Why do I love Panjim? Or rather, how can anyone NOT like Panjim? It's not a metropolitan city, there are no high-rises, no swanky malls- so all of you who vouch for these, you'd definitely hate the place.
Then what does it offer? Greenery all around. Well maintained roads, with a driving-sense that's better compared to most other places in the country. Fresh sea air that licks your nostrils and beckons you to spend an evening watching the sunset over the Arabian Sea. Long wide paths to walk by the serene river Mandovi. The broad avenues are designed in a smart way [smart is the key, after all!]. There are roads leading off the main road that are perfect to own a villa at. The main market area is chaotic, yes, yet there is some amount of discipline inbuilt. It would be very rare to chance upon a vehicle that's haphazardly parked somewhere. Even if you do, it wouldn't be long before it's towed away.
|An Evening by the Mandovi|
There's the Kala Academy that houses cultural events of various sorts to spend the weekends at, be it Konkani plays, or bhajan programs. If these do not interest you, you could simply sit by the river and get engrossed in your favorite book. The Ferry service, which is a free service by the state Government is a commendable one. The sheer discipline and patience displayed by the commuters had left me dumbstruck. I didn't hear a single abuse, not one honk!
The Latin quarters of the city is another hidden gem. Fountainhas is that bit of Panjim that can almost make one forget that he/she's in India. Brightly painted, beautifully maintained homes with azulejos, clean narrow winding streets form the highlights of this area. And if you’re bored on a Sunday evening, you could simply go and fish by the Ourem creek. People are soft spoken, and are generally ready to help.
The city is well connected by air, rail and road. And the best part for a traveler is staying in the main city is cheaper than fancy places by the sea. And lastly, the food. There are so many good restaurants offering awesome seafood, at very reasonable prices!
It is many points like these that add up to make this place my favourite city in India, scoring a notch higher than even my home-town, Mangalore, which over time is fast turning into a noisy, cluttered, claustrophobic hub. Is there anything that should be addressed before it's too late here? Yes, it's high time something is done about the garbage piled up in certain places in the Mandovi.
Though Panjim has changed over the years, the place has somehow managed to still retain at-least some of its old-world charm. The drive of the city lies in the warmth of the people, and the sheer way of life, susegad! And it’s an earnest hope that Panjim doesn’t end up like just another ‘modern’ city.