I am participating in the A to Z writing challenge run by the online blogging platform – Blogchatter, where participants write a post a day for every letter of the alphabet from A to Z all through the month of April. I have chosen to write about Goa this time, because I wanted to bring the little nuances of the Goa I know out from under the mainstream notion of Goa that everyone has.
Today it’s the letter J for 18th June Road and Junta House.
18th June Road – the main road, the main artery that runs through the heart of the city of Panaji is one of the busiest streets and a popular shopping spot for visitors doing the tourist thing.
The State of Goa was part of what was referred to simply as Portuguese India, a colonial state of the Portuguese Empire after the discovery of the sea route to the Indian subcontinent by the Kingdom of Portugal. Interestingly the original capital of Portuguese India was Cochin before it was transferred in 1510 to Goa and Daman (Damaon).
As yet another interesting aside, present-day Mumbai was part of the Portuguese Empire too and was known as Bom Baim or Good Bay. It was ceded to the British as part of a dowry, in 1661.
Through the years, several local attempts were made in Goa to rally against the dictatorial rule of the Portuguese, most of which were violently suppressed. Internal revolts were quelled by brute force and protestors were either jailed without a hearing or killed.
After the fall of the British Raj in the rest of the country, India decided to wait and watch following diplomatic attempts to free the State of Goa. Finally, when nothing worked, the Indian military invaded the State in 1961. Unable to resist the fully armed Indian force of air and naval support, the rulers gave in and the Governor of Portugal signed the Instrument of Surrender on 19th December, 1961, ending 450 years of Portuguese rule in Goa and in India.
Among the people who made attempts to oppose the Portuguese rule in Goa were Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia, activist, socialist and political leader and Dr. Juliao Menezes, civil rights activist from Goa. After several unsuccessful attempts, on 18th June 1946, the two freedom fighters defied a strict ban and censorship by the Portuguese Government and with the help and support of a few others, launched a Civil Disobedience Movement in Goa, which turned out to be significant in ushering in a revolution that finally led to Goa’s freedom.
It was on this day, 18th June in 1946 that the two freedom fighters fired the 1st spark of anti-Portuguese agitation and in honour of the day and all those who helped gather the wood to turn the spark into a fire of revolution, the day is known as Goa’s Revolution Day and a road in central Panaji named after it.
Today, this road with memories of a historically significant day for the State, has gained popularity as a bustling main road of the capital city of Panjim and has some chaotic traffic scenes during peak hours. The long stretch of road is lined with shops and outlets catering to tourists. One can find anything here from bargain clothes and branded outfits to the famous cashews of Goa – roasted, raw, skinned, de-skinned – and a leisurely walk down this happening road is a part of the tourist to-do list.
Midway, along the famous road, rising like a mammoth monument is the Junta House.
“An administrative citadel of the Government of Goa and its most famous address in those days … “ These are the opening words of an entire 2-page article among others dedicated to this iconic landmark building which was written for the Navhind Times, the local newspaper of Goa.
Partly occupied by Government offices, part residences then, this Anglo-American style building has four huge blocks connected through a passage on the ground floor and a long wide community hall on its top floor – The Swamy Vivekanand Hall.
Each block had its own lift, which believe it or not, was the wonder of those days! For many years the Junta House – or the People’s Building, would be pointed out by tourist guides as the tallest building in Goa with all of 6 floors and the only High Rise in the State!
And this is not the only reason I’m dedicating so much space to this iconic building. Hold your breath, folks – this building was our residential address for the better part of our 23 year stint in the State.
This was the building we spent our childhood in. This was the building which played an important role in our formative years. This was the building associated with all that our family achieved. My dad’s popularity and fame as one of Goa’s most sought-after doctors (so much so that even today 30 years after his retirement he is still fondly remembered there), my sister topping her graduation in her stream, my brother’s double dhamaka in cracking the JEE exams and securing a seat in the prestigious IIT (one among only 4 others to do so for the 1st time in the whole of Goa) and simultaneously securing a merit seat for the MBBS at the Goa Medical College. This is some of the stuff the walls of that house were witness to!
Our apartment on the 4th floor was a happening place and saw a stream of big-name visitors drop by including Smt. Shashikala Kakodkar (former CM of Goa), Smt. Vijayadevi Rane (wife of former CM of Goa), yesteryear actress Leela Naidu (Femina Miss India, 1954 and on the list of the World’s 10 Most Beautiful Women, in Vogue), famed Kannada film icon late Dr. Rajkumar, his wife Parvathamma and his youngest son late Puneeth, among others.
But alas, today the grand old pride of Panaji, the Junta House is just a hollow and dilapidated relic, with years of neglect and apathy.
Both 18th June Road and Junta House equally have amazing memories of our growing up days in the State that we called home!
Dev Boren Korun – God bless you!
This post is part of #blogchattera2z.
My previous outing with this writing challenge in 2019, led to some fantastic posts which were later accepted to be published as a popular paperback – The adventures of the JP family.