A heritage walk in Fontainhas, the Portuguese colony of Goa, was a journey back in time. It gave me a sense of appreciation for the passion of the state to keep the legacy alive. Goa has a history of being ruled by various empires which resulted into a rare cultural heritage influenced by Indians, Mughals and Catholic Portuguese which reflects in the lifestyle of Goans.
Fontainhas is a heritage colonial quarter in the centre of Panjim, where the influential Portuguese rulers lived. The Portuguese style old villas and buildings with overhanging balconies in the narrow and winding lanes reflect the old European architecture. The blue, yellow and green coloured houses make up a vibrant and cheerful locality.
Roosters on top of Portuguese houses in Goa
It is very easy to identify the Portuguese houses. All Portuguese houses have a bright coloured rooster on the top. Rooster is a national symbol of Portugal which symbolises honesty, integrity, trust and honour. Every Portuguese is supposed to have this on top of their houses to bring them good luck.
Balcões in Portuguese houses in Goa
It is customary for the houses to have covered porches called Balcões and verandahs facing the streets. These Balcões have a built-in seating area for people to chat with neighbours and enjoy the evening breeze and for men and women to sit together and see eachother. The rich owners used this place to have conversations with people from lower classes, keeping a barrier to entry in the house.
Statues of soldier on top of houses in Goa
Some houses in Goa have statues of soldiers on the top. This signifies that the house belonged to a freedom fighter.
Oyster Shells windows in Portuguese houses in Goa
The houses have large ornamental windows made of timber that open in the streets or the verandah. The glass panes were replaced by oyster shells that were found extensively on beaches. The flat ones were shaped and slipped between grooved wooden battens to be installed into windows. Oyster shells kept the houses cool from the tropical heat of this region. The quality of light which passed through these openings gave the houses a very special ambiance.
High plinths and grand staircases of Portuguese houses in Goa
The houses of rich landlords had high plinths with grand staircases leading to the front door or Balcão. The higher plinths reflects grandeur, a high status. The name plates in the houses were uniformly designed with blue and white colours.
Coloured wash on Portuguese houses in Goa
The coloured wash on the houses looked decorative and was a sign of economic well-being. During Portuguese rule the owner of the house was fined if his house was not painted. Till date, the houses are freshly painted every year.
Heritage house with a wishing well in Fontainhas, Goa
One of the heritage houses in Fontainhas has a bright red coloured wishing well with roosters mounted on it. It's a peaceful place to read a book or spend time with your self by enjoy the evening breeze.
Goans are art-loving people. Here, you may find someone playing violin or guitar in their verandahs overlooking the streets.
Chapel of St Sebastian in Fontainhas, Goa
There is a well preserved Chapel of St Sebastian in one end of Fontainhas. The traditional annual street festivals used to be held here.
Heritage houses turned into guest houses in Fontainhas, Goa
Some old heritage houses have been turned in lodges and guest houses. This is the best place to stay in Goa to experience Portuguese lifestyle and heritage. I now know where to stay, the next time I land up in Goa.
Heritage houses restored to cafes and hotels in Fontainhas, Goa
Few Portuguese heritage homes in Fontainhas are converted to exotic cafes with bakeries and luxury hotels.
These hotels have preserved the antique art and interior works of the Portuguese era. I was very impressed with their unique styled furniture, paintings and artefacts.
Art lovers and Architecture students in Fontainhas, Goa
There are a couple of art galleries in Fontainhas, which are frequented by art and architecture students who come to learn about the ancient architecture of Goa. Fontainhas Art Festival is organised here every year for a week when the historic houses are turned into galleries. The residents of these houses display their artworks, unique architectural features of their balconies, and furnishings in their dining halls.
Fountain of Phoenix at Fontainhas. Goa
Fountain of Phoenix is a small natural spring that lies at the end of Fontainhas. The name Fontainhas is said to be drived from the Fountain of Phoenix (Fonte Phoenix). The surroundings of this spring are under renovation. The source of this spring is not known.
Confluence of Hindus, Mughals & Catholics in Fantainhas, Goa
Just next to the Fountain of Phoenix, there are two tomb like structures. A few steps up on the hill there's Maruti (Hanuman) temple, the glittering structure on the right-most corner of the image below.
There's a underground tunnel between the two tombs that has been recently discovered. The entrance to that tunnel is found near the spring of Phoenix. I walked down the steps and waded through the waters inside the tunnel. I found a cross at the end of the tunnel. This is exactly below the second tomb. The Goans are quite surprised to have confluence of three different religions at a single point.
Our Lady of the Immaculate conception Church, Panjim, Goa
I walked half a km more to end my heritage walk at the Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church in Panjim. This bright white painted church stood tall and glittering with the surrounding lights in the dark.
Namaste! I'm Medhavi Davda.
I travel to Evolve..
In Nature, I confide..
I find my calling in the Himalayas..
In the Oceans, I meditate..
A High-Altitude Trekker & PADI certified SCUBA Diver, I love exploring the heights and depths of the planet with my regular doses of mountains and oceans.
Discovering myself & life through nature, adventures, travels, sports and dance has been an addiction since my existence!
Quite fond of the natural & cultural diversity of India, I've travelled extensively in my own country before exploring international destinations.
I had left my 9+ yrs of career in Software Industry in a quest to make a living out of my passions. I packed my basics in my car (gave away the rest) and lived in different parts of Himachal Pradesh for 16 months. This invaluable time taught me to experience life from a broader perspective.
I'm currently living in Mumbai to work with an Adventure Travel company as a product manager for Scuba Diving. I continue living a minimalistic life.
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