Walk Down Memory Lane Fontainhas Panjim's
Fountainhas Panjim’s anachronistic association with Portuguese heritage, the town’s colourful architecture, warm hospitality and unforgettable dishes, served up in a flash, are a delight for travellers – young and old.
A visit to Panjim's Fontainhas neighbourhood in Goa is like walking into a picture postcard of an old European city. A heritage walk around the charming districts of Fontainhas and Sao Tomé will have you gawking in awe at its beauty. One of India's most relaxed state capitals, Panaji (Panjim), crowds around the peninsula overlooking the broad Mandovi River, where cruise boats and floating casinos ply the waters, and advertising signs cast neon reflections in the night.
It wasn't until the late 18th century that Panjim started to flourish and that too only after the fall of Old Goa as the erstwhile capital. The city's oldest heritage building is the riverside Idalcao Palace, which was built by Yusuf Adil Shah. A glorious whitewashed church lords over the animated city centre, a broad leafy boulevard skirts around the river, and grand colonial-era buildings rub shoulders with arty boutiques, old-school bookshops, state-of-the-art malls and backstreet bars. But it's the tangle of narrow streets in the old Latin Quarter that really steal the show. Nowhere is the Portuguese influence felt more strongly than here, where the late afternoon sun lights up yellow houses with purple doors, and around each corner you'll find restored ochre-coloured mansions with terracotta-tiled roofs, wrought-iron balconies and arched oyster-shell windows. The oldest, and by far the most atmospheric, Portuguese-flavoured districts of Panaji are squeezed between the hillside of Altinho and the banks of Ourem Creek, and make for attractive wandering with their narrow streets, overhanging balconies and quaint air of Mediterranean yesteryear. Fontainhas, said to take its name from the Fountain of Phoenix spring, which stands near the Maruti Temple, is the larger of the two districts, comprising pastel-shaded houses that head up Altinho hill. This little throwback of a place, with its colonial aesthetics, winding narrow lanes, tilted gable roofed houses in spectacular shades of red and blue, green and yellow, is an open door to Goa's Portuguese past. Located to the north of Fontainhas, the tiny area around the main post office is known as Sao Tomé.
The post office was once the tobacco-trading house for Panaji, and the building to the right of it was the state mint. The square that these buildings face once housed the town pillory, where justice turned into spectacle when executions took place. It was here that several conspirators involved in the Pinto Revolt were put to death, for plotting to overthrow Portuguese rule in 1787. A day or two in Panjim's Latin district is an essential part of the Goan experience.