Walks

THE CAMPAL WALK

This is a leisurely walk through Panaji elite neighbourhood with plenty of opportunities to relax in the many parks and gardens en route.

To experience this long leisurely adventure, begin at the end of the Mandovi river promenade. This promenade is about seven kilometers in length and is perhaps the longest and most scenic riverside promenades in India. The Old Goa Medical College building is to your left. This is Asia’s first medical reaching institution and hospital and was once the private residence of the Marquis de Mayem. The building has a pillared entrance portico leading into an entrance hall from which a large concrete staircase leads to the upper floor. Very high ceilings, cast iron railings and arched windows, characterize the building. The flooring is mainly in marble, clay tiles, Shahbad and Kadappa stone. The walls have a dado of white glazed tiles with a border of ornate colored tiles. If you are planning to take the Portais Walk, step into the red house with the green motifs on its outer facade. The house is owned by the Agshekar family and you will not find friendlier Goans in the whole city. Take a look at the moulded Italian tiles in their devghor (literally, God’s house). They are exactly the same tiles as those used in the upstairs wards of the old Goa Medical College. Perhaps the master builder had some tiles left over from the hospital building and decided to put them to good use in a home that he was building at the same time.

Before you step away from the promenade, however, stop and admire the view of the villages of Betim and Verem (Reis Magos) across the mouth of the river. (For your information there is a fairly decent public utility hidden behind the casuarina trees.) You are, in fact, standing on Panaji’s most picturesque street, the Dayanand Bandodkar Marg. Take in the view and enjoy a moment at the Children’s Park and the gardens and plant nursery run by the Forest Department of Goa.

Keep your eyes peeled to the left of the avenue. Take a look at House No.101 built in the Colonial indigenous style of architecture, which has decorative features that are simple and distinctive. The Canal to the left of this house provides a serene, charming view of the calmer aspects of the city. A commemorative pillar and bench at the head of the Canal dates it to 1829. Stand at the Canal and imagine that Panaji citizens once went for leisurely strolls in their horsedrawn buggies along these roads on Sunday evenings. Ironically the residential pocket of Campal that you are now about to enter, sports Art Deco features that could be attributed to the advent of the American motorcar! Step on to Bandodkar Marg once again and walk along the footpath or the side lane under a canopy of peltophorums, cassia fistulas and gulmohrs.

The first house in this heritage neighbourhood belongs to Ricardo and Sonia Sequeira. Walk past it and spend a few moments looking over into the Campal garden. The pergola in the centre was obviously designed for performance. Make a note of the stone grills done in harp patterns and the Ionic columns that support a perforated canopy. This is where a military band once played every Sunday for Campal residents.

Right behind the bandstand is a house named Villa Savitri. Asopalav trees bend their serrated leaf branches over this avenue. Walk along the avenue or explore the houses here at will. If you choose to walk along the avenue, then into the garden once again. Take a breather to look at the statue that towers over the flowering shrubs in this lovely little open space. This ten foot high bronze cast is “in glorious memory of Francisco Luis Gomes, champion of liberty, writer, orator, eminent man of letter, erudite economist and patriot” and was erected on his birth centenary in 1929.

The house directly behind the statue is worth looking at if only for its Art Deco teakwood doorway. Despite the borrowed American influence, you must notice that the laterite stone gateposts and finials over the gateposts are decidedly Goan. Scrolls and ball finials are dated to the early part of the 6th century when military architecture followed the building of sea forts into Goan domestic architecture. Note the indigenously crafted compound wall that runs along the periphery of the building. Perforations in the design allow cool breezes to replace the hot air on the ground as it rises. This is an indigenous Goan contribution for which the Goan master builders must indeed be given due credit. Do not let the simplicity of the frontage of the Rebelo House next door deceive you. The flooring in this house is worth a king‘s ransom. It might be worthwhile to request the owners for permission to enter the house just to have a look at its Italian flooring. The wrought iron fencing is probably a British-India import. The eavesboards are indigenously crafted and the garden is the typical Goan pot pourri of ornamental and functional plants.

Come face to face with some more Art Deco lettering at the AGENCIA E SEQUEIRA and step on to the side to see a house with pointed arches and shuttered windows that afford the house privacy while letting in the breezes from the river. A sun burst motif in stone decorates the gable.
Further up, take a look at the motifs on the garage door with a sign saying FABRIL GASOSA and then amble along to E-74, Campal. This is a fine house with ornamental plants is gracing the verandah and a beautiful red, white and black flooring. The grills on the windows are Art Dao in style. This is the residence of Panaji’s most environmentally aware couple. Patricia and Agnelo Pinto are active members of the People’s Movement Civic Action and responsible for keeping Goa free of plastics Patricia Pinto is also an elected representative of the Panaji Municipal Council.

Walk around the house, taking a left past the indigenously designed compound wall and step into the Linen Shoppe for a quick look. Before you leave, note how cleverly the compound wall has been designed before you go. Blocks of laterite have been placed flat with their tips touching to make a perforated wall. The Linen Shoppe stores handwoven furnishing and accessories. You might like to take a look at their towels bed linen and cushion covers in contemporary Indian fabric designs.

Right in front of the linen Shoppe is the Villa Peregrino da Costa. The traditional yellow ochre on this house façade might startle you at first but take a minute to admire its bottle balusters and windows that offset the deep green of the overhanging rain trees. A few steps ahead will take you to the Gonsalves House. Built in I 929-30, like most houses in Campal, this house has been completely refurbished by its present owners. The house now sports a wooden verandah with floral motifs and a hipped roof covered in Mangalore tiles. The old cement floor has been stripped down and covered in contemporary tiles. Art Deco furniture mingles amicably with modern furniture from Macau.

Retrace your steps and come out of Campal now. See the pillars at St. Inez over the Canal. Stop for a breather at the benches built for that very purpose. This is one of the city’s many storm water drains that were built when the new capital was established and was meant to prevent this egalitarian city from flooding in the monsoons. It was recently restored by the Panjim Municipal Council.