Dona Paula is a former village, and tourist destination, in the suburbs of Panaji, Goa, India. It is today home to the National Institute of Oceanography, and just alongside it lie the Goa University and the International Centre Goa. It is also home to a number of hotels, small and large, and the luxury Cidade de Goa is situated in the area.
The place is named after Paula Amaral Antonio de Souto Maior, a historical figure in Portuguese India. She was the daughter of the Portuguese Viceroy of Jaffnapatnam, in Sri Lanka. She and her family arrived in Goa in 1644 and she married a Fidalgo from Spain in 1656. Her husband was Dom Antonio Souto Maior. They were an extremely affluent family, and the entire property from the present day Cabo Raj Nivas all the way to Caranzalem belonged to the Souto Maior's. She died on December 21, 1682 .
Dona Paula was a woman of charity and is known to have helped the villagers and worked a lot for their betterment, so after her death, the villagers decided to rename the village as Dona Paula. Initially the village was called Oddavell.
The Dona Paula Beach is also a major tourist attraction. According to a local myth, Dona Paula entombed in the Cabo Chapel, the residence of the Governor of Goa and is supposed to be seen emerging from the moonlit waves wearing only a pearl necklace. Several tourists as well as locals guided by this myth visit the beach for a glimpse of Dona Paula. The Cabo Raj Bhavan is situated at a scenic spot of Dona Paula. It is also home of a historic British war-graves cemetery. After the end of Portuguese rule in Goa in 1961, Dona Paula became a fashionable residential area and address.
Dona Paula is the home to some of the top Industrialists and policy makers of the state. It is also the most expensive residential location in Goa. The Raj Bhavan of Goa is located near the La Marvel Colony in Dona Paula
Dona Paula located on the beautiful and famous sea stretch that spans from Panjim, Miramar and Dona Paula is a very famous area frequented by tourists. During the tourist season, Dona Paula transforms into a crowded stretch which is otherwise a calm beautiful place during monsoons. A large part of the famous Hindi movie Ek Duuje Ke Liye was shot here, popularising the place further. An action sequence from Rohit Shetty's movie Singham was shot here. The idyllic rocky tourist attraction lies at the spot where the Mandovi and the Zuari rivers meet and confluences with the Arabian Sea at a distance of 1 km from this point.
One of the most curious attractions in Dona Paula is a whitewashed statue perched on the rocks near the popular ferry jetty. Sculpted in 1969 by Baroness Yrse Von Leistner, there are different versions to its purpose of origin. According to Goa Tourism Board's website, it is named "Image of India" and depicts the figures of Mother India and Young India, one looking to the East and the other to the West. The Wheel of Ashoka is in the middle half, buried in stone, to represent the ancient culture, that nurtured this blend of ideas and emotions. While in the book 'Walking in Goa' published by Heta Pandit, it is said that the Baroness had actually sculpted statues of philosopher Robert Knox and his wife because she admired him.