Offbeat Goa: Stay in Fontainhas of Panjim at WelcomHeritage Panjim Inn
Panjim, the capital city of beach state Goa, India is one of those places most tourists would passingly visit while in Goa, but hardly know it. Panjim is not only the administrative center of Goa but also the the heart of history, culture and new age lifestyle of Goa. While most tourists prefer heading towards the overcrowded beaches of North Goa for a stay and some go down towards the secluded beaches of South Goa to relax, we realized that spending few days at Panjim was absolutely necessary to better understand the real Goa better. We found a wonderful heritage boutique hotel - 'Panjim Inn' located in the hub of Fontainhas of Old Panjim. We also realized that Panjim Inn itself is connected with an important piece of history. In this article of the series 'Offbeat Goa', we review our stay at WelcomHeritage Panjim Inn and show you what makes Panjim Inn so special.
Read other blogs of the series ‘Offbeat Goa’ by clicking on the link or photos below:
Stay at WelcomHeritage Panjim Inn – A review - This article
The Welcomheritage Connection
WelcomHeritage is the largest chain of heritage hotels in India offering experiences in traditional properties ranging from magnificent palaces, grand havelis to monumental forts. It aims to promote India's local culture, cuisine, art and tradition while providing unique heritage experiences to their guests. We got to stay in one such boutique ancestral property that is now a part of WelcomHeritage chain named Panjim Inn.
Entangled history of Panjim Inn and Goa
Goa was the first part of India colonized by Europeans in 1510 and interestingly the last part of India to be liberated in 1961, 14 years after British left India. Goa was captured by Indian Army through various strikes after Portuguese refused to hand over Goa and some other colonized areas to Independent India. After India captured Goa, there were plans of merging Goa with Maharashtra but through a historic opinion poll in 1967, people of Goa voted to be a separate state. This opinion poll was led by Dr. Jack De Sequeira who is now called father of opinion poll and credited with formation of Goa as a separate state. You can find life size statues of Dr. Sequeira installed at Calangute and Dona Paula in his remembrance.
Panjim Inn was built by Francis Assis da Silveira in 1880s. It was converted into a heritage hotel by Ajit Sukhija, the fourth generation descendant of Silveira, making it the first heritage hotel of Goa. Ajit Sukhija and his son Jack Sukhija together manage the property today. Ajit Sukhija happens to be grandson of the father of opinion poll Dr. Jack De Sequeira. You see the connection now!
Owned by the same family for over 5 generations, Panjim Inn is a 140-year-old Goan property set in the narrow lanes of Fontainhas in Panjim, which has been elegantly renovated to retain its old world charm of an era gone by. The family has taken utmost care to conserve and preserve the external facade of the building, the thick mud and clay stonewalls, Burmah teak beams and the wrought iron railings that run across the first-floor balcony and veranda. Panjim Inn is old yet elegant and traditional yet equipped with all modern luxuries.
Today Panjim Inn has expanded to include 2 other nearby mansions - Panjim Pousada and Panjim Peoples. All the 3 restored mansions offer its guests a perfect Goan experience influenced by Portuguese architecture and culture.
WelcomHeritage Panjim Inn, Goa
Panjim Inn is settled between the multi-coloured buildings of Fontainhas. It houses 24 bedrooms divided into 3 different categories - 12 rooms in the old house and 12 rooms in the newly built section. Each room consists of a four-poster bed and furnished with antique furniture. Modern room facilities include air-conditioning, television, mini-refrigerator and an attached bath. The ground floor of Panjim Inn consists of the banquet area filled with antique Victorian style conversation sofas and the reception. Just above the reception is Panjim Inn's famous restaurant named Verandah. The second floor of Panjim Inn also houses a salon that provides therapies and massages. On the rooftop are a jacuzzi and a sunbathers lounge.
WelcomHeritage Panjim Pousada, Goa
Panjim Pousada is located down the street in the same lane as Panjim Inn. Panjim Pousada was once a lone Hindu house in a predominant Christian locality. The aesthetics of the old house (originally built in the 1930s) are still retained that consists of a central chowk (courtyard) where prayers were once performed around the Tulsi (basil) plant. This central space is open from the top allowing ample sunlight to seep through. Surrounding the chowk are 9 rooms (2 different categories) all equipped with modern facilities and antique furniture. The walls on all the sides are hung with paintings and local art. The antique Ganesha idol placed in the centre completes the decor of Panjim Pousada and gives it an old world charm. Panjim Pousada is perfect for guests looking for cosy get-togethers and workshops.
WelcomHeritage Panjim Peoples, Goa
Panjim Peoples was once Goa's first English medium school. It is renovated to be restored as the most luxurious of all the 3 mansions. It is located right opposite to Panjim Inn and houses 4 rooms on the first floor. All the rooms are extremely spacious and exude charm and character. The ground floor of Panjim Peoples building houses an art gallery named Gitanjali.
Our Experience of staying in WelcomHeritage Panjim Peoples, Goa
We opted to stay in one of the superior rooms at Panjim Peoples. Just the first look of our room and we were sold. It was way too beautiful. We felt like landing into an era gone by. Our room was adorned with handpicked Portuguese style old decor. The room was extremely huge with 2 big four-poster beds in the middle. The wooden canopy of the poster bed was draped by light white fabric giving it an elegant and classy look. The bedside table consisted of uniquely designed lampshades seemed to be made out of old mason jars or wine bottles. The carved rosewood almirah was huge enough to funnily fit one of us inside. The antique wooden dresser also having a mirror and a few drawers were carved with the best of craftsmanship. A round centre table has a marble top with 2 antique chairs completed the look of the swanky room. 3-4 large windows ran from ceiling to the floor of the walls providing amazing views, ample natural light, good ventilation and architectural character to the palatial room. Fine white curtains covered the huge windows. The room was decorated with old family photographs and contemporary art work.
We immediately felt royal like a King and a Queen returned to their land after ages. The bathroom was royal too, with beautifully designed mosaic tile walls, a bathtub, a big basin, ample toiletries and lots of space. We danced to delight as we opened the balcony door; it opened right into the streets of Fontainhas just like pretty coloured streets of Greek Islands. Awed by the view, we stood in the balcony for as long as we could and soaked in the charming 18th-century ambience of the place. Panjim is a city brimming with historical importance and it gave us goosebumps to just witness the winding cobbled alleyways from the balcony. We wish we never had to get out of the room but the desire to roam in the pretty streets of Fontainhas of Panjim and the hunger pangs forced us to leave our room.
Gallery Gitanjali, Goa
We visited Gitanjali gallery located just below our room at WelcomHeritage Panjim Peoples. The art gallery houses several vibrant paintings, a few art books, board games and a small cafe. Gitanjali gallery hosts events and workshops for local as well as international artists. During our stay, the gallery displayed the paintings created by artists around the theme- The Sacred Feminine. Also displayed were the poetic responses to each painting. A few of them were exceptionally articulated and made us reason their deep meaning. Here are some pictures of the exquisite art pieces installed.
Restaurant Verandah, Goa
The Verandah restaurant is located on the first floor of Panjim Inn. It is being shared by all the 3 mansions. It serves Goan, Continental and Indian delicacies and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Just sitting at the restaurant, enjoying local cuisines and looking out at the streets watching people performing their daily chores was our favourite past-time. The meals were delicious and wholesome. Morning breakfast was served in the ground floor courtyard at Panjim Inn which was again a gastronomical affair.
We spent the nights in the balcony with small Portugal-alike town in the backdrop. The streets became quieter as the moon rose and the lime, violet, crimson and teal coloured quaint buildings decorated with the typical azulejo tiles took us back into a different world - one with Spanish and Portuguese influence.
WelcomHeritage Panjim Inn makes for a perfect base to explore the Latin quarters of Fontainhas. The biggest plus point is the central location of the hotel that makes it easier to visit the Panjim city centre, Miramar beach, beautiful whitewashed churches, heritage temples, nightclubs and the offshore casinos where everyday fortunes get made and many a times lost. The unique old-world yet modern setting of Panjim Inn is ideal for everyone right from honeymooners, solo travellers, friends and families. The ever-smiling and ready-to-help staff is another reason why everyone should opt to stay at WelcomHeritage Panjim Inn.
You can book Panjim Inn from their official website or other ecommerce portals.
How did you find our review of WelcomHeritage Panjim Inn? Would you love staying in such an antique yet luxurious property? Do you know any other such offbeat beautiful places you would like us to review? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.
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Note: All opinions expressed in this blog are our own and not influenced by Panjim Inn.