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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

The Natural Springs of Panjim

Panaji, the capital city of Goa, is bestowed with two beautifully constructed fountains or natural springs. When the Portuguese decided to shift their administrative capital to Panaji, this area on the bank of the rivulet of River Mandovi was just another hamlet, with a handful of houses to name.

It is a historical fact that the so-called Latin Quarters of Panaji or Fontainhas, was named after the prevalent fountain / spring near the Maruti Temple below the Altinho hillock.

The Portuguese, gave due importance to the natural springs, in this developing township and with an intention to preserve these two water-holes, constructed the enveloping structures around them, and which have been preserved till date.

FONTE PHOENIX (Mala Spring) - Prajal Sakhardande:

“Mala” actually means an open field or ground. The development of Fontainhas – Mala took place between the years 1810 to 1839. The facades of the houses in the entire precinct had the traditional colours – ochre, maroon and indigo – used during the Portuguese regime. The Fontainhas area is styled as “the Latin Quarter” of the capital city. Mala may be called as the Hindu residential area of this precinct. The precinct in its entirety may be classified as a perfect example of communal harmony since its inception stage.

While the distinguished families like Mirandas, Lopes, Saldanhas, Costas, Gonsalves, Dias, Rego, Menezes, Machados, Ribeiros and many others have made Fontainhas their home. Similarly the Mala area is home to well known Hindu families like Agshikars, Hodarkars, Pissurlenkars, Shirodkars, Shankwalkars, etc who have lived here since the Portuguese times.

The historic precinct gets its name from the famous “ Fonte Phoenix” (fountain or Zhor) in Mala at the foot of Marutigad of the Altinho Hillock. The spring is ancient, but the structure around the natural spring was constructed during the tenure of the Portuguese Governor, Viscount of Ourem, Joaquim Jose Januario Lapa (1851-55).

(Based on an article in PANJIM PLUS dated 1-15 April 2002, authored by BHAIRAVI)

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

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