Panjim has some of the most beautiful churches in India. The Largo Da Igreja Church Square is a great example of the Portuguese rule and the architecture. The Church of the Immaculate Conception was built in the year 1541 and is definitely one of the most beautiful monuments in Goa. It is built on top of a huge symmetrical stairway and has a massive bell hung between two towers, which have been constructed in the Portuguese Baroque style. If The Church of the Immaculate Conception is the most beautiful church in Goa, then Basilica of Born Jesus is definitely the most famous church in Goa. It is in this 16th century church that the body of St. Francis Xavier has been kept. The mortal remains have been enclosed in a glass casket and enshrined here. This church receives hundreds of pilgrims and tourists every year. The Church of St. Francis of Assisi is a beautiful church with exquisite paintings. In close proximity to this church is the Chapel of St. Catherine.
The Old City of Goa is located towards the east of Panjim at a distance of approximately 10 kilometres. Old Goa was founded during the 16th century and has some beautiful sights and churches. A must visit sight in Old Goa is the ruins of St. Augustine’s Tower. It is the ruins of the Church of St. Augustine that was built in the year 1602, it is near the nunnery and the tower rises up to 46 metres high. The Royal Chapel of St. Anthony, built during the 17th century is located towards the west of St Augustine and is dedicated to the national St of Portugal. In close proximity to the Basilica of Born Jesus is the Holy Hill and situated there is the beautiful Church Of Our Lady Of The Rosary. On the way to this church is the Church and Convent of St. Monica, a beautiful three-storeyed, laterite building. Approximately 2 kilometres from the main town is the Chapel of Our Lady of the Mount, situated on top of a hill and offering panoramic views.
Panjim has an Archaeological Museum and Portrait Gallery, which has been functional since the year 1964.The museum is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India and was originally a convent of St. Francis of Assisi. The museum and gallery houses portraits, coins, rupees and sculptures from the Portuguese and late medieval era. It also houses bronze and wooden sculptures. The other museum known as the Archives Museum Goa, in Panaji is located near the Ourem creek and has a huge collection of artefacts. There are also a number of temples in Panaji, the most important of them being Sri Mahalakshmi Temple, dedicated to the Goddess Mahalakshmi the most important deity in Panaji.
There are many tourist destinations in close proximity to Panaji. Dona Paula, which can easily be reached by taxis, motorcycle taxis or hired motorbikes is a place where the two rivers of Goa fall into the Arabian Sea. This place also offers a great view of the Marmagao Harbour. Fort Aguada was built in the year 1612 by the Portuguese and it is still in a good condition. Situated opposite to this fort on the south side of river Mandovi is the Cabo Palace built in the year 1540. This palace was home to Franciscan monastery. There are also many other important monuments in and around Panjim and Old Goa, such as the Gate of the College of St. Paul, the Palace of Adil Shah at Old Goa, the Viceroy Arch and the Pillory, a lone tower on a platform, which was once the centre of the city and used as a place to punish offenders.
There are a few lakes near Panaji, such as the Corambolin Lake near Old Goa, which is covered with lilies and Mayem Lake situated in middle of lush green hills, approximately 35 kilometres from Panjim. Another water body near Panjim is Kesarval springs, situated 22 kilometres from the main town. The spring is also known to have medicinal properties. Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary, situated towards north of Panaji is a lush green forest spread over 240 square kilometres, rich in wildlife.
Apart from these main attractions, one can always take a stroll across the Fontainhas and Sao Tome, which houses the old houses and narrow lanes filled with charming taverns and cafes. Or one can explore the islands across the river in a ferry. There are cruises available to explore the river, on yachts with casinos in it. Or just laze around in one of the many restaurants and cafes.
Panjim has these charming heritage hotels, such as Panjim Inn and Panjim Peoples. The architecture of these heritage hotels reflect the Portuguese architecture and a stay in these hotels can cost anywhere between Rs 1600 to 6000. Sun N Sand, Hotel Fidalgo and The Majestic Goa are some of the five star hotels in Panjim. Apart from the hotels there are a number of small budget hotels and guest houses which provide food and accommodation. A Pousada Guest House is a very good option for budget travellers, it is clean and a stay will cost anywhere between Rs 300 to Rs 500.
Charming old structures and beautiful churches; the lazy river and the boulevards; the reminiscence of the Portuguese rule and the laid back cafes; the river cruises and the numerous taverns, and the amazing restaurants serving delicious food and the warm people make Panjim worth a visit.