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 – firstname.lastname@example.org