Most of us who love to travel can be split into three groups – mountain, beach and culture lovers. While some spend their entire life preferring one over the other, the others like us keep juggling between the three.
Goa in India is world renowned for its beaches and Portuguese culture. It is not wrong to say that the state is even more popular than the country itself in places with ever dropping mercury. People there long for Tropics and their beaches. Hence, we most commonly associate Goa with its sunny beaches and hippie vibes. However, tucked in the capital city of Panjim, is a ‘secret’ well kept, a canvas for every tourist and a paradise for every photographer – Fontainhas.
As you must have guessed Fontainhas does not receive too many guests hence this corner of Goa still retains its intriguing history giving you a glimpse of rich Portuguese culture and enlightening your soul.
Fontainhas in Portuguese means ‘fountain’, hinting at the fountain of Phoenix Spring (or Fonte Phoenix) near the Maruti Temple. Today what we see as Fontainhas, the area between Altinho Hill and Ourem creek, was actually reclaimed by a Goan named Antonio Joao de Sequeira (or Mosmikar). He had earned himself a fortune while working in the African country Mozambique.
Most houses in Fontainhas have porches where locals read their newspaper and drink a cuppa. You will find yourself instantly connecting to the simple living and local Portuguese vibe. I will keep it short this time and introduce you only to the best of the spots.
The Chapel of St Sebastien – This easy to locate, quaint chapel is perhaps the only crucifix of Jesus which has his eyes open. It also houses a statue of the Virgin Mary. In Mid November the annual Fontainhas festival is held in the square in front of the chapel. Mamaramma is an Asian and Japansese restaurant right next to Saint Sebastien Chapel in Rue De Natal and is popular for their ramen noodles.
The Wishing Well – The wishing well is attached to the Chapel of St Sebastien. Legend says that if you drop a coin in the well and make a wish , your wish comes true .. cool eh !! I myself tried it and oooh la la .. my wish came true, okay, almost true 😉 There is a bench by the well where you can relax for a bit before you proceed further as there’s a lot to explore !
Coloured houses with Ivy curtains – When in Fontainhas you will get many ‘freeze-frame’ moments as you walk by the beautiful houses painted in pastel shades which get repainted every year after monsoon. Some houses are covered with hanging ivies. You will notice that nature has an important role in the beauty of Fontainhas. Speaking of nature reminds me of my visit to the Indian Botanic Garden in Calcutta founded by Colonel Robert Kyd.
Gallery Gitanjali / Velha Goa Galleria – For souvenir, you might want to visit either Gallery Gitanjali or Velha Goa Galleria. For huge collection of Scandinavian art drop into Gallery Gitanjali. Velha Goa Galleria is the store for azulejos, a traditional Portuguese style of hand-painted tiles and ceramics. Drop in here for a few memos to take back to your home!
Desbue – I am pretty sure that after that long tiring walk you would like to chill out in a cafe. Desbue is popular for its continental cuisine.
If you are one of the many people who have been to Goa and have unfortunately overlooked Fontainhas well then I just gave you an excuse to go back to Goa to visit the ancient yet modern Fontainhas. I myself regret not spending enough time there as we had only stopped there enroute to the airport. You might as well consider staying there instead of opting for more touristy areas. We walked by Panjim Inn, Afonso Guest House, Abrigo De Botelha and the home stay of Park Lane Lodge. Not necessarily the places you should stay in but if you are looking for B & B boutique inns there are plenty here.
Some more pictures …
Away from the cacophonous Goa, I am certain this spectacular place will leave you gaping for more !