Picturesque Panaji, the capital city of Goa sprawls along the southern bank of the river Mandovi and is dominated by a wooded hill, called Altinho. This well-planned town is noted for its beautiful red-roofed houses in a Latin style and a network of streets laid out at right angles, which are lined with Gulmohar, acacia and other ornamental trees. The area between the bus terminal and town center is marked by the Church Square and the Municipal Garden and is indeed the most pleasant part of Panaji.
Secretariat Building (Idalcao Palace): It occupies the site of the castle built by Yusuf Adil Shah of Bijapur in 1510 and is the oldest building in this part of Goa. The Portuguese rebuilt the castle in 1615, to defend the mouth of the river Mandovi. The fort became the official residence of the Viceroy. in 1759, which was shifted to Cabo Raj Bhawan in 1918. In 1843, the Secretariat was shifted here and now it houses the Passport Office.
Statue of Abbe Faria: The bronze statue of Abbe Faria, located next to the Secretariat is an important landmark of Goa. It portrays Faria, regarded as the ‘Father of Hypnotism in an act of mesmerizing a woman patient.
Church of the Lady of Immaculate Conception: This imposing church at the main square in the heart of the town was originally built in 1540 and was rebuilt from the foundation in 1619. It is modeled on the church of Reis Magos and has tall twin towers in Portuguese Baroque style.
Municipal Gardens: The well laid out garden at the city center has an Ashoka pillar at its center
Jama Masjid: The domeless mosque lies just south of Municipal Gardens. It was built by Suleiman Shet and Aba Shet, about 200 years ago and was recently renovated.
Azad Maidan: It is the venue for flower shows and also has a small pavilion where modern Indian sculptures are displayed.
Menezes Braganza Institute & Central Library: It is located in the north-west corner of Azad Maidan and was established in 1871, as a scientific and literary institution. The institute also has a small art gallery, which displays some rare prints and paintings. The Central Library on the lower floor of the building was set up in 1832 and is the oldest public library in India.
State Archaeology Museum It was initially located at St. In and has now been shifted at Patto Plaza. The museum has about 8000 exhibits, which includes sculptures, wooden articles, bronzes, paintings, manuscripts, numismatic collection, etc
Sculpture Gallery: It has Hindu carvings and bronzes dating back to the 4th century. Other places of interest at Panaji are – Astronomical Observatory, Christian Art Gallery, Mahalakshmi Temple, Fontainhas, Chapel of St Sebastian, etc.
Aguada Fort (18 kms.)
It was built by the Portuguese in 1609 1612, to guard the entry into River Mandovi. Today, it houses the central Jail. A lighthouse is located nearby.
Dona Paula (9 kms.)
It is set on the scenic headland between the Zuari and Mandovi estuaries and is named after Dona Paula de Menezes, whose tombstone can be seen at the chapel in Cabo. The site is associated with various myths of Dona Paula and has earned the epitaph of Lover’s Paradise’. The delightful Dauna Paula Bay, where Goa’s two most famous rivers Zuari and Mandovi meet the Arabian Sea, is an important tourist attraction. One can enjoy a picturesque view of the Zuari estuary and Mormugao harbor. Ferry service is available between Dona Paula Jetty and Mormugao, except during the monsoons. Water-scooter and boat rides here are very popular among the tourists. Near the ferry jetty on a small outcrop of a rock is the beautiful sculpture of a couple (man and woman) named ‘Image of India’, made by Baroness Yrsa von Leistner. On the westernmost tip of the peninsula is Cabo Raj Bhavan, the official residence of the GovernorofGoa. The famous Institute of Oceanography is located nearby.
Miramar Beach (Gaspar Dias) (3 kms.)
The lovely golden beach beyond a small forest attracts a large number of locals and tourists. It is not ranked among the safe beaches for swimmers.
Mapusa (13 kms.)
It is one of the most important towns in northern Goa, especially for the tourist holidaying on the beaches of northern Goa. Mapusa is 45 kms. from Dabolim airport, on the Mumbai-Goa National Highway 17 and is an important road junction. Mapusa Rd. railhead lies on the Konkan Railway.
Old Goa (9 kms.)
The former capital and the principal city of the Portuguese eastern empire was known as the Rome of the East’ and the ‘Pearl of the Orient’. It is set on the southern bank of Mandovi river and is a splendid showcase of the massive and overpowering Portuguese presence in India. Old Goa is studded with majestic cathedrals and monuments, reflecting the rich history and glory of the bygone era. The impressive monuments of Old Goa are considered to be the finest examples of Renaissance architecture in the world. A visit to Goa is rendered incomplete without visiting this religious historic town.
Main Square & Se Cathedral: It is set in the heart of Old Goa and flanked by the Basilica of Bom Jesus to the south and the Se Cathedral, Church of St Francis Assisi and an archeological museum to the north. The imposing Se Cathedral dominates the main square and is the largest church in entire Asia, measuring 35.56 m high on the facade, 76.2 m in length and 55.16 m in width. It is dedicated to St. Catherine and is built in Portuguese-Gothic style, with Tuscan Doric exteriors and Corinthian interiors.
Archaeological Museun? & Portrait Gallery: It is housed in the convent behind the Church of St Francis of Assisi. The building has two floors, the lower one has an Archaeological Museum, exhibiting sculptures and bronzes. The Portrait Gallery on the upper floor has several paintings and portraits of the Portuguese viceroys to India.
Chapel of St. Catherine: The chapel located just west of the Archaeological Museum was originally built in 1510, by Albuquerque to commemorate his victory of Goa on the St.Catherine’s Day.
Basilica of Bom Jesus: This most popular church of Goa is dedicated to Bom Jesus’- meaning ‘good or infant Jesus’. It is located to the south of the main square and houses the uncorrupted remains of the holy apostle St. Francis’ Xavier. The historical church was declared as a World Heritage Monument’ by UNESCO. The construction of the basilica started in 1594 and was completed in 1605. Built-in cruciform plan, it is an excellent example of Jesuit architecture and is an amazing blend of Neoclassical restraint and Baroque extravagance. The magnificent three-tiered facade adorned with intricate carvings, has elements of logic design at the lowest level, Doric in the middle and Corinthian design at the top. It has a disproportionately large central pediment at top and is crowned by a large Jesuit emblem which depicts three letters IHS’, meaning Jesus Saviour of men’.
Viceroy’s Arch: This ceremonial gateway was built by Governor Francisco da Gama (1597 1600), in honor of his great- grandfather Vasco da Gama. It marks the traditional entrance to Old Goa from the Mandovi riverfront and was used as the main entry point for the Portuguese viceroys. The arch was rebuilt in 1954 and stands in regal majesty, although few traces of the original arch are present.
Gateway of Adil Shah’s Palace: It lies to the left of Viceroy’s Arch and is the only surviving part of the magnificent palace of Adil Shah. After the independence of Goa, the Archaeological Survey of India erected this gateway by piecing together the ruins.
Church of St. Cajetan: It was built in 1655, by the Italian friars of the Order of Theatines, on the lines of St Peter’s Church in Rome. Other important churches at Old Goa are-Church of Our Lady of the Mount, Church of Carmelites, Convent & Church of St. John of God, Church & Convent of St. Monica, Chapel of St. Anthony, Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, etc.
Pilar (11 kms.)
It was an important religious and educational center of Christian Missionaries. The Church, Seminary and School perched atop a hillock affords a panoramic view of the Mormugao Harbour, Zuari river and the scenic countryside.
Dr. SalimAli Bird Sanctuary (3 kms.)
The beautiful sanctuary sprawls over an area of 1.78 sq. kms. on the south-western tip of Chorao Island along Mandovi River. It is covered by lush mangrove vegetation crisscrossed by a network of tributaries and inland streams. Although small in size, the sanctuary plays host to several species of local as well as migratory birds and is aptly named after Dr. Salim Ali, India’s most celebrated ornithologist. It can be easily reached from the Ribandar ferry wharf in Panaji. After crossing over on the Ribandar Chorao ferry, one has to walk to reach the sanctuary. Taking a boat tour on a canoe fitted with an outboard motor is very exciting.