No visual symbol distinguishes Goa from the rest of India quite as tellingly as its capital city of Panjim, perched on the banks of River Mandovi.

Panjim attained prominence in 1827 when the Portuguese transferred their capital from Old Goa. In 1843, it was elevated to a city, awarded upgrades befitting the capital of Estado da Ìndia, and renamed Nova Goa. A description of that time cuts a smart picture: It is a very beautiful city, modern, with broad and spacious roads drawn in grid pattern (tiradas a cordel), large squares, excellent footpaths, six beautiful bridges and a fine dock. That quote and its source are found in the monograph Snapshots of Indo-Portuguese History – Part I – Pangim, by Vasco Pinho.

I was born and raised in Panjim. It remained essentially the same idyll through my young adult years. All the ingredients of a world-class town were in place beginning with its picture-postcard setting. It was clean, quiet, the pace was languid, and an old world collegial ambience prevailed. Violent crime was unheard of. It had fine educational institutions, an outstanding medical school & hospital – said to be the oldest in Asia, a superb Central Library, a clutch of cultural institutions, lovely jardims, and wide open spaces for outdoor activities. Above all, it was a pedestrian’s delight with all neighbourhoods within the ambit of a leisurely stroll.

Where in India – or even in Silicon Valley for that matter – could a young fellow sit through a music class, then go out and shoot soccer balls, then polish off a plate of bhaji-puri at the legendary Cafe Tato, then traipse across the jardim to the reading room at Central Library, and finally pedal to Miramar beach for sundown? All in the space on an afternoon, immersed in delightful surroundings, without jostling crowds and honking traffic. Panjim was our cosy nest for what the Italians call dolce far niente. This is not a tall tale of “the good old days” – I am talking Panjim of as recent as the mid-1990s.

Sad to say, since 2002 or so this exquisite city of ours – amchi Ponje – is on a downward spiral like much of Goa. Soon it will devolve into another noisy, squalid, jumbled mass of urban chaos that is characteristic of all Indian cities and towns. By and by I shall have more to say on this.

In this extended series to be run over the next several months, I will focus on remnants of Panjim‘s past. The photographs will strive to convey a sense of the city’s surviving heritage assets and its (fast-fading) character.

One final note before we head to the gallery – the book, Walking In and Around Panaji (2005), put together by Heta Pandit is a good starting point for an exploration of Panjim and surrounds.

This first photograph was taken from the Reis Magos fort across River Mandovi.

Panjim by the River Mandovi

Panjim on the River Mandovi
5D, 24-105L

 
 

The next photograph was shot late evening from the upper maintenance deck of the Doordarshan tower (notice the long shadow), looking towards Patto, Mandovi bridge, and the island of Chorão across the river. I had to obtain special permission for access to the tower. The climb up the dark, dank space was quite hairy given the heavily corroded iron railings & stairs.

A bird

A bird's eye view of Panjim
5D, 35L

 
 

By way of comparison, this is a photograph I took of an old (c. 1900) photograph from the Central Library archives. The bridge leading into Ponte de Liñhares (1632) that joins Panjim with Ribandar is seen, as are the salt pans to the right, and Chorão across the river.

Panjim circa 1900 (© Souza & Paul)

Panjim circa 1900 (© Souza & Paul)

 
 

The final photograph was taken in Corte do Oiteiro (colloquially called Cortim). Houses of this type, featuring windows laced with nacre, characterize Panjim‘s old quarter.

Old house in Panjim

Old house in Panjim's Cortin quarter
5D Mark II, TS-E 17L

 
 
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  • dhanashree - October 20, 2012 - 2:05 pm

    beautiful mesmerizing!! hats off!!ReplyCancel

  • marcos fernandes - May 14, 2011 - 5:14 pm

    Really its wonderfull job to keep goa alive and al the memories of portugues really a goog job rajan keep it up hats off to youReplyCancel

  • EDWIN PEREIRA - March 13, 2011 - 1:36 pm

    REALLY VERY VERY WONDERFUL I HAVE GOOD MEMORIES OF MY SCHOOL DAY IN PANJIM FROM 1971 TOO GOOD

    WARM REGARDS
    EDWINReplyCancel

  • Benjamin Braganca - February 13, 2011 - 8:21 pm

    Beautiful and incredible.We hardly imagine our own beauty.ReplyCancel

  • […] Panjim our walls feature a real hole-in-the-wall where the city’s bookworms can crawl into. This […]ReplyCancel

  • Vivek Salgaokar - September 2, 2010 - 7:39 pm

    SuperB photos Rajan.
    Hope this Goan beauty and Goan architecture is preserved forever.

    God bless u for capturing this wonderful pictures.ReplyCancel

  • […] Promenade – 2. Panjim Promenade – 1.   […]ReplyCancel

  • […] see: Panjim Promenade 1. […]ReplyCancel

  • Irene Colaco - January 10, 2010 - 10:18 pm

    Brilliant!! Great job Rajan..ReplyCancel

  • Arun - January 9, 2010 - 9:09 am

    Comparing the 1900 and 2009 bird’s eye views of Panjim is endlessly fascinating.ReplyCancel

  • chris - January 8, 2010 - 9:06 pm

    Rajan u r truly amazing.Great job SENHOR. Count me as one of ur silent admirers.ReplyCancel

  • Sanjeev - January 8, 2010 - 1:59 am

    I hope this is all going to end in a book which one could buy and re-read. Tremendous effort.ReplyCancel

This entry is motivated by the following news item in the January 6, 2010 edition of the Goan daily Herald.

 
 

This willfull destruction of Goa‘s cultural heritage has become commonplace now that the disease of mindless ‘development’ and ‘modernization’ has firmly taken hold. Exquisite old temples built by our traditional gavandis (masons) are being torn down to make way for hideous concrete designs, magnificent sculptures of great antiquity are being cast out in the wilderness with no understanding of their significance.

I remember the day I got to the beautiful village of Netravali (variously spelled Netorli, Neturlim) in south Goa almost two years ago. Feeling unwell that morning, I was about to call it a day but then I remembered the cardinal rule of photographers: take the shot when you can. I was to appreciate the value of that piece of wisdom on more than one occasion in India.

And so I quickly worked on the 4 ancient sculptures in the vicinity: Gopinath, Kalbhairav, Mahishasurmardini, and Ganesha. The glorious image of Kalbhairav out in the open forest was especially striking but it was backlit at the time. I resolved to return soon for a repeat session. When I came back a couple of months later, the idol was gone! A brand new one had been consecrated. I don’t know where the old Kalbhairav is. Hopefully, the Goa Heritage folks will retrieve it as well.

These treasures are said to date back to 9th-10th century C.E. from the time of the Southern Shilaharas in Goa.

Lord Gopinath of Netravali, Goa

Lord Gopinath of Netravali, Goa (9th-10th C)
5D, 24-105L

 
 
Kalbhairav of Netravali, Goa

Kalbhairav of Netravali, Goa
5D, 24-105L

 
 
Mahishasurmardini of Netravali, Goa

Mahishasurmardini of Netravali, Goa
5D, 24-105L

 
 
Ganesha of Netravali, Goa

Ganesha of Netravali, Goa
5D, 24-105L

 
 
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  • venantius j pinto - January 26, 2010 - 3:48 pm

    Awesome depiction of Bhairav. The gaze is so compelling and very calm. Quite an unique elongate headed Ganesha. Good capture of the pigment dispersion. And frankly I like that their phalluses are not hidden. Superb page.

    Suggestion: Consider putting the photos at the top and text below. This way the images will always be aligned. It make for better viewing without the “jump.” Also only reveal a consistent amount of text across every page, with a link that one clicks if needed to expand a page. This way only those who wish to read more will do so, and your front and back links will also be aligned.ReplyCancel

  • B - January 7, 2010 - 2:37 pm

    Not notified by State Archaeology Dept? Is there a need of notification to recognize a 12th century artifact? What stupidity!!ReplyCancel

My little nephew Praharsh (Yash) insists on accompanying me on my photo shoots in Goa. The joy of having him around is tempered with exasperation for he follows me like a shadow, replicating every single move of mine. If I bend he does likewise, if I crouch he follows suit, and if I take a piddle his bladder also finds itself in sync.

I managed to snag a few candids of this Dennis the Menace.

Yash in the field in Saligao

Babu in the field in Saligao
5D Mark II, 70-200L f/2.8 IS

 
 
Yash in the field in Saligao

Babu in the field in Saligao
5D Mark II, 70-200L f/2.8 IS

 
 
Yash in the temple at Virnoda

Babu in the temple at Virnoda
5D, 24-105L

 
 
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  • jc - January 4, 2010 - 5:48 am

    Is it not great that we now have digital photography – so that young lads like Yash can more readily express themselves through the medium of photography?

    All the best to himReplyCancel

  • shrikant barve - January 3, 2010 - 11:43 pm

    Yash Yashasvi ho.ReplyCancel

  • Ajay Divakaran - January 3, 2010 - 8:11 pm

    Got to catch them young. Good for him and you.ReplyCancel

We begin the New Year by invoking Ganesha.

The Ganapati temple in the tiny Goan village of Khandola (also spelled Candola) is important to Goans and to Goan history. The original temple was located on the island of Divar at the site of what is today the cemetery adjoining the Church of Our Lady of Piedade. After it was destroyed by the Portuguese around 1540, the idol was squirreled away to Khandepar in Ponda taluka and later to Narve in Bicholim taluka. It was to endure still more turmoil in the years following before finding a stable home in Khandola sometime around 1750.

In 1969 the ancient idol was retired and a new one installed for active worship. But the plan to inter the old image through the process of visarjan was foiled by the good Lord Himself. During the prasad ritual, he demanded a permanent spot in the garbagriha (sanctum sanctorum) to the left of and 1 foot higher than his new doppelgänger. The Lord sure has a fine sense of humour but apparently he hasn’t yet switched to the metric system.

Now a few words about the photograph. For entry into the inner sacred space, the Khandola temple rules call for a ritual bath and appropriate attire. After some back-and-forth a compromise was struck: I agreed to wear the dhoti but the purificatory cold shower from the temple well at 6 in the morning was waived. And so – balancing my camera and tripod while holding on to a slippery dhoti, I came to photograph the ancient Ganapati-bab of Khandola.

This Ganesha sculpture is suggestive of the Hoysala style and is thought to date back to the 13th century CE.

13th C Ganesha of Khandola, Goa

13th C. Ganesha of Khandola, Goa
5D Mark II, 85L II

 
 
Flower lady at Khandola temple

Flower lady at Khandola temple
5D Mark II, 85L II

 
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  • Vinayak M Kamath - November 23, 2016 - 1:30 pm

    Dear fellow GanapatiBappa Devotees,

    With Anant Pranams to Ganapatti Bappa, I would like to inform you that there yet another temple in Karnataka which has lineage with Khandolla Bappa. the Temple is in Asanoti Bhagawat wada Gram of Karwar Taluka in Uttar Kannada Dist. It is about 12 Kms from Karwar on Karwar Joida Road. Here the main Diety is Dashabhuja Ganapati Vigraha which has come from Goa along with our Ancestors as also Ravalnath. Mahamaya, though was accompanying Ganapati Bappa the Nirakar Sheela was found locally and was installed on directions of Oracale. Dushara, Marghasheer Vanabhojan, Magh Ganesh Chaturti, Phalgun Shesha Utsav, etc are celebrated. If you happen to come to Karwar Please visit the temple. With Regards to you allReplyCancel

  • prashanth kamath - September 7, 2013 - 8:26 am

    Shailesh,
    As per the earlier pontiff of Kaiwalya math, the temple of Shantadurga or Mahamaya from Golti got relocated near Nageshi. It is located past the temple pond at Nageshi. The same one that goes with Nagesh Mahalaxmi.ReplyCancel

    • Shravan - September 1, 2015 - 2:21 am

      Fantastic work Parrikarmaam. The Golthi Mahamaya is Shirali and Khandola. Possibly who stayed back in Goa, regrouped at Khandola..Who proceeded southwards reached Shirali…So Shailesh Please contact Bhatmaam @ Khandola Ganapathi Temple. Prashanth you are actually telling about Shanatadurga @ Kavlem..moved from Keloshi.

      BTW there are more than 10 Shantadurga..So we can lose enough hair on our head if we search all our doubts..
      😀ReplyCancel

  • Shailesh - October 13, 2010 - 8:09 am

    as told to you by Mr. Sheshagiri above that Shirali Has MGM temple, my family are actually followers of Shantadurga or Mahamaya …. hence do you know of Shantadurga / mahamaya temple at Golti on Divar Island????

    Please revert backReplyCancel

  • sheshagiri s kamath - January 6, 2010 - 11:18 pm

    Thank u very much Rajan. Sri Maha Ganapathi of this temple is the KUL DEVATAHA of our family. When the Portuguese attacked our ancestors they ran for their life and settled in karnataka. Later they build a new temple in Shirali(Bhatkal) Karnataka.

    I am planning to visit this temple soon. I request you to please let me know the Phone No of this temple if u have. And also Please let me know the way of reaching this place.

    Thank you.

    Sheshgiri. udupi. karnatakaReplyCancel

  • Arun - January 3, 2010 - 4:45 pm

    Happy New Year!

    The palm of the Ganesha of Khandola seems different from the texture of the rest of the surface. Any idea why?

    -ArunReplyCancel

  • Ajay Divakaran - January 2, 2010 - 7:32 am

    elegant and beautiful pictures as always.
    Keep them coming.
    Happy new year to you!ReplyCancel

  • chinmay - January 1, 2010 - 2:25 pm

    Rajan-bab,
    A picture of your goodself in a dhoti clicking the Bappa’s picture would be a treat in itself 🙂

    HAppy new year to you!ReplyCancel

A couple of days back, I took a ride over the San Francisco Bay Area aboard a Zeppelin. These airships are built in the town of Friedrichshafen in Germany. Currently there are only 3 of them in the world – the other two are in Japan and Germany. A small company named Airship Ventures based out of Moffett Field in Mountain View, California, owns and operates the only Zeppelin airship in the United States. The tours are very professionally run and the staff & crew at Airship Ventures obviously enjoy their work.

Zeppelins are ideal for aerial photography. There is no vibration (unlike a helicopter), it coasts at an easy pace, and engine noise is not an issue. Furthermore, two of the windows in our airship opened out allowing for shooting without any glass barrier. At our cruising altitude of 1000 feet, the 3 Canon lenses I carried – 24-105L, 70-200L f/2.8 IS, and 14L II – were equal to the task.

It was a beautiful day when we took off from the Oakland airport. Unfortunately, our departure was delayed by almost two hours and this meant the sun was already at a high angle by the time we got going – the worst possible conditions from the point of view of photography. The brilliant red of the Golden Gate Bridge, for instance, was obscured for the most part, and many of the other sights were similarly handicapped.

All said and done, we had a delightful time. Perhaps I will take a sunset ride in the coming months at which time the lighting is more conducive to photography. Some tours originating from Moffett Field fly directly over the runways at SFO allowing for views of the planes landing below.

Groundstaff guides airship to landing site

Groundstaff guides airship 'Eureka' down for landing
5D Mark II, 24-105L

 
 
Zeppelin comes in to land

'Eureka' comes in to land
5D Mark II, 24-105L

 
 
Loading passengers

Loading passengers
5D Mark II, 14L II

 
 
And off she goes!

And off she goes!
5D Mark II, 14L II

 
 
View from the cockpit

View from the cockpit
5D Mark II, 24-105L

 
 
Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island
5D Mark II, 24-105L

 
 
Bay Bridge

Bay Bridge
5D Mark II, 14L II

 
 
Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge
5D Mark II, 24-105L

 
 
Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge
5D Mark II, 70-200L f/2.8 IS

 
 
City of San Francisco

City of San Francisco
5D Mark II, 24-105L

 
 
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  • Serendipity | Susegaad - September 23, 2015 - 7:40 pm

    […] III lens. At first it looked like a Zeppelin to me. However, because of my frequent visits to Rajan Parrikar’s blog I knew that “Currently there are only 3 of them in the world – the other two are in […]ReplyCancel

  • Sanjeev - December 29, 2009 - 3:41 am

    terrific !!

    The blimp company might refund your ticket in exchange of these pictures.ReplyCancel

  • Sherrie Simpson - December 28, 2009 - 2:48 pm

    Rajan, Bruce and I were on this trip with you, and it is stunning to see what a good eye, good equipment can do. We have many similar shots, but none with the clarity of yours. I especially like your composition in the Alcatraz shot, with the ferry making its way toward the island. Thank you for sharing your wonderful photography with us.ReplyCancel

  • Nachiketa Sharma - December 27, 2009 - 10:44 am

    Incredible, Rajan! I had never seen the city like this! – NachiReplyCancel

  • Ajay Divakaran - December 27, 2009 - 10:29 am

    Spectacular shots. Please keep them coming.ReplyCancel

  • soter - December 27, 2009 - 3:28 am

    Hi Rajan,
    Good shots. keep it up.
    -soterReplyCancel

  • Agnelo - December 26, 2009 - 11:28 pm

    Wow! Love your photography! I’ve seen all these sights from land and sea never from this angle. Always enjoy your pictures of Goa!ReplyCancel

  • Atanu Dey - December 26, 2009 - 7:11 pm

    Awesome pictures. Makes me homesick for the Bay Area. Thanks.ReplyCancel