Beyond the beaches, nightlife, seafood and casinos there lies Fontainhas a Latin Quarter in Panaji that is less explored. For we all are busy looking for the best beaches, party schedules or in a north VS south dilemma.
I chanced upon Fontainhas during my last trip to Goa. Casino bug had caught us badly. We knew we would be holed up in Casino all night and driving back to Ashwem beach only to sleep the whole day and take the same road back to casino in the night wasn’t a good idea. Instead we decided to stay 2 days near the Casino in Panjim City. I booked a room in Mateus Boutique Hotel located in 21st January Road through booking.com website. Finding the way to Mateus took me around Fontainhas which offers an insight into the history of New Goa.
Fontainhas (or Bairro das Fontainhas, in Portuguese) is an old Latin Quarter in Panjim, capital city of the state of Goa, India. It maintains its Portuguese influence, particularly through its architecture, which includes narrow and picturesque winding streets, old villas and buildings with projecting balconies painted in the colours of pale green, yellow or blue, and roofs made of red coloured tiles.
Old mansions in Fontainhas have been converted into sophisticated home stays and guest houses. Many heritage art galleries which also house exotic cafes, souvenir shops are located here. Gitanjali art gallery and 31 January Bakery being the most popular.
More About The Portuguese Era In Goa
In 1510, the Portuguese defeated the ruling Bijapur sultan Yousuf Adil to set up a permanent settlement in Velha Goa (Old Goa). This was the beginning of Portuguese rule in Goa that would last for four and a half centuries, until its annexation in 1961.
Meanwhile in the 18th century, a Goan expatriate named Antonio Joao de Sequeira (nicknamed Mossmikar), who had made his wealth while working in Mozambique, established Fontainhas in Nova Goa (also New Goa, also Panjim and officially Panaji).
In 1843 the Portuguese abandoned Old Goa due to plague and moved the capital to Nova Goa.
After India gained independence from the British in 1947, India requested that Portuguese territories on the Indian subcontinent be ceded to India. Portugal refused to negotiate on the sovereignty of its Indian enclaves. On 19 December 1961, the Indian Army began military operations resulting in the seizure of Goa.
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Quirky doors and name plates adorn the streets in Fontainhas.
Pictures taken inside Mateus Boutique Hotel which is a restored 1879 old Portuguese mansion in 31 January Road where I was staying.
What is this 31 January Road? You Ask?
The 31 January Road (Rua 31 de Janeira) in Fontainhas was named after the liberation of Portugal from Spain on January 31, 1891. It is a quite narrow street with few abandoned houses and some beautifully restored buildings.
Curious to know about 18th June Road?
The 18th June Road was named so after Ram Manohar Lohia, the Indian leader who launched the civil disobedience movement that eventually led to the liberation of Goa from the Portuguese in 1961. Located in the heart of the city, it is one of the busiest streets in Panaji with many restaurants and shops lined up.
Heritage Walks are regularly organised in Fontainhas. You can check online for the same.
Where To Stay
Mateus Boutique Hotel http://www.mateusgoa.com/
La Maison Fontainhas http://www.lamaisongoa.com/
WelcomHeritage Panjim Inn http://www.panjiminn.com/index.php/panjim_pousada/
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