Azad Maidan is the square in the heart of Panjim, originally conceived by the Portuguese as the Largo Afonso de Albuquerque. A brass memorial to the great Goan freedom fighter Dr. Tristão de Braganza Cunha (1891-1958) now occupies its geometric centre.
This window to the sky is one of the city’s vital organs, essential to its personality. The patch also serves as a platform for democratic expression – this is where Goans gather to sound off on the issues of the day.
On February 17, 1843, were laid the foundations of the monument to Afonso de Albuquerque in the square referred to at different times as Largo dos Quarteis, Largo das Sete Janelas (Square of the Seven Windows) and also as Largo Afonso de Albuquerque (present time Azad Maidan). The monument was modelled after the Temple of Glory of Ancient Rome. The granite pillars and the iron beams had come from the Convent of S. Domingos at Velha Goa. As one can see in loco, the dome of the monument is supported by eight pillars and twelve columns. Some of these came from the College of St. Thomas Aquinas, formerly located on the hillock of Conceição, close to the Pangim Church. Albuquerque’s statue was transferred to Pangim after it was moved from the frontispiece of the Recolhimento da Serra at Velha Goa…
…When the statue was transferred from Velha Goa, it had come in a mutilated condition. Then, at the intervention of Governor José Ferreira Pestana, the Goan artist Rogunata Zó, a native of Ribandar, successfully did the restoration work. Zó was an artist who worked on wood, bone and ivory without any formal training. On this occasion, the artist proved himself to be a great master of the metalwork arts as well.
The mere hint of an open space is anathema to the philistine sensibilities of today’s Indians/Goans, so it remains to be seen how long the plaza survives before it is deprived of sunshine.
These colour photographs were taken in February this year with the remarkable Canon Tilt-Shift 24mm f/3.5 II lens. With the Shift function, the vertical lines remain vertical. The black-and-white archival images are photographs of old photographs.
For earlier installments of Panjim Promenade, click here.