Rajan Parrikar Photo Blog

Panjim Promenade – Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception

Happy Easter to all!

The Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Imaculada Conceição (1541) is among Panjim‘s signature sights, an obligatory photo stop for every visitor to the city. It was not long ago (when Panjim was still a world-class city) that the Church Square and its surrounds were a pedestrian’s delight, a vibrant evening hangout for Panjimites, young and old. Today it is like any other cacophonous, chaotic, unpleasant Indian city square. Which is to say, Goa has now fully embraced India.

From: Snapshots of Indo-Portuguese History – I – Pangim, by Vasco Pinho (self-published, 2007)

pp. 12-15
The Portuguese held Our Lady of Immaculate Conception in great awe as she was the Patroness of the Kingdom and Conquests. As such, a small hermitage was raised in her honour atop Pangim‘s hillock in 1541; and the hillock itself received its name from the hermitage…Then, a larger edifice was built close to the place where the Dominicans had started the College of St. Thomas Aquinas (1584-1586), which was eventually shifted to Panelim. The building was demolished and rebuilt from foundations in 1619…In its early years the edifice had two side stairways with a part of the hillock existing between them.

To its south, going down to Corte de Oiteiro, there is a stairway of 65 steps. Its construction began in 1866…But the outer majesty of the Church complex was truly enhanced after the redesigning of the main stairway of 78 steps built around 1870, modeled after that of the Church of Bom Jesus de Braga, Portugal, with one middle and four side landings arranged in perfect symmetry…On the middle landing of the main stairway of the Pangim Church, there is a marble statue of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception which was placed atop a 5-metre high pedestal on December 8, 1954. It has a pulpit-like balcony in front of it.

…The Church’s main bell was brought from the convent of St. Agostinho of (Velha) Goa. It weighs 2250 kgs. and is the biggest in the State next only to that of the Cathedral See of Old Goa. The bell was manufactured in Lisbon…and had been kept at the Aguada Lighthouse…after which it was brought to Pangim in December 1874.

…From a distance one can read on the frontispiece of the Church the refrain Ora Pro Nobis (Pray for us) – in Latin.


Photographing the Church early in the morning or at night is a challenge. The artificial lighting blows out the features of the façade directly in front of the lights, and resulting dynamic range overpowers the capabilities of today’s camera sensors. An earlier attempt of mine highlights (pun intended) the issue.

This time I tried to work around the problem by placing a Singh-Ray 2-stop reverse grad filter ahead of the lens to hold back the brightest band within the frame. The results were much better, thanks in no small measure to the fantastic Canon Tilt-Shift 24mm f/3.5 II lens, which, unlike its optical peer TS-E 17L, admits filter holders. (Update: for a workaround see this.)

The conditions that lead to the second image below were fortuitous. With daylight fast approaching, the lights automatically turned off about 1 sec into the 4 sec exposure.

Panjim Church at dawn

16th C. Panjim Church at dawn
5D Mark II, TS-E 24L II + Singh-Ray 2-Stop Reverse GND Filter

Panjim Church at daybreak

5D Mark II, TS-E 24L II + Singh-Ray 2-Stop Reverse GND Filter


The next two images were made in 2007 and 2008, respectively.

Late evening

Late evening
5D, 70-200L f/2.8 IS

Late evening view

Late evening view
5D, 24-105L


The final three images are photographs of old photographs.

Panjim Church c. 1900

Church Square c. 1900, Central Library Archives
5D, 24-105L

Panjim Church c. 1900, © Souza & Paul, Central Library Archives

Panjim Church c. 1920 (?), © Souza & Paul, Central Library Archives
5D, 24-105L

View over Panjim Church c. 1900

View of Panjim and the church c. 1900, Central Library Archives
5D, 24-105L


For earlier installments of Panjim Promenade, click here.

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