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Panjim is the capital city of Goa (elevated to this status in 1987). It is, however, only Goa's third largest city and is sited on the banks of the Mandovi River in the district of North Goa. As with many places in Goa the town has a distinctly Portuguese influence making it fundamentally different from any other city in India - the Portuguese ruled in Goa for some 400 years. The Portuguese named the city Panjim although it has been officially known as Panaji since the 1960s. The city comprises around 65 thousand inhabitants giving it an air of hustle and bustle although as elsewhere in Goa it is more tranquil than other cities in India.
The Portuguese inspiration is evident in Panjim's architecture and buildings making many of them worth a look during a visit to the town. Many of its churches and buildings represent fine examples of Portuguese baroque architecture. Perhaps one of the best examples in Goa is the Church of the Immaculate Conception which is an elegant 16th century construction complete with twin bell towers.
Despite its capital status the city is not over run by tourists and certainly provides an opportunity to engage with the friendly Goan people. You can easily travel around the city by flagging down a rickshaw or if you are feeling really brave hire a bicycle and take on the traffic! However the relatively small size of the city means that it can easily be explored on foot with a journey from one side to the other taking little more than an hour.
To reach the capital many international flights come into Mumbai or Delhi from where you can get a connecting flight to Goa's airport Dabolim which is some 29km south of Panjim. The city is then an easy taxi ride away from the airport. Although many people tend to miss the capital and head straight for the beaches it is worth stopping a while to soak up the flavour of the city. Nearby you can also visit the old capital of Old Goa which although ruined is a world heritage site.
There is plentiful accommodation in Panjim from all price points although the city does get busy during the festival of St. Francis which happens in early December. There is also a wide choice of cuisine with some of the best examples of Goan cuisine on offer including its well known vindaloo curry.
Just outside the city are the beaches of Dona Paula (scene of many a Bollywood movie) and Miramar, both glorious beaches offering a refuge away from the bustle of the city. Panjim proximity to the sea and the river give rise to many water based attractions. A cruise along the Mandovi River is recommended to see the sun set or for the more thrill seeking a speed boat trip can be arranged. The river is home to a number of casino boats which attract tourists and locals alike. The city is ideally centrally located to travel out to either North or South Goa depending on whether a relaxing (go South) or a livelier Northern beach resort is required.