Walks

THE OLD GOA WALK

This walk takes you into unknown territory. Explore conversation architect Ketak Nachinolkar’s Old Goa. Here are sights and sounds from the past that even the tourist brochures haven’t heard of. Take Goa’s historical link from the time the Kadamba kings ruled the state to present times of the City’s status as a World Heritage Site.

Conservation Nachinolkar Ketak Nachinolkar is doubly qualified to guide you on this walk through history. He is a product of the Goa College of Architecture and the Delhi School of Planning & Architecture and has studied the sites he speaks about with person. Ketak grew up around these parts and has romped up and down these places as a child. He knows them like the back of his hand and will happily walk with you if he can. You can call him on 0832-230676.

Ketak begins this walk at the Chapel dedicated to St. Catherine, Goa’s patron saint. It is located right next to the Museum at Old Goa, by the side of the Church dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi. Apparently, long before the Archaeological Survey of India got into the act, the Portuguese government had appointed an Archaeology Commission in the 1930s to oversee the conservation of the monuments at Old Goa. The chapel that we see today is the result of the restoration carried out by that Archaeology Commission. The other monuments that we sue being repaired and restored today by the A.S.I are in fact a follow-up of the work that was started by the same Commission.

This was the gate was used by the Portuguese to enter the place that was known as Cidade de Goa or the city of Goa and Velha Goa or Old Goa after the place was abandoned. Walk down from the Chapel towards the pier and turn to the left where you see the site of the Royal Hospital, conveniently located close to the port. The wall opposite the site is part of the old Arsenal and the toad you are walking on is probably dated to the early 16th century. Now turn left along the coconut grove that was once the Archiepiscopal (place) prison. Enjoy the texture of the land and of the single examples of mud architecture that are a reminder of Goa’s diverse architecture heritage. Prepare yourself for a real historic treat. Observe the pier closely. Look down at your feet. See the cornice cornice on the pier wall under the water.

You are looking at an architectural feature is as historically significant as is functional. Close your eye’s and think of all the ships and boats that had docked here against these cornice bands, ‘Think of all the soft coir padding that lined these hands and protected these boats from damage. Enjoy the sights and sounds emanating from the mangrove forests across the water and the fishing boats that dock at the pier to this day. As you face the water, look to the left on the ground. A 16th century milestone half-embedded in the ground says CAIS DE SANTA CATERTNA or Quay of St. Catherine. If you look around you today, you see a host of coconut trees but in the 16th century, all this must have been an expansive open space used for warehousing.

Walk up to the jetty that once took people across to the Saptakoteshwar Temple and the pretty village of Narve (Divar island). Look again for more cornice bands and also for yet another ancient milestone. This one says CAIS DE VEIS (Vico) REIS or Quay of the Viceroys. Ketak thinks it was probably made in the 1900s when a feeble attempt was made at reconstructing the old city. Now take a right turn veering off the river. The Arch of the Viceroys used to be Adil Shah’s main gateway into his city. Feel the breeze imagine the pomp and ceremony of the Deccan Sultans as you walk under the arch. The gateway houses the statue of Vasco da Gama, the discoverer of the sea route to the East, in the niche above and was built originally in 1599 by his great - grandson, who was appointed the Viceroy. This was a ceremonial gateway for the entry and exit of the Viceroys holding office and continued to be so even after the place was abandoned and the city was shifted to Panaji. It was restored in 1950 and stands over what Ketak thinks is probably the oldest road in Old Goa. Ruins of the Viceroy’s Palace lie scattered all along this on the mound to the left of the road. It is believed that the Palace became the residence of the Captain of the Ports only after one of the Portuguese Victory was unable to take the high steps of the Palace. Sadly, today nothing but the fortress remains of this Palace. This was originally a fortress to guard the entrance to the city since Adil Shah’s times and after the Portuguese conquest, served initially as a residence for the Captains of the ships is and then as the Palace of the Viceroy.

You will now see the spectacular St. Cajetan Church to your left. The church has been built on the same lines as St. Peter’s Church in Rome and is an architectural marvel. The Pastoral Institute joined to the Church at the hip a commendable effort at harmonious architecture. To the left of this church stands a rather curious structure that has invited much speculation amongst historians. The A.S.I refers to it as “Adil Shah’s gate” and believes it to he part of the Shah’s palace in the old city. It is made up entirely of what look like the remnants of a Hindu temple.