The official name for the capital of Goa is Panaji, though in Konkani it is often pronounced as ‘Ponnji’. The Portuguese name for it was ‘Pongim’, from which originated the other name by which it is known – Panjim. The name Panjim is used mostly by English speaking people.
Panaji means “land that never floods”.It has terraced hills, concrete buildings with balconies and red-tiled roofs, churches, and a riverside promenade. There are avenues lined with gulmohar, acacia and other trees. The Baroque Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church is located overlooking the main square known as Praça da Igreja. Colourful villas, cobbled streets and interesting buildings give Panaji a Portuguese ambience.
Panaji is the first city in India to be built on a planned grid system. Panaji has been selected as one of the hundred Indian cities to be developed as a smart city under PM Narendra Modi’s flagship Smart Cities Mission.
Panaji was annexed by India with the rest of Goa and the former Portuguese territories in the Indian annexation of Portuguese India in 1961 from Portuguese rule. Panaji became a state-capital on Goa’s elevation to statehood in 1987. Between 1961 and 1987, it was the capital of the Union Territory of Goa, Daman and Diu. A new Legislative Assembly complex was inaugurated in March 2000, across the Mandovi River, in Alto Porvorim. Panaji is also the administrative headquarters of North Goa district.
Panaji is located at 15°29′56″N 73°49′40″E. It has an average elevation of 7 meters (23 feet). Panaji has various vāde or sub-divisions, some of which are São Tomé, Fontainhas, Mala, Portais, Altinho, Cortin, Praça da Igreja, Tar (near the ferry wharf), Bāzār, Japão (near Don Bosco), and Boca de Vaca. Some areas outlying it are Cāmpāl, Santa Inez, Chinchollem, Batulem, and Pātto. Besides lying on the banks of the Mandovi River, Panaji is bounded by two creeks, locally called pői in the singular, namely Ourém and Santa Inêz.
Panaji features a tropical monsoon climate (Köppen climate classification Am). The climate in Panaji is hot in summer and equable in winter. During summers (from March to May) the temperature reaches up to 32 °C and in winters (from December to February) it is usually between 31 °C and 23 °C.
The monsoon period is from June to September with heavy rainfall and gusty winds. The annual average rainfall is 2,932 mm (115.43 in).
Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is a bird sanctuary named after the ornithologist Dr Salim Ali. The sanctuary, located in the village of Chorão, near Panaji, plays host to rare and endangered bird species—both migratory and resident.
Goa is famous for its beaches, and Miramar, Bambolim, and Dona Paula are three popular beaches located near Panaji.
Dona Paula is the meeting point for two of Goa’s famous rivers, Zuari and Mandovi. These two rivers meet at the Arabian Sea. The official residence of the Governor of Goa, known as Cabo Raj Bhavan, is situated on the westernmost tip of Dona Paula.
Miramar Beach is one of the more crowded beaches in Goa, which remains full with local and international tourists throughout the year.
Also located near Panaji, is the Goa Science Centre which was opened to the public in December 2001. The Caculo Mall is also located in St. Inez near Panaji.