Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception
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Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception information
Panaji’s spiritual, as well as geographical, centre is its gleamingly picturesque main church, built in 1619 over an older, smaller 1540 chapel and stacked like a fancy white wedding cake to the southeast of the ragged municipal gardens. When Panaji was little more than a sleepy fishing village, this place was the first port of call for sailors from Lisbon, who would clamber up here to thank their lucky stars for a safe crossing, before continuing to Ela (Old Goa), the state’s capital until the 19th century, further east up the river.
By the 1850s the land in front of the church was being reclaimed and the distinctive criss-crossing staircases were added in the late 19th century. Nowadays, entrance to its gloriously technicolour interior – as gold-plated, floral and multicoloured on the inside as it’s perfectly white on the outside – is along the left-hand side wall. The itchy-fingered should note the lead-us-not-into-temptation small sign requesting ‘please do not ring the bell’ beside a tangle of ropes leading up to the enormous shiny church bell in the belfry, saved from the ruins of the Augustinian monastery at Old Goa and installed here in 1871.
If your visit coincides with 8 December, be sure to head here for the Feast of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception , which sees a special church service and a lively fair spilling away from the church to mark the date.