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Panaji – a city honours & remembers its past

Sanjeev V Sardesai
To be remembered, as we pass on is a wish everyone nurtures in life; and to honour those that have created a niche in our lives, is ‘the’ admirable way of life. Panaji City through its monuments remembers those that have created such a niche, not only from within Goa, but those that have left an imprint on world history!
Prince henry – the navigator, monument
At the intersection of roads to St Inez and Miramar, opposite Kala Academy and in front of the Military Hospital at Campal, we find a very unique shaped monument, with some navigational markings on it either side. This is the “Prince Henry the Navigator Monument”.
Infante Henrique of Portugal, Duke of Viseu (March 4 1394 – November 13 1460), more prominently known as “Prince Henry, the Navigator” was nominated as the Governor of the province of Algarve, by his father, King John I of Portugal, the founder of the House of Aviz.
It is said that it was in this province of Algarve, on the peninsula of Sagres, that Prince Henry, fascinated with the mysteries of sea travel, started the legendary school of navigation at his villa, known as Sagres School of Navigation. Though many modern historians do not believe that he started the school, it is accepted that Vasco da Gama was purportedly the student of this institution.
We are aware that on May 20, 1498, the armada of sea voyager Vasco da Gama berthed at Calicut, after circumventing around the Cape of Good Hope, the southern pinnacle of the African Continent.
Prince Henry passed away on November 13 1460, and in the year 1960, the 500th death anniversary of Prince Henry the Navigator, the then Portuguese administration in Goa, erected this monument, to commemorate this great navigator.
The monument is in the shape of a Sextant—a navigational tool, used by sea farers to mark their route, by using the stars. One side of the panel on top of the monument shows huge sail ships or “Caravelas”, while on the other side there are stars along with a compass and a sextant.
The Military Hospital, behind this monument, was once the Cadeia or the jail.
The twin statues of miramar
As per historian Prajal Sakhardande, the original identity of Miramar Beach area was ‘piddooc’ or a black bed in local language. Later it came to be known as Praia Gaspar Dias and finally to Miramar, due to a small resort Hotel Miramar, belonging to the Roncon Family that existed here.
These twin statues on top of the tall pedestal, at the Miramar Beach rotunda, are supposedly portraying the unity between the two main communities in Goa and were erected here in 1972. It was designed at the request of the first Chief Minister of Goa, Daman & Diu (late) Dayanand Bandodkar and sculpted by Goa’s sculptor and artist (late) Vishnu Mahadev Cuncolikar.
The initial period after Liberation, and the communal sentiments, fanned by the famous Goa Opinion Poll of January 16, 1967, had whipped up reactions and emotions, amongst its peoples, on lines of faith. Possibly, this was the reason to initiate the present design.
However, the 1961 war with China, had led the then Prime Minister of India (late) Lal Bahadur Shastri to encourage and unite the nation with his immortal slogan “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan”. Many statues based on this slogan were raised in India. These statues portrayed a young man with shorts and a farmer wearing a dhoti, jointly holding a jyoti or a flame torch. However, though this twin statues of Miramar also display a young man in shorts and a man in dhoti, they originally had a metal flag in their hands.
Due to continued erosion of the metal rod holding the flag, and the forceful monsoon winds from the sea, broke off the rod within the first few years. From then on for about four decades, till June 2014, these statues were seen holding hands … with a stray crow resting on them.
It was in the year 2014, the 100th anniversary of the birth of the artist (late) Vishnu Mahadev Cuncolikar, that hands-on-historians, a Goa heritage promoting forum, with active assistance from family members of the artist, CCP, the Fire Department and a philanthropic donor, decided to refurbish the statues, with the help of Mapusa based sculptor Sachin Madge. Instead of a flag, it was decided to install a brass flame in their hands.
This pedestal had a larger than life brass statue of Afonso da Albuquerque, facing the mouth of the River Mandovi, through which he had sailed in to conquer Goa in 1510. This statue was later removed and finds a place of credit, at the entrance of the ASI Museum at Old Goa.
The canon placed below this statues, is originally of the Fortress of Gaspar Dias, — a small fortress that existed in and around the Miramar rotunda.
Bandodkar & sachdev mausoleum
The footprints of millions of local people, as well as tourists, have left their mark in these beautiful sands of Miramar beach. And here on this beach are two mausoleums, built in memory of the First Chief Minister (late) Dayanand (Bhausaheb) Bandodkar and also of the 2nd Lt. Governor (late) Mulk raj Sachdev of Goa, Daman & Diu, – both of whom, died in harness!
The mausoleum of the 2nd Lt. Governor Mulk raj Sachdev lies just beyond the Miramar Residency and since the last few years, though out of sight, has been maintained by the Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC).
The mausoleum of late Dayanand B Bandodkar at the Miramar Beach is encircled with masonry grilled fencing, based on a Japanese design. The mausoleum itself is placed underground, at a lower space, with the entire area above it in the shape of a circular stepped pyramid, having a glass casing at its apex.
Statue of dr jack
sequeira
The original road to Dona Paula, laid in 1859, from Miramar, Tonca intersection and Caranzalem village. The new road is named as Dr Jack Sequeira Road. A life size statue of this great Goan, pointing towards Panaji, is situated on the NIO Roundabout. Dr Jack Sequeira, a doctor by profession, was elected to the General Assembly from Santa Cruz Constituency in the 1963. In the year 1963, he, along with many other Goans, stood up against the initiative of Goa being merged with its neighbouring State of Maharashtra, and Daman & Diu being merged with Gujarat State. It was decided that the people of these three, freed lands should vote and decide their future. By a margin of about 34,000 vote difference, in an approximately 4 lakh voting population, Goans had decided to maintain their separate identity.
The stand that he took and the efforts that he poured in got him the lovable identity of ‘The Father of the Opinion Poll’. The date January 16 2017 shall celebrate the 50th Anniversary of this Historic Opinion Poll, – a democratic choice of the people, praised even at the United Nations.
Dona paula hillock statues
Dona Paula is today the must-see, on every itinerary of tourists visiting Goa. This place, according to Historian Prajal Sakhardande, was originally called as “Odda-Vell” (“Odda”/ “Ordha” or “Half” and “Vell” meaning beach in the local language). Possibly it was called so because it does not have a continuous beach stretch, but has many semi-circular coves viz. Dona Paula, Vainguinnim, Odxel, Na’avshe and Siridao.
One can see, a small island hillock, connected to mainland Dona Paula with a short bridge, which extends into the river as a jetty. The whole area from half way up to Miramar and till the Raj Bhavan promontory, into the Arabian Sea, belonged to the family into which Dona Paula was married. After her death on December 21 1682, and burial at the Our Lady of Bom Viagem at Raj Bhavan, this whole area was named after her. On the Dona Paula Island hillock, there is found a beautiful pillar and beams architectural structure called as pergola. And half way through, towards the Mormugao Harbour, we can see two statues painted in lime white. Many a times, we hear the local guide informing the unsuspecting visitors that the statues are of Dona – a daughter of the Governor and the other of Paulo – a fisherman. They inform that due to opposition for their love, from their family, they had committed suicide here.
This is absolutely false and far from truth. There is no relation of these two statues to Dona Paula.
These two statues were a gift to Goa, by Mr and Mrs Robert Knox, who had visited Goa somewhere around 1930s and had willed this piece of art to Goa. It is further said that Robert Knox’s brother arrived in Goa around Liberation, with one of Europe’s most famous sculptress Yrsa Von Leistner and created this beautiful pair of statues.
These statues display an elderly person pointing to the West, and a child looking towards the East, and wearing European clothing. The sculptress named these statues as ‘The Far East Travellers’, denoting that a peer telling his future generation that they had come from the West and wanted to make the Far East as their destination. [NT]

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