Fontainhas (Latin Quarters), Panjim, Goa - houses display a riot of colors

Old Goa houses, Panjim (Panaji), Goa,

Alphonso Guest house, Fontainhaus, Panajim, Goa.

Among the Indian states, the small coastal state of Goa on the west coast is a fine destination for tourists where they can enjoy  the old world of charm of Portuguese legacy mixed with Indian hospitality. Among the various attractions there, a heritage walk through the winding narrow streets with colorful houses having   distinctive architectural features,  a blend of local and Portuguese, will give you a glimpse into the past Goan life.  Such houses are no where found in India, nor do they find a place  around the world where the Portuguese had considerable colonial influence in the past.  

Tourists who have been to Goa,  will never  miss  the UNESCO recognized  Heritage Zone ''Fontainhas,''  old Latin Quarters in Panjim,  Considered the greatest lures of Goa, it s a paradise for photographers, the narrow, winding  vehicle free streets  are lined on either side with colorful houses each  one more attractive than others.  They are characterized by  red tiled roofs, protruding balconies with intricate railings, ornate windows and doors,  and colorful  paint on  exterior walls.   The aesthetic onslaught of  matching  color combination is quite inspiring.   The  hand-painted blue-on-white azulejos (porcelain) name plaques and carefully chosen  bright contrasting colorful walls stand out apart in the living space,  retaining the   old world charm in Panjim. In those days and even today  churches or chapels have   the privilege of using white that is symbolic of  purity of Virgin Mary. 

These Indo-Portuguese houses  bear testimony to the heyday  of Portuguese colonial rule in Goa centuries ago - first Europeans to have established a colony on Western India.  Quite fascinating are  these Indo-Portuguese styled houses  built with local know-how attractive porches that open towards the roads; dwellers there spend their leisure time  either reading newspapers or  engaging in casual conversation,  For the gossip-mongers it is an open sesame.  Tourists love heritage walks through these old streets  that evoke nostalgia. For the old timers, it is  a wishful thinking  or overly sentimental  yearning for the past period.   

Homes of various hues with traditional design and fine pieces of old wooden furniture and  front porches of various sizes obviously add more zest to the  nostalgic elements.  As for the origin of the Latin Quarters,  the founder  was  an Indian gentleman named Antonio Joao de Sequeira who retuned to Goa after having lived in  Mozambique.  He was locally popular as  Mosmikar (meaning  a prosperous resident returning from Mozambique).  He leased a large track of land and converted in to a coconut grove. The  proximity of the catholic church made the  people  reclaim the land and start building homes in a quiet place; thus a colony grew up steadily. 

Back in the colonial era  between 1740s and 1840s the status conscious Portuguese divided the areas into segments. The rich with power and pelf lived in the Panjim hills, where as less affluent people were confined  to the foot  hills  hemmed in between the hill and the small tidal creek,. When dry during  low tide  it used to emanate bad smell.  Fontainhas and Sao Tome at the foot of   the Altinho Hills (west side) in Goa  was an   unassuming place meant for simple folks. Here, it is said  one could hear a smattering of Portuguese  spoken by elderly people.   No doubt the  old streets bring back  Goa of by-gone era  during the Portuguese rule.   Cobbled streets, colorful bungalows, and plenty of old fashioned eateries stand as vestiges of Portuguese culture.  The style and  the beautiful colorful  stucco exterior paintings of the  houses  will baffle you and it shows the  power of indigenous talents available here.   .

The antique houses and villas  built in  the 18th century with  strong Portuguese architectural elements  continue to be in their original colorful  stylish look with roofs  in the front laid with pink or red  tiles and homes painted in pale yellow, green or blue colors. During the colonial rule,  as per local municipal rule,  owners of houses had to paint their houses  every year soon after SW monsoon, a long held tradition, I understand, still persists today.  

Fontainhas, Panjim, Goa. Photo Gallery: 

Fontainhaus (old Latin quarter),Panjim, Goa, India

Fontainhas, Goa

Fontainhas quarter of Goa.

House window, Fontaihaus, Goa, India

Above image: A typical house window in the bairro das fontainhas. Also seen in the picture is the street name displayed on an Azulejo (Portuguese ceramic tiling work)

Houses, Goa, India

Above images: Heritage houses in a lane in Fontainhas Chapel of St Sabastian

.Fontainhas, Lain quarters, Panajim, Goa.

Colonial house, Fontainhaus,

Fontainhaus houses,

Fontainhas Latin quarters, Panajim, Goa.

Colorfully painted houses Fontainhas,

Fontainhaus, Panjim Goa.