Goa has a stereotypical image of partying, booze, clubs, and dancing. Little do we know about its rich history and an option of indulgence in its Indo-Portuguese culture.
This blog post here is to shatter this stereotypical image and open doors to the other side of Goa that you did not know existed!
A story you should know…
We all know that India attained its freedom in 1947 but did we know that Goa did in 1961? It is because the Portuguese were not ready to let go of Goa! Well, neither did I and learned more recently!
The Portuguese arrived in Goa in 1510 under their commander Afonso de Albuquerque and captured the city from Adil Shah, the ruler of the Bijapur Kingdom, Karnataka.
They came to the East in search of trade and to eventually spread Christianity.
Panjim was declared the capital of Goa in pre-independence times by the Portuguese because the former capital Ela (now known as Old Goa) was ingested with White Man’s Disease which plagued the entire city and its economy!
It was caused by the immense migration of Europeans due to increasing trade opportunities. Numerous ships parked in the docks carried a lot of rats which caused this outbreak of plague!
Goa’s economy was booming to an extent that it became as important as Lisbon (Portugal’s capital) since it matched Lisbon and London’s economy. Hence, the Portuguese ruled Goa for 450 years and were still not ready to leave until Jawaharlal Nehru sent troops to fight them!
Things to do in Panjim
I had a day in Panjim and planned to make the most out of it while absorbing the place’s vibe. Instead of checking off the places off the list, I decided to go slow and time permitted only the first two places from below.
If you have 1-3 days, you can visit all the places mentioned below and enjoy at your will and pace.
Fontainhas’ 2 hour walking tour
Fontainhas is renowned for its colourful buildings and facades along with historical tales about this place.
Founded by a Goan expatriate named Antonio Joao de Sequeira, these lanes are going to help you time travel to the 15th & 16th Century!
Read my experience of a walking tour here.
Reis Margos Fort
Timings: 9:30 am to 5 pm (Closed on Mondays). Entry Fee: INR 50 /-
This fort has seen a lot of rulers from the Vijaynagar Empire, the Mughals, the Portuguese, the Khalsas and finally, the Marathas! The long war between the Adilshahi dynasty and the Vijaynagar empire, followed by Afonso de Albuquerque and the Adilshahi dynasty wanting to capture Goa was never-ending from 1490 to 1600!
From its origin as a defense fortress in 1551 to being used as a jail and then a hospital, the fort has served the state since 1493 and was abandoned in 1993. It is now resorted and owned by the Government of Goa for us to walk down in history!
The fort also houses a freedom fighter gallery and leases its space for events, an art gallery, gun loops, and, history and restoration gallery.
Pro Tip: Since the time required for this fort is 1-2 hours, I would suggest you visit this place in the second half to experience the setting sun (to avoid the scorching heat), evening winds, and the picturesque views of the Arabian Sea in the less scorching sun over your heads.
The Panjim Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is placed on the hillside and just high above the Idalco Palace built by Adil Shah.
Standing on the gallery of the church, you can see the entire view of the lovely Panjim city.
It is one of Panjim’s best attractions located in the heart of the city and is the first church of Goa, built in 1541.
Museum of Goa
I have heard the appreciation of Mr. Subodh Kerkar from A LOT of Goans! I really admire the fact that how Mr. Subodh has been able to impress the locals to this level.
Museum of Goa (MOG) celebrates Goa’s history and people through contemporary art. MOG is envisioned not just as a repository of objects, but as a laboratory of ideas where all forms of art are in constant dialogue with each other.
Timings: 10 am – 6 pm (Mondays closed). The entry fee is INR 150 for Indians and INR 300 for foreigners.
Find more information about the place here.
- You can go on a day’s trip to Old Goa and relive the history with a guided 3-hour tour or simply visit these places for fun and photography!
- The Basilica of Bom Jesus which houses the remains of St. Francis Xavier
- The imposing Sé Cathedral (the largest church in Goa)
- The Church of St Francis of Assisi, Our Lady of Rosary, and St Cajetan
- The Chapels of St Catherine, Our Lady of the Mount, and St Anthony
- The ruins of the Tower of St Augustine’s Church.
Indulge in Authentic Goan (Indo-Portuguese) Food
If you are a foodie, Goa is a place to be. You can take one of the guided tours to understand more about cooking and its history. Moreover, the must-visit places in Panjim will be Cafe Venite, Fishermen’s Warf, Peep Kitchen, Konkani Kanteen, Horseshoe Bar & Restaurant, Baba’s Wood Café, John’s Bar, etc.
Events in Panjim
If you love art, you should and drop by in these months for some contemporary music and are literary festivals! Goa Carnival in February, International Film Festival of Goa, Serendipity Arts Festival in November – December.
Mangrove Boardwalk recently created to relax and unwind with numerous birds, mudfishes and mangroves. It is created on the Ourem Creek and is off the tourist’s radar. You can probably come here to escape a scorching heat and let the foliage get you fresh cool winds.
Visit Miramar Beach
Never heard of this beach, I presummed it to be less crowded. But maybe it was a weekend or maybe it is really famous with the locals and travellers alike, the beauch was filled with fun vibes.
Relaxing on the beach while being mesmerized by the sunset was one of the best ways to end your day.
How to reach Panjim?
Fly in- from the nearest airport – Dabolim airport in Goa.
By road: 1) Book a bus from Goibibo or Redbus (for ~INR 1000 one way for an overnight journey from Mumbai/ Pune/ Bangalore) and get down at Thivim, Goa. 2) Go hit the road with Zoomcaror your own car to reach the Goan beauty!
You can alternatively book a train from IRCTC (for ~INR 400 sleeper class one way) from your city to Thivim, Goa.
Internal commute in Panjim
You can hire scooters (from Tobacco square/ Post office) for a day at ~INR300-600 per day.
Alternatively, you can also hire a car for the number of days you’re in Goa. We hired a car for a day for INR 2500 (ideal for a group trip).
You’ll find a lot of taxis outside the airport/ railway stations and need not worry about pre-booking. However, if you’d like to pre-book, you can contact Mr. Anand on +91 9822988352.
Best time to explore Panjim
Given its placement in on a marshy land in a sea’s creek, the best time to explore Panjim is in the winter months from October to February.
Unless you do not mind being toasted under the scorching heat of the sun from March to May and enjoy the monsoon from June to September.
Where to eat?
With a plethora of cafes available at your fingertips and where your eyes take you. A quick zomato search will also help you immensely.
Other blogs you might enjoy reading:
- A day in Divar Island- offbeat Goa. Read here.
- 3 days in Olaulim, offbeat Goa. Read here.
- Pondicherry- things to do in 3 days. Read here.
I hope this blog helps you plan your travel easily, making it possible to share it with your travel companions!