Panaji, located at the mouth of the Mandovi river, is the capital city of Goa. 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 Portuguese Quarter at the eastern end of town.
There are two old sections of the city existing today, one called "Fontainhas" and the other "Sao Tome". The hillock overlooking the city is called "Altinho". Fontainhas is a lovely old residential area amidst shady cobbled streets connecting red-tile-roofed houses with overhanging balconies, much like a country town in Spain or Portugal. Apart from its old-world charm, Fontainhas is notable for the Chapel of St Sebastian (St Sebastian Rd) which was built in 1818.
The Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is located in the town centre near the Municipal Gardens. The Church of the Immaculate Conception is easily one of the most elegant and picturesque monuments in Goa. Built in 1541 AD, atop a high, symmetrical, crisscrossing stairway, the church is a white edifice topped with a huge bell that stands in between two delicate Baroque style towers.
There are some fine government buildings along the riverside boulevard, most notable among which is the Adil Shah Palace. In the 16th century, this edifice was the Palace of Adil Shah, the Sultan of Bijapur. The Portuguese took over the palace and constructed the viceregal lodge in 1615. In 1843, the structure became the Secretariat, and the latest proposal is to convert it into a museum. The town also has some beautiful Portuguese baroque style buildings and enchanting old villas.
Municipal Gardens are located at the town’s centre. The Ashoka Pillar in the centre once had a statue of Vasco da Gama as its crowning glory, but is now topped by the seal of present day India, four lions sitting back to back atop an abacus decorated with a frieze and the inscription ‘Truth Alone Triumphs’.
- The Braganza Institute houses the tiled frieze which depicts the 'mythical' representation of the colonisation of Goa by the Portuguese.
- Azad Maidan houses a modern sculpture dedicated to freedom fighter and ‘Father of Goan Nationalism’ Dr Tristao de Braganza Cunha (1891 – 1958).
- Miramar beach, a lovely golden beach of soft sand girdled with palm trees, is the main beach outside of state-capital Panaji. It is the usual hangout for urbanites from Panjim and around.
- Dona Paula, located beyond Miramar, is where many Bollywood (Hindi) films have been shot. In fair weather, a boat service connects this point with Vasco da Gama.
Today, Panaji is also an educational, commercial and cultural center of Goa. The Goa Medical College used to be situated here (since moved to Bambolim ); so does the Goa College of Pharmacy, the Goa College of Art, and the Government Polytechnic. The Dhempe College of Arts and Sciences is situated in nearby Miramar.