Slung along the banks of the wide Mandovi River, Panaji (also still widely known by its former Portuguese name Panjim), Goa’s small and spritely state capital since 1843, boasts its own laid-back brand of originality. Purpose-built neat and tidy by its former Portuguese colonisers, the city’s inhabitants have adapted its European-flavoured legacy to suit their affluent and easygoing needs. Nowhere here will you find the rush and hustle of most Indian cities; the Panaji pace is steadfastly stately, its streets are wide and tree-lined and its centre refreshingly free from hawkers and tricksters.
The city’s architecture is the surest sign that Goa evolved independently of the rest of India. In the small old quarters of Fontainhas and Sao Tomé, winding alleyways are lined with Portuguese-style houses, boasting distinctive red-tiled roofs, wooden window shutters and rickety balconies decorated with bright pots of petunias. Here, whitewashed churches lurk down laneways, a short wander from technicolour Hindu temples.