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Panjim is one of the best planned cities in the country, with a neat network of main avenues and connecting roads, a sewerage system, gardens and excellent Indo-Portuguese architecture. Panjim is a microcosm of Goa with a river and the Arabian Sea lapping at its feet, Khazan and salt pan lands which have now turned into the bus terminus and Patto Plaza the corporate district of Goa., from the salt pans to the coconut groves and Panjim rises up in an extremely picturesque manner to its hilltop at Altinho.

Panjim was originally a small fishing village with lots of coconut groves between creeks and fields. This capital city was a ward of Taleigao village. It so enamoured Adil Shah that he built his summer palace surrounded by a moat which was later filled up by the Portuguese when they came in to power and left Old Goa with its pestilence and disease to build a new city or Nova Goa as Panjim was called. But it was only during the early 19 th century that the city was enlarged, public sewerage, tree-lined avenues, gardens and ornamental park benches etc. The city was elevated to the status of city and became the capital of Goa by a royal decree and was known as Nova Goa.

The magnificent edifices of Old Goa were dismantled and the stones were reused to build smaller but very elegant houses for the people of Panjim and sturdy but again, elegant government buildings. Panjim with its broad tree lined avenues, gardens and beautiful buildings earned her the sobriquet, “Princess of the Mandovi”.

But all things must end, especially those who had to protect this beautiful city from the ravages of time. After Liberation the buildings of Panjim, began to lose their sparkle as those entrusted with their maintenance allowed the city to go to wrack and ruin.

Now Panjimites realize the value of its heritage and the Goa Heritage Action Group has been in the forefront of restoring Panjim to its earlier glory.

Architect Raya Shankwalker has taken photographs of some of Panjim’s old structures which have been renovated. His photographs prove that sometimes city fathers and city people can come together to bring a city to life. Raya too has played a large part in the beautification of Panjim city.

Goa Statistics

Co-ordinates: 15o29’35’’N 73o49’05’’E / 15.493oN 73.818oE

Area: 3702 km2

Capital: Panaji

Official language: Konkani

Altitude: sea level up to 1022 mts

Climate: max 36oC, min 17oC

Annual rainfall: 300 cms (average)

Population: 13, 43,998

Population density: 363/km2

Literacy rate: 82.32%

Time zone: IST (UTC+5.30)

Districts: 2

Established: 30th may 1987

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Places in Goa

Palace of Maquinezes -Old G.M.C 1702

Goa ’s long and chequered history flows through her secular, military and ecclesiastical architecture that has withstood the ravages of time. Her heritage, built and unbuilt, has to be preserved for posterity. Goa ’s tryst with history has left a rich legacy in the form of a traditional Goan House or a Palace, a fort or a temple, a church or a mosque.

Preservation and conservation, protection of our built and unbuilt heritage, is a sacred duty. From 1842, until recently, the Goa Medical College was housed in the Palace of Maquinezes or Palacio Dos Maquinezes that was built in 1702 and which today houses the government department of Food and Drugs Administration.

The Goa Medical College and Hospital, Panjim , then known as Escola Medico Cirurgica De Nova Goa, was Asia ’s oldest medical institution. The Military Hospital of Panelim was also transferred here in 1842. This institution, which produced eminent surgeons and catered to the needs of thousands of patients, is close to the Goan heart.

The building facing the Mandovi River and the main road was built in 1927. The period look of this building is evident from its Roman, Neo-classical and Gothic style, semi-circular arched windows, wooden ceilings, cast iron railings, ornamental tiles with rose motifs on the walls of the wards, beautiful green tiles, long corridors, balustrades, pilasters, mouldings, ornamental grills, occluses, stained glass windows of Gothic style window panes, porches and pillars resembling the Doric Order.

The Palace of Maquinezes also has an 18 th century Chapel attached to it. This Palace, painted in ochre yellow, is simple in architectural style with a storey, wooden ceilings, a stairway with beautiful wooden balustrades, Roman arches, Portuguese windows, and halls like Sala de Reanimacao Queimados, or Trauma Center for burn victims.

The well-known historian of Panjim Antonio Menezes, informs me that the Chapel built in 1720, was dedicated to Nossa Senhora das Dorisor Our Lady of Sorrows. It was thus a private chapel of the Maquinezes Palace . Subsequently, in 1781, this was chapel repaired and re-constructed, was dedicated to Nossa Senhora de Victoria or Our Lady of Victory. The statue of Our Lady was brought from Betim House of Catechuments to Panjim, in the same year. Within this Chapel, there is a beautiful teak wood altar dedicated to Christ. It is exquisitely decorated with gilded work and belongs to the early 18 th Century. The Palace of Maquinezes originally belonged to two brothers Diago da Costa de Ataide e Tieve, a Squadron Leader and Cristovam da Costa de Ataide e Tieve, known by the name of Maquinezes.

The first batch of graduates, of this medical school, were Augustino Vincente Lourenco, Antonio Moriera, Francisco Lourenco, Luis de Conceicao – all from Margao. Bernado Silva from Divar, Felicardo Quadros and Pedro Gonzaga Augusto de Melo from Raia and Joaquim Lourenco de Araujo of Lotoulim. These eight male students completed their medical course in the year 1846. Jeonna Lucinda Pinto was the first Goan girl to become a Doctor in 1910 to 1914. Yamunabai Mulgaonkar became the first Goan Hindu girl to become a Doctor in 1952.

The medical school required entrants to be over 16 years of age and to have good knowledge of Latin, grammer, Philosophy and Drawing. It is important to note here that the Portuguese gave utmost importance to these subjects of humanities or arts before they ventured into their subjects on medicine, in addition one was required to p[ass their first year of mathematics school. History of medicine was also part of the course. The medium of instruction was Portuguese and the degree given was MEDICO CIRURGIAO . Internship of six months was compulsory.

The first Pharmacy course student was Cosme Damiao Peres, to pass out in 1846.

Thus the old GMC building complex, set along the Campal Promenade, which housed Asia’s first Medical Institution , is of heritage value and needs to be preserved for posterity.

(Mr. Percival Noronha - Panjim Plus) 

COMPILED BY:- SANJEEV V. SARDESAI – sanscritic@sify.com

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