The Navhind Times Planet J in association with Make it Happen, tour designers, organised a heritage walk of Fontainhas on Monday, May 14. The aim of the walk was to acquaint the participants with the art, culture and architecture that abound in this quaint area that has been described as “a small chunk of Portugal washed up on the shores of the Indian Ocean.” Fontainhas, the oldest and largest Latin quarter of the state, had many treasures that the participants were surprised and delighted to find and see.
The walk began outside the general post office at 9 a.m. and participants who had come equipped with their caps/hats and bottles of water were more than ready to start. The presenter Maxie Miranda guided the participants through the narrow streets and stopped at all the important monuments giving information and recounting its history. The first stop was the Tobacco Square, which Maxie explained was so called because tobacco imported from Brazil, waiting to be exported to Portugal, used to be stored in warehouses here. One of the warehouses has now become the general post office.
The Adil Shah Palace and Casa de Moeda were the next stop. Maxie then spoke about Surgeon General Miguel Caetano Dias whose statue is just outside the mint house. “He was a native Goan who studied medicine in Portugal and then rose through the ranks of the army. He was credited with eradicating the plague in Goa during the 1910 outbreak in Panjim,” explained Maxie.
The sun was out to spoil everyone’s fun but the lively colours of the houses lifted everyone’s mood and the beautiful house number plates were a delight to see. As he pointed out the shell windows in many houses in the area, Maxie spoke about the significance of the shells and said, “Mother of pearl shell was preferred over glass as it allowed for filtered light to come into the rooms of the house and cut out the glare of the bright light inside.”
Sao Tome chapel, the Pousada of Panjim Inn and Fundacao Oriente were some of the other attractions on the walk. At Fundacao Oriente the works of the Goan artist who painted in European style in the 19th and early 20thcentury, Antonio Xavier Trindade were on display.
Despite the scorching sun and stifling humidity, participants thoroughly enjoyed the walk which ended after a couple of hours at the home of renowned Goan musician who has traveled around Europe, Chico Fonseca. Fonseca who specializes in Latin and Fado music and sings in Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and Konkani, warmly welcomed all the participants into his home which houses many treasures from the Portuguese era. He then entertained the group with Konkani and Portuguese songs which transported all present to bygone times. The walk was one the participants will remember for a long time!