha Goa Galeria and De Goa Ceramics, for local hand-painted ceramics.
- 18th June Road Night Market
- Sasha's Shop, Swami Vivekananda Rd (Panaji). great womens' clothing and jewellery
Some of the best food in the world is found in this calm and breezy capital city. Goan chefs have for generations graced many a royal kitchen in Europe and have been practicing their culinary skills on some of the grandest cruise ships in the world. If you like spicy food, then try the native Vindaloo curry with fish or chicken. It's hot!
- Avanthi near Panaji bus stand serves excellent vindaloo, sausages and Gaon fish curry and rice.
- Cafe Real, near the Azad maidan serves excellent vegetarian snacks. Piping hot, Bhaaji pao (Curried vegetables with local Goan Bread), Crisp Hot Kandea Bojjea (batter fried Onions), Mirchi Bojjea (Batter fried Green Peppers that are not half as hot as you would have imagined) over a hot cup of tea shouldn't be missed.
- Fidalgo Hotel, on 18th June Road, has 6 restaurants serving different types of food (Veg, Non-veg, Goan, etc.). Prices are high by local standards, but inexpensive for foreigners. Food is of excellent quality and there is something to be found for everyone! Aloo-stuffed paratha recommended at the Legacy of Bombay restaurant.
- George near St Mary Immaculate is recommended for the Goan specialty of tongue roast.
- Godinho's and George Bar and Restaurant (near Municipal Gardens) serve authentic Vindaloo, Sorpatel, Cafreal and Goan Sea food dishes.
- Gujarat Lodge, on 18th June Road, has excellent snacks and sweets. Busy in the evening when they have hot samosas (Rs.5/- each!) and other snacks. Also have great packaged snacks like chevda and banana chips to take home.
- Horse Shoe (A Ferradura), E-245, Rua De Ourem (near the foot bridge), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Monday 7PM-10:30PM, Tuesday-Saturday noon-2:30PM&7PM-10:30PM, Sunday closed. Portuguese Goan cuisine. If you are in need of some good western food, this is an excellent choice. Recommended!
- Kamats, situated opposite the Municipal Garden serves good Goan Vegetarian dishes. Famous for their vegetarian Thaali (A stainless steel tray with Rice, Puris, various types of Daals, Vegetables served in small steel bowls)
- Shanbag Cafe, Municipal Gardens, is a clean, simple cafe serving South Indian food, Indian snacks and thalis. Prices are excellent and the food is very tasty. Veg thali highly recommended (Rs.25/-).
- The Upper Place - next to Municipal Garden - http://www.upperhousegoa.com/ & 0832-2426475 - for a great authentic Goanese meal
- Viva Panaji. Tucked away in a small side street, Viva Panjim offers a variety of traditional Goan dishes at astonishingly good prices. The proprietor, Linda, makes the rounds to chat and make sure people are happy. The food is delicious, and authentic (read spicy).
There are lots of places in Goa where one can find a bar and restaurant. There's one around every corner of every road. Visitors arriving in Goa during the very early hours, stand a better chance of getting a tipple than a cuppa.
Many small village bars also serve authentic Goan fare. Some of the best and freshest Fish Curry and Rice and fried Fish, squid, mussels, crabs etc. can be had here. You can be sure it is authentic Goan fare as few tourists visit these places. Most of these bars offer a quiet laid back atmosphere to sip your drink and contemplate, unless of course a Cricket match is on television.
- Down The Road. at Pato Bridge, GM road. the other landmark is the general post office, 20 meters down to the bridge. The ground floor is a bar with Kala OK. The restaurant is at the 1st floor.The menu is GOA flavor and also Indian and Chinese food. Fish, pork is with highest cooking quality. sitting on the baloney, watching the river and surrounding is all local Panaji people.
- Rajshahi Restaurant, G1 G2 G3 Karmally Glass towers (Opp. Traffic Police Station), ☎ . 11-11. Best Muglai and Punjabi food11 150/head.
- Spicy Bella Bar & Restaurant, opp Campal Parade Gground, Bal Bhavan Rd (on the way to miramar beach), ☎ . 24 hrs. The speciality of this restaurant is Italian Pizzas and Pasta, which you have to try. The ‘Spicy Bella Pizza’ shown at the right is unarguably the best Italian pizza you can get around Panaji. It will keep you wanting for more. The other Italian pizzas are a bit plain, and go for those only if you have an appetite for Italian pizzas specifically. If you love Domino’s and US Pizzas, it is likely that you won’t like the usual Italian ones. The menu hosts an exotic list of pasta dishes. Since every pasta dish is totally different, we can’t comment much on their taste in general. The quantity is good enough for 2 people though. And with every pasta or pizza, you get about 4 different spices and pepper sauce. The drinks menu lists about 6-7 mocktails, but if you let them know that you’re all in for moctails, you will be presented with the bartender’s special menu with super exotic ones and all kinds of combinations such as kiwi juice with blue crush, pineapple juice with coconut cream and so on. We tried some cool ones. In the adjoining photo, the leftmost one is “Mickey donald”, with a dominant pineapple taste and an hint of strawberry and cream. Prefect for pineapple lovers. The one in the middle is ‘Pink Blossom’ from the regular menu. It has a combination of pineapple, orange and litchi. The one that took the longest to make is the one at the right, called ‘Spring Cooler’. It is a unique blend of juices, cream, and crush. Overall, we can say that Spicy Bella has the most exotic list of mocktails on the menu.
There is a wide choice of hotels to stay in, in and around Panaji. The week between Christmas and New Year however tends to be very crowded, as in the rest of Goa.
- Cidade de Goa, ☎ .
- Ginger Goa, Plot no 37,38 SGO complex, EDC (near the main bus terminal and near the Passport Office), ☎ , fax: +91 832 6656336, e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. Budget hotel with spacious rooms and modern facilities. Value for money.
- Mitaroy Suites Goa, 31st January Roda, Fontainhas, ☎ . A small Heritage Hotel with a couples-only policy. Suites are extremely spacious and some even have balconies. Jack, the manager, was really friendly and helpful. Free Wifi and Free Goan Breakfast. Rs 6400 / €91.
- Panjim Inn. One of the better heritage hotels in Panaji, available only on advance booking. Room prices are upwards of 1600/night.
- A Pousada Guest House, Luís de Menezes Rd. This is a small guest house so best to book ahead. Extending your stay here is nearly impossible as they will book your room out from under you. It is clean. No Wi-Fi; water is hot. Doubles are 600-800 Rs per night.
Cybercafes around Panaji
- E-Com Synergies G-2 Unitech City Centre, Panaji 403001 5641305
- Magsons Network (P) Ltd, 2 Ground Floor, Maganlal Sadan, Dada Vaidya Rd, Panaji 403001
- Magsons Network (P) Ltd 707, DB Marg 403012 Ph 2463700
- Yeshwant Anant Kamat Tarcar, Ground Floor, John Paul Building, Panaji 403001 Ph 2426537
Cybercafes around Miramar
- Arte D Ouro Cell World, Nova Cidade Building Complex, S-1, Porvorim 403521 Ph 2276790
- Kool Dude Cyber Cafe, H.No.860/3, Alto Porvorim, Bardez 403521 Ph 2415502
- M/s SharpShooters.Net, Opp: Maruthi True Value, D.B.Marg, Miramar 403001 Alto Porvorim
- Shaileshdotcom, Shop No.14, New Housing Board Market Com 403521 2412376
- British Tourist Assistance Office, S13/14, Dempo Towers, Patto Plaza, ☎ , fax: 6641297, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Britain, which has a significant number of tourists visiting the region, also has its Tourist Assistance Office (earlier designated as a consular officer) based here. Germany, Austria (in the port town of Vasco da Gama) and Italy have their honorary consuls.
- Austrian Consulate, Salgaocar House, Vasco, ☎ .
- German honorary consulate, Cosme Matias Menezes Pvt. Ltd., Rua de Ourem, ☎ , fax: +91 832 222 34 41, e-mail: email@example.com. Mon-Fri 10AM-5PM. Mr. Dean Menezes serves as Germany's honorary consul within the State of Goa. Only limited services
- Italian Vice Consulate, D1 Sesa Ghor, Patto Plaza, ☎ , fax: +91 832 2365785.
- Portuguese Consulate General, 38-39 Father Angelo Rd-Altinho, ☎ , fax: +91 8322421522, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Goa is home to the Consulate General of Portugal, which is understandable, as Portugal has had close and long historic and colonial ties with Goa. As Portugal never recognized India's takeover of the state, for a long time, it considered Goans eligible for Portuguese passports. While it is no longer as easy as it once was for people of Goan origin, this continues to be available, but difficult and time-consuming to obtain now especially for those born after 1961.
- Dona Paula - A beach town outside Panaji and beyond Miramar. This is where so many Bollywood (Hindi) films have been shot. No wonder it is hyped up among Hindi film audiences. Scenic. In fair weather, a boat service connects this point with Vasco da Gama.