Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Offbeat Goa - Fontainhas

Old Secretariat at Sao Tome, near Fontainhas 

Early morning, lazy mist, cool sea breeze, enthusiastic shutterbugs and a splash of colour everywhere – this was one of my ideal mornings in Goa during my recent visit. Ideal yes, cause like I had said in my earlier post on Goa, this old colonial state has so much more to offer than just sun, sand and sea.

Splash of Colours - Fontainhas
In the heart of the sleepy and jolly town of Panjim there is an area with narrow lanes dotted by picturesque houses painted in vibrant shades of red, blue, green and yellow. This area is known as Old Latin Quarters or Sao Tome & Fontainhas and it preserves the essence of the Portuguese era till this day. My regular followers on Instagram already have an idea of my morning spent there but for you all – here it is!

Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church
Just off the River Cruise Jetty area, after a quick walk till Praça da Igreja aka the square with the century old Baroque Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church you see winding roads leading in every direction, bracketed with colourful villas with foliage around the old wooden doors and windows and then you know - you have entered the heritage area of Fontainhas.

On the way to Fontainhas
Most of these quaint Portuguese style houses date back to early 19th century, though the initial layout of Fontainhas was set in 1850s - after this particular area was reclaimed from the sea by the Portuguese government and set up for coconut cultivation by a Goan expat, Antonio Joao de Sequeria. People flocked in Fontainhas after the administration was moved to Panjim (then Nova Goa) and after the Ribandar Causeway had set up better connectivity between Panjim. The name Fontainhas is derived from ‘Fonte Phoenix’ (Fountain of Phoenix), which was a reservoir of water built near the Church back in those days. Though the colonial structures start from Sao Tome, near the jetty bus stop, the actual part of Fontainhas starts from this church.

The window story
Today some houses are dilapidated but some are freshly painted, keeping the old tradition of painting the houses every year alive. This modern and antique blend of architecture still keeps the charm of the bygone era wrapped in a timeless spirit.
Old forgotten doors

The old age allure sets a spell on you from the minute you step into the area. I had visited the area early morning around 8:00 AM when the sleepy lanes were still waiting to get out of slumber. But cobbled paths, old wooden doors, porches, red or blue tiled roofs, projecting balconies, bird cages, some wishing wells and lone candles outside some houses were enough to keep my attention for hours. As these quarters grew unplanned and unprecedented the lanes are winding, chaotic and very narrow, but the beauty of the area somehow lies in this chaos. It is almost like an old town of Portugal, in India that refuses to move away from its roots. And thought I didn’t meet a lot of people, due to the early hour exploration, a lady at Geetanjali Gallery told me that a lot of families in Fontainhas still speak in Portuguese.
At Geetanjali Art Gallery

Geetanjali Gallery is one of many galleries in Fontainhas, all preserving facts and memories of the colonial period. Fontainhas is also known for its arty cafes which were a pleasant change from the hustle bustle of tourists at Goan beaches. I decided to pause and imbibe the vintage feel by spending some time at the Verandah Restaurant of Panjim Inn, opposite Geetanjali Gallery, only to find out that the structure was one of the oldest in the quarters. Lost in this sussegado moment, I lost track of time and only realized that it was time to go back when I saw the quarters come alive with jolly faces.
At Panjim Inn
I love going on offbeat tracks, and this certainly was the best offbeat destination I have explored in Goa till date.

Panjim Inn
How to get to Fontainhas:
Fontainhas is Fontainhas is about 25 km from Goa International Airport and is situated in the heart of Panjim. You could always get an auto, but I took a bus from Miramar Beach (RS. 10 till bus stop after the Jetty) .Best way to explore the area is to walk, hands down!

Vibrant Red!
P.S. – For people going in the evening, if you are lucky you would see a lot of violin and guitar players in the area. And every year, during the Panjim Art Week, the historic houses in Fontainhas are turned into art galleries, with residents displaying their artworks, unique architectural features of their structures.

7 comments:

  1. Wow! Will surely visit Fontainhas next when am in Goa!!

    Lovely captures!!

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    1. Thankyou so much! :) And do visit :D

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  2. Loved the vibrant pictures! ... This looks like an awesome place to be in! .. Thanks for sharing :)

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  3. Nice to read. I have not been to Goa yet, but this sounds a popular destination. Will keep in mind, if I ever visit Panjim.

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    1. I am sure you would love strolling around these sleepy lanes aimlessly! It is that beautiful :)

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  4. Hi, would like to connect with you - to publish your photographs in a magazine. Thanks.

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