I have been to Goa as a young teenager at the height of ‘Hippie Boom’ in the 70’s and when the westerns were discovering Goa searching for ‘Nirvana’. There were shacks on the beach and not much of commercial activities. India was also not in the economic growth cycle that is currently seen, there was no use of plastic and things were more or less sleepy. You could wander on the beach and find young westerners swimming in the nude. The locals ignored them and I guess the police did not know what to do with this phenomenon. Indians, even those living close to the beach, do not take to the pleasures of ocean swimming as do people in western cultures. Most of the women do not wear swimming suits and dip fully clothed. This time it was different.
The earlier famous Calangute, Anjuna beaches were full of locals. More Indian are now able to travel and explore the notoriety associated with these beaches. The nude European and western tourist have left for other beaches.
I did find some Indian men in bathing suits but the women were fully clothed. Now back to Panjim.
Goa is divided into three parts essentially. The Old North, The New South and the Old Goa.
The North has Panjim (the older established city), the Old Goa has the earlier settlements and the magnificent churches and cathedrals (some of them now being restored by Archeological Survey of India) and the south has resorts and beaches.
We researched the internet to find the Panjim Inn . It is an old heritage property. The current owners are the Maharaja of Jodhpur and the ITC, an Indian hotel company. They have several properties, including this one.
The area around Panjim Inn is quite fascinating. As someone who grew up in India, older communities and buildings are quite familiar. Still, Panjim was quite a feast for eyes. We were there on Sunday and the town was closed (shops etc). Few shops opened in the evening (in many parts of India the shops open by 10am-11am and then afternoon is the siesta time. The shops open late till 10pm).
Panjim Inn had many foreign guests, Japanese, European and American. They were soaking in the history of the place.
For me, the Inn was a bit of a disappointment. We paid INR 4400 per night and that is quite a bit for Indian standard. Yet the rooms, the surroundings of the hotel were a bit shabby and could be kept clean. The walls by the door had dirty hand marks, the table had water stains left by a wet glass.
Of all the places we stayed, Panjim Inn had one of the best breakfast-very earthy, healthy and small but good selection.
The rooms otherwise were reasonable and modestly clean. For an establishment like this, they could have done a better job and I think simply shows lack of personal touches. Later I will discuss our stay a another similar place in Rajasthan were the standards were impeccable.
I am always interested in good places to eat where the food is not pretentious but clean and reasonable. Our daughter traveling with us who is 12 years of age, enjoys exploring new places and loves food. So that makes two of us with similar likings.
Panjim has a nice unassuming eating place called KAMAT. It is located at Church Square, opposite the Municipal gardens. The restaurant is open everyday and serves usual Indian food (Maharashtra and South Indian style). The food is clean and it is real affordable. We were 3 persons and had lunch with tea, soft drinks and cost us around $5 US dollars.
Traveling within India is a not like Europe where transportation is efficient, easily within reach and affordable. In India, public transport within the city is generally not so easy and rather crowded. The only exception is probably larger cities like Mumbai and New Delhi. It is easier to rent a taxi or a car including the driver. Be mindful though that if you are short of time, and want to cover the usual tourist places, the drivers will try to stop at commercial establishments where they receive ‘bonus’ in some form or the other. It is important to read some travel books and decide where you wish to travel. Our
trip was more of a discovery tour, stopping two-three days at each location. So we relied on the taxi to take us to the usual stops.
Much of India, including Panjim, is replete with historical structures. Around Panjim, the most famous landmark is Fort Aguada. It is an old fort built by the Portuguese as a look out to the bay. You can read about this in detail on the Wiki: FORT AGUADA
The older buildings and the structures in Panjim are beautiful and reflection of Indian culture and Portuguese influence. The colors reflect the red soil of the area.
When you are new to a place, it is exciting to discover places by simply stumbling upon them. However, when you are traveling in hired car, the taxi drivers have their own agenda to take you places where they get commission. While we were in Bangkok, Thailand, we discovered the hard way. By the time we were half way through the pre-discussed city tour in a Tuk-Tuk, we were completely exhausted stopping at touristy and commercial places that the driver forced upon us.
In Panjim, the cab driver was very good but he started his sorry story on how he will be able to get extra points to get some fuel if we visited places that he suggested. We decided that no we will not. There after he did not mention these places but we realized that he looked unhappy.
We had planned to stay in Panjim for one night and then move to South Goa. We rented the cab to take us to south Goa and along the way to stop at the Bisilica. The Basilica was in ruins few years ago and the Archeological Survey of India is now preserving it.
The architecture of Goa is reflective of the Indian and Portuguese influences in yellow and red hues- reflecting the red soil of the area. I have some of the pictures that shows the different building in Panjim.