The last few concrete signage boards in Panjim
The last few concrete signage boards in PanjimPhoto: Rohan Fernandes

Here's how these 5 famous tourist spots got their names

Wondering what Calangute or Arambol mean? The answer is right here

This one is for all the Goans out there who at some point have had to struggle to decipher which location the haplessly lost tourist is talking about.

Many-a-times the name of a place in Goa is mispronounced, so today we will give you some insight into the names of 5 famous places in Goa. We will tell you the origin of the name and something interesting about it too.

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The streets of Panjim, Goa.
The streets of Panjim, Goa. Photo: Rohan Fernandes

1. PANJIM / PANAJI

Panjim/Panaji as we all know is the capital of Goa as well as the headquarters of North Goa. It lies along the banks of River Mandovi.

Now coming to the origin of its name - Panjim could possibly be a corruption of the word Panjanakhani. This word was found inscribed on the Panjim copper-plates dated 1059 CE, during the time of Kadamba king Jayakesi I.

After the Portuguese took over Goa around the 16th century, the city witnessed huge infrastructural and architectural changes. When Old Goa fell to disease, the Portuguese shifted their capital to Panjim and renamed it Nova Goa (New Goa). And the grandeur of Panjim grew with Portuguese power.

After the success of Operation Vijay, when the rule of the Portuguese came to an end in 1961, the city remained the capital of the union territory of Goa, Daman and Diu, and even when Goa achieved statehood.

Today, with its colonial charm, this city has become a major tourist hub in the country.

2. VASCO

We all know that the Goa airport is located in Vasco, but do we know how the city was named Vasco? Vasco da Gama is a city on the Mormugao peninsula. The coastal belt of Vasco is dotted with beaches like Baina Beach, Varca Beach and many more.

The city of Vasco gets its name from the famous European explorer Vasco Da Gama, who discovered the sea route to India.

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Benaulim beach in South Goa.
Benaulim beach in South Goa.Photo: Rohan Fernandes

3. BENAULIM

When we speak about Benaulim, the first thing that comes to mind is the beautiful beach. So here we will tell you how Benaulim sprang into existence. Before it was called Benaulim, it was known as Banavle or Banauli during the ancient times. This place derived its name from Bana- Halli, which means 'bow' in Hindi. This belief is said to have a connection to Lord Parashurama in Hindu mythology.  

The literal translation of the Sanskrit ‘Ban’ is 'arrow', and ‘Halli’, the Kannada word is 'village'. It is said that Lord Parashurama shot his arrow into the sea, demanding that the sea god Varuna recede up to the point where his arrow landed. The arrow was said to have landed in Banahalli and that's how Benaulim came into being.

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The famous Calangute beach.
The famous Calangute beach. Photo: Rohan Fernandes

4. CALANGUTE

As soon as you see the name pop up you know it’s going to be a party night. Let’s stop you there and tell you there is an interesting history to Calangute. In the ancient times, the place was known as Kalangute or Kolongutt. It is said that this name originated due to the fact that fishermen worshipped goddess Kali.

It is also possible that the name came from kalyangutt which means a 'village of art'. The third possibility is that the name is derived from Konvallo-ghott meaning 'a coconut with strong pith'.  After the invasion of the Portuguese, the word was distorted and changed to Calangute, and has remained so even now.

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5. ARAMBOL

The famous Arambol (Harmal) that we all know of was originally called Harhara or Harmala. It is believed that the Pandavas while in exile came to this village and began to take shelter in caves. Here they shouted 'Hari, Hari', which is another name for the god Vishnu.

Others say that the Pandavas shouted the words 'Hari' and 'mal'. Therefore Harmal means 'land of God'. Later on Arambol became the more popular name among tourists.

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