Panjim, the current capital of Goa was the last capital before the Portuguese colony was liberated. The city has a number of cultural and monumental remnants from its time as the capital. One of the major attractions is the beautiful Panjim Church.
"Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Imaculada Conceição" which means The Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception is dedicated to Mother Mary. A beautiful statue stands in the centre of the symmetrical stairway as she looks down on the city square which was known as "Praca de Flores" which means Square of Flowers. Legend says that this was a spot for the people of panjim to gather around the garden in the evening. There would even be a bandstand in center for musicians to sit and perform. It was demolished in the mid 19th century. At first it was a tiny chapel on the hill in 1541 which then was called the Conception Hill. As the city grew in size, the chapel was rebuilt into a church in 1619 which now stands gloriously today.
A few fun facts and stories about this church:
It does not have its own cemetery. The reason being that earlier it was a church that stood on top of the hill. The cemetery was beside the church until there was a need to cut the hill to connect Fontainhas to the Panjim city square. The road is called Corte De Orteiro also known as "Corteen" by the locals. During this development the cemetery was in a way demolished and shifted to St Inez Church nearby. Ever since Panjim Church has no cemetery of its own.
It is rare for a church to have 2 bells of different sizes. The bell in the center of the Church is the second largest Church Bell in Goa. It was brought to Panjim from the Church of our Lady of Grace (Ruins of St Augustine Tower) from Old Goa when it began to fall apart.
"Ora Pro Nobis" seen on the facade of the church means Pray for Us in Latin. This is one of the few churches in Goa which still has a mass in Portuguese on a Sunday.
The grandest that the Church will ever look is in December. Especially on the feast day which is the 8th of December. The lighting and decor looks brilliant and picture worthy.
How did this place get its fame?
Bollywood has contributed to a large increase in the number of tourists coming to Goa from all over India. This church in particular as a beautiful scenic staircase which was part of movies like Mujhse Shaadi Karogi, Aashiqui 2 and what really put the church on the tourist map was the movie 'Josh'. So much so that tourists hunted for this church asking around for 'the church in Josh'
Things to Know before visiting
The monument is a place of religious significance so if you do intend to visit for pictures, dress appropriately.
If you would like to visit inside, sunday mornings and evenings are a good time to have a look as the church opens for mass. However, one will not be permitted inside without proper attire. In simple words- DO NOT DRESS LIKE A TOURIST.
The place is pretty crowded during the day right upto late evenings. If you want a shot of the church without crowd, visit before 8:30am or after 12am. You will get a clean shot for sure.