Walks

THE DONA PAULA WALK

This walk gives you a bird’s eye view of the mouth of the river Mandovi and all its resplendent heritage buildings.

As an extended walk to The Campal Walk, take a car or a scooter to Raj Bhavan, Dona Paula. Take in the view as yon get there - Miraimar Beach, Reis Magos Church, the ford at the Aguada and Hotel River Rays, the charming little villas designed he renowned architect Charles Correa. (Charles Correa is also responsible for the design of the celebrated Goa Kala Academy building that you will go past on your way out of Campal). The little chapel at the Raj Bhavan is open to worshippers and Mass is celebrated in English at 9.30 every Sunday morning.

If you make it inside the gates by then, take a look at the beautifully laid-our avenue of trees and ornamental shrubbery. Once inside the chapel, take a look at the legends on the gravestones of the original Dona Paula. Here is proof that the hype that Dona and Paul were a pair of star-crossed lovers who plunged themselves into the sea is nothing more than the figment of an over-imaginative tour operator’s mind. Goa historian Mario Cabral e Sa also write of the popular belief that the ghost of Dona Paula rides the roar of the waves on the night of the full moon and roams the streets of the village dressed in pearls from the sea.

In fact, Dona (Lady) Paula de Menezes, after whom the village of Dona Paula is named, was the daughter of the Portuguese governor of Jafinapatam. Dona Paula was his eldest daughter and was married to a Portuguese’s fidalgo named Dom Antonio de Souto Maior who owned vast tracts of land in Goa. These lands extended all the way from today’s Dona Paula village near the Raj Bhavan to Caranzalem and included chunks of Miramar beach.

When Dona Paula died, she bequeathed her entire wealth to the church and entrusted it to a church trust then known as a mitra. It was also customary for such donors to entrust a mitra with the task of celebrating mass for the family of the donor in perpetuity. Dona Paula’s brother-in-law, a priest named Francisco da Cunha Souto Maior constructed the Our Lady of Rosary Chapel and St. Peter’s Chapel in Caranzalem in 1681 with the same mitra funds. If you have the time and can obtain the permission to go down the steps to the grotto, go and pay your respects at the modest little statuette of the saint whose name the place bears. This Saint used to be venerated in the 4th and 5th centuries in Europe and the grotto referred to as the Grotto of St. Paula. You will notice that the Saint is being paid due respect even today with Indian-styled garlands and floral tributes.

Out of the Raj Bhavan gates, take a look at the British cemetery to your right. It is the only one of its kind in the whole of Goa. Watch the barges carrying iron ore go up and down to the rig near the Marmagao Port beyond the waters. These massive vessels look like toys at this distance. Admire the mango trees with fruit in the month of April and May. Take a look at the spread of the tamarinds as they come to flower at this time of the year. Now walk down the slope and in through the gates of the cemetery with graves of British soldiers, railway men and their wives and daughters. It must he remembered that a British garrison was stationed in Goa between the years 1799 and 1813. You might find it rather macabre news that there are a total of 47 tombs and 56 gravestones in laterite over these fourteen years. It is also something of a curiosity that most of the women in these Fourteen years have died between the ages of 30-40. Look for the grave hearing the Legend, “Louisa Ann, beloved wife of Henry Barrow, Assistant Foreman, WIP (Western India Peninsula) Railway” and that of “Henry William Mayne, employee of the Madras and Southern Mahratta Railway for many years”. His daughter has elected the gravestone. Once out of the Cemetery, it might be worth your while to take a look at the Greco Roman pergola and statue at the tourist spot that tour operator’s mistakenly point our as “a tribute to the star-crossed lovers Dona and Paul”. The statue is actually a sculpture of Mr. & Mrs. Robert Knox. Robert Kim Knox was a philosopher who won the admiration of the Dutch sculptor, the Baroness Yrsa Von Leistner. The pergola bears the legend ORDEM 1961 that indicates that it was probably built by Public Order or Subscription in the year that Goa was liberated from Portuguese rule.

Do not make the fatal mistake of trudging up the stairs to the pergola after dark. The place is infested with rats the size that even the Pied Piper of Hamlyn could not take care of! In any case, the view of the open sea is best appreciated in daylight.