The Mandovi is the closest Goa has to a “Grand Hotel” in the vein of the Taj Mahal Palace in Bombay or the Grand Hotel in Calcutta. Built in 1952, it was Goa’s first hotel that matched international standards, the first 5-storey building in Goa, and also boasted Goa’s first lift.
The hotel, which commands a spectacular location and view on the Mandovi River (hence the name), was designed in an Art Deco style by a Bombay-based architectural firm, and its construction was personally overseen by the Portuguese Governor-General. Before Goa’s liberation and after, it was the centre of the city of Panjim’s social circle, playing host to dignitaries from all over India and the world.
Unfortunately, I did not stay in The Mandovi during my time in Panjim, choosing instead to stay in Fontainhas at the delightful Panjim Inn. I did, however, lunch at the Mandovi’s restaurant where extremely yummy Goan and Portuguese cuisine has been served since the hotel’s inception.
Panjim Inn is a 130-year old grand mansion built in 1880 and still owned by the family who built it. It has been lovingly restored and transformed into a heritage boutique hotel in the very heart of historic Fontainhas. One could spend lazy afternoons nursing a drink at the hotel’s Verandah Restaurant, which also serves delicious Goan cuisine.
From Panjim, I ventured further out to Fort Aguada, one of the oldest and largest forts in Goa, built by the Portuguese in 1612 at the mouth of the Mandovi River to guard against a Dutch attack. Occupying an entire peninsula, the Fort provides a spectacular backdrop to the Taj Fort Aguada Resort and Spa, where I sojourned briefly before leaving Goa.
Here on Sinquerim Beach by the surreal-magnificent Fort Aguada ramparts, I spent a few relaxing days reflecting on my journey thus far and planning the journey ahead, now that I had come to the mid-point of this Grand Tour of the Port and Princely Cities of the Subcontinent.
Panjim Inn, Fontainhas
Taj Fort Aguada Resort and Spa
Next stop: Bombay (Mumbai)