Thursday, December 09, 2010

Explore Goa: Fontainhas.

One of the many Portuguese style homes in Fontainhas.

"Fontainhas (or Bairro das Fontainhas, in Portuguese) is an old Latin Quarter in the city of Panaji in Goa, India. It maintains to this day its Portuguese influence, namely at the architectonic level, such as narrow streets, old villas and buildings painted in lively colors. The quarter shows how Panaji was during the Portuguese rule of Goa." - Source: Wikipedia.

I used to work and live in Panjim 20 years ago. I would pass by Fontainhas almost every day, but never thought to give it a second glance. For my career-oriented eyes, it seemed like any other place. Last week, when I was flying from Mumbai to Goa on Spice Jet airlines, I started reading their in-flight magazine and found an article in their travel section called "Must-see places", and Fontainhas is listed as one of the places. That was an eye opener for me so I decided to check it out.

I got into an auto-rickshaw and asked the driver to drop me anywhere on the Fontainhas street. He stopped right in front of the place where Fontainhas (Portuguese word for "small fountains") begins. The water from the fountains looks very dirty. I am not sure if the locals use this water for their daily use.

Fontainhas (The little fountains).

I looked up the Altinho hill where a modern Hindu temple dominates the landscape.

A Hindu temple overlooking Fontainhas.
I had no particular interest in the temple but I thought I might get a birds eye view of Fontainhas from the top of the temple, so I walked up the long and winding steps. My assumption was correct. It does offer a spectacular view of Fontainhas and the Panjim city.

View of Fontainhas & Panjim City.
The view from the top of the temple shows the contrast between the old and the new. The charming Fontainhas and its narrow streets and old colorful houses are overshadowed by the modern concrete blocks in the background. I decided to return back to the narrow streets of Fontainhas.

Street view - Fontainhas
Back on the ground, I could now see why I never paid attention to this place when I used to live in Panjim. This looks like any Goan city street with Portuguese style homes (which was normal at the time). It is only after all the modernization which this place has shied away from - that the contrast between old and new becomes apparent. Many of the homes here have been identified as "Heritage homes". My friend Cecil tried to explain to me the technicalities (and the benefits) of getting the "Heritage" badge. I may be wrong, but I noticed that it is mostly the hotels and restaurants that advertise their heritage status - which is another way of saying that the food and lodging there is more expensive than other places. Of course, once you get the heritage status, the owners will invest in maintaining the original style of the homes - which is a good thing and would benefit the whole community.

A cross by the street side.
Colorful houses on Fontainhas street.
Portuguese style windows.
Fontainhas Chapel.
School children from nearby school.
My walking tour of Fontainhas was over. As it was getting dark, I decided to walk up to the Panjim Church that was celebrating the last evening of Novenas with a firework display. I managed to shoot a few pictures of the church with the fireworks in the foreground before heading home.

Panjim Church with fireworks display.
That was it for me. I will try to go back to Panjim to explore some of the other areas but something tells me that it may have to wait till my next vacation as I have realized that there is so much to see and do in Goa - and that I will just be scratching the surface during this trip.


Anonymous said...

Correct me if I am wrong but I recall you mentioning an adventure trek in Kashmir.

Is that on hold?

I would love to see some pictures of the Indian North west.

Cajie said...

Yeah. The Kashmir trek is on hold for the time being. Perhaps if things improve in summer...

Guru said...

Lovely... am Coming to Goaa day after tomorrow... The narrow Streets and Bright colors... Lovely

Anonymous said...

I seldom leave comments on blog, but I have been to this post which was recommend by my friend, lots of valuable details, thanks again.